Most Mooresville residents have probably never played Pickleball, or even heard of it. But it’s a recreational activity that’s gaining steam in the area, one that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong to become popular with local seniors.
Pickleball is not a new sport, as according to the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) it was invented in 1965 by three fathers looking to create a new game to alleviate their children’s summertime boredom. However, the game has recently grown a local following, leading the Mooresville Recreation Center to add weekly play times at both the War Memorial Center and Talbert Recreation Center.
“Pickleball is a fast-paced game played on a badminton court, with the net at tennis-like height,” explained Ti Farmer, supervisor of the War Memorial Center. “The equipment consists of paddles resembling oversized table tennis paddles and a wiffleball type ball.”
Renee Bailey, Mooresville’s USAPA Ambassador, said she started playing after her husband retired as a way to spend quality time together. She believes that people are drawn to the sport for the socialization and the ability to quickly learn the rules to easily play.
“It’s not as hard on your body as a lot of other sports, since with a badminton-size court you’re not running all over the place,” she said. “It’s also a great way to socialize because with four people on the court at a time, players are also sitting on the sidelines, waiting their turn and chatting.”
But just because the players might be friends, doesn’t mean Pickleball is slow or non-competitive.
“It is a great form of exercise,” she said. “You can get a good workout while having a lot of fun. It can also be picked up easily by people, like myself, that have not played that type of sport before.”
Added Farmer, “Pickleball is growing nationwide, as it is a great fitness activity and a lot of fun.”
“Many tennis players use it to keep in shape during the winter months,” she said. “This is a growing sport with much potential.”
Bailey said she already has an email list of around 90 people that she routinely sends Pickleball updates to and hopes to recruit more, especially looking to turn younger players on to the sport.
“Depending on the day of the week and the time of year, we usually have from eight to 25 players enjoying the game,” she said. “As of now, we mainly have a senior following, but I am hoping to get some of the younger crowd involved, especially at our new Friday night play at Talbert.”
Currently, Pickleball players meet Mondays at the War Memorial from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. A new time was recently added at Talbert for Friday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Lighted courts are also available at Bellingham Park during park hours on a first come, first serve basis and there is no fee associated with any of the play times.
“The town has been really cooperative by helping me get the word out about Pickleball and helping to arrange available times to play,” said Bailey, whose job as an ambassador is to promote the sport and find new places for players to play, as well as offer demonstrations. “We’re eager to get more people interested so we’ve talked about offering demonstrations here in Mooresville at the beginning of the year, after the holidays wrap up. We’re also talking about possibly doing tournaments in the near future at Talbert.”