Papillion residents will have the chance to try out a new activity in one of the city’s parks this spring.
The Papillion Parks Department had pickleball lines painted onto the tennis courts in Halleck Park last week.
Pickleball, a game designed to be easy to learn and play for all ages, can be played with two to four players on a badminton-sized court. The game requires the use of special paddles and a small ball, similar to a wiffle ball.
Players serve the ball across a net but must let the ball bounce before volleys are allowed. The first side to score 11 points and be leading by at least two points wins.
“We can use the existing tennis court,” said Tony Gowan, Parks and Facilities director. “It makes it a fairly easy transition to be painted and still be able to use the tennis courts, just with a different set of lines.”
Gowan said Papillion Mayor David Black approached him about the project last fall. Gowan and department members then researched the game and the changes needed to create a pickleball court.
After inquiring with the person who refurbishes the city’s tennis courts, they decided to go ahead with the project, which cost about $400.
“The cost was fairly minimal. We had them installed and we’ll wait to see how they get used,” Gowan said. “We decided it would be a good feature for the Parks Department.”
Pickleball is growing in popularity, especially in this area, Gowan said.
The game was invented in the Pacific Northwest in the 1960s as a pastime for children, but has gained a wide following among adults, including the formation of pickleball leagues across the nation.
There is a national governing body, the USA Pickleball Association, and an international organization called the World Pickleball Federation.
The game has sprouted national and international competitions, but it remains mostly enjoyed as a recreational sport.
“From what I’ve understood, it’s become popular in retirement communities,” Gowan said. “It’s gradually finding its way to the Midwest.”
Right now, there are no plans to form leagues in Papillion. The courts are first come, first served and players must provide their own equipment.
Halleck Park was selected as the pickleball court site because it’s the only double tennis court in the city that is lit in the evening.
“It offers expanded use during night time hours, “ Gowan said. “We thought that it would be the perfect place to give it a try.”
To learn more about the game and to see a video of game play, visit the website: worldpickleball.com.