Oakwood adds pickleball courts, Kettering also has plans as sport’s popularity grows

The city of Oakwood has added pickleball courts, reflecting the popularity of a sport that has one of the fastest growing in the U.S. CONTRIBUTED

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The city of Oakwood has added pickleball courts, reflecting the popularity of a sport that has one of the fastest growing in the U.S. CONTRIBUTED

The city of Oakwood has added pickleball courts and Kettering plans to do the same, reflecting the popularity of a sport that is one of the fastest growing in the United States.

Pickleball’s participation has almost doubled in the past five years, with 4.8 million people now playing, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

Both Kettering and Oakwood officials have cited that rise as a key reason for the additions.

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“With the increase popularity of pickleball and the requests that we’ve had from the residents, we thought it was a good decision,” Carol Collins, Oakwood’s director of leisure services, said Monday.

Oakwood converted an Orchardly Park tennis court — which had existed for nearly 80 years — into two pickleball courts, officials said.

The game is played on badminton-sized courts using a perforated plastic ball and composite or wooden paddles about twice the size of ping-pong paddles, according to usapickleball.org.

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Participation grew 14.8% from 2020 to 2021 after a 21.3% increase the previous year, the organization said. About 50% of all players are under 35 and nearly 30% are 55 or over.

Kettering earlier this year announced plans to increase the number of pickleball courts it has. That city has indoor courts at the Kettering Recreation Complex and outdoor ones at John F. Kennedy Park.

Kettering expects to start work on the Kennedy courts in August, with expected completion before the end of fall, an official said Monday.

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That city now has six courts and will plans to add six more. The cost is expected to be about $303,000, with more than half of that total being covered by the Kettering Parks Foundation’s Pickleball Pals, according to Mary Beth O’Dell, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural arts director.

Oakwood’s project cost $31,582, Collins said. The courts were initially budgeted for 2021, but weather and material delays pushed the work back, she added.

“We’re just excited that we finally have them,” Collins said. “We know that we have people who have started to play. So, we’re just glad that the project is done.”

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