The fastest-growing sport in America, Pickleball has exploded in popularity in the past ten years.

A hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, the game offers an ease and accessibility that helps entice the casual player. The rules are few and easy to learn. Action is continuous, offering a beginner the chance to quickly learn on-the-fly and gain game experience. For equipment, all you need is a sturdy pair of tennis shoes and a paddle – you can find one for as low as $20 on Amazon. And the game is a great aerobic activity, offering players all of the cardiovascular benefits within a low-impact environment that results in less wear-and-tear on the body and fewer injuries.

Mirroring its ascension nationally, Pickleball’s footprint has grown dramatically at Reynolds Lake Oconee as well. What started as a small group of players, with often just enough people for a four-person match, has grown to an (estimated) 350 Members who play regularly across Reynolds nine courts, with over 100 Members having joined the Beginners Group since February.

Formed to support Pickleball within Reynolds, the Reynolds Pickleball Associations helps foster the growth of the game. With several subgroups within the Association – the aforementioned Beginners Group; a Women’s-Only Group; and several others depending on your skill and competition levels – it’s easy to find a group to get started.

Reynolds Member Sue Mayoros helps handle the scheduling and coordination of the Women’s-Only group. Meeting on Wednesday mornings, up to 70 ladies hit the courts each week, filling five courts at The Landing with spirited play and genuine camaraderie.

Sue’s played Pickleball for six years, and her start to the game is a story similar to many. “A few girlfriends introduced me to the game,” she says. “Then I attended a Reynolds sponsored event where they gave lessons and an intro to the rules. From there, I joined other friends and started playing just for fun on Wednesdays.”

The Women’s-Only group has a range of players, some more competitive than others. The group is very easy going, open to all levels, and does not require any training.

Another Reynolds Member, Dave Woodyard, discovered the game three years ago. “My wife read about opportunities to learn to play Pickleball at our local recreation center. She’s a former tennis player and was looking for a sport we could play together. We discovered when play was happening at the Reynolds Landing courts, and we have been playing at Reynolds ever since.”

From that inauspicious start, a love for the game has rapidly grown and Dave now plays five days a week. He also offers lessons two to three days each week, and earlier this year, he became a certified Pickleball coach by the Professional Pickleball Registry.

Both Sue and Dave agree that there’s a social component to Pickleball that helps make the game a popular activity.

“It’s very common for several couples to play Pickleball and then go to happy hour,” Dave says. “My wife and I have a special group of friends who’ve we all met on the Pickleball courts. We now have a game night once a month that rotates among our homes. The hosts choose the card or board game for the night, and we get to expand our friendships beyond the Pickleball courts.”

Sue echoes these experiences. “I’ve seen friendships formed through Pickleball where they now regularly meet socially outside the courts. For myself, Pickleball has introduced me to numerous gals that do not play golf (Sue is also a regular golfer) who I probably would never have met otherwise.”

Dave tells a story that further illustrates how friendships formed through Pickleball contribute to the social fabric of Reynolds.

“Just this past week, two new players were enjoying happy hour at the Landing with their neighbor. As they were telling their neighbor how much fun they were having playing Pickleball, a couple came in fresh off the Pickleball courts. The new players were greeted by the couple, followed in quick succession by two more couples who also greeted the new players. The neighbor observed that the couple knew more Members than he did and he had lived in Reynolds much longer. He promptly joined the Beginner's Pickleball group the following morning and had his first lesson.”

For those looking to get started, it’s as simple as showing up. Sue recommends checking Moments – a bimonthly newsletter outlining all events and clubs at Reynolds – for times and dates. Attending the weekly beginner’s play sessions will provide a gentle introduction to the game along with an outline of the skills, strategies, and rules. From there, one can progress from organized beginner play all the way to advanced-level play.

Or they can just play with friends before going to Happy Hour. Because with Pickleball, there’s something for everyone at Reynolds.

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