Professional Pickleball player Meghan Dizon giving a tip at Reynolds Lake Oconee.

On a recent beautiful fall morning, a group of Reynolds Members descended on the new Linger Longer Park Pickleball courts with their paddles in hand.

Some were beginners to the game, curious about the sport that the New York Times called “America’s fastest-growing sport.” Most were experienced players, members of the 300-person+ strong (and rapidly growing) Reynolds Pickleball Association.

Meeting them there were a group of the world's top Pickleball pros – Collin Johns, a Top-5 pro player in the world and an internationally recognized coach; Meghan Dizon, a Top-10 player on the Pro Pickleball Association Tour, and Dave Fleming, a top Senior Pro player and well-regarded TV commentator.

The pros were there to host a two-day instructional clinic for Reynolds Members. Over four sessions, they drilled Reynolds Members in the strategy of the game, transition shots, tactical shot selection, and attacking and defending. The pros imparted their impressive knowledge to Reynolds Members through quick tips while observing play and lectures designed to enhance their knowledge of the game and the fundamentals needed to be successful. And at the end of the first day they put the lessons into action, playing a highly-competitive pickup game to the Members delight.

(from left to right) Head Pickleball Pro Drew Hebert, Meghan Dizon, Collin Johns, Reynolds Members Scott Bradway, and Dave Fleming
(from left to right) Head Pickleball Pro Drew Hebert, Meghan Dizon, Collin Johns, Reynolds Member Scott Bradway, and Dave Fleming

Much like its ascension nationally, Pickleball’s footprint continues to grow at Reynolds as well. Eight new, state-of-the-art courts recently opened at Linger Longer Park. Tyler Mayer, Director of Recreation at Reynolds Lake Oconee, says the Member response has been fantastic towards the investment into the Pickleball program.

“It’s remarkable how enthusiastic and supportive the Membership has been,” he says. “The overall response has been so positive that you can just feel the energy and see the social aspect of the sport as the Pickleball community at Reynolds continues to grow.”

Helping lead the growth is Drew Hebert, the Head Pickleball Professional.

“Anytime you are trying to rollout a new program, it takes the right person to drive the program,” Tyler says. “Drew is by far the right Head Pro for this new department. His passion, contagious enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport compliments making this launch a success and will continue to drive the program in the right direction.”

Drew is excited for how the Pickleball program will continue to evolve. “Expanding the new campus at Linger Longer Park is a game changer for our Membership. Looking forward, we also have plans to implement a Pro Shop with equipment and apparel and add staff members to the Pickleball Team.”

Day-to-day programming has also increased underneath Drew’s direction. Organized Play is held four mornings a week from 8:30am-11:00am. These sessions have been a huge hit with the Membership since launching in May, as you can find upwards of 50 Members participating on any given day.

As the program is centered towards providing Members who have never played the game before a path to learning and getting incorporated in in the game, Drew is always at the courts during these sessions to facilitate play according to skill levels. He also conducts a Pickleball 101 class each Wednesday at The Landin courts, where Members can learn the basics of Pickleball – rules, scoring, court positioning, and basic shot techniques. Just since the launch of the class in May, over 150 Members have learned how to play Pickleball from these 101 classes! After taking Pickleball 101, Members are encouraged to come back the next week for a 102 class, which provides them more practice and coaching before jumping into Organized Play.

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