September 29, 2008

The Joys of Outdoor Pickleball

by Dick Manasseri, USAPA Great Lakes Ambassador

The same folks that brought Pickleball up to the Great Lakes Region from Arizona and Florida are now teaching us how to enjoy Pickleball in the great outdoors.

The secret, of course, is creating outdoor courts like the impressive ones pictured here in Middletown, Ohio. Stanley Volkens, USAPA Local Ambassador for Southwest Ohio, and seasonal resident of Arizona, surveyed the 16 tennis courts in Middletown and found them greatly underutilized. Stanley approached the Park Board with a plan to convert two under-utilized tennis courts into 6 beautiful new and regularly used Pickleball courts.

Stanley got the details plans for Do-It-Yourself Resurfacing from Tennis Universal http://www.tennisuniversal.com/ The plans take you step-by-step through the conversion process and Tennis Universal offers the material that you need including paint with sand in it to make the new courts safe.

The Park Board gave Stanley and his Pickleball players permission to convert 2 tennis courts over to 6 Pickleball courts. The dimensions worked out perfectly. The courts have 14 ft. between them with 8 ft. at the ends. The tennis nets are the backdrops between the ends of the courts. The courts are laid out North and South. The Pickleball players did all the work and paid all the cost ($3956 total). They presented the new Courts to the city with a ribbon cutting ceremony with Park Board and City Council Members.

But the story doesn’t end there. Paul Barksdale and Rex Lawler, Local Ambassadors for Greater Terre Haute, Indiana played on the new Middletown courts in the SW Ohio Senior Games in August and were so impressed that they brought a similar plan back home. They found underutilized tennis courts and proposed a shared cost plan to their Park and Rec Department. The players raised $1500 to cover nets, posts, and other supplies and the Park and Rec Department agreed to provide the labor following the same step-by-step process and court format used in Ohio. The new courts will be ready for play this fall.
In Royal Oak, MI, Pat Sullivan back home from Arizona in June, got permission to convert a single tennis court to a Pickleball court at a few player’s expense and “sweat equity”. The result was a summer filled with outdoor play by all ages. The icing on the cake is that, at the end of the summer, Pat approached the City with as proposal to put Royal Oak on the Michigan Pickleball map in a big way by converting two underutilized tennis courts into 8 new Pickleball courts. And, guess what? Royal Oak will likely be a prime location for outdoor tournaments next year.

Jean Mulder, Local Ambassador for Holland Michigan and seasonal resident of Florida, has a similar story to tell. Eight new outdoor Pickleball courts will likely be the home of fun-filled tournaments next summer.

The bottom line here is that, with a little initiative on your part and a well-defined plan, your Parks Department may well become your partner in transforming old tennis courts into the joy of outdoor Pickleball.

Give it a try! What do you have to lose? We will be looking for the right venues for the 2009 tournament series being planned across the Great Lakes Region.