Pickleball Enthusiasts Say They've Outgrown Their Venues

Sep 25, 2018

Credit Park City Municipal

A growing sport in the Wasatch Back is asking Summit County and Snyderville Basin Recreation for more space to play.

Pickleball is growing immensely in popularity across the U.S. and in Summit County. Local pickleball athlete Eric Wheeler explains the sport.

“It’s a mixture between badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. It’s played on a smaller court usually with doubles, but it is also played with singles. I started last year, played several times a week and have actually lost 25 lbs. playing this amazing sport. Someone one their very first day can join the game and win a game. It’s an every man and every woman sport about eight million players in the United States, 47% are women. It is mostly an active retiree and middle-age demographic. However, now that it’s being introduced to youth sports, and high schools and middle schools a lot more youth players and minorities are getting involved.”

Local pickleball is dealing with growing pains.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to play tennis on dedicated tennis courts and pickleball players do not have any dedicated facilities which is what we’re trying to change here in the Park City area. We play on a mixed-use court where we see both tennis lines and pickleball lines which can be confusing. It also backs us up into the fence surrounding the tennis court, so it interferes with your serve or if you go for a deep lob you can actually run into the fence. We’ll have days with 50-60 people lining up to play. You’ll wait 30-45 minutes just to get a game in.”

There are two courts at both Trailside and Willow Creek parks that have mixed use lines. Wheeler says they want to resurface two tennis courts at Willow Creek which would give them eight pickleball courts total.

As we’ve reported, pickleball players approached the county council last week and asked them to consider the proposal. The council said they would speak with the Basin Rec board about the request.

Wheeler says bids for the resurfacing project range between $40,000 and $50,000. At the meeting they had a donor who said they were willing to contribute $40,000 to the project.

Wheeler says he understands the concerns of tennis players who may be opposed to the project.

“I can understand their concern, what I would say to that is they have an incredible multi-million-dollar facility at the MARC that has outdoor surface, indoors and they have outdoor courts in the summer. They just have a lot more options. There’s also trailside park where there’s four tennis courts they could play on and there is still two tennis courts available at Willow Creek most of the time going unused, I notice personally, when we’re out there playing pickleball. What I would say is that we’re asking for 25% of the total park space for this game which would allow us eight pickleball courts on just two tennis courts.”

Wheeler says they’re hopeful to resurface so that they can use the courts next season.

“I feel like we could catch up to the other parts of the country that already have these dedicated courts and frankly other parts of Utah. There’s a huge facility going in in Highland/Alpine. St. George has 24 courts and they’re looking to do more. As far as resort communities we’re behind. I believe Jackson Hole has eight courts and they’re putting in ten more.”

That’s local Pickleball advocate Eric Wheeler.