Couple finds love through pickleball

Friday, June 10, 2011 | 4:42 p.m. CDT; updated 5:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 14, 2011

COLUMBIA — With a kneepad on where a bride would traditionally wear a garter and a string of pickleballs dangling where tin cans might rattle from the trunk of a car, Eldonna Coats and Mike Coats got married.

The couple, from Topeka, Kan., met playing pickleball, but it wasn’t until a car trip a few years ago to a tournament in Independence that the couple realized they liked each other as more than friends.

“She played with my female partner, and I played with her mixed male partner,” Mike Coats said. “I never thought I would get married. I am 52 years old, and this is my first marriage.”

Mike Coats proposed in September after the couple won a tournament in Kansas City for the second year in a row. The two were married in November.

“I asked him if we didn’t win if he would have still proposed to me,” Eldonna Coats said. “He said he would, but you would have to ask him that.”

Pickleball is a sport played on a flat surface, and the net is the height of a tennis net. The ball is similar to a wiffle ball and is hit across a court with wooden paddles. 

When it was time for the couple to purchase their first home, the main reason they considered the house they did was because of the driveway. It was flat and great for playing pickleball, Mike Coats said.

Eldonna Coats, 56, jokes that the couple was a “match met on a pickleball court.”

The couple took gold in the mixed doubles tournament Thursday at the Missouri State Senior Games.

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