August 21, 2018
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Pickleball - If you build it, they will come

  • Bill Petrie, takes a swing at the ball during a game of pickleball on Tuesday at the Callinan Sports & Fitness Center. Teams meet up at Callinan's on Tuesday and Thursdays to play against each other. Jane Peleti

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
July 27, 2018

The newly formed Rohnert Park Pickleball Club is thrilled to have received a $5,000 grant from the Rohnert Park Foundation for upgrading and maintaining Rohnert Park’s new pickleball courts.

“The city council, the city manager and the department of recreation has been very agreeable to pickleball,” says Bill Petrie, member of the Rohnert Park Pickleball Club and Ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association. “In other cities they’ve had problems getting pickleball courts because they don’t have money. Rohnert Park has seen a need for it and they’ve acted accordingly and I commend them for that.”

The City of Rohnert Park has plans to reconstruct the four dilapidated tennis courts at Sunrise Park on the corner of Snyder and Rohnert Park Expressway into two public tennis courts and six pickleball courts. In their current state the courts are not safe to play on with numerous cracks, so the city plans to resurface them this year and alter the configuration to allow for the six dedicated pickleball courts. The grant to the Rohnert Park Pickleball Club will help with the upkeep and maintenance of those courts, as well as court windshields and a storage shed to store maintenance equipment.

“We hope to use the grant to buy a storage shed that we can put by the courts so we can store extra paddles and balls, a blower because sometimes leaves get on the courts, a squeegee for when it rains and some brushes and any other things that can help us with the upkeep of the courts,” says Petrie. “They’re public courts – the city is responsible for the courts – but we’re going to provide the upkeep for them and make sure they stay in tip top shape.”

Called “the fastest growing sport in America,” Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Games can be played by two or four players who use solid paddles to hit a perforated ball, like a Whiffle Ball, over a net. Courts are about the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, 20 x 44 feet, with a net and rules that are similar to tennis. While Pickleball was invented in the mid 1960s, it has more recently been growing in popularity.

“It’s a challenging game, it’s fun, and it’s exercise,” says Petrie about what he likes best about the game. “Pickleball will lengthen your life because it’s exercise and as we all know exercise makes you live longer. It’s a good cross-training. I’m an ex-tennis player, racquet ball player and ping pong player and it fits my mode. I’m also a senior so I don’t have to move across the court as far – it’s a lot easier than tennis because you can get four pickleball courts in one tennis court  - that’s how small the courts are.” 

Petrie hopes to build the Rohnert Park Pickleball Club into a larger community that will hold clinics and tournaments – perhaps even some in conjunction with pickleball clubs from other cities. He is confident that once the courts are built and the club has a dedicated space available to play, the group will grow and flourish. Currently they play on three temporary courts in the Callinan Sports Center gym, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Anyone is welcome to come at those times to check out the sport and try it out. 

“[For anyone who is interested], we’d be glad to incorporate you and teach you about pickleball and show you how to play,” says Petrie. “It’s a fun, social sport. You meet very nice people.” Call (707) 588-3488 for more information.