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Pickleball takes over tennis courts

THU.| 4-20-23 | SPORTS

     At the end of last month, Greenville Parks and Recreation decided that the town needed more places to play pickleball. There were previously six tennis courts on Elm Street, but three are in the process of being transformed into pickleball courts. While this decision has had a positive impact on pickleball players

in Greenville, the tennis community has not had a similar reaction due to their courts being removed and

transformed. Tennis players and advocates Henry Hostetler and Rebecca Blount are two among many who do not support this new change. 

     While pickleball can be played on a tennis court, tennis cannot be played on a pickleball court.

     Tennis is played on a much larger court, you can actually put four pickleball courts on one tennis court,”

Hostetler said.


Photo by Edie Yount

                           “Tennis racquets are bigger with strings [and] pickleball is played with paddles that make a loud

sound when hit, similar to paddle ball at the beach.”

      The tennis community is taking a hard hit by losing these Elm Street courts due to their popularity.

     “[The] Elm Street location is the most popular place to play tennis in Greenville,” Hostelter said. “Many

afternoons there is a line waiting to play tennis, young folks and older folks alike play there.”

     These courts are also a common place due to their location and history.

     “The Elm Street courts have been there for over 50 years [and] many people have grown up playing tennis

at Elm Street,” Hostetler said. “Tommy Paul, a top 20 tennis player in the world, grew up here in Greenville; he

played on these courts.”

     The courts are surrounded by neighborhoods and many groups use these courts to practice.

     “I live close to the Elm Street courts and walk there with family and friends to play,” Blount said. “We are losing three courts that are welllocated for residents downtown, ECU students and families in surrounding


     The tennis community also feels as if the town of Greenville is negatively impacted because Elm Street serves as a host for tennis tournaments.

     “Not only does it give fewer places to play tennis in Greenville, many of the state championships that have

come here over the past 35 years will have to go elsewhere,” Hostetler said. “These tournaments bring in money

to the city’s economy and interest in tennis in Greenville, less courts means less people playing the sport of a


     Tennis is a sport that can be played from childhood to adulthood and is treasured by its players.

     “Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief medical official of the NCAA, said tennis was the best overall sport for mind and body,” Hostetler said. “A recently published report by the Mayo Clinic from the Copenhagen Heart Study found that tennis can add 9.7 years to one’s life.”

     In addition to the feelings towards this transformation, Greenville tennis players feel as if they were left out of

an important decision.

     “[A] disadvantage is that this was done without consultation or even notice to the tennis community,” Blount said. “Our local government should do better and we in the tennis community have been calling, writing, emailing for information on how this was done without any notice.” 

     The Elm Street courts were not the first courts in Greenville to be transformed as East Carolina University, Jaycee Park and West Greenville have all been stripped of tennis courts.

     “I hate to see Greenville going backwards, [and] in fact, Greenville has lost 25 public courts in the past

25 years,” Hostelter said. “Any time tennis courts are removed anywhere it makes me sad because there are less people that are able to play the best sport for life.”

     The tennis community will do what they can to keep the courts that they do still have so they can continue playing the sport they love.

     “We will keep playing tennis [and] we will speak out more and be better advocates for our sport.” Blount said.

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