MACON, Ga. — Grab your rackets!
The state pickleball tournament is happening at Macon's Tattnall Square Park Friday through Sunday, and 450 players are coming to play pickleball here in Macon.
The tournament is put on by the Georgia Recreation and Park Association, and it is taking place at the Tattnall Square Pickleball Center.
This is not the first time the state pickleball tournament has taken place in Macon - over the past two years, the tournament has come down to Central Georgia for a weekend of pickleball. Now, they are back again.
According to a release from Macon-Bibb County, Macon Pickleball Board Member John Roberts said there is a lot of engagement within the Macon Pickleball community.
"Macon Pickleball boasts the most active and engaged membership of any club in the state. Our members give so freely of their time and talents to provide visitors with a welcoming and hospitable atmosphere,” Roberts said.
In the meantime, Macon city leaders are working on opening a massive pickleball complex at the Macon Mall.
According to previous reporting, they expect the Macon Mall pickleball facility to open its doors later this year. They say it will be the largest pickleball center in the world.
But according to Special Local Option Sales Tax — or SPLOST — Coordinator Clay Murphy, Macon's current facilities at Tattnall Square Park have their own set of advantages for organizers of the state tournament.
“I don’t think you’ll find anyone that would tell you this isn’t the best facility in the state,” Murphy said in the release. “Being centrally located, having nearby hotels, being close to downtown with restaurants all makes it more inviting to people and groups.”
Leaders in the Macon pickleball community, like the association's president Paul Midkiff, says that he sees Pickleball as a driver of economic growth. With new facilities like the one at the Macon Mall, he sees dollar signs as well as a fun, active pastime.
"I think the city is seeing what the economic impact can do for our town, but I think also it makes our community healthier and happier," Midkiff said. "If you're out on a pickleball court, you can't go very long without hearing a lot of laughter."
At Tattnall Square Park there are 26 pickleball courts for people to make use of at "all hours of the day," according to the release.
The State Championship kicked off Friday morning at 10 a.m.
According to the release, gender doubles will be played all day on Saturday and on Sunday and there will be mixed doubles all day.
Macon-Bibb County is inviting spectators to come out and watch some pickleball "and enjoy the atmosphere," the release said.