Pickleball craze hits Daniel Island!
After Daniel Island resident Carol Mason finished a day of skiing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, she was introduced to a game she had never heard of — pickleball. As she played the game indoors on a badminton court, she knew she had to pursue bringing the sport to Daniel Island. Thanks to efforts by the City of Charleston and the Family Circle Tennis Center, with input from Carol, it is now a reality.
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America and can be played by almost everyone. Invented almost 50 years ago in Seattle, Washington, pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It is played with a paddle and a whiffle ball on a court about quarter the size of a tennis court. It appeals to older players because it is fast paced and competitive, without requiring them to run too far.
Ex-tennis player Carol says, “it’s a game anyone can play. I have a bad shoulder and two fake hips, and I just love it.”
According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), the unusual name has two possible origins. The inventor’s wife claims she started calling the game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.” Her husband, however, said it was named after the family dog “Pickles,” who would chase the ball and run off with it.
The rapid growth of the sport continues to attract new players across the nation. In 2003, there were 39 places to play in North America. Today, there are nearly 5,000. According to the USAPA, the number of participating players in the U.S. is now over 225,000. There are now a total of four places to play on Daniel Island.
In 2015, at a series of public hearings on Daniel Island’s recreational needs hosted by the City of Charleston, many local seniors expressed an interest in bringing pickleball to the island. City staffers approached Nancy Heinz at the Family Circle Tennis Center about the prospect. Nancy then worked with Facilities Director Rob Eppelsheimer to make it happen - with insights and assistance from Carol along they way.
They found that a pickleball court overlaid perfectly on each of the four existing junior tennis courts, so they were able to create dual-use courts by adding pickleball striping. It was a win-win outcome for both the juniors, the pickleballers and the tennis center. Scheduling preference goes to the juniors, but for now there is enough scheduling flexibility to accommodate both groups.
Once the courts were ready, Carol called a few of her friends, who invited others. Soon they were maxing out the four courts with four players, four times a week. Anyone asking about pickleball at the tennis center is referred to Carol by Nancy.
“We teach the basics to new players and let them play for half the session with players of their own ability, and then we integrate them into games with the more advanced players so they can experience what it’s like to play a ‘real’ game,” says Carol, who works to make absorbing new players into the group as easy as possible.
To play pickleball at Family Circle Tennis Center you do not need to be a member and some equipment is available at the desk.
If you are interested in joining Carol and her friends and learn the fast-growing sport, call Carol Mason at (843) 452-7772.