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Pickleball courts open in Paso Robles

The Paso Robles Pickleball Club hosted a dedication ceremony for the new pickleball courts at Centennial Park which exist as SLO County's first permanent courts for the tennis-like sport. Jack Hodges, Central Coast ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association, and Pete Gomez of Paso Robles, right, play a pickleball game Saturday.
The Paso Robles Pickleball Club hosted a dedication ceremony for the new pickleball courts at Centennial Park which exist as SLO County's first permanent courts for the tennis-like sport. Jack Hodges, Central Coast ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association, and Pete Gomez of Paso Robles, right, play a pickleball game Saturday. The Tribune

The paint is dry and five fresh pickleball courts are now open in Paso Robles.

Last week, organizers with the Paso Robles Pickleball Club hosted a dedication ceremony at Centennial Park for San Luis Obispo County's first permanent courts for the tennis-like sport.

Other communities in the county offer pickleball but not in dedicated areas made for the game, said Jack Hodges, the Central Coast Ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association and the Paso Robles Pickleball Club organizer.

Paso Robles’ finished product has given club members peace of mind, Hodges said, “in that a fun sport with a funny name was taken seriously enough by players and city officials alike to create a permanent facility that we can all be proud of.”

Meanwhile, the city has approved an agreement with the group on how to monitor the new courts.

Pickleball, a game played with paddles and a short net, is described as being a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong. It uses a ball similar to a wiffle ball and uses a court that is one-third the size of a traditional tennis court.

Legend has it that the sport was named after a dog named Pickle who would chase after the ball during games.

In Paso Robles, fans of the sport started playing at Centennial Park’s roller rink in 2012. They marked the court’s boundary lines on the worn concrete with blue painter’s tape and hauled in their special nets and gear before and after each session.

It’s a starkly different experience today. The new courts have special flooring so the balls bounce correctly, and the contrasting green and blue color-coded athletic surface paint is bold with sharp white boundary lines.

“We can arrive and just play,” Hodges said.

Things started to change earlier this year when the club got city approval to convert the space into permanent courts. The group raised $20,000 and opened earlier this summer.

No city funds were used in the project, except for $150 used for signage to keep dogs and skateboarders out.

In May, workers were grinding out the old boundary lines, sealing cracks in the concrete, cutting post holes for the nets, and putting down a first coat of sealer, according to the group.

By June, the courts were complete.

“It is not uncommon to see nearly 50 players show up on any given day to join in the fun,” club member Steve Sidwell said. “Clearly, the renovated courts have contributed significantly to the local participation level, with new folks continuing to check out the facilities.”

The number of players has doubled since three months ago, when the club averaged 25 players daily on the temporary courts.

The group also plans to host pickleball clinics and tournaments at the new site.

“Hopefully permanent, dedicated courts will come soon to other areas,” Hodges said. The city’s agreement with the club calls for club members to handle daily maintenance such as blowing leaves, picking up trash and restriping the lines; the city will fix any dangerous cracks in the concrete or fencing. The club will also have volunteer monitors.

The contract also stipulated that the courts, although donated with private funds, remain public.

They are located on the northeast side of the Centennial Park complex, next to the closed pool, at 600 Nickerson Drive.

For more information, visit the Paso Robles Pickleball Club's website at https://pickleball pasorobles.shutterfly.com/.

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