What has become an annual event will draw pickleball players from seven states to Mount Airy this month.
A total of 108 pickleball players from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio will converge on the Granite City to play in the Third Annual Mayberry Pickleball Tournament from July 13-15, 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 Surry County Health Department initiatives that were left unfunded.
Heath Department employees submit grant proposals. This year, the Foundation divided $10,000 among five grants. The programs funded included educational displays, drug monitoring software, a senior health education fair, an adolescent diabetes support group, and three-year birth control implants.
Each competitor’s $40 entry fee will be put toward these initiatives.
Pickleball is a quickly growing sport which follows rules similar to those of tennis, according to Lewis, but uses a plastic ball and oversized ping-pong paddles.
The sport is very popular locally, especially among senior citizens, as it offers a slightly slower pace of game than tennis. But is also has increasing national appeal. Lewis noted that pickleball players are nationally ranked, and many of the top pickleball players in the country will be in Mount Airy for the event.
The tournament will be held on five courts located at the Reeves Community Center and Northern Wellness and Fitness Center. Doubles competition will take place on July 13-14, and mixed doubles competition will take place on the 15th.
“Both locations have been most gracious in letting us use their facilities,” added Lewis.
He hopes that local folks turn out to support the Health Foundation mission and the pickleball players traveling from, in some cases, hundreds of miles away.
“Play begins at 1 p.m. on Friday, 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday,” Lewis said. “Tournament brackets will be posted at all of the locations. The public is welcome to come and see what pickleball is all about.”
Lewis, who is a local pickleball ambassador, is joined by Jane Lewis, Jack Moore and Barbara Anderson as tournament organizers.
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 get a medal for their accomplishments, they will leave with their own block of granite.
“Hopefully, this memento will encourage them, along with their families and friends, to return to our fine city,” concluded Lewis.