An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Shalin BhatiaApril 22, 2024

The Atlanta Board of Education has formed a community panel of parents, teachers, students and community leaders to provide community input in...

New pickleball club broadens athletic opportunities

Ellie Palaian
Senior Olivia Allen swings through the ball during a monthly pickleball meeting at Piedmont Park on Sept. 28.

As tournaments, courts and leagues continue to pop-up around Atlanta, seniors Sadie Smearman and London Zeigler brought pickleball to Midtown, hoping to contribute to the growth of the recently popularized sport.

“It’s like tennis but more accessible for everyone,” Zeigler said. “So, many people show up to the tennis courts to play pickleball, and it interests me with all the different ages and types of people; I wanted to try it.”

Zeigler has been playing pickleball for about a year and talked to friends about spreading the word about starting a club for people with the same love for pickleball.

“It started as sort of a joke, but then we realized how many people, of all grades, had at least a slight interest in this sport; so, we got some signatures and a sponsor and now we’re here,” Zeigler said.

Smearman began playing pickleball for fun on weekends after seeing signs around her neighborhood for leagues and tournaments. Because the advertisement persuaded her to begin playing, it provoked an idea to bring that attention to Midtown.

“I think people see pickleball as a more underground sport, but it’s really so popular now,” Smearman said. “I think people will be more comfortable coming out and playing, whether it’s their first or hundredth time. We all just want to have fun and get exercise in a way that we enjoy.”

The club is sponsored by new AP Environmental Science teacher Laura Rogers.

“I’m excited to learn more about this popular sport,” Rogers said. “It’ll be exciting meeting new people across the school and getting to know some familiar faces better.”

Freshman Peyton Hamilton signed up for the club, looking to get involved in new extracurriculars and join clubs as an underclassmen.

“Clubs, in general, are a good way to get to meet new people, so I’m looking forward to being able to meet new people and be outside playing a fun sport at the same time.

Like Peyton, senior Halle Marchisen signed up for the club after contributing to the idea of its creation with classmates Zeigler and Smearman.

“I’ve only played a few times, but every time I play, it’s a positive experience,” Marchisen said. “Bringing pickleball to the school will be a good way to make friends and be social while still exercising and being outside.”

The club is looking to meet at the Piedmont Park tennis courts or other tennis courts in Atlanta with pickleball lines. With limited skill required, everyone with a racket is welcome.

“We’re planning to meet once, maybe twice a week depending on the interest level and availability of members,” Smearman said.

Sign ups for the club are located inRoger’s room, A311, or students can sign up by messaging the instagram account, “” An interest meeting on Thursday, Sept 7 had an optimistic turn out and helped spread the word about the start, Zeigler said.

“The turn out was good, but we’re hoping more people show up,” Zeigler said. “We’re looking for greater diversity in grades and [are] excited to see the turn out increase as the year goes on.”

The pickleball club will continue to meet at local courts and may collaborate with other schools like Decatur or Woodward and clubs around Atlanta, to share their love of the sport with others.

“Pickleball is different from other sports because you can be so social,” Smearman said. “You can easily meet people and talk during games, and it’s pretty easy to pick up, so it doesn’t require much training. We’re hoping to start small and grow from there, whether that means collaborating with other schools clubs or expanding internally.”

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About the Contributors
Carolyn Harty
Carolyn Harty, Editor in Chief
Carolyn Harty is a senior and a sports editor in chief. This is her third year writing for The Southerner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing soccer and hanging out with friends. She is excited to continue writing for The Southerner.
Ellie Palaian
Ellie Palaian, Sports Managing Editor
Ellie Palaian is a senior and this is her third year on staff for The Southerner. She plays varsity soccer for Midtown High and is excited to write for the paper this year.

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  • E

    ErikaJan 28, 2024 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Everyone! We are very excited to announce our awesome programming starting February 1, 2024 at the Sharon Lester Tennis Center in Piedmont Park. We have a lot of daily options for the advanced 4.5+ player, intermediate player and also for people who are just beginning their pickleball journey. Our options including weekly clinics, round robin tournaments, moneyball tournaments, open play, fun events, and private/semiprivate lessons! I’d love to speak with you about your club. Please feel free to contact Erika who is the new Pickleball Director @ (512) 964-9244 during this transitional period and to inquire about signing up for lessons and or events. We can’t wait to see you on the courts!!!