Pickleball proponents seek support for outdoor courts


  • <p>SOURCE: TOWN OF BRIDGEWATER</p><p>A page from a presentation to town council proposing new pickleball courts in Lunenburg County.</p>

Proponents of a popular sport that combines tennis, badminton and ping-pong seek support toward establishing six public courts in Lunenburg County.

Jared Uhlman, a pickleball player and supporter, said it would cost in the vicinity of $250,000, but the benefits include increased opportunities for play, growth of the sport by way of development of youth programs and chances to host major tournaments.

"We're certainly not looking for local governments and grants to provide us the entire amount. We are looking at fundraising opportunities," Uhlman said in a recent presentation to town council in Bridgewater.

The club, which made a similar presentation to the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, also consulted with other pickleball organizations that have built courts.

Bridgewater's generations' active park, off Glen Allan Drive, and the North Park Street property of the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in town, were discussed as potential sites. Uhlman said six courts, which would need enough land in size equal to one-and-a-half tennis courts, would require north-south orientation so the sun is not in a player's eyes, and some protection from wind.

Beyond putting up and taking down nets for the season, pickleball courts, he said, would need virtually "zero upkeep" within the first 10 years.

Interest in the sport has spiked over the past 10 years, producing hundreds of local players since it expanded in Bridgewater in 2014. Some players have even medalled on provincial and national stages.

Wayne Thorburne, a town councillor, is one of those high-level competitors.

"What we need is somebody to get together to support this and meet and find out what's expected so we can move the process forward," Thorburne said.

More than a dozen communities in the province possess dedicated outdoor pickleball courts.

"Despite Bridgewater being one of the first places in the province to play, we're one of the last without outdoor courts," Uhlman explained during his presentation.

With more players, there are fewer vacant facilities to play. It is difficult to nail down gym time and drop-ins are waiting longer to take to the court, Uhlman noted.

It is relatively cheap to equip oneself for playing pickleball. A player only needs sneakers, paddle and a pickleball (plastic ball with holes).

Games typically last 15 minutes. There are many breaks in play and the small court size makes it a highly social activity. All ages and abilities can take up the sport.

"I've played in tournaments where people have been as young as five-years-old and I've seen people as old as 85-years-old, 86-years-old participating in these tournaments," Uhlman told council. "I've also been in tournaments where they've had wheelchair pickleball. It is an incredibly accessible sport that can really be enjoyed by everyone."

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