Let’s play pickleball!

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By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

Photo courtesy of the city of Grove City
Community members broke out the paddles for the opening of the new pickleball courts at Windsor Park. This is the first dedicated pickleball court in Grove City.

Not even a pandemic can keep people away from pickleball.

The city of Grove City hosted a “soft” opening of the new pickleball courts at Windsor Park on Oct. 17. A grand opening is planned for the spring if COVID-19 cases have declined.

“We had money in this year’s budget left over from last year and decided to move forward with our pickleball plans,” said Grove City Parks and Recreation Director Kim Conrad. “We have been looking to do this for a long time. It is an up and growing sport and people have waited long enough.”

Six pickleball courts were installed along Babbert Way in Windsor Park for a cost of $245,000. The cost included the concrete and fencing. According to Conrad, the city plans to add lighting and possibly parking spaces within the next few years.

This is the only dedicated pickleball court in Grove City, though there are areas where people play, like at the YMCA and the Kingston Center.

Conrad said the insurgence of pickleball started with the snowbirds, who would go to Florida for the cold winter months, play pickleball, then bring the sport back up north in the warmer months.

“It’s really gaining popularity,” said Conrad.

According to the USA Pickleball Organization, the sport combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It is played indoors or outdoors on a badminton sized court with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.

“It does take some skill,” said Conrad, “but anyone can do it.”

Pickleball is played as either singles or doubles, much like tennis. The Grove City courts are open from dusk until dawn, with regular park hours, though Conrad said when the city installs the lighting, the courts could remain open until 10 p.m.

“Anyone can go and play, said Conrad. “It’s very popular with senior citizens but younger people are playing all the time.” It’s truly open to everyone.”

USA Pickleball states that the sport was started in the mid-1960s when Washington-area congressman Joel Pritchard wanted to occupy his family. They had a badminton court but no equipment. So, they improvised and played with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. By the 1970s, the sport was gaining traction. By 1990, pickleball was being played in all 50 states.

Since the courts in Grove City have been open, people have been there daily to participate. It is growing in popularity in the area so much so that there is a Grove City Pickleball Community group. The group was formed in April 2019. It has 150 members and an additional 100 followers on social media. Those interested can look up Grove City Pickleball Community on Facebook for more information on the group. For those interested in learning to play, contact James Hastrich at imgjungle@gmail.com or Lesa Allen at allen53@yahoo.com.

While the pickleball courts are now open in Grove City, there are still COVID-19 regulations in place at all city parks. Those utilizing the courts are asked to wash or sanitize your hands before and after playing, bring your own water bottle, do not share equipment, and avoid touching common surfaces. Participants are also advised to play with family members or stay in a small group, stay six feet apart when not playing, while playing, stay on one side of the court, and leave the main gate open to avoid touching the gate.

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