Pickleball in Columbia a work in progress

The conversion of one tennis court into four pickleball courts at Metter Park in Columbia has received a “somewhat mixed” reaction from local enthusiasts, Columbia Director of Community Development Scott Dunakey said.

Dunakey said the pickleball courts, which opened for play earlier this month, were “not intended to be a competition grade facility,” but rather a response to resident input to the Columbia Park and Recreation Advisory Board.  

Dunakey added he expects a more official pickleball presence in the future.

Dunakey explained the Metter Park courts are “a retro-fit project that provides a local option for recreational play, which could be done while we are working on the park system master plan,” which will be completed as part of the city’s ongoing comprehensive plan process.

“I fully anticipate that the master plan will recommend additional pickleball courts based on national and local popularity of the sport,” Dunakey continued. “Assuming that is the case, the future facility will be designed and built specifically for pickleball without the inherent weaknesses of a retro-fit facility.”

Some of the issues with the Metter Park courts, avid pickleball players have said, include a limited backcourt playing area along the chain link fence enclosure and the presence of metal posts between two of the courts. The layout of the courts also allows stray pickleballs from other games to end up in a different court area.

Dunakey said these concerns are being addressed. 

“Based on the feedback we’ve received, the posts will be removed to eliminate the obstacle. So, we may need to install some netting in its place,” he said.

“It is worth mentioning that the USA Pickleball Association specifically provides for the four-court layout – even citing some of the concerns that have been expressed about our new facility,” Dunakey continued. “The city has ordered a new tennis net to use as a backstop (to keep pickleballs in one court area), as is suggested.”

Dunakey also wanted to note the Oerter Foundation fully funded the project once it was announced. 

“We very much appreciate the Oerter Foundation and their contributions to the community,” Dunakey said. 

USAPA guidance on four-court layouts may be found at usapickleball.org/what-is-pickleball/court-diagram/temporary-court-setup.

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Scott Woodsmall

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