More than 100 players from as far away as Macon and Birmingham, Alabama, took over Thornton Recreation Center for the inaugural Rome Pickleball Classic.
The four-day event wrapped up Sunday.
“It’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the country right now,” said organizer JP Selle, the tennis director at Coosa Country Club.
Over the past few years, it has become a staple at both the country club and at Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation facilities.
Played with a paddle and a plastic ball, pickleball combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. According to Lisa English and Logan Yerbey — who trounced their finals opponents in mixed doubles — it’s the sport Baby Boomers have been looking for.
What makes it such a great fit?
“It’s great exercise without a high risk of injury,” English said.
“The games are shorter than tennis,” Yerbey explained. “And there’s a much lower learning curve.”
“You play indoors, so the sun’s not a factor,” English added. “And it’s a lot of fun.”
The two continued their volley of praise and recommendations, returning again and again to the opportunity for socializing. That also was the consensus of a crowd of local spectators, who play regularly at the public courts.
“It’s a great group of folks,” said John Dudley, who said he plays five days a week.
And newcomers are always welcome, noted Trish Sherman.
“We just had a new person join who had never played before, but it doesn’t take long to learn,” she said.
The Thornton Recreation Center, at 102 North Floyd Park Road in Armuchee, offers demonstrations and play times from 9 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays.
The Gilbreath Recreation Center, 110 Garden Ave. in Lindale, is the place to go on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Dudley said there also are outdoor pickleball courts at Gilbreath and two other Parks & Rec facilities: Garden Lakes, at 2903 Garden Lakes Blvd., and Tolbert Park, at 300 Charlton St.
For more information, visit the Parks & Rec website at rfpra.com/pickleball.