ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD)- People living on and visiting the Isle of Palms will soon be able to try their hand at the fastest-growing sport in America.

The city will open two new pickleball courts on April 17 at 10:00 a.m. at the Recreation Center on the corner of Harnett Boulevard and 27th Avenue.

Invented in 1965, pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping pong. It has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years with participation increasing by 158.6 percent over the past three years, according to a report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

“The adult and youth tennis program were already very popular here,” Recreation Department Director Karrie Ferrell said. “Pickleball is another great fitness option and perfect for families to enjoy. It’s also a great way to meet other players, whether residents or visitors on the island. We hope our guests enjoy the new, vibrant courts beneath the historic oak trees.” 

The courts — which began construction last fall — will create a dedicated playing space for the game so that “IOP residents and visitors will no longer need to convert tennis courts to play,” according to city officials.

“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S., and has certainly grown tremendously in popularity on the Isle of Palms in recent years,” Councilmember and Chair of the Public Services and Facilities Committee Rusty Streetman said. “These two courts are totally dedicated to pickleball, but the tennis court can still be utilized for pickleball as needed, to meet the needs of our growing community.”

Individual and group pickleball lessons will be offered to players at beginner and intermediate levels, or players can join the Isle of Palms’ social pickleball league starting in the fall.

In addition to the pickleball courts, the city will also unveil newly-renovated basketball courts at the recreation center. According to officials, the basketball courts are now regulation-sized and have been graded and crowned for proper drainage and water runoff.

“We needed to expand our offerings for this fast-growing sport [pickleball] while still providing room for our tennis and basketball lovers,” IOP Mayor Phillip Pounds said. “Our Rec Center continues to be a great gathering spot for all. We aim to enhance everyone’s experience. There are a couple of other projects for our Rec Center on the drawing board, hopefully coming soon.” 

All recreation center courts operate on a first-come, first-served basis, but are closed during private and group lessons.