Connect with us


Pickleball Growth Expanding in Peachtree Corners



pickleball peachtree corners

The relatively new sport has more players than courts to accommodate them

Pat Foley remembers when the popularity of tennis exploded into its golden era in the 1970s. That’s when the 65-year-old Peachtree Corners resident picked up the game, and he continued to play it for decades to come. But as Foley has gotten older, the physical demands of tennis haven’t changed.

“I played tennis for a long time, and as we age, the tennis court seems to get bigger and bigger,” he said.

Now Foley is seeing the surge of another sport — pickleball. It’s like tennis but doesn’t require players to cover as much turf. In 2019, National Public Radio named pickleball the fastest growing sport in America, and according to news outlet Axios, participation in the sport increased by 21.3% between 2019 and 2020. An estimated 4.2 million Americans play the sport at least once per year.

“I had seen something in the news about it,” Foley said. “I had never played it. I really enjoyed it. It’s a very social game.”

Foley is a member of the Pickleball Flex League, which was started last year by Ace Tennis Academy owner Jeff Weaver and is designed to introduce new players to the sport.

Weaver has owned and operated Ace Tennis Academy since 1994 and developed it into one of the top tennis development programs in Atlanta, producing the winners of more than 35 national titles. But with the rapid growth of pickleball and no pickleball courts near Peachtree Corners to play on, he decided it was time to expand Ace Tennis Academy beyond tennis.

“It was time to introduce pickleball because pickleball is growing so much,” Weaver said. “There’s a want and a need for tennis players to play pickleball, but there’s also a want and a need for our members who don’t play tennis. We’re introducing pickleball and engaging more membership.”

A sport is born

The Pickleball Flex League allows members to play matches on their schedules. It’s a doubles-only league, which means players must find a partner of the same gender to form a team, and the league is divided into different divisions based on experience.

Each team communicates with other teams to schedule when and where the match will take place. Teams can designate any suitable court they choose to be their home court, where they will play three of their six matches for the season.

“We set up a flexible league because most people don’t have permanent courts,” Weaver said. “They have tennis courts with lines on it and they have to share time with tennis players. The flexible league allows them to schedule on their own time.”

Weaver said he first gauged community interest by hosting a meet-and-greet at its Field’s Club location in the Riverfield neighborhood off East Jones Bridge Road. The event drew a crowd of about 100 people. Now the league is beginning its third season. “We tripled in size from our first season to our second season,” he said. “We’re projected to probably double that or triple that this coming season.”

Foley, who has played in the league since the first season, said he not only noticed the growth in the second season, which took place last fall, but also the difference in competition. “Everybody that we played was better in the second season, and we didn’t play any of the same people,” he said.

Weaver said what the Pickleball Flex League currently offers is just the beginning. Ace Tennis Academy is in the process of converting two of its eight tennis courts at its Amberfield location, behind The Forum, into six full-time pickleball courts. When that happens, those courts will play full-time host to league matches, he said, and he plans to hire a full-time pickleball coach to the Ace Tennis Academy staff.

“Once we have permanent courts built, we will start providing a full-time pickleball instructor with those and start programming for our members. And then it’ll just blow up,” Weaver predicted. “Our goal is to build the pickleball membership to be as high as the tennis membership here.”

League membership costs $70 per player, and Weaver said he plans to expand the league from doubles to mixed doubles (a male and female on each team) and singles for its upcoming summer season. He’s also considered the possibility of forming a club team that would compete against other clubs from around Atlanta.

Need for public courts

But Weaver also acknowledges that an effort to establish permanent public pickleball courts would be beneficial to Peachtree Corners. “We’re also wanting to help the city and people in the area to lobby to have courts built in Peachtree Corners,” he said. “That would be a big plus for the pickleball community. You don’t have to be a member of the club to play.”

The city isn’t alone in having a lack of permanent courts despite growing interest in the sport.

Walter Putnam

Walter Putnam, a certified pickleball instructor in Duluth, said he has taught more than 800 people to play the sport in the past three years. “I haven’t had one person hand me their paddle back and say ‘Hey, this is not for me,’” Putnam said. “Everyone seems to like it. I spend about an hour and half to introduce them, and it only takes three lessons before they’re ready to go and play open matches.”

The question is, where can they go to play those matches?

Putnam is an ambassador for USA Pickleball, which means he travels through metro Atlanta raising awareness of the sport, establishing pickleball programs and lobbying to have public courts built.

Putnam said he has been working with Gwinnett County for two years trying to get more public courts built. He said the county has a 10-year plan to build 40 courts scattered throughout the area, but Putnam said ideally there needs to be one or two facilities that host 20 courts each. “We need a lot more than three or four here or three or four there,” he said. “We need a facility with something like 22 dedicated courts.

“This is an explosive market for pickleball. I’ve been predicting it for several years. It’s a slow process, but I would like to see something dramatic happen in Gwinnett County.”

Freelance journalist and content marketer, author and aspiring Screenwriter. Nathan has written for Savannah Morning News, The Brunswick News and the Bayonet and Saber.

Continue Reading


A Record-Breaking Year for Wesleyan Athletics



Wesleyan is known for its faith-based academic excellence, but maybe you didn’t know that the school’s athletic prowess is just as impressive.
Girls Cross Country // Images courtesy of Wesleyan

Wesleyan School is known for its faith-based academic excellence, but maybe you didn’t know that the school’s athletic achievements are just as impressive. This year alone, Wesleyan has amassed an astounding nine state championships.

“The Wesleyan School athletic program has been incredibly blessed to enjoy a significant amount of success during the 2023-2024 school year. Winning nine state championships is a credit to our student-athletes, coaches, and parents,” said Chris Cleveland, head of school and assistant coach for the varsity boys basketball team.

Nine state championship titles are the most Wesleyan has ever won in a single school year. But the school’s athletic department is focused on far more besides winning. 

“While winning a state championship is a substantial accomplishment that is worthy of celebration, it is not the sole measure by which we measure the success of a season. It is our greatest desire and prayer that the lives of our students will be transformed due to the investment by our coaches and through the relationships they build with their teammates,” added Cleveland. 

After the girls and boys lacrosse teams won their state titles earlier this year, Wesleyan now has a state championship in every sport they field.

“We are so proud of our student-athletes, coaches, and our entire athletics program. Regardless of the number of state championships in a given year, our goal is to develop young men and young women of character. When recognition like state titles accompanies that objective, it certainly is a lot of fun and a great honor for our entire community,” commented Lacy Gilbert, director of athletics.

Congratulations to all Wesleyan student-athletes, coaches and faculty for this incredible accomplishment.

List of team titles:

  • Girls Softball
  • Girls Cross Country
  • Boys Swim & Dive
  • Girls Swim & Dive
  • Girls Lacrosse
  • Boys Lacrosse
  • Girls Tennis
  • Girls Track & Field
  • Boys Golf

List of individual titles:

  • Weezie Moore – Girls Cross Country
  • Abbey Suits – Dive
  • Hattie Wasmuth – Swim: 200 Medley
  • Max Perry – Swim: 50 Free
  • Ryan Cowart, Jace Neeb, JJ Neeb and Max Perry – Swim: 200 Free Relay
  • Ansley Chapman, MC Harrison, Vivian Hosier and Hattie Wasmuth – Swim: 200 free relay
  • Ryan Cowart, JJ Neeb, Max Perry and Connor Worgo – Swim: 400 free relay
  • Ansley Chapman, Lily Corbitt, Vivian Hosier and Hattie Wasmuth – Swim: 400 free relay
  • Weezie Moore – Track & Field: 3,200 meters
  • Kyra Brubaker, Ansley Voss, Eva Murphy and Julie Anne Bush – Track & Field: 4 x 800-meter relay
  • Anne McSweeney – Track & Field: 800 meters
  • Ben Vondrak – Track & Field: Wheelchair 800 meters and 200 meters

Continue Reading


The ALTA Foundation Announces the 2024 L. Keith Wood Scholarship Award Winners



Congratulations to the eight well-deserving recipients who will receive this year’s L. Keith Wood Scholarship award winners scholarship. ALTA Foundation committee members reviewed numerous applications from exceptionally talented, intelligent and community focused students to make their decisions.

To qualify for this award, candidates must have engaged in either the ALTA Junior League, participated in the Junior Challenge Ladder, or been involved in the Foundation’s START program. They had to have shown a dedication to community and volunteer service along with being able to display how tennis has assisted with their growth, both on and off the court.

Each awardee will be granted a $2,500 scholarship to support their educational endeavors and will be honored on center court during ALTA Day on July 22 at the Atlanta Open.

Here are the winners:

Isabelle Coursey – Atlanta, GA
ALTA Facility: Dekalb Tennis Center
Graduate of: Chamblee High School
Attending: Georgia Tech

Riley Hamrick – Peachtree Corners, GA
ALTA Facility: Peachtree Station Swim and Tennis
Graduate of: Norcross High School
Attending: University of Georgia

Athena Misewicz – Dunwoody, GA
ALTA Facility: Dunwoody Country Club
Graduate of: Dunwoody High Schoolz
Attending: University of Georgia

Prisha Mody – Johns Creek, GA
ALTA Facility: Peachtree Station
Graduate of: Johns Creek High School
Attending: University of Georgia

Mara Opre – Suwanee, GA
ALTA Facility: Sharon Springs Park
Graduate of: Lambert High School
Attending: Anderson University

Ben Stone – Suwanee, GA
ALTA Facility: Mayfair/ St. Clair
Graduate of: Lambert High School
Attending: University of Alabama

Ally Turnbough – Snellville, GA
ALTA Facility: Briscoe Park
Graduate of: Greater Atlanta Christian School
Attending: Clark Atlanta University

Davis Wall – Duluth, GA
ALTA Facility: Canterbury Woods
Graduate of: Peachtree Ridge High School
Attending: University of Georgia

Continue Reading


Peachtree Corners Gets Pole Position in Speed Week 2024



The 2024 Curiosity Lab Criterium will take place on a course in the world-famous Curiosity Lab in Peachtree Corners.
Criterium Race in 2023

The first Curiosity Lab Criterium took place last year on a cold, rainy day, but the weather didn’t dampen enthusiasm for the event.

The collection of Speed Week criteriums in Georgia and South Carolina kicks off Thursday, April 25, in Greenville, SC, and wraps up on Sunday, May 5, in College Park, GA.

Peachtree Corners has added many new components this year, including a Sunday time slot.

“It was a good opportunity for us to get a feel for it,” said Louis Svehla, the city’s communications director. “[We got to see] how it would work in the setup and stuff like that.”

This year’s event will also feature a running race, races for kids, food trucks, vendors and other activities for the family.

Speed Week is a premiere event on the U.S. Pro Cycling Circuit that draws cyclists worldwide, including Olympic medalists and world and national champions.  In 2023, the professional men’s and women’s events drew cyclists from over 30 states and more than 20 countries.

Criterium Race in 2023

Gearing up for race day

The 2024 Curiosity Lab Criterium will take place on a course in the world-famous Curiosity Lab in Peachtree Corners, a 5G-enabled, 500-acre living laboratory ecosystem designed specifically as a proving ground for IoT, mobility and smart city technologies.

The Curiosity Lab Criterium will feature an array of innovative technologies currently being deployed to help protect vulnerable road users (VRUs). This event will also showcase the VRU technology of tomorrow as exhibited by private sector V2X companies and sensor innovators, OEMs hardware and software manufacturers, government officials, bike companies, advocacy groups and more.

“Despite it being a dreary day in the middle of the week last year, the public showed up and had a good time,” Svehla said.

“We always want people to gather and hang out with each other, especially when these events are free and really for them,” he added.

“For our first one, we were very happy with the turnout. … The vendors and the food trucks we hired for the event made their minimums, so they didn’t cost the city any money,” he explained.

Criterium Race in 2023

Even better than last year

Event producers, sponsors and race teams also gave great feedback.

“They were ecstatic about this course. They absolutely loved it because it’s unlike any other course they have on this circuit,” he said. “They love that there were elevation changes and … it was in a different type setting, not just on a city street like others.”

The success of that first year prompted the promoters to move this year’s race to a Sunday, a weekend race. It’s the day after the Athens race and the second one in Georgia.

“It’s not really far distance,” Svehla added. “And because of that, we expect to have more professional riders, both in the men’s and women’s professional divisions. And we’re hoping that also boosts the amount of … third tier riders that are amateurs but want to compete.”

“Last year’s races started at 3 p.m., and I think the last race went off at 9 p.m.,” he said. “This year, we are starting at 10 in the morning.”

The last race starts at 8 p.m. and lasts about an hour. In between, there are several junior categories for kids from 9 to 14 years old, a 130-yard race for little kids ages 5 to 9, a foot race and many family-friendly activities.

“Although the bike races are open to whoever registers, the running races are invitational only,” Svehla said.

“They’re inviting some of the best runners from the Southeast,” he said. These people are going to run a sub-six-minute mile, minimum.”

3-D printed trophy

Taking home the gold

Last year’s custom 3-D printed trophies for the professional men and women competitors will be replicated in smaller trophies and medals for the amateur racers.

The design is the same as last year, but the spokes on the wheel are gold. Local company ZhumeisterLabs (ZLabs3D) will be making the trophies.

In addition to being a fun, family-focused event, Curiosity Lab Criterium is also a chance to showcase the best of Peachtree Corners.

“[This] allows us to showcase Curiosity Lab, its different technologies and what being an IT city means,” said Svehla.

“We also want to be a leader in working with companies to provide solutions that make being on the road or next to the roadway as safe as possible. This, hopefully, will encourage more cycling, walking, running and multi-use trails.”

Curiosity Lab Criterium 2024

What: U.S. Pro Cycling Circuit Race and Running Race 
When: Sunday, April 28
Time: 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners City Hall (310 Technology Pkwy)
Learn more about the event at peachtreecornersga.gov/385/Curiosity-Lab-Criterium-2024.

Speed Week Events
April 25 through May 5

Greenville Cycling Classic
Greenville, SC
Thursday, April 25

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Criterium
Spartanburg, SC
Saturday, April 27

Athens Orthopedic Clinic Twilight Criterium p/b Michelob Ultra
Athens, GA
Sunday, April 28

Curiosity Lab Criterium
Peachtree Corners, GA
Tuesday, April 30

Spin the District – Union City criterium
Union City, GA
Wednesday, May 1 (non-speed week event)

Bonus! Track racing @ Dick Lane Velodrome
East Point, GA
Friday, May 3

Spin the District – Hapeville Criterium
Hapeville, GA
Saturday, May 4

Lagrange Cycling Classic
Lagrange, GA
Sunday, May 5

Speed Week Finals – Spin the District – College Park Criterium
College Park, GA
Sunday, May 5

Continue Reading

Read the Digital Edition


Peachtree Corners Life

Topics and Categories


Copyright © 2024 Mighty Rockets LLC, powered by WordPress.

Get Weekly Updates!

Get Weekly Updates!

Don't miss out on the latest news, updates, and stories about Peachtree Corners.

Check out our podcasts: Peachtree Corners Life, Capitalist Sage and the Ed Hour

You have Successfully Subscribed!