Mike Vaught and his friends don’t mess around when it comes to pickleball.
They play at least five nights a week. And they travel to tournaments in Franklin, Columbus, Greenfield, and other places.
The paddleball sport similar to tennis has been on the rise in Shelbyville the last few years, resulting in the Parks Department painting pickleball court lines on the tennis courts at Kennedy Park.
Currently both the tennis and pickleball courts run the same direction and share the same net. Vaught brought a proposal to the Park Board meeting Wednesday evening that would allow his group to increase the number of pickleball courts while leaving the tennis courts intact.
“The tennis court is 120 feet long and 100 feet wide,” Vaught explained. If you divide it in the middle, you could put a pickelball court on each side of the [tennis] net running the same direction [as the tennis court]. You’d have four courts with four pickleball nets.”
These new pickleball courts would be “true courts,” he said. And it would eliminate some of the issues that come with sharing a tennis court.
“There’s a real inconvenience to play pickleball with a tennis net,” Vaught said. “The tennis net is considerably wider than a pickleball net, which means you can’t go around the edge if you get that opportunity. The tennis net is lower in the center, whereas a pickleball net is pretty level all the way across.”
Vaught and his pickleball group proposed redrawing the lines themselves and purchasing portable nets for these courts, which they would donate to the Parks Department. The tennis court lines would be unaffected.
“What we’ve discussed is those four nets, we’d store them on the side or we’d store them in a place where they can be accessible to people who want to play pickleball,” Parks Department Director Karen Martin said.
“If tennis was going on on one court, they’d still have two courts to play [pickleball], which is kind of nice,” she added. “Nobody is getting in anybody’s way, but more people get to enjoy pickleball at the same time somebody is playing tennis.”
Vaught added: “Or you could have 16 people playing pickleball.”
“I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people drive by and they’re looking, but they’re not stopping because there’s people playing,” Vaught said. “If we had twice the courts, I’m sure you’d have a lot more people playing.”
The board approved for Vaught and his group to do this. Vaught said he’d order the nets and arrange the relining, and they’d get started relining the courts as soon as they have what they need. This will cost about $2,000-$2,500, which the pickleball players will raise on their own.
More courts opens up the possibility for the Parks Department to host pickleball leagues, tournaments and clinics.
“If at some point we decide to have a tournament or something, I’d like you guys to work with [Sports Director] Chris [Stephens] and his staff to make that happen, because we don’t have a lot of staff,” Martin said.