The Ridgeland Tennis Center has made way for the fastest growing sport in America; Pickleball, a combination of table tennis, tennis, and badminton. Ridgeland Tennis Center now has four new pickle ball courts, though, the installation was simply painting new yellow lines over the tennis lines.
The pickleball court is played on a badminton sized court, about half the size of a tennis court. The center was able to fit four courts over two existing tennis courts. Susan Toler, a director at the Ridgeland Tennis Center, shared her excitement.
“We have the only public courts in the Jackson metro area. Lots of people play at gyms, or in churches, but the Ridgeland Tennis Center is the only public facility.”
There are several other private facilities for pickleball: the River Hills Club and the Country Club of Jackson,.
Pickleball is a paddle ball sport, like a racket sport. The pickleball is passed back and forth over a small tennis like net, and either two or four players can play at a time. The equipment a player needs is minimal. A solid paddle made of composite material is used to smack a perforated polymer ball with 26 to 40 small round holes back and forth over the net.
“It’s a fun sport. A solid wooden paddle or a graphite one will do the trick,” said Toler.
“You can call the Ridgeland Tennis Center pro shop 4 days in advance to reserve a court. Its three dollars a person.”
The Ridgeland Tennis Center has 17 courts, and 4 pickleball courts. Courts 13, 14 that were designated as pickleball courts will remain operable for tennis and pickleball.
The push for courts comes from a group of pickleball enthusiasts who formed three years ago. These ‘Paddle Heads,’ originated in Madison and held their first meetings at the old Madison Ridgeland High School building. They had to move their operation when the old high school gym was torn down. Originally, the Paddle Heads wanted a court in Madison, but the Ridgeland Tennis Center ended up accommodating them.
“They did a first class job,” said Coach Mike Curley, retired girls soccer coach at Madison Central.
Curley was one of the original Paddle Heads, the group that brought pickleball to Ridgeland.
“We started out with six people and now we’ve doubled to twelve,” he said.