When: 2-4 p.m. Sunday April 24 and Sunday, May 22
Where: City Park tennis courts, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville
More info: www.gainesville.org/tennis-1
It’s a little badminton, a little tennis and a little ping pong, with a whiffle ball.
Pickleball has been growing in popularity in North Georgia for several years, and Gainesville now has opportunities for anyone to play.
“We’re just kind of tiptoeing into pickleball,” said Brent Sexton with Gainesville Parks and Recreation. “It’s something we want to get started, and the popularity around the sport is growing tremendously. We’re just trying to provide that opportunity for any potential participants, any individuals that want to try the sport, learn the sport or continue to play the sport.”
Free pickleball exhibitions will be from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, April 24 and Sunday, May 22, at City Park tennis courts at 830 Green St. NE in Gainesville.
“It’s kind of all-encompassing, so if individuals are unfamiliar with the sport, they have the opportunity to come out and learn it at no cost,” Sexton said.
Pickleball rules are similar to table tennis, but it is typically played on a double badminton court. Two or four people use solid paddles and perforated plastic balls similar to whiffle balls.
The sport is particularly fast-growing with senior citizens.
One exhibition was already held in March, and Sexton said each is catered to the participants who show up.
“If there are experienced participants, we’ll just set up the courts and play a few hours,” he said. “If we have some individuals that are not as familiar, we’ll take the time to teach the rules and teach them about the sport. We’ll give them the knowledge and experience. So, if they find themselves wanting to play in the future, they can pick up where they left off and play.”
Sexton said parks and rec is working with communities that already have established pickleball activities, such as Lanier Village Estates and Cresswinds at Lake Lanier to teach the sport and share opportunities to play.
“We don’t have a standalone pickleball court, so we’re using tennis courts,” he said. “We’re working with the other racquet sports in the community like tennis to not step on toes and at the same time, provide the opportunity for pickleballers.”
For those interested in learning more about pickleball during the week, the J.A. Walters Family YMCA at 2455 Howard Road in Gainesville offers pickleball in its gymnasium from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
At the Y and the Gainesville exhibitions, paddles and balls will be provided.
Sexton said a few other dates will be available in the summer. No registration is required.
“Our goal right now is just to engage any interest in the community, hopefully create a buzz in the community and eventually have the justification to offer bigger and better opportunities for pickleball,” he said.