Aiken pickleball player says growing demand is ‘gratifying’

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 9:09 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’ve told you about the growing popularity of pickleball in Columbia County, and it seems to be spreading to Aiken too.

We talked to a player encouraging people to get out on the court. Changes are coming to add more pickleball courts in the city of Aiken.

The demand goes back to 2013 when a couple came into town and wanted to spread the word about the sport.

“We were so used to playing pickleball that we didn’t realize that maybe they actually didn’t play pickleball in Aiken. When we first found that out, we thought that we had a mission,” said Mike Beckner, player.

Beckner and his wife Loretta then met with the city to do a demonstration on how to play, and people were interested.

“Initially, there was an upsurge in interest because it’s so curious,” he said. “When we first got here to now, probably over 500 have been at least on our mailing list. It’s really gratifying.”

He continues to play at the courts at Virginia Acres with others who now know how to play. He says this game is easy to pick up but says different parts of pickleball make it more appealing.

“It’s the social aspect of it, I think, and the competitive part. I mean, you’d like to hit good shots. You’d like to hit winners in that but keeping score is not the end all be all,” said Beckner.

The city wants to help expand the sport which starts with making an outdoor area with enough courts to host pickleball tournaments at Virginia Acres.

Jessica Campbell is the city’s parks, recreation, and tourism director. She said, “To be able to dedicate this area that we’re standing in with full pickleball is definitely a success, and we know that the pickleball community will be excited to come out here and play the future.”

Contractors will come out in the spring to convert some tennis courts to pickleball at Virginia Acres.

Odell Weeks has indoor courts, and we know there are plans to include pickleball striping on tennis courts at Smith-Hazel Park in the next one to two years.