‘Paddles at the Plex’ showcases Opelika’s growing pickleball community

'Paddles at the Plex' showcases Opelika's newest sport

OPELIKA, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s the fastest growing sport in the country, and it happened in Lee County this weekend. Pickleball.

The City of Opelika hosted “Paddles at the Plex,” the second annual pickleball tournament organized by the Opelika Parks and Recreation Department and the Opelika-Auburn Pickleball Club.

The event featured 325 players from 12 different states.

“We are excited about having people from all across the Southeast in Opelika,” said Sam Bailey, director of Opelika Parks and Recreation in a press release about the tournament. “It gives us the chance to show off our facility and our community.”

“I picked up pickleball about four years ago,” said Birmingham resident and pickleball player Greg Hart. “I went out one day and a lady said ‘Lemme show you this sport.’ I came out and fell in love with it instantly.”

Hart said pickleball has helped him become more active, while also making some new friends and learning a new sport.

“It’s a social activity, it’s exercise, it’s getting all the old people like myself off the couch. Everyone just loves it,” said Hart. “You make a lot of friends from all over the country.”

Additionally, “Paddles at the Plex” is a great way to boost the economy. Anthony Terling, AO Tourism sports and event development manager, predicts that the estimated economic impact from the tournament will exceed $120,000.

“Auburn-Opelika Tourism is ecstatic for the opportunity to showcase the Opelika Pickelball Facility,” said Terling. “Following a tough year, these types of events mean more than ever to our local businesses.”

“Paddles at the Plex” will wrap up on Sunday.

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