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Bartlett Pickleball Courts are now open!

Note: At the time of this writing, the ribbon-cutting and official opening of the Bartlett Pickleball Courts was scheduled for 11:00 am, the day of this issue’s publication.

The long-awaited and much-hyped pickleball courts are now complete and ready for play. A project that has been in the works for over a year now, this site – located at Shadowlawn Park – is Bartlett’s first dedicated outdoor pickleball facility.

The bids for equipment and repair contracts, grant funding, and an agreement with DALHOFF THOMAS design studio to design the courts were all approved at a meeting of the Bartlett Board of Mayor and Aldermen in January of last year. Bids were accepted for construction last summer and ViktorHall Construction set to work on what is anticipated to be recognized as one of the premier outdoor pickleball facilities in the Greater Memphis area. Before this facility’s establishment, the only space available for playing this sport was at indoor facilities, sharing the space with other scheduled events.

The sport, similar to badminton and played on a similarly-sized court, has grown in popularity in recent years, due in no small part to its kinship to sports that many people are already familiar with, as well as its low-impact nature that can be enjoyed by players at any fitness level. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but it can develop into a fast-paced competition between experienced players.

What is pickleball?

If you’re like me, the whole concept is foreign, but a little bit of quick research filled in the blanks easily enough. 

Originally developed in the late 60s on Bainbridge Island, Washington by a group of friends who improvised a badminton game with a wiffleball and some hastily constructed plywood paddles.

The game combines many elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels and allows singles or doubles play (doubles being the most common form of play).

Just like in its sister sports, the ball is served cross-court and must land within the cross-court area, and the server’s feet (at least one) remaining outside the baseline. Serves must be underhanded, as in badminton, and contact must be made above the waist (navel) level. There is a two-bounce rule similar to ping-pong, in that a serve and its return must be allowed to bounce before players are allowed to volley (return the ball before it bounces).

The ball may be volleyed, or allowed to bounce, but may only bounce once before being returned, and must bounce within the opposite court.

One major difference in gameplay is the “non-volley zone”, which restricts the area of the court where a ball may be returned without a bounce.

A more in-depth explanation of the rules may be found at www.usapickleball.org, the website of the organization that has grown to regulate competitive play and hosts a championship series annually.

If anyone is interested in the beginning but may be intimidated by the thought of just jumping into the play, the City of Bartlett Parks and Recreation Department has certified pickleball instructors that will be offering a beginner’s clinic Sunday at 2:00 pm.

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