Pickleball will officially have a home in Bluewater Bay, starting on May 28th.
The Emerald Coast Tennis (ECT) pickleball courts will host a grand opening event on Saturday, May 28th to celebrate.
The event is open to the public and will take place from 9am to noon on Saturday.
The event will be an opportunity to meet the ECT staff and new pickleball players. There will be free food and drink as well as an opportunity to play a game of pickleball. While at the grand opening, visitors and members alike will also have the opportunity to learn about crash courses, beginner clinics, and open play.
The Emerald Coast Tennis Center announced they are overhauling several of their tennis courts in order to make room for eight pickleball courts at their facility on 1200 Oakmont Drive in the Gleneagles subdivision of Bluewater Bay. They hope to have the center open on June 1st. But that date may move based on the speed of renovations.
Pickleball is a racket sport that was created by combining elements of several other racket sports. Two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated polymer ball (think wiffle ball) over a net. A pickleball court is similar to a badminton court, with a net similar to a tennis net. The paddles are similar to those in table tennis.
After a consolidation last year, several courts were underutilized – which gave part-owner and director of the Emerald Coast Tennis Center, Brett Beattie, the idea to create pickleball courts. “We figured that Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country right now, so we should go with that angle,” said Beattie.
The Pickleball facility will operate in a similar way to a traditional tennis club: monthly dues will support the upkeep of the facility. The facility will host tournaments, leagues and open play. In addition – the Emerald Coast Tennis Center will have Pickleball Pros on staff to teach lessons to players.
“It’s not going to be like a community center where you just play a couple of points and leave,” Beattie said, “this is going to be a place with socials and a club atmosphere.”
The pickleball courts will also be reservable on the Court Reserve app, which is used at traditional tennis court facilities to reserve a time and place to play. “People are excited about this, because now they won’t have to wait around for their courts to open up,” Beattie said.
The club plans to partner with other facilities which have pickleball in Niceville, Fort Walton Beach, and Destin to host tournaments.
The game was invented in the 1960s by three men who lived near Seattle – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, who wanted to create something for their bored kids to do.
Every State and all Canadian provinces now have pickleball venues. Places to play pickleball can be found here. Currently, the known number of places to play in the United States totals over 9,500 locations.
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