Over the past couple of months, the City of Decatur Arkansas Parks Department has worked steadily at bringing a new feature to the Old City Park. The Old City Park is a piece of property that is wedged between Second Street and Pool Street and is best known for the location of the public swimming pool. On a plateau of land above the public pool, and that is easily accessed off Pool Street, lies a couple of tennis courts that date back to approximately 1981. It is one of these courts that has been converted to two Pickleball courts, bringing the citizens of Decatur the opportunity to try their hand at the fastest growing sports in the United States. (Sports & Fitness Industry Association (2023, February 22). SFIA's TOPLINE REPORT SHOWS PHYSICAL ACTIVITY RATES INCREASED FOR A FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR. WWW.SFIA.ORG. RETRIEVVED jULY 31, 2023 FROM https://sfia.org/resources/sfias-topline-report-shows-physical-activity-rates-increased-for-a-fifth-consecutive-year/)
There is a set of rules posted at the courts, and the city offices have two sets of Pickleball paddles that comes with four balls that a citizen can rent out.
Joel Pritchard, former Lieutant Governor of the State of Washington, and Bill Bell had been out playing golf one Saturday afternoon. Upon returning to Pritchard's home, they found their children sitting around instead of out enjoying the beach on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Mr. Pritchard asked the children why they were not at the beach, and one replied because there was nothing to do. Mr. Pritchard then challenged the children to make up their own game, to which one replied, "Oh yeah, dad, big deal."
Mr. Pritchard took up his own challenge. (Kilgannon, A. (2000). Joel M. Pritchard An Oral History. Washington State Legislature Oral History. Retrieved July 31, 2023, from https://app.leg.wa.gov/oralhistory/pritchard/pritchardfull.pdf)
As I mentioned earlier the city's parks department was tasked with converting the part of an old tennis court into a couple of pickleball courts that measure 20 feet x 44 feet each. The net hangs at 36 inches at the poles, and 34 inches in the middle. The area on each side of the net is 22 feet from the net to the baseline. The non-volley zone from the net to the non-volley line is 7 feet, and the area from the non-volley line to the base line and from the sideline to sideline is 15 feet. The area of the 15-foot section is divide with a centerline into left and right sevice areas the measure 10 feet each. A court built to these specifications meets the USAPickleball.org requirements, which USAPickleball.org is the National Governing Body for the sport of pickleball in the United States and does provide players with official rules, tournaments, and more. For more information on how to play the game visit their webiste at https://usapickleball.org/ and watch the videos of how to play.
As for the surface of the court, any hard surface will suffice if it is free from debris. The ball must be able to bounce when in play. Ideally the surface area should be about 30 feet x 60 feet. The net should be 21 feet 9 inches long, and the one we purchased is 22 feet long.
Pickleball is a cross between table tennis, tennis, and badminton, but it is a game to be played and enjoyed by those of all ages. The City of Decatur will be holding a ribbon cutting on the new courts, but first, they are in search of someone who would be willing to offer to do a demo or help with a workshop at the ribbon cutting. If you are interested in holding this demo/workshop, please contact the Decatur Municipal Building at 479-752-3912. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm.