Pickleball — it’s a ‘go’

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Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America played by people of all ages and athletic abilities. Take note of the painted courts at the Idyllwild Community Center site where the sport of pickleball is now being introduced. Everyone is invited to learn and experience the fun of pickleball from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 21, or from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22. Long-time player and pickleball teacher Barry Wallace (above, with Becca and Cindy Luna behind the net) is offering the free clinics. Paddles and balls are provided. For more information, call Wallace at (714) 721-0145.               Photo by Teresa Garcia-Lande

Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America played by people of all ages and athletic abilities. Take note of the painted courts at the Idyllwild Community Center site where the sport of pickleball is now being introduced. Long-time player and pickleball teacher Barry Wallace (above, with Becca and Cindy Luna behind the net) Photo by Teresa Garcia-Lande

At the recent County Service Area 36 Advisory Committee meeting, pickleball courts were discussed and provisionally approved, pending a final “go” authorization from the Riverside County Park District Advisory Commission. That authorization was given at a Thursday, Nov. 3, meeting of the commission, according to Kyla Brown, Riverside County Regional Park and Open Space District recreation bureau chief.

“Three courts will be installed at the county park, as a park district amenity,” said Brown. She could not give a timeline for completion, since the project now moves into an environmental impact report process.

Asked to estimate time for approval, Brown demurred. She noted factors such as existing development where the courts will be built that could expedite the process. “We’ll start the process and the planning relatively quickly,” said Brown. The courts will be built to the left of the entrance kiosk, where picnic tables are located.

County parks has committed $25,000 to the project while the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center (commonly referred to as Idyllwild Community Center) has committed $20,000 from two donors. Brown believes the total cost to county parks can be kept below a level that would require another approval from the Board of Supervisors, which could add more delay to the project. “There are locals who have expressed a willingness to provide ‘in kind’ services to help with court construction that could reduce overall costs,” said Brown.

Asked whether pickleball users would have to pay the current county park entry fee to play ($6 day use, $15 annual), Brown said she thought some agreement with ICC could be reached to help defray those entry costs, although there has not been much discussion at this point regarding potential entry fees for pickleball players.

For the uninitiated, pickleball was “invented” on Bainbridge Island near Seattle in 1965. It combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, and has gained followers internationally. It is played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net. It is played as both doubles and singles with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.

The name derivation is unclear, with one account naming it after Pickles, the dog of Joel Pritchard, one of the founders.

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