TENNIS NOTEBOOK: USTA sets guidelines to deal with growth of pickleball

A MATTER FOR THE COURTS: Pierremont Oaks has converted two of its existing tennis courts into six permanent pickleball courts to handle the increasing popularity of the sport.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

While the number of tennis players taking up the sport has risen drastically over the past few years, the rise of another sport has put many facilities in, well, a pickle.

Pickleball, the fastest growing sport over the past two years, has seen a 650% increase in the number of players since 2013. The sport, a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, now includes over 4.8 million players nationwide.

Many tennis facilities have turned existing courts into pickleball courts, but there are still some places where the two sports have had to share the same space.

To deal with the situation, the recent USTA National Statement of Guidance for parks and recreation facilities on tennis and pickleball explains the current policy in place for events in the USTA Southern Section:

“Tennis courts eligible for USTA Southern sanctioned competition, including junior and adult tournaments and league, must contain only lines prescribed by the ITF Rules of Tennis, as set out in the USTA Handbook of Tennis Rules and Regulations.”

In other words: courts that include both tennis and pickleball lines are not eligible to host sanctioned events/play in the Southern Section.

In its statement on the issue, the USTA went on to say, “We will continue to explore options to collaborate with facilities and providers who wish to offer pickleball and help advocate for the construction of separate pickleball facilities.”

Just like in other areas of the country, Shreveport has seen an incredible increase in the number of pickleball players. And some facilities have already taken the initiative to construct and/or convert existing tennis courts into pickleball courts.

Last August, Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club converted two of its existing hard courts into six permanent pickleball courts.

“Pickleball has become very popular,” says Grady Wilson, general manager/director of tennis at POTC. “It’s 100 degrees out here and we’ve got 65-plus aged ladies out there on the pickleball courts.”

Wilson travelled to Nashville, Tenn., for a two-day teaching session on pickleball, so he would be able to teach the sport.

East Ridge Country Club has converted one of its tennis courts into three pickleball courts and tennis pro Tom Chicoine offers “101 Pickleball,” which includes week-long packages of pickleball instruction.

Southern Hills Tennis Center, which has recently undergone major improvements, is also looking into installing pickleball courts. You can also find pickleball courts at Querbes Tennis Center.

If the rise of pickleball continues, look for more courts to pop up across the area.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD