Pickleball facilities needed

Resident makes a pitch for the increasingly popular sport

Vernon has an opportunity to capitalize on the fastest growing sport in North America. If you haven’t already heard of pickleball, you certainly will in the near future.

Speaking from personal experience, our plus-55 community south of Phoenix Arizona had four tennis courts and 40-plus tennis members three years ago. At that time, a few people started playing pickleball on the tennis courts on off hours and last year, nine dedicated courts were constructed strictly for pickleball. Today, there are more than 200 members of our pickleball club, and we still have only 40-plus tennis members. Pickleball competitions and tournaments are ongoing and attract plenty of visitors from other communities.

A pickleball court is less than one-third the size of a tennis court so a footprint equal to the four tennis courts at Marshall Field could, for example, easily accommodate a dozen courts. Marshall Field, as the site, would also provide the added advantage of making better use of the existing parking and washroom facilities for the tennis and soccer  already being played there.

The two existing Vernon Pickleball clubs (currently using various tennis courts around the city but having to put out portable nets each time they do) could act as a resource to help organize competitions and open tournaments that would certainly enhance Vernon as a destination city.

Think of the annual slo-pitch tournament Vernon holds but imagine it happening several times each summer.

It would also provide some flexibility to reduce or eliminate the amount of play at controversial sites such as Middleton Mountain.

I don’t yet play much pickleball myself but many of my friends down south end up playing pickleball as their mobility and ability to play tennis decreases. Another group getting involved is golfers as they find the cost to golf continues to skyrocket and the advantage of being able to play a game in about 15 minutes provides attractive practical advantages.

As I drive by the new running track near the college and wonder how much ongoing use it will end up having, I have no such doubts regarding the level of use and the cost benefit to Vernon and its citizens by investing for the future in some dedicated pickleball courts at Marshall Field.

Myron Hocevar