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Laying The Foundation

After Joe Caruso and Connor Murphy convinced Scott Mitchell to play in July 2012, pickleball at The Landings Club began to grow. More people were drawn to the sport which meant the Club needed to devote time and resources to accommodate the growing interest in pickleball.


The first dedicated pickleball court was created in 2013 by converting half of the tennis practice hitting wall. Lines for pickleball were painted and a portable net was added. There was not much space between the endline and the wall and there was no fencing, but with a dedicated pickleball court, the number of players started to grow. Later that year, pickleball lines were added to one of the tennis hard courts, yielding two more pickleball courts.  Jim Emery, Gary Witbeck, Connor Murphy, Ted Copland and David Berlin were some of the early players. And women were discovering this fun new racquet sport, too.  Melissa O’Brien, Shirley Swedloff, Jan Bishop and Linda Rubin helped break down the “gender wall”. They proved that pickleball was a sport where women could go toe to toe with men – and win.


Golden Gherkins

In 2103, Jan Bishop started teaching pickleball clinics and the following year, Landings Club players started playing in tournaments. The first interclub match was against the Amelia Island Club in April 2014, with our “Golden Gherkins” winning 12-0!  Against Sun City Hilton Head that June, the Gherkins didn’t fare as well.  Without any pickleball instruction from the Club, the players realized they had to find their own. In November 2015, Tim Sampson, Jim Emery, Ted Copeland and David Berlin travelled to The Villages in Florida for personal lessons with Richard Movsessian , better known as Coach Mo, a silver medalist in the 2010 USAPA National Championships   It was from him that the concept of a softer, more strategic game was introduced to ballers at the Landings. Prior to that most Landings picklers were bangers.


Chris Kader became the new head of Courts Sports in the same year. During the interview process he was advised that pickleball, while relatively new at The Landings, was building a following and needed his attention. That summer, the other hard court tennis court was totally resurfaced and repainted specifically for pickleball.   Chris and Mike Stevenson conducted their first clinic on these three new courts (now courts 9 - 11) in December.


Tina Kelly (April 2017)

In 2014,  Jim Emery petitioned the Club to have a seat on the tennis committee and created a pickleball subcommittee.  This committee recruited members to develop and promote social functions, publicity and tournament play. 


Pickleball was added to the annual Special Pops tournament in September 2016, organized by Ted Copeland.  While some visiting teams were victorious, Tim Sampson and Jim Emery won the men’s doubles while Jim and Dinah Zapatka took silver in the mixed doubles. The first Pickleball Club Championships were held in April 2017.  Tina Kelly hit the trifecta by winning her singles match, her doubles match with Meri Campbell and her mixed doubles match with Rich Morell.  Tim Sampson and Jim Emery won the men’s doubles division.  In late June of the same year, Tim and Rich Heyman traveled to Atlanta for the Georgia Pickleball Championships. They won, earning themselves a gold medal and the cover of TWATL. That win helped establish The Landings Club as major competitors in the Georgia pickleball world.

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