Pickleball drawing in players of all ages in Biloxi

Pickleball drawing in players of all ages in Biloxi
The sport is popular among older people on the coast (Source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The popularity of a unique sport has hit the Coast.

Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports, and it's drawing in players of all ages.

To George Hults, age is nothing but a number. The only number that matters to the 87-year-old is his score on the pickleball court.

"If it wasn't for this, I'd be sitting on a couch. This keeps me alive," Hults said.

And outside of giving him something to do, Hults admits he's pretty good at the sport. He's won several gold medals but says this unique sport has something for everyone.

"It's easy. That's the keyword, it's easy. Because look at all the people who can play - big, tall, fat, skinny, it don't matter, old," he said.

That could be part of the reason why this mix of ping pong, tennis, and badminton is exploding on the Coast.

In 2014, it had just about two dozen players. Now, that number is around 250.

On Saturday, a ribbon cutting was held to officially open six new outdoor pickleball courts off Popps Ferry Road. Its complete with a storage shed that volunteers built last month.

This growing sport is most popular among older people and gives them a place to socialize.

"There's no place for us to go to meet people. I mean we go to church, but that's limited. So, we come out here. And we're from Ocean Springs, and we're meeting people from Biloxi, Gulfport. Plus, it lets us get exercise in a fun way," said Jackie Lewis.

Lewis and her friend Deborah Golden are former tennis players. Because of injuries, they can no longer play. So, this is their alternative.

"I have a metal plate in this wrist, a metal plate here, and I had a compound fracture. And the doctor said, you must keep moving, and this is a great way to do it without a high impact on all those bones," said Golden.

It's a sport that's bringing a little bit of fun for everyone, regardless of age or skill.

"We have a lot of folks that are in their senior years, and they find this as a great way of meeting other people and just having a great time," said Tom Linenberger, pickleball organizer.

"If you want to get some exercise, come on out, get it," said pickleball player Cheryl Berry-Smith.

For more information on pickleball courts in Harrison County, visit this website.

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