A court battle of sorts is heating up between tennis and pickleball players in Edmonton. As the popularity of pickleball explodes, the city could be converting existing tennis courts into pickleball courts.
The two games have similarities, but when it comes to court size, they’re different and that’s creating conflict.
“It takes up one quarter of the space than a tennis court plays on,” said Doug Fogg with the Edmonton Pickleball Club. “Usually a tennis court you’ll have two playing on (it). We could have 16 people playing pickleball on a court.”
Pickleball popularity has exploded and space to play is limited, Fogg said, particularly in Edmonton where there just aren’t enough courts.
“It’s kind of shame in some respects.
“Red Deer’s got 20 pickleball courts built by the City of Red Deer, Sherwood Park has 12 permanent pickleball courts, 12 courts in Stony Plain, 12 courts in St. Albert.”
So the pickleball community is looking to take over some tennis courts.
Tennis Edmonton said that means it will be losing some prime playing real estate to the Coronation Park Community Sports Centre project to meet this growing demand.
“The city is actually going to tear down the tennis courts here at Coronation and they are going to replace it with only two tennis courts and a couple of pickleball courts,” Miranda Smit, with Tennis Edmonton, said.
The city said it is still reviewing how the court space will be used but that, regardless, a 50 per cent reduction of the existing tennis court footprint will be needed.
Smit said it’s a big loss to the community and players that are sometimes needing to wait up to one hour just to play.
“I have nothing against pickleball but we need to do enough to make sure both sports exist and not create a kind of competition environment,” Wallace Chan with Tennis Edmonton said.
“Accessible tennis courts in Edmonton are particularly low when we look at other cities of a similar size across Canada,” Tennis Alberta Executive Director Alan Mackin said.
Chan said he wishes the tennis community was specifically consulted.
Both groups said there’s an even simpler answer: paint new lines on existing tennis courts with minor modifications, which would work for everyone.