Rolling Hills neighborhood embraces junior tennis, pickleball leagues

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 9/21/22

LAKE ASBURY – The wheels of America's burgeoning pickleball revolution keep turning.

The past decade has seen a pickleball revolution, especially in Clay County, widely due to its simplicity and …

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Rolling Hills neighborhood embraces junior tennis, pickleball leagues

Posted

LAKE ASBURY – The wheels of America's burgeoning pickleball revolution keep turning.

The past decade has seen a pickleball revolution, especially in Clay County, widely due to its simplicity and availability to several age groups.

The Rolling Hills neighborhood of Lake Asbury has six tennis courts and four pickleball courts. The program has an active schedule with junior players and a monthly United States Professional Junior Tennis Association junior tournament on the first Friday night of every month.

Jimmy Haynes is a USPJTA and International Federation of Pickleball and the Professional Pickleball Registry certified instructor. He began teaching at Rolling Hills in March of 2020, in addition to teaching at Oakleaf Plantation and his work as a minister in Jacksonville.

Haynes has witnessed the explosive growth of pickleball first-hand. He likens it to a combination of ping pong and tennis.

“It’s just growing like crazy,” Haynes said. “All around Duval County they are converting tennis courts to pickleball and it’s happening a bit in Clay County as well.”

There are tournaments almost every weekend in Clay and oftentimes people are waiting to play. Haynes said pickleball is accessible and takes less of a toll on the body. It’s also inexpensive, not requiring a new ball as frequently as tennis.

“First off, it’s a lot easier than tennis, it’s not as strenuous. You usually play doubles,” Haynes said. “If you play it right, you don’t have to do a lot of running.”

Haynes highlighted the sport’s sociability. The games are played in close quarters, one-third of a tennis court's size. He said the pickleball community has a reputation for being friendly and helpful.

“It’s a very addicting sport,” he said.

An American Association of Retired Persons report said the median age of a pickleball is 38 years old. For older ages, the sport combats physical inactivity and boosts cognitive functions critical to preventing dementia, a 2020 study from the Lancet Commission reviewed health risk factors for people later in life.

While pickleball continues to boom, tennis can be an outlet for students who miss out on baseball, basketball or football. A person need not be an amazing athlete to pick up tennis, Haynes said.

“You can play if you’re not athletically gifted. If they want to play tournaments, we can step it up with lessons,” Haynes said. “We have a lot of success stories like that, they’re sitting around the house and their parents are worried. They get the tennis bug. Then they’re on their high school teams. It really can be a life-changing experience.”

Haynes also teaches a lesson for homeschool students every Wednesday at 10 a.m.

“It becomes their physical education,” he said.

The free learn-to-play clinic takes place Monday at 6 p.m. at 3212 Bradley Creek Road. Rolling Hills offers classes for novices, and intermediates as well as competition in open play, tournaments or matches between clubs.

Sign-up is available at tennisatrollinghills.com.

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