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Greenvillians can’t get enough of pickleball

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Greenvillians have spoken: they want more pickle

That’s the consensus among residents that Greenville city officials petitioned for more pickleball courts at a recent City Council meeting in Feburary.

A resident, John Moore, said pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, and it must also be the fastest growing sport in Greenville.

In 2017, there were 275 players in the Upstate pickleball database, according to Moore. Today there are about 1,000 players.

Pickleball is a kind of mix between tennis, table tennis and badminton. Players use special paddles and a whiffle ball, and they play on a badminton-sized field with a slightly modified tennis net. The most common game is doubles, although singles is also an option.

Pickleball is one of those easy-to-learn, but hard-to-master sports that was made for the whole family to play, Moore said.

Two years ago, the city of Greenville re-emerged from two tennis courts in Timmons Park into six specialty pickleball courts. They are currently the only special places in town to play pickleball.

Drive past Timmons Park in the morning or evening and you’ll find all six courses being used with dozens, yes, dozens of players on the sidelines waiting to play, Moore said.

Greenville is lagging behind when it comes to pickleball, Moore added.

Pope Field in Easley has eight specialty pickleball courts; this also applies to the Anderson Sports Complex. Plans for Mauldin’s new city center call for six indoor and two outdoor pickleball courts.

Moore and other residents asked city councilors to consider converting at least two tennis courts to be upgraded in Gower Park off Laurens Road into pickleball courts to meet growing demand.

Tennis courts in Holmes, Cleveland and McPherson parks could also be turned into pickleball courts, Moore said.

Ann OBrien, a pickleball player and broker in Greenville, said she could even see the benefit of having a pickleball complex where the city can host regional tournaments. (This year, the Greenville County Pickleball Smash Tournament will be held in April at 12 temporary courses in Northside Park.)

It would help our economy with hotels and restaurants, OBrien said.

Greenville City Manager John McDonough, a pickleball player himself, is a strong advocate of expanding the sport in the city. City councilor Russell Stall even has a pickleball court in his driveway.

We would look for more opportunities in Greenville, and would make recommendations to the Council again, McDonough said.

For more information on pickleball in the Upstate, visit upstatepickleball.com.

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