Pickleball league receives attention from PBS Atlanta
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
April 23, 2010 12:00 AM | 4895 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Judy Vonesh of Canton plays pickleball at the home of Ann and Tom Earley of Canton on Wednesday morning. The Earleys have hosted pickleball tournaments and the sport has become popular in Georgia. PBS recently filmed a series called, ‘Pickleball in Georgia’ at the Earley’s home and County Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens participated.<br>Photo by Samantha Wilson
Judy Vonesh of Canton plays pickleball at the home of Ann and Tom Earley of Canton on Wednesday morning. The Earleys have hosted pickleball tournaments and the sport has become popular in Georgia. PBS recently filmed a series called, ‘Pickleball in Georgia’ at the Earley’s home and County Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens participated.
Photo by Samantha Wilson
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Cherokee County's pickleball league is getting statewide attention.

PBS Atlanta filmed players of the sport last week that will for a segment on "This Is Atlanta" with Alicia Steele. The segment will air sometime in the fall, Director Trevor Keller said.

The league is also gearing up for International Pickleball Week, which will be June 1-7, said Ann Earley of Macedonia, who hosts pickleball games with her husband, Tom on their courts.

The Earleys will open their pickleball courts to host beginner lessons from 9 to 10 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The league is also planning a tournament later this year to raise money for local nonprofit organizations. The league's Turkey Swat tournament raised $5,000 for the Cherokee County Humane Society.

Pickleball, a cross between tennis, badminton and pingpong, was developed as a family sport in 1965 by a U.S. congressman - who named it after the family dog - and two friends.

The game is played on a badminton-sized court, which is a little smaller than a tennis court. Players use paddles that are a little longer than a pingpong paddle to hit a Wiffle ball over a 3-foot-high net. They can play singles or doubles.

The Earleys introduced pickleball to Cherokee County five years ago after learning about the sport while vacationing in Arizona. The league became official last year, with about 40 members.

This year, about 57 people are active members of the league.

The Earleys said the sport has caught on because it has an easy learning curve and is not as intense as tennis.

"It's very easy," she said.

The craze has also caught on in schools, the Earleys said. The Earleys have also hosted students from Etowah and Sequoyah high schools who love to play the sport.

Members of Cherokee's league must become a member of the USA Pickleball Association. Membership for people ages 25 and under and seniors 50 and older is $20 each year. Adults are $25 per year and rates for families with two or more members are $45 per year.

Membership includes a t-shirt, membership card, an official rulebook, a monthly newsletter and a static-cling window sticker.

The growth of pickleball's popularity has even caught the attention of the county government. County Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens, an active member of the league, said the county is considering using two tennis courts at the old Buffington Elementary School building as pickleball courts.

Ahrens said the sport has given a lot of people an opportunity to be active.

He also said adding places to play pickleball will be another asset to Cherokee County.

"It's an important dimension to our quality of life," he said of having a diverse offering of activities.

Earley said the sport is popular among older adults because it combines hand/eye coordination and allows older adults to remain active.

"You can learn so quickly and everybody has fun," he said.

Earley added he's met with Nelson Mayor David Leister and said the mayor was interested in possibly setting up pickleball courts in his city.

Steve and Pat Dunn of Cartersville said they've discussed adding pickleball courts throughout Bartow County with its Parks and Recreation Department.

Dunn said he invited officials with the department to watch a game and said they were impressed with the game.

Dr. Marilyn Stapleton of Woodstock has been playing pickleball with the Earleys for the past five years.

Dr. Stapleton said she had never heard of the sport, but since playing, she's made friends and has stayed in shape.

"It's fun and its good exercise," she said.
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