As pickleball gains popularity, here's a list of Wilmington-area places to play

·2 min read
Tom Polk plays pickleball at Middleton Park in Oak Island. The sport is gaining popularity throughout the Wilmington area.
Tom Polk plays pickleball at Middleton Park in Oak Island. The sport is gaining popularity throughout the Wilmington area.

Pickleball, a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, is the fastest-growing sport in the United States, according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

Pickleball is also a game appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels, and can be played outside or inside.

Oak Island resident Tom Polk, 56, grew up playing tennis, and while he still does, Polk started playing pickleball a couple of years ago.

“Pickleball is appealing because it is not as physically demanding as tennis but still offers a lot of challenging competition," Polk said.

More: The 'Topgolf' of pickleball: Project could bring courts, restaurant to Castle Hayne

The smaller court and unique rules make it a game that relies more on technique and strategy, rather than physical prowess.

The learning curve for getting proficient at pickleball is also much easier, thus opening it up to new populations of players who either did not grow up playing racquet sports or who haven’t played in a long time.

“Basically, by playing inside you have control of the conditions, and the courts  provide cushion that helps with knees and joints,” said Richard Holloman, executive director of House of Pickleball (The Hop) in Leland.

More than 7,000 people have House of Pickleball from all over the country. The six-court facility opened in 2018, are is booked year-round especially in the summer and winter months.

People travel from Florida, Georgia and other southeastern states to play in tournaments at The Hop, Holloman said.

More: Ocean Isle Beach is upgrading its Town Center Park. Here's what to expect.

Playing pickleball indoors vs. outside is a very different experience.

“Outdoors, the wind is definitely a factor that impacts the game, as does the sun (can be used to your advantage by lobbing your opponents). Indoors, all of these external factors are removed and the game becomes more precise,” Polk said.

Players enjoy a game of pickleball at Greenfield Lake in Wilmington.
Players enjoy a game of pickleball at Greenfield Lake in Wilmington.

Here are a few places to play pickleball in the Wilmington area.

New Hanover

  • Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens, 1739 Burnett Blvd., Wilmington

  • Midtown YMCA, 709 George Anderson Drive, Wilmington. Free to members, guests pay $10 fee.

  • Mike Chappell Park, 501 Dow Road South, Carolina Beach

  • Northern Regional Park, 4700 Old Ave., Castle Hayne

  • Robert Strange Park, 401 S.  Eighth St., Wilmington

  • Veterans Park, 835 Halyburton Memorial Pkwy, Wilmington

  • Wrightsville Beach Rec Center, 1 Bob Sawyer Drive, Wrightsville Beach

Brunswick County

  • House of Pickleball, 115 Kay Todd Road, S.E., Leland

  • Middleton Park, 4610 E. Dolphin Drive, Oak Island

  • Ocean Isle Beach Park, 6483 Old Georgetown Road, SW, Ocean Isle Beach

  • Smithville Township District Park, 8392 River Road, S.E., Southport

  • Town Creek Park, 6420 Ocean Highway, East, Winnabow

Pender County

  • IronClad Golf, 2368 Country Club Drive, Hampstead

  • Surf City Parks & Recreation Community Center, 201 Community Center Drive, Surf City

  • Topsail Beach Pickleball Courts, Topsail Beach Town Center, 624 S, Anderson Blvd., Surf City

Contact Cheryl Whitaker at cheryl.whitaker@starnewsonline.com or 910-343-2004.

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Craving pickleball? Here are places in the Wilmington area to play.