NEW PORT RICHEY — If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Justin Lawrence and Jeffrey Baker heeded that advice last weekend, once again making a run at the Guinness World Record for the longest pickleball game ever played. The New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center employee duo tried the feat last year, only to see their attempt denied on a technicality.
According to Guinness guidelines, the aspiring record breaker must play with no more than five minutes of rest for every hour of play. Not following this rule strictly in their previous attempt cost the pair the record.
"Last time we took our time and didn't have the right schedule," said Baker, 19. "This time we started in the a.m., which meant people were here for the bulk of it throughout Friday, so it made you want to play more, being that we were in front of people. The hardest stretches are when nobody is around."
Their clothing soaked with sweat and muscles tensing up during the breaks, Baker and Lawrence trudged through the long night of pickleball, a game similar to tennis except players use a Wiffle Ball and paddles made of wood or composite materials. By the wee morning hours of Saturday, they found it tough to keep the game jovial.
"We started arguing quite a bit there during the middle of the night," said Lawrence, 25. "We were both so tired at 4 a.m. we were hitting the balls at each other and fighting. It's funny because we thought it would be easier since we had done it before, but I've got a chest infection and he hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, so it ended up being harder than we anticipated."
Helen Caravona helped coordinate every break and kept track of all the paperwork as the duo logged 140 games.
"I'm tired having just watched this," Caravona said. "I was very strict after having helped them identify the problems that caused the record to be denied last time. They got pretty cranky in the middle of the night, but I promised them as a friend of theirs that if they did it again, I would help them get it done."
Now Baker and Lawrence will once again submit the record attempt, along with a surveillance camera's footage from the center's gym, which ran for the entire 24 hours. Baker is optimistic that this time, with better paperwork and the video footage, they'll have no problems claiming the record.
"I feel great," he said. "I just need a shower."