One hundred pickleball courts and counting.
I know from my own personal experience in the tennis boom of the ’70s that potential investors for an indoor air-conditioned pickleball facility protected from the ill effects of too much sun will want to see the distribution of existing outdoor pickleball courts, so I have been maintaining the list for them, even before they ask.
Last year at this time, I mentioned in “Picking pickles and the pickleball tour” that we had more than 40 pickleball courts below the Indian River for our pickleball community. Many readers commented that they were impressed by that number, but I wasn’t, because I had read the following excerpt from an advertisement for The Villages in Florida: “It truly is pickleball paradise, with over 100 courts….”
This year, I counted 100 lined pickleball courts in the exact same area as last year. At least two-thirds are at private communities, reserved for homeowners. The significance of private courts is that in most of those communities, individuals had to appeal to their associations and developers to have pickleball courts overlaid onto the tennis courts. There invariably were serious tennis players who objected but then recognized that far more of their neighbors now played pickleball.
No one is more respectful of tennis than I am, as I was involved in tennis on a global scale prior to moving to Delaware, and I want to thank all of those serious tennis player homeowners who did recognize the requests of their neighbors.
The fact that pickleball players went the extra yardage to make their appeals, and then organized the lining of the courts, speaks to the intensity that pickleballers feel for their sport. As we learned in our own community, pickleball provided a social atmosphere for homeowners.
Roughly a third of those pickleball courts are open to the public. The six indoor courts at Ocean City, Md.’s Northside Park are open to the public for fee on select days of the week all year, and Ocean City staff do a wonderful job. Outdoor courts are available to the public from spring to fall at Sea Colony, and in Ocean Pines, Md., for a fee, and at Clayton Elementary (summer only) for members of the First State Pickleball Club.
The people attracted to pickleball make it a special sport, and periodically I like to call attention to talented pickleballers. One such person is Joanne Timchalk, who is another of those outstanding pickleballer captains in the Coastal Community Pickleball League.
Timchalk was born in Washington, D.C., before her parents moved to Cheverly Forest, Md., which probably influenced her decision to go to Georgetown University Hospital and their School of Radiology Technology. She first worked at nearby Greater Southeast Community Hospital, where she met her husband, Michael. Her last employment before retirement in Delaware was at the University of Maryland, in their famous Emergency Medicine & Shock Trauma Center.
She had been visiting South Bethany Beach since she was a child, and more than a decade ago she and her husband bought their home in Bethany, and they became full-time residents in 2009. After playing her first session in Ocean City Indoor Courts, she was hooked, and the Delaware pickleball community benefited from her enthusiastic participation.
Another person I want to mention is Nan Colella, “Pickleball Nan,” who was the cheerleader of installing pickleball courts at the Cheer Center in Ocean View. Nan organized a pickleball program there several years ago, and because her players have improved so much, she recently organized their first pickleball tournament at Cheer.
Jeff Middleton and Lil Smitherman took gold, but besides the traditional awards — gold, silver and bronze — in what seems like a new fun category, Nan announced “Big Money” winners, Patricia Middleton and Frank Hunter.
While we are talking about outstanding pickleballers, I would also like to single out Lynn Casey and Realtor Charlie Biddle, who won the gold medal a few weekends ago at the Mid-Atlantic Open Pickleball Tournament in Arlington, Va., among almost 300 players from the surrounding states. Because of the quality of competition, both players returned with elevated ratings.
Lynn also won gold in Women’s Doubles, and Charlie won silver in Men’s Doubles. Courtney Vaughn won silver in her category, and Judy and Randy Redard won bronze in their Mixed Doubles category.
Even with a smaller contingent, Delaware once again made herself known. Congratulations, Delaware.
Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.
By Vaughn Baker
Special to the Coastal Point