Pickleball mania has been sweeping the nation these past few years and the islands east of the Cooper are caught up in the craze. One of the fastest growing sports in the country, this hybrid paddle game combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong into a fun, addicting competition.
While pickleball has a professional player circuit with national tournaments and prize money, most people enjoy it as a recreational and social activity. It’s easy to learn the rules and fun to play and it’s less physically demanding than tennis, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels. All you need is a paddle, a plastic ball and a badminton-size court to start a match. Like tennis, it can be played in a singles or doubles format. Games are played to 11 points and you must win by two.
Sullivan’s Island resident Dr. Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann, an avid pickleball player and adjunct professor of journalism at the College of Charleston, has been playing pickleball since 2018. Lattimore-Volkmann plays with a group of six to 10 people, three mornings a week if time permits. They bring their own nets and use the PARD tennis courts near Fort Moultrie. The courts are lined for pickleball, with one tennis court providing enough space to set up two pickleball courts. Sullivan’s Island pickleballers can also play at one of the pickleball-lined shared-use tennis courts at Stith Park.
When Lattimore-Volkmann was first introduced to pickleball, part of the appeal stemmed from the fact that the sport was so much easier to pick up and learn compared to tennis. “You can improve at it faster than tennis,” she noted, which was important to her. Lattimore-Volkmann likes the social aspects and the intimate nature of the court. “Pickleball is a smaller court, that’s why I love it.”
It’s accessible to all ages as well. Although she plays with mostly older retirees, she is seeing more young people playing pickleball now, including entering into the local tournaments. “I’ve met so many people from playing,” said Lattimore-Volkmann. “It’s so competitive and it’s so fun.”