COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – One recreational sport is booming in the Chattahoochee Valley following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tennis is bouncing back in a major way in Columbus and all across the country.

There’s no shortage of serves at the Columbus Regional Tennis Association also known as CORTA.

President of CORTA Michelle Fuller says when most of the world was shut down, tennis was still serving.

“For a lot of people, COVID-19 was a detriment, it was a boost to Tennis, and that’s what we’ve seen across the city, across the state, and across the nation,” Fuller said.

However CORTA Instructor and Coach Roger Pearce said courts in Columbus faced their fair share of adversity, too.

“It was difficult,” Pearce said. “Cooper Creek shut down for a few months.”

Four months later the courts were back open and the matches were set.

“We can play tennis because it’s outside for the most part,” Fuller said. “You can social distance on the court, whether you are playing singles or whether you’re playing doubles. You don’t have to have physical contact, with your opponent or with your partners.” 

Players picked up their racquets and still haven’t put them down yet.

“When we opened things back up, we just had a flood of people coming in,” Fuller said. “People who had stopped playing league were coming back and beginning to play again.”

From declining numbers before the pandemic to now seeing record growth.

“Years before that, we were seeing a downward trend in Tennis, and we were thinking, what can we do to help get more people involved?” asked Fuller.

Now, that’s clearly not a question when comparing the data of 2020 to 2021.

In 2020, CORTA serviced 4,850 players and hosted 922 in tournaments. Fast forward to one year later: 7,313 players to hosting 2,409 in tournaments. This led to a 69% increase since COVID-19.

“It’s really lit a fire with us, because, ya know, we realized that there are so many people out there who have not been exposed to the sport, that we can still have an impact,” Fuller said.

And for coaches like Pearce, he hopes this is only just the beginning. 

“I want them to get playing and playing for a longtime,” Fuller said. “I’ve taught people out here 40 years ago and they’re still playing.”

And as the growth at CORTA continues, Fuller hopes folks know there’s always a place for them on the court.

“Whether you’ve picked up a racquet before, whether you’ve played as a kid and dropped your racquet for 20 years, come on back out we have something for you,” Fuller said.

Fuller says there’s programs for everyone, from Tennis 101 and Tennis 102 for beginners and plenty of teams and tournaments for those further along. 

To learn more, visit CORTA.org.