Jan Durand of the Greater Vernon Pickleball Association sends a backhand return over the net at Sawicki Park.

Jan Durand of the Greater Vernon Pickleball Association sends a backhand return over the net at Sawicki Park.

Pickleball picks up steam

A sport on the rise with a funky sound is searching for a place to call home.

Tyler Lowey

Morning Star Staff

A sport on the rise with a funky sound is searching for a place to call home.

“Pickleball is a non-strenuous sport for retired tennis players or young kids, and is a simple fun game,” said Pat Broschart, who is a member of the Great Vernon Pickleball Club.

Vernon had two pickleball clubs, but they are merging into the GVPC and they have more than 200 members.

Originating in a backyard in Wash., pickleball is a fairly new sport, in its 50th year of existence and is looking for a permanent home in Vernon.

Pickleball is played on tennis courts. One tennis court can service four pickleball games.

“Right now our biggest concern is not having dividers for the courts. When we get tournaments going with lots of games, balls are always rolling onto the court of another game,” said Broschart.

He believes that more dedicated courts will not only be more accommodable, it will also help draw in tournaments and provincial championships.

And the results of the clubs are starting to grow. Vernon is cranking out upper echelon pickleball talent and they are brining back medals from tournaments around B.C.

At the Western Canadian National Pickleball Championships in Kelowna earlier in July, Vernon club members won 25 medals in a field of 300 teams. The following weekend, Salmon Arm hosted a 64-team tournament and the Vernon pickleballers won eight medals.

Currently, Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Kamloops all have courts designated for pickleball.

Myron Hocevar is the chair of the Great Vernon Dedicated Courts Committee and his plan is to get the city to construct pickleball courts instead of more tennis courts.

“One of the areas we submitted a plan for was inside the running oval at Polson Park,” said Hocevar.

The GVDCC likes the idea of placing courts in Polson Park because of the open space and the noise pollution won’t harm any nearby residential areas.

There is a crisp ‘clunk’ noise every time a pickleball is struck. There have been noise complaints for the games that take place in the residential areas.

There is a constant buzz of the highway and there are no nearby housing units that could be bothered by the sound.

Hocevar’s group is currently meeting and planning their presentation for city council in October.

“We have talked with Mayor Akbal Mund and he has given us positive feedback. We are just trying to figure out when, where and the size of the facility we are looking to install,” said Hocevar.

They would be looking to add 12 courts, roughly  the size of three tennis courts.

Pickleball courts use different size nets and have different boundaries than badminton and tennis courts. The pickleball courts would need dividers to keep the balls on the proper courts and they wouldn’t have temporary nets.

If the GVPC and the city of Vernon reach an agreement and everything goes smoothly, Hocevar is hoping his courts will be constructed by 2017.

In the meantime, both merging pickleball groups are holding an open house next Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon at Sawicki Park.

“There will be a pancake breakfast and plenty of games as we raise awareness about pickleball in Vernon and discuss the planning phase for our courts,” said Hocevar. “It’s a free event and all people need to bring is a pair of runners, we will have extra paddles for beginners.”

Anyone is welcome to attend drop-in games. There is a $5 drop-in fee and game time and locations are available at vernonpickleballclub.org.


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