Easthampton funds plans for pickleball courts

  • Jeff Gendron of Easthampton sets up for a volley during a pickleball game with Sue Canning, left, of Westfield on his side at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium in Easthampton on Feb. 25. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Bob Findlay of Easthampton returns a shot during a twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball game at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jeff Gendron of Easthampton and Karen Larkin of Northampton take part in the twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball games at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Shannon Small of Westfield and Bob Findlay of Easthampton take part in the twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball games at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Karen Larkin of Northampton reacts to a shot during a twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball game at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Karen Larkin of Northampton returns a shot during a twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball game at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Karen Larkin of Northampton reacts to a shot during a twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball game at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Sue Canning of Westfield reacts to a shot during a twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball game at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Carl Delp, left, of Chicopee and Shannon Small, right, of Westfield, with some direction from Yvonne Ting, center, of Northampton, take down the nets at the end of a twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball game at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • At the end of each game of pickleball participants meet at the net to bump fists. Clockwise, from left, are Sue Canning of Westfield, Carl Delp of Chicopee, Jeff Gendron of Easthampton and Karen Larkin of Northampton. Photographed during the twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball games at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Karen Larkin, left, of Northampton and Heather Jagodowski and Carl Delp, both of Chicopee, take part in the twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball games at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. The fourth player in the game, just out of the frame at left, was Sue Canning of Westfield. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Yvonne Ting of Northampton chats with a participant in the twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball games at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Yvonne Ting of Northampton pulls apart a pickleball that cracked under pressure during a twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball game at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • At the end of each game of pickleball participants meet at the net to bump fists. Photographed during the twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball games at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • At the end of each game of pickleball participants meet at the net to bump fists. Clockwise, from left, are Shannon Small of Westfield, Carl Delp (obscured) of Chicopee, Jeff Gendron of Easthampton and Sue Canning of Westfield. Photographed during the twice-weekly evening drop-in pickleball games at the Tri-County Schools gymnasium on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/3/2019 12:16:46 AM
Modified: 5/3/2019 12:16:34 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Pickleball, one of the country’s fastest-growing sports, could soon have a home in Easthampton after the City Council approved funding for designing two pickleball courts at Nonotuck Park on Wednesday.

Funding from two sources — $9,000 from the Community Preservation Act Committee and $3,000 from the Parks & Recreation Department — will go toward developing construction plans, cost estimates, bidding documents and construction oversight for the courts to be built near the soccer complex at the park.

Think of pickleball as a combination of badminton, tennis and table tennis, played with paddles and a perforated polymer ball that looks similar to a whiffle ball. Played on a court measuring 20 by 44 feet with a net height of 36 feet, it can be played by singles or doubles.

The cost of constructing the two pickleball courts is “all over the map,” Parks & Recreation Director John Mason said on Wednesday. He estimates the cost could vary anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, which will include fencing and potentially some sound protection for nearby neighbors.

A tennis player for many years, Joe McCoy, president of the city council, said he initially scoffed at the idea of pickleball when his tennis partner told him about it, but that quickly changed.

“I tried it, and I haven’t picked up a tennis racket since,” McCoy said at Wednesday’s city council meeting. “For people in their 50s and over looking for a transition from either a full basketball court or full tennis court, it’s a terrific game for activity and to socialize.”

This year’s U.S. Open Pickleball Championship in Florida, which will wrap up Saturday, has about 2,200 players registered, from amateur kids to professional adults. In 2018, the USA Pickleball Association reported that there were over 2.8 million payers in the country.

Locally, there are four pickleball courts in Agawam and Westfield is building at least six courts, according to McCoy. “Dedicated pickleball courts are still very uncommon,” he said.

A group of about 40 pickleball players has met over the winter months at the Northeast Center for Youth and Families on East Street. Twice a week, about 15 players would show up for singles and doubles matches in the center’s gymnasium.

One of those pickleball regulars is Florence resident Yvonne Ting, who has made a name on the national stage. In 2018, she won silver in the mixed doubles at the U.S. Open Pickleball Championship and won gold in the women’s doubles for the second year in a row.

On Monday, Ting won the women’s doubles division for the 55-plus age group with teammate Clare Grabher.

McCoy said Ting has expressed interest in putting on a program in Easthampton to introduce people to pickleball and teach the fundamentals of the game.

Jeff Gendron, of Easthampton, is also part of the local pickleball group. He said there are people playing who range in age from their 40s to 60s.

“The great thing about it is you don’t need a lot of mobility,” Gendron said. “You don’t need a lot of power and it’s really more about playing with skill and finesse.”

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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