Fans of the fastest growing racquet sport in North America were jazzed to witness the christening of four new pickleball courts at Robron Athletic Park in Campbell River.
A crowd of about 40 people gathered on Saturday, June 14 for a ribbon cutting with members of the Campbell River Pickleball Association, as well as city councillors Colleen Evans and Ron Kerr.
Soon after the formalities were wrapped it, it was time to start hitting, and foursomes were swiftly formed to take advantage of the new infrastructure, and the lovely weather.
A quick demo took place on one court where an instructor put some newbies, including this reporter, through the paces.
The Campbell River Pickleball Association was registered in January of this year, and as of last week it has 125 members.
Its president, Graham Hues, was grinning ear-to-ear at the court opening.
“This is absolutely fantastic,” he said.
The associations members had been playing on the tennis courts at Centennial Park, and using indoor facilities.
Hues said neither gave people the true feel of pickleball. In 2019 he gave a presentation to city council advocating for sport specific courts.
The city approved the funding, but local players had to be patient.
“Because of the lack of contractors, we couldn’t get anyone to work on it,” Hues said. “They biggest issue for us was the painting, there were so many projects going on that things kept falling behind.”
Pickleballers will be making up for lost time this summer, and Hues predicts a lot more people falling in love with the sport.
“Even people who have not played any racquet sports are now picking up the paddle and playing it,” he said.
Lessons will be provided by the city, and summer camps for kids are in the plans too.
Most importantly, the courts are free.
“Because its a public facility, anyone can drop in and play.”