What has become an annual event will draw pickleball players from five states to Mount Airy this month.
One hundred pickleball players from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee will converge on Mount Airy to play in the second-annual Mayberry Pickleball Tournament on June 17 and 18, according to Jackie Lewis, a tournament organizer.
Lewis and a group of other local pickleball players started the tournament in 2016 as a means to raise money for the Surry County Health Foundation, an organization which Lewis noted provides funds for Surry County Health Department initiatives left unfunded.
Some of those initiatives include, according to Lewis, an infant bilirubin scanner, infant sleep sacks to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, support for an adolescent diabetes support group and three-year birth control implants.
Each competitor’s $35 entry fee will be put toward those initiatives.
Pickleball is a quickly growing sport which follows rules similar to those of tennis, according to Lewis, but uses a plastic ball and over-sized ping-pong paddles.
The sport is very popular locally, especially among senior citizens, as it offers a slightly slower pace of game than tennis.
It’s not just popular locally. Lewis noted that pickleball players are nationally ranked, and many top-ranked players will be in Mount Airy for the event.
The tournament will take place on five courts located at Reeves Community Center and Northern Wellness and Fitness Center. Doubles competition will take place on June 17, and mixed-doubles competition will take place on June 18.
“Both locations have been most gracious in letting us use their facilities,” added Lewis.
Though the deadline for entry into the tournament has passed, Lewis explained that he and other organizers are hoping some folks will turn out at the two locations to support the Health Foundation mission and the pickleball players travelling from, in some cases, hundreds of miles away.
“Play begins at 9 a.m. on both days, and tournament brackets will be posted at the locations,” remarked Lewis. “The public is welcome to come and see what pickleball is all about.”
Since Mount Airy is known as the Granite City, tournament organizers have arranged a special sort of memento for pickleball players who rise to the top of the field. Rather than getting a medal for their accomplishments, they will leave with their own block of granite.
“Hopefully this memento will encourage them, their families and friends to return to our fair city,” concluded Lewis.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.