LELAND, NC (WECT) - It's a sweet sport with a sour name: pickleball.
The game has been around for more than 50 years, but one county in the region is a hotbed for the sport.
Pickleball originated in Bainbridge Island, Wash., when two men decided to use an old badminton court to get their families out of the house and give them something to do. They couldn't find badminton rackets so they improvised and used ping pong paddles with a perforated ball.
Brunswick County is full of retirees who like pickleball, which is part of the reason Brunswick County resident and pickleball player Richard Holloman decided to start the House of Pickleball in Leland.
"We said, 'We are gonna build a world-class indoor pickleball facility,'" Holloman said. "It's been a two-year dream that's now a reality."
"I thought, this game sounds crazy, and then I tried it and got hooked, which is a really common story," U.S pickleball champion Corrine Carr said at the new facility on opening day.
The 12,000 square foot facility is pickleball palace of sorts, boasting six indoor courts to keep up with the craze that's a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong often played by retirees.
"Tennis is pretty hard on the joints and pickleball, you can take a tennis player and they can enjoy a game with similarities, but without any discomfort," said Carr.
Most players say the game is about the social aspect, and the camaraderie, not the competition.
"Everyone is so friendly," Carr said. "You are out there with people that all love this game. You don't have to be a pro. Anyone can come out and have fun."
"I hope it becomes the fun center of Brunswick County, the place to go to have fun," Holloman said. "The beauty of pickleball is you can play with grandparents, parents and children, all three in the same game, and everyone leaves and says, 'Wow, that was fun.'"