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Morgan Hill
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June 24, 2022

City opens outdoor pickleball courts at Community Park

Sport gains in popularity in Morgan Hill

One of the fastest-growing sports in the nation now has a home in Morgan Hill, as the city and a group of athletes recently combined their efforts to open three public outdoor pickleball courts at a local park.

The city and local pickleball enthusiasts celebrated the grand opening of the courts June 7. The new pickleball venue is, in fact, located on the basketball courts at the Morgan Hill Community Park off West Edmundson Avenue—between the dog park and new Magical Bridge playground. The courts are shared between players of both sports, open to pickleball in the mornings and early afternoons (sunrise to 2pm) and basketball from 2pm until sunset.

The courts are a temporary answer to the growing demand for pickleball facilities in Morgan Hill. The city’s Public Works Director, Chris Ghione, said the Morgan Hill Parks and Recreation Commission is working on a long-term plan to find a location for permanent pickleball courts.

Before the city agreed to open the basketball courts for part-time pickleball—which included painting regulation lines to designate three separate playing surfaces—local players traveled out of town to play the sport outdoors. Indoor courts are already established at the city’s Centennial Recreation Center.

One of those players, Sherry Hemingway, even built a pickleball court in her driveway with chalk and a net earlier this year.

“Our players are delighted to be able to play pickleball near their homes and not have to drive to San Jose or Gilroy to play,” Hemingway said. “The group that worked so long to get the courts is planning to form the Morgan Hill Pickleball Club, which will encourage the sport, organize events, fundraise and advocate for the expansion of the sport locally. Their current focus is offering volunteers to give free pickleball lessons to beginners.”

Hemingway described pickleball as “an addicting sport played with a net, paddle and whiffle ball. It is multi-generational in nature, and it is common to see parents, kids and grandparents playing together.”

She said she just started playing the sport earlier this year at the indoor CRC courts. One inviting aspect of the game seems to be that experienced players are always eager to teach beginners how to play, she said.

After producing her own makeshift outdoor court and inviting the enthusiastic local pickleball community, Hemingway’s driveway became “the Saturday morning Driveway Pickleball Clinic, a haven for beginners,” she said.

“It also sparked the recognition that Morgan Hill was the only community in the area without outdoor pickleball courts,” Hemingway added. “Our Saturday numbers quickly swelled to 15 players, and included one person with a knee replacement and four people who had never held a racquet.”

A small group of local pickleball players reached out to the city last fall to ask about establishing outdoor courts on public property, Ghione added. While considering the options, Ghione said it became apparent that the Community Park’s basketball courts were not seeing much use in the mornings. Thus the site made sense as a part-time, temporary pickleball surface.

The city’s costs in creating the courts were minimal, Ghione said, consisting of a few hours of staff time, some paint for the lines and nets.

According to a March 20 article on cnn.com, at least 4.8 million people play pickleball in the U.S. That number is a nearly 40% increase over the past two years, as participation has spiked since the pandemic started.

Hemingway said anyone interested in taking up pickleball in Morgan Hill can text 408.234.7871 to make an appointment for a lesson.

Pickleball players pictured at the June 7 grand opening of the new outdoor courts at the Morgan Hill Community Park. Photo: John Gibson
Pickleball players pictured at the June 7 grand opening of the new outdoor courts at the Morgan Hill Community Park. Photo: John Gibson

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