(Posted Nov. 20, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Opportunities to play pickleball continue to grow in Madison County as community leaders respond to demand.
The sport has gained wild popularity across the United States over the last five years or so. It combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, with players using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
The latest addition to the local pickleball scene are indoor courts at the Mount Sterling Community Center, 164 E. Main St. They represent the only indoor option for pickleball in the county. The center welcomes players Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, as well as some Saturdays. Other days can be added to the schedule as needed. (Visit the Mt. Sterling Community Center Facebook page for updates on days and times.) There is no charge to play but donations are welcome.
The center has marked off courts in the gymnasium. Nets on wheels are rolled out for play. Players can bring their own paddles and balls or borrow sets from the center. A copy of the rules is provided.
As for why the center started offering pickleball, Director Megan Witteman said, “The library did a fundraiser here in July that involved pickleball. After that, we had a lot of inquiries about starting pickleball at the center.”
The first day for the program was Oct. 30. Witteman said she is seeing two or three new players each time people come out to play. Anyone is welcome.
Witteman added that the center will eventually have outdoor courts, as well.
For details, call (740) 869-2453.
In London, the city’s parks and recreation department is looking into installing outdoor pickleball-only courts at Cowling Park where the old basketball courts stand.
“We got our third quote in recently. We will present the information to (city) committees in December,” said Landon McKenzie, parks and recreation director.
The project would involve tearing out the old asphalt at the basketball courts, installing the new pickleball courts, and fencing them in. McKenzie said the space should accommodate two or three courts. The game plan is to have them up and running by spring of next year.
“With the growth of the sport and the fact that we have a good location already, we’re wanting to get some courts set up for people to enjoy,” McKenzie said.
Earlier this year, the village of West Jefferson completed improvements to Westwood Park, 799 Kirkwood Dr., including creation of a court that doubles as one tennis court and two pickleball courts. Nets on wheels can be rolled into place for pickleball action.
“We decided to put them in because we felt there was a need in the community to provide something different,” said Shelton Stanley, West Jefferson’s special events and recreation manager.
While the courts likely will close for the season the week after Thanksgiving, plans are already in the works to introduce pickleball leagues and possibly an instructor this coming spring.
“We saw people over there enjoying (the courts) this past summer which is great. We love seeing that,” Stanley said.
For more information, call (614) 879-8655 or (614) 307-6543.
The village of Plain City’s foray into pickleball began last November when they dedicated new combination outdoor basketball and pickleball courts at Pastime Park, 370 N. Chillicothe St. Since that time, the courts have seen heavy use.
“Summer, especially when it’s nice, there are people out there all the time,” said Denton Kitts, parks and recreation assistant. “The pickleball courts get used multiple times more than the basketball courts. I have seen people of all ages–small kids to older people–out there.”
A total of six pickleball courts are marked at the facility. Sets of paddles and balls can be checked out at the park office, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or at the pool’s front desk during swim season. The facility is open April-November, depending on the weather.
For more information, call (614) 873-3527, ext. 108. For a complete set of pickleball rules, visit plain-city.com, go to the “parks & rec” tab, and click on “Sand Volleyball/Pickleball.”