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Players press for more pickleball space in Langley Township

Group wants some tennis courts to be converted

A group of Langley Township pickleball players are hoping the municipality can be convinced to add playing courts to accommodate the growing sport.

Bill Mercer, group spokesperson, will be making a pitch at the Jan. 29 Township council meeting to convert what he describes as underused tennis courts to accommodate pickleball, “the fastest growing sport in North America.”

Many tennis courts in the township sit empty for the majority of the time, Mercer argues.

“Tennis players seldom play when it is wet because it is difficult to play with a wet tennis ball. You very seldom see tennis being played on these courts in the winter. Seasonal weather or wet courts does not have the same effect on pickleballers. They play outside 12 months a year.”

Currently there are just four stand-alone pickleball courts in the township, a converted former tennis court at West Langley Park, Mercer told the Langley Advance Times.

“These are overflowing with players of all ages,” Mercer said.

By comparison, he noted the City of Langley has eight outdoor courts and one community centre in which to play, and Surrey has 36 outdoor courts, 22 temporary courts, as well as six community centers that have indoor pickleball.

READ ALSO: City sports courts converted for pickleball

“The township is spending millions upon millions of dollars on ice rinks, field houses, and playing fields. I am totally in favour of this and I think it is great,” Mercer said.

“The cost of resurfacing a few tennis courts and converting them to pickleball would hardly be a cost item compared to this.”

If the township is willing to resurface a few of the tennis courts, “either the ones not frequently used or where there are multiple courts, it would help fill the need and demand for more pickleball courts in the Township and there would still be plenty of tennis courts.”

A single tennis court can hold four pickleball courts, Mercer noted, allowing up to 16 players at a time, compared to a maximum of four for tennis.

“The game is equally popular to all genders and compared to most sports very inexpensive,” Mercer said.

“Players need a paddle, a ball, and footwear and they are ready to play. People of all ages play and enjoy the sport. On our courts we have had kids who are eight years old and seniors up to 80 playing.”

LETTER: Langley Township ignores growing popularity of pickleball

Pickleball Canada, which just saw membership top 60,000, up from just over 43,000 less than a year earlier, has estimated as many as one million individual Canadians play pickleball at least once a month, with close to half that number playing four or more times a month.

According to an online history of the sport, pickleball was created in 1965 in Washington by three friends who improvised the game when they coudn’t find the shuttlecock for a badminton court, experimenting with table tennis paddles and different types of balls, and by lowering the net.

There are conflicting accounts about where the name came from, with one version claiming it was because a player enjoyed hitting the ball in a way that would put his opponent “in a pickle.”

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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