SEBRING - Judy Greve is on a three-month pickleball vacation in Florida from Kansas City, Mo.
Her goal is to play the game - described as a cross between ping-pong and tennis - most days she is here, even though she has to drive from Lake Placid to Sun 'n Lake.
Her destination is the newly remodeled pickleball and tennis courts in Sun 'n Lake, which apparently is one of only two public pickleball courts in Highlands County and can be used by non-Sun 'n Lake residents for a fee.
"This opens up pickleball to the whole county," said pickleball enthusiast and teacher Linda Kramer, during some downtime at the new courts by the Island View Restaurant.
Greve and Kramer are one of a few tennis and pickleball players making use of the newly renovated courts, redone after a $250,000 project.
There are four tennis courts and eight courts for pickleball players, said Sun 'n Lake board of supervisors president Dick Miller.
Earlier, pickleball players would re-stripe the much-larger tennis courts. Now, they have a place to call their own and enjoy what Miller called one of the fastest growing sports among seniors.
The special improvement district's recreation improvements are part of a larger ambitious renovation that also gave the community, among other amenities, a new swimming pool, a new fitness center and a bigger and "upgraded" community center.
The idea is to broaden recreational resources and also cater to non-golfers, who Miller say constitute the majority of Sun 'n Lake residents.
The work started last summer and the new courts were open for use in the middle of January.
The tennis and pickleball courts are open to both residents and non-residents who have to become members for a fee, which can range from an annual membership fee to daily rates, said Sun 'n Lake's Community Services Director Tenille Drury-Smith.
"The membership system is designed to provide reasonable control over the facility," Miller said.
So far the response has been good, Drury-Smith added. They have 150 members and are exploring various options to get maximum use of the courts, she said.
One of those is a pickleball tournament April 16 in conjunction with Sun 'n Lake's 40th anniversary celebrations. Sign-ups are being taken for the doubles tournament.
The plan is to build a multi-purpose building in a vacant spot close by that would contain, among other amenities, a place to sell tennis and pickleball gear, Miller said.
He is proud of the project, which was paid out of Sun 'n Lake's general fund.
Both Greve and Kramer love the new courts.
Because of a mix-up, Greve did not want to use the pickleball courts where she is staying right now.
Finding out about Sun 'n Lake's new facility saved her vacation.
"They are my salvation," she smiled.
To sign up for the April 16 pickleball tournament, call 863-382-3679.