There are now courts dedicated to pickleball at Wilson Park.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Lori Bennett, a director on the Okotoks Pickleball Club. “We shared courts with tennis before, and we did have our dedicated times with four courts, but we had to come and set up nets and take them down every time we wanted to play.
“And the tennis lines were the main lines and we were kind of over top… This is visually attractive and easy to see where you are.”
The Town converted the two tennis courts at Wilson Park to six pickleball courts this season.
The pickleball club continues to have a good relationship with the Okotoks Tennis Club, said Bruce Stephenson, a director with the Okotoks Pickleball Club.
“Because of the popularity we have with pickleball this year, we were able to convince the Town to put permanent courts in here,” Stephenson said. “There was a good agreement between the tennis club, the pickleball club and the Town… it’s a lot better for the pickleball players, when you use the portable courts you would get a lot of action out of the nets, you are dealing with a lot of lines.”
It was an investment in maintaining good health in Okotoks among plenty of residents.
Pickleball has been around for a while in Okotoks and it continues to grow.
All six courts were full for the club’s social play on Saturday morning.
“Last year we had between 80 and 90 players and this year we had planned to cut it off at 120 players but we are at 127 right now,” Bennett said. “There is a lot of laughing and fun, but it is very competitive.”
It’s not a sport just for aging tennis players. While still popular with the over 50 years of age crowd, there was a sprinkling of young players on the court on Saturday.
All of the play was doubles action and COVID-19 restrictions were being followed.
The players had to sanitize their hands before entering the court. As well, only co-horts were allowed to be doubles partners. The balls were all cleaned and there is no sharing or swapping of paddles.
The courts are available for the public — players do not have to be a member of the pickleball club to use them. During club times, the club leaves one court open for drop-in play, which was put to good use Saturday.
Wilson Park is located off of Veterans Way, behind OK Tire Okotoks.
Pickleball is played with a paddle about the size of a racquetball racquet.
There’s no intricate string pattern, it kind of looks like a flattened frying pan (the materials range from wood to more expensive graphite facing). The ball is a wiffleball similar to what is used when introducing baseball to youngsters.
The game starts with a player serving to the opposite side of the court and the ball must last in the designated quadrant — just like tennis. Players are not allowed to volley (whack the ball before it bounces) until the ball has crossed the net two times. After that, a player can volley. However, at no time can a player have his body in the “kitchen” during a volley — even on the follow through (the kitchen is the first seven-feet of the court on both sides of the net).
Points can only be scored while serving. Both players on the team must lose a point on the serve before there is a change of service.
The games go to 11.
For information about the Okotoks Pickleball Club email Okotokspickleball@outlook.com