The Surry County Health Foundation Board hosted the third annual Mayberry Pickleball Tournament last month, with a record 118 pickleballers from around the southeastern United States taking part in the event.
The tournament began in 2016 with 76 competitors entered over two days of competition, and has increased its attendance each year. In 2018, the tournament was held on five courts at the Reeves Community Center and Northern Wellness and Fitness Center. It was held from July 13-15, with doubles on the first two days and mixed doubles on the 15th.
Pickleball is a relatively new racquet sport with rules similar to those of tennis, but is played with a plastic ball and oversized ping-pong style paddles. The different equipment causes pickleball to be played at a slightly slower pace than tennis, and for that reason, it is increasing in popularity among older people. For the last few years, there have been national rankings for the country’s best pickleball players, and many of the top-ranked American pickleballers were in the Granite City last month for the tournament.
Particpants came from both Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Ohio this year. Medals were awarded to teams that finished second and third, while championship teams earned a trophy unique to Mount Airy — a “piece of the rock,” made from local granite.
Even organizers said that this year’s tournament turned a profit of more than $6,000. The first tournament made about $2,000, and last year it topped $5,000. The monies are used to fund grants for health department needs that are not available from tax dollars. Programs funded in the past from the Pickleball Tournament and other fundraisers included educational displays, drug monitoring software, a senior health education fair, an adolescent diabetes support group, and three-year birth control implants. The $40 entry fee for each entrant in the tournament will go toward projects such as these.
Jane and Jackie Lewis, Jack Moore and Barbara Anderson were the organizers for this year’s tournament.
Inquiries are all ready being received concerning next years dates as players are eager to return. The 2018 tournament actually had a waiting list for people wanting to enter, so more growth is anticipated for 2019.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.