The sport of pickleball is growing faster than a blue ribbon-winning cucumber at the county fair — and several southeast-Michigan communities are responding accordingly.
During its final meeting of 2022, the Plymouth City Commission voted 7-0 to authorize a plan that will convert two rarely-used shuffleboard courts on the north side of the Cultural Center into a pickleball court.
Plymouth Parks & Recreation Director Steve Anderson also revealed once the Cultural Center ice surface is melted and drained, the space will be converted into four or five temporary pickleball courts — a response to the growing demand for the sport by residents of Plymouth and Plymouth Township, Anderson said.
“There’s a huge demand for pickleball now and we’re doing what we can to meet the demand,” said Anderson, who noted the decades-old shuffleboard courts have been rarely used during his decades-long tenure with the city. “The ice will be removed sometime in mid-May. We’ll offer drop-in times each day for people and set times for when, let’s say, seniors can play. We may adopt a $5-an-hour drop-in fee. We’ll see how it develops and encourage input from people who play pickleball.”
Indoor courts will be available
Anderson said the Cultural Center’s indoor space has been used during past summers for pickleball by residents who have enjoyed the game for years. He said some of these advanced players will help acclimate new-comers to the activity to its rules and protocols.
The official resolution approved in December said the conversion of the shuffleboard courts to a pickleball court “could be an opportunity to expand leisure time activities in the City.” The maximum expenditure on the planning and building of the new courts is $16,900.
Canton Township offers a series of outdoor courts at Freedom Park. It has also set aside time in the Summit at the Park’s spacious gymnasium for pickleball leagues and pick-up games.
According to several websites that measure the popularity of activities, pickleball was the fast-growing sport in the United States in 2021 and 2022.
“What makes pickleball so awesome is that it seamlessly mixes three sports into one,” a blog on DailyCal.org reported. “A combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, there are aspects of the sport everyone can enjoy.”
Pickleball is played on a court that is the ideentical size as a badminton court, but outdoor courts are made out of the same material as a tennis court. The net is also on the ground like in tennis, but it’s much lower.
Pickleball players use specially-designed paddles that are larger than ping pong paddles, but smaller than tennis racquets and typically made of aluminum and graphite. The game can be played with singles or doubles formats.
Anderson said the Cultural Center’s outdoor court may not be ready until the summer of 2024.
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