Eagle ready to join pickleball movement
EAGLE — After lobbying efforts from actual sport ambassadors, Eagle is ready to join the pickleball movement.
Tuesday night the Eagle Town Board agreed to partner with the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District to alter its municipal tennis courts to accommodate pickleball play. The alteration will not preclude playing tennis at the site, but will open up the location for people who play the fastest-growing sport in the country.
Resident Alex Huck approached the town with the pickleball proposal. He noted he was a former tennis player who has developed a passion for pickleball.
Jerry and Robin Santoro of Gypsum, who are official ambassadors for the USA Pickleball Association, supported Huck’s request. Jerry Santoro said seven years ago, very few people had ever heard of pickleball. “This is the fastest growing sport in the country,” he said. “If you don’t get out in front of it, you are behind it.”
WECMRD Director Steve Russell said the Eagle pickleball request was modest — between $500 to $750 to paint the existing tennis courts for pickleball. He said the pickleball nets could be stored at the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink and checked out when players need them.
“For that kind of cost, its a no-brainer,” said Santoro. “This is a service to the community to get people out and get them to move.”
Not just an old people sport
Santoro said that the creation of outdoor, free courts is an important evolution for pickleball. The sport is often seen as an activity for older people, but Santoro said that’s because of accessibility issues.
“It’s being played at times and at locations where only retired people can play,” he said, pointing to the current Gypsum Recreation Center open pickleball sessions as an example. Open pickleball play is held from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Fridays at the center.
With public, open courts, Santoros said all ages can enjoy the sport.
Town board member Kevin Brubeck supported that claim. Brubeck said his daughter teaches pickleball to her middle school students. “She was surprised to hear that older people played pickleball,” he said.
Town board member Andy Jessen noted that pickleball play caused some issues in Vail and asked how Eagle can avoid a similar problem. Santoro noted the courts in Vail are located next to residences and said that resulted in complaints.
“Given where your tennis courts are, they are not in close proximity to homes,” said Santoro. He also noted that pickleball players aren’t a rowdy crowd.
“This is not a party group,” Santoro said.
The town board unanimously approved the pickleball request and agree to split the cost with WECMRD.
“Once the courts are in, contact us to come out and give pickleball a shot,” said Santoro.