The Pickleball Scene in Beaufort & the Sea Islands

A fun & welcoming sport, Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America!

“I have heard of pickleball, but have no idea what it is,” many comment when the subject arises.  Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America!  It is described as a cross between tennis, ping pong, and badminton.  Played on smaller courts than tennis courts, the ball is plastic with holes in it, like a Wiffle ball.  Sometimes thought of as a sport for active seniors, it continues to gain popularity in all age groups.  It is a fun, addictive game that is easy to learn and safe to play.  Safe that is, if flat-soled shoes are worn, muscles are stretched and warmed up and the first few outings are focused on understanding body movement and racquet position.   Physical therapists and orthopedic specialists have seen increased traffic due to players injuring themselves on their first or second outing because of these very things.  Many players will confess that their bodies aren’t up to the demands of tennis but still want to be active, have fun and socialize.

Kelly Procida, age 30, left New York City on March 20 when COVID-19 expressed its first surge of infection and moved in with her parents in Coosaw Point to work remotely from their home.  Kelly’s parents, Chris and Barbara, had just relocated to Beaufort in June 2019 after Chris spent the bulk of his career in Singapore.  “My dad was playing and I decided to check it out for the exercise and to get out of the house after working all day at home for UNICEF USA.  The players were very welcoming and I had a lot of fun.  I just love it.  We play four times a week.  I’m addicted now.”  Kelly plans to return to NYC in January 2021.  “I want to work on my 3rd shot drop and hitting the ball harder before I go back,” Kelly said.

Current research indicates that in the U.S., pickleball has grown to over 3.8 million core players at a rate of 11-13 % a year, compared to tennis – which is decreasing 3-5 % a year.  According to Jeff Conradi, A “USA Pickleball” District Ambassador for South Carolina, USA Pickleball (originally USAPA)[1] was formed in 2005 as the governing body with over 40,000 members and 1,900 ambassadors.  Jeff is a professional pickleball instructor and partners with Habersham players to coordinate and mobilize the sport there.

Article by Terry Rice, Coosaw Point Resident
Photos by Nancy Southerland, Barbara Procida &Vanessa Penaherrera