Wikipedia/Pickleball Players

VENTNOR – The pickleball craze has taken over Downbeach. Both Ventnor and Margate are installing new courts this year.

Although Margate is working to add three new courts at the old Union Avenue schoolyard, Ventnor is installing four new courts at the Suffolk Avenue recreation complex this year, bringing the city’s total to six courts.

Margate commissioners recently rejected bids to resurface the playground and add three new courts, bringing the total number of courts behind the Municipal Building to six, because the bids exceeded the engineer’s estimate. The city is waiting for new bids to be submitted. The courts will likely be constructed early summer, but won’t be playable for about 30 days until the surface cures, city engineer Ed Dennis Jr. said.

USA Pickleball Association’s Ambassador Pat Harrigan of Ventnor thanked the Board of Commissioners Thursday, April 11 for helping to grow the sport in Ventnor.

“We are very excited, and people are already asking questions about it,” she said.

The game has nothing to do with pickles, except for the dog it was supposedly named after, but seniors, youths and adults have taken to the craze. The game was invented in 1965 in Seattle by three men who were looking for something for their kids to do. Apparently, one of the men had a dog names Pickles who kept running after the ball.

Pickleball is played with a wooden or graphite paddle that’s bigger than a ping-pong paddle, but smaller than a tennis racket, and a plastic colored ball with holes like a waffle ball. The courts, both indoor and outdoor, are badminton sized – just 20 feet by 44 feet, with a modified tennis net that’s 36 inches high.

The game is easy to learn, less strenuous than tennis so it is popular with the senior set, and can be played at all skill levels in singles and doubles.

According to Public Works Supervisor Ed Stinson, the two existing pickleball courts are now closed to allow for the conversion of two tennis courts into four pickleball courts. The courts should be completed by the end of the month, he said.

Harrigan said having six courts will enable players to get more court time and designate two courts for beginners, two for intermediate and two for advanced players.

Pickleball volunteers will continue to teach the sport to others and conduct tournaments on weekends.

“We have a large following and will increase that this year with new certified referees and trainers who can run clinics,” Harrigan said.

New rules and regulations are being developed by a seven-member volunteer Pickleball Advisory Committee will be shared with players when the courts open this summer. The committee will discuss game times, court assignments, etc., she said.

“The area was not really utilized enough,” Commissioner Tim Kriebel, expressing appreciation for how the volunteers have helped to get more people interested in playing. “It is engaging a part of the city that was underutilized.”

The advisory board is available to assist if there are any complaints about noise or parking, she said.

“The area has been an active recreation area for many years,” she said. “We’ve always had tennis and volleyball there. But (pickleball) is becoming a big draw, and if there are any concerns at all, that it be brought up in a public forum so there could be give and take and options sought.”

The court conversions are being funded through a bond ordinance approved in 2017.

For more information about pickleball, see www.usapa.org/

Categories: Ventnor