Ambassador, Indian Land, SC
With an active group of over 400 players, the Pickleball Club in Sun City Carolina Lakes is one of the most popular groups in the community. This past winter, we were able to avail ourselves of an indoor venue at the Leroy Springs Recreation Center in Fort Mill. In January, we offered beginners' lessons. Mild as our winter was this year, we all enjoyed playing indoors when it was cold and rainy outside.
USAPA members Roy and Marlene Williams, and Fred Harvey graciously assisted at our classes for beginners. Several of our newest players joined the USAPA, too. One of our newest players, Byron Parrish, from our indoor class, (standing, 3rd from the right), joined the USAPA and hopes to hook up with an ambassador in Virginia. In his eighties, Byron is a tennis player who wants to introduce pickleball to his Del Webb community there.
In March, we again offered our popular Pickleball 102 class for folks who want to move from beginner to more competitive play. And USAPA member, Sharon MacKenzie, who has 30 years experience coaching and teaching physical education, led a new class called Pickleball forRookies. Our goal was to encourage folks who are not natural athletes to try pickleball in a safe, progressive learning environment. Even though I've been playing for 4 years, I learned a lot about maintaining balance in her class and went home after each session with tired knees.
At the end of the classes, USAPA “pros” Luis Burgos, Fred Harvey, Ed Born, Bernice May, and Sherri Bruton paired up with the rookies for our first ever Sun City Pro-Am Tournament.
Perhaps most exciting for us was to be invited to teach pickleball at a nearby community, Four Seasons in Ft. Mill, SC. Thirty people showed up for the introduction, and we have been holding skills clinics weekly. Our contact, Marge Kitterman reports that the PB court is always busy and there are now more pickleball players than tennis players!
I am also pleased to tell you that in April we visited our friends,USAPA Ambassador Don and Mary Wheeler, who are working incredibly hard to get a pickleball program going on Hilton Head Island.
Don and Mary dutifully chalk four courts five days a week, set up portable nets, and install “Border Patrol” barriers to reduce the number of balls that need to be chased. They have developed a very devoted and appreciative following. Hopefully, some day, the Rec Dept. will find space to dedicate to “real” pickleball courts.
We were joined by friends and fellow USAPA members Joyce and Richard Henzel, from Webster, NY, for a reunion of sorts. The six of us used to play in NY on chalked tennis courts before anyone else had heard of pickleball.
It was a special treat to reunite with old friends from NY on the courts in Hilton Head. Left to right, that's Joyce Henzel, Fred and Jane Harvey, Mary and Don Wheeler, and Richard Henzel.
Here's Don, toting one of the ball barriers.
Mary's carrying portable nets at the end of the play time. Joyce holds the pickle jar which is used to collect donations to help defray the cost of nets and chalk.