Dick and Desiré Osman, pictured here with their son, Matt, and grandson, Noah, are official ambassadors for USA Pickleball. They have helped grow the pickleball community in Charlotte. Photo by Raymond J Photography

Dinking Around

Pickleball madness comes to South Charlotte

By Nan Bauroth

Erne. Kitchen. Dink. Welcome to the wacky word salad of pickleball. It’s the fastest-growing sport in America, and South Charlotte is no exception.

Country clubs and neighborhoods are lining tennis and basketball courts to double as pickleball courts. Homeowners are painting pickleball boundaries on driveways. And by the end of this year, South Charlotte will have a dedicated pickleball facility. The space next to Sports Connection on Ardrey Kell Road, formerly occupied by Fitness Connection, will become a 30,000-square-foot Pickleball Charlotte location.

“We will have seven indoor courts available morning, noon and night, seven days a week,” says Allan Haseley, owner of Pickleball Charlotte and Sports Connection, a family sports entertainment center that will continue to operate next door. “With open play, we can have 42 people a session or around 200-300 players a day. We will offer leagues, clinics, tournaments and corporate outings, too.”

Dianne Baist and her family play pickleball in their driveway a few days a week. Photo courtesy of Dianne Baist

Dianne Baist and her family, who live in the Ladera neighborhood, play at home in their driveway for an hour or two a few days a week. “We have so much fun with my daughter Lindsay, who has Down syndrome, and my daughter Abigail and husband, Michael Catania,” she says. “Lindsay really likes the game, and I like to expose her to everything I can.”

The family has a net with poles that click into place but uses the cement squares on the driveway as lines of the court. “We don’t draw the kitchen — the non-volley section near the net — but we estimate the space,” she explains.

Baist, a wellness instructor who teaches special populations at the Brace Y in Matthews, says that after the facility started offering pickleball, she ordered a game set for herself online. “Several neighbors have commented on it, and a few weeks ago, I noticed another family on our street had a pickleball net set up in their driveway.”

Fabio and Brenda Teti, residents of Walden on Providence, turned their indoor basketball court in a separate building in their backyard into a mobile pickleball court with a movable net. “It is only a half-court for basketball, so there is plenty of room,” Brenda says. At first, they used painter’s tape to mark the lines, but the family now plays pickleball so often that they recently had pickleball court lines permanently painted in red to distinguish them clearly.