The reopening of pickleball open play at Union City Auditorium has been a welcome change for some lovers of the paddle sport.
With no dedicated outdoor courts in Union, players have been going to Phoenix Park in Washington to play since the auditorium closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the city restarted daily open play most weekdays Sept. 8, giving players an indoor option.
Some players welcomed the respite from the heat outside, but it won’t be long until temperatures head south for the winter, and rain always seems possible. So that gives them more reasons to head indoors.
Geri Thwing of Gray Summit likes playing in the auditorium, where the lines for the two courts are taped off over the basketball court.
“I like playing on the old wood floors,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun. It makes the game different.”
Players say they are OK playing during the pandemic but are taking precautions. They play with the same people each day and are in the habit of washing their hands and cleaning equipment with anti-bacterial hand wipes.
In addition, city workers regularly clean balls after they are used. Pickleball has grown in popularity in Union, as it has across the country since it started in Washington state in the 1960s. The sport combines tennis, badminton and table tennis and is played on a 20-by-40-foot court.
While some cities are adding pickleball courts, or converting tennis courts to the smaller playing surfaces, Union has been using tape to temporarily convert other sports’ courts.
More than 80 people signed up to play in a pickleball tournament in the Union High School gym that was originally scheduled for March. The pandemic led to the city-sponsored event being pushed back to June before it was canceled for this year.
In addition to daily open play, which costs $3 per person, the city will hold a weekly ladder league in the evenings starting Monday, Oct. 5. The 10-week league costs $30 to play in. Visit union.recdesk.com/Community/Program to sign up.
The players look forward to the start of the ladder league.
“We always have such a good time,” said Marilyn Boehm of Clover Bottom, who has been playing pickleball for years. “It’s something to do on Monday nights. When it starts getting cold, we won’t be able to be outdoors.”