Pickleball – the sport that marries tennis, badminton, and ping pong into a fun sport for all ages and skill levels – has gained popularity throughout the U.S. and internationally. Here in Columbia, pickleball has an impressive following with courts throughout the region.
Columbia SC Ambassador Angela Yong has been playing the sport for a year-and-a-half and says she loves it. Here she gives some insight on the sport and insider tips on the pickleball scene here in Columbia SC.
How did you get into playing Pickleball?
“I played tennis and volleyball and what I learned as I was getting older was the competition was getting younger and my time was more limited, so I wasn’t able to practice. What I found with pickleball is right off the bat, the people are so welcoming, and you’ll find some very, very good intense competitive players, but you will find an equal amount of newbies and people who are just out there being physically active not necessarily trying to win tournaments. So, I really liked that I had the opportunity to be a beginner. The pickleball community is so welcoming that being new at something – they encourage it.”
How do you get started in the sport?
“The rules are awkward at first but they’re not hard to learn and once you learn them - your body’s responsive, it’s very playful, the people will cheer for you – it’ not like silent like it is in tennis. It’s booming everywhere so you can go play indoors at a church you can play outside. Most of the tennis courts now have a couple courts for Pickleball. I also like it because, of course like with most things, you can buy really expensive stuff but with Pickleball you can literally just get started with like a $20 racket. You can start as cheap as like $20 and just wear the clothes on your back. So, you need very little and then it’s really fun and reactive – it’s like life-sized ping pong!”
Where do you like to go play?
“I personally love to play at Southeast Park. It’s a beautiful, wooded area. It has a big creek. You’re always able to see some kind of animal when you’re there which I love, and they have four courts and on Thursday nights, it’s Ladies Night and it’s all free and everyone just sort of hangs out. It’s nice that whenever you’re not in a rotation to play, you talk to people around and watch and you jump right in. You don’t have a lot of long breaks.”
Other places to play:
Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center, Lexington County Tennis Complex, Woodland Park, Tri-City Leisure Center, Harbison Recreation Center, Trenholm Recreation Park, Katie & Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center, North Springs Park, Seven Oaks Park, Drew Wellness Center
Ways to connect with the Pickleball community:
Pickleball Group of the Midlands, SC on Facebook
Lexington SC Pickleball Group on Facebook
Angela’s Pro Tips:
There’s an app called TeamReach where players can enter their zip code and it will populate people in that area who are playing.
Todd & Moore sporting goods store has a huge selection of pickleball items.