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Two years ago, tennis coach Evan Smith said the pickleball craze had yet to reach Williamson County.
Few teams. Even fewer instructors and clinics.
Getting a pickleball court reservation? No problem.
Fast forward to this summer. The Indoor Sports Complex in Brentwood was a hub for pickleball-playing residents and visitors.
And this fall, it continues.
“People play once, and get ‘the bug’ and want to keep playing and invite people to play,” Smith said.
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The game is a combination of tennis, pingpong and badminton played on a court about one-third the size of a tennis court. The ball moves slower than a tennis ball, making it easier for people of all ages and athleticism to participate.
‘I would play every day if I could’
Katherine Koonce discovered pickleball two years ago on a wellness retreat. The game is not only fun, she said, but good exercise and a stress reliever.
“I play once or twice a week, but I would play every day if I could,” Koonce said.
Koonce, head of school at the Covenant School in Nashville, loved the game so much that she added pickleball to the school’s physical education initiatives.
It’s become a favorite activity for students. Splitting a basketball court into three pickleball courts, they pick up skills of the game, regardless of age.
‘It’s something that anyone can do’
Williamson County recreational centers enjoy two leagues – 16 teams. Courts fill up quickly. And the facilities now have five instructors, including Melissa Powell.
Powell began playing pickleball eight years ago with a friend. Now, she’s a Level 2 instructor with the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association. She has also played professionally.
“I like that it promotes a healthy lifestyle that anyone can play,” she said.
Powell, a physical education teacher in Rutherford County for the past 30 years, is looking forward to teaching pickleball during her retirement years.
“Teaching children is a joy, and teaching adults is a joy for me, too,” she said “And it’s something that anyone can do.”
‘Now that I’m retired I play more than her’
Tracie Janatsch discovered pickleball is a great way to socialize. She started playing in 2019 with friends.
“My husband tells me that I’m the pickleball ambassador because I am always asking people if they want to play,” Janatsch said with a laugh. She plays about twice a week.
Back in 2019, reserving a court was easy. Not anymore.
“My friend was up once at 5 a.m. to make a reservation for the court; it’s that packed now,” Janatsch said.
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Her husband, Adam, used to wonder why she played pickleball for hours. Then he picked up a paddle.
“Now that I’m retired I play more than her,” he said.
Not just at local rec centers. When the weather is nice, they set up a net outside and play with neighbors.
“It’s a fun way to socialize, and everyone loves to play,” Tracie said.
You can get more information here if you are interested in playing pickleball at any rec center. Most have open play throughout the week; check that out!
Reporter Kenya Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KenyaAnderson32.