By Pete Zamplas-Hendersonville Sports Club’s Rally for the Cure mixed doubles, round-robin racquet tournament Oct. 4 benefits breast cancer research.
There will be mixed doubles in tennis, racquetball and the rising sport of pickleball.
Proceeds from Rally for the Cure: Raise a Racquet for Breast Cancer go to the 31-year-old non-profit Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. HSC owner Bill Seward and manager Mary Catherine Ward, the tourney director, both described the breast cancer benefit as a crucial cause they eagerly support.
The tourney entry fee is $35 per person per morning or evening session including a meal, or $60 for both. The morning session has tennis 9:30-11 a.m. on six clay courts outdoors and two cushioned indoor surfaces, then pickleball 11 to noon; or racquetball is 10 am. to noon. Lunch is at noon.
The evening session starts with an optional $40 drill clinic by HSC teaching pro and prior owner Bobby Garrett, features pickleball at 7-8 p.m. then dinner.
Entry perks include a Conde Nast magazine subscription, Rally for the Cure T-Shirt, “goodie” bag, and prize raffle ticket. Donor 5×7 cards will be displayed in the clubhouse. Tennis balls are pink, color of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Meanwhile, pickleball with required quick reflexes, footwork and tactics is appealing to various-aged players of tennis, ping pong, paddle ball, squash and racquetball. HRC tapes off tennis courts to one-third normal size, to badminton dimensions for doubles.
Pickleball is played by an estimated 450,000 nationwide, is a Senior Games sport in many states and Fun Times game in N.C. A couple in Seattle devised the game, naming it after their cocker spaniel Pickles who chased stray balls. Play is slowed by hitting whiffle balls with big, heavy paddles.
Underhand-only serving and a no-entry foot zone near the net all also result in longer rallies requiring quick footwork and reaction, noted Dennis Krueger. He regularly plays racquetball at HSC. He tried pickleball in HSC’s latest Thursday morning session indoors. He enjoyed the sport, once adjusting his swing and timing.
Pickleball can sharpen tennis net play, several players said. Since the paddles have a much smaller “sweet spot” than tennis racquets, HSC member Barbara Johnson noted, it forces the player to keep watching the ball strike the racquet. That is a good tennis practice, too. “You need faster reflexes” than in tennis and sharp eye-hand coordination, she added. Swings have strong wrist action, as in table tennis.
In the handful of HSC pickleball sessions thus far, HSC member Frances Jones has developed consistently accurate and well-placed swings. Deep returns handcuff foes. HSC players said main challenges include figuring how hard to hit the ball and where, gauging the often surprising and low bounces and returning them with heavy topspin.
Local venues include the Lelia Patterson Center in Fletcher, outdoors at Kenmure Country Club for residents there, and year-round indoors at Henderson County Athletic and Activity Center (formerly Hendersonville Christian School, at 708 S. Grove St.) and at Hendersonville Sports Club. HSC is near U.S. 64 West/Brevard Road, at 88 Oak Creek Lane off of White Pine Drive near Laurel Park.
HSC will also host an Oktoberfest racquet tournament, in late October. Call the club at 693-0400 for more on the Rally for the Cure tourney; or on HSC programs including youth tennis school, indoor soccer and youth flag football.