Overhaul for pickleball
May 12, 2022
The game that enthusiasts like to describe as the “fastest-growing sport in America” is set to live up to its reputation here in Sundance, thanks to the efforts of local pickleball players.
Randy Ludeman brought his love of the sport to the area a couple of years ago. He approached the Sundance City Council last week to seek a blessing for his plans to expand the availability of pickleball to a growing group of local players.
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements from several others, including tennis and ping pong. It was invented in Washington in 1965, when Joel Pritchard – later to serve in Congress – and two friends tried to set up a game of badminton for their bored families but couldn’t find the shuttlecock.
When Ludeman introduced pickleball to Sundance, he said, the council agreed to help out with funding for a net, paddles and balls. Around ten people joined in with the Thursday classes, quickly outgrowing the available playing space.
The group then moved to the tennis courts at the elementary school, painting lines for two courts. It still wasn’t enough, Ludeman said.
“With two courts, of course there’s still a lot of standing around time,” he said.
Today, according to Ludeman, pickleball players make use of three courts on two days each week, with up to 20 people coming to each session. Even now there are wait times, he said, prompting the group to investigate the possibility of a project to update or replace the existing city tennis courts using grants, donations and “whatever it takes” to make it happen.
Terry Everhard also spoke to the council to describe the background work he has done so far, including discussions with the public works department in Spearfish. The same thing was done in that town, he said: two tennis courts were torn up to create a six-plex for pickleball.
That project cost $210,000 two years ago, he said, estimating that a four-plex for Sundance would come in around $150,000. He suggested using post-tension concrete to mitigate the potential water problems in the location, which could cause cracking, swelling and other issues with the court surface.
The group is looking into a “Next 50” grant, he said. The city’s assistance would be needed to manage the grant, though it would involve no financial contributions as the grant requires no match.
“We haven’t put money into those for ages,” said Mayor Paul Brooks of the tennis courts, noting that more people make use of an amenity if it looks good. “It’s probably an investment in our community is my way of thinking.”
The council agreed to assist with the project, possibly to include $20,000 from its annual budget that had been set aside for the basketball courts and fence.