Six spanking-new, blue-surfaced pickleball courts opened today at Cub Creek Park in Wilkesboro.
Pickleball, a mashup of tennis, badminton and table tennis, is played on courts that are about one-third the size of a regulation tennis court.
It’s a sport that has become extremely popular with players of all ages, but especially among adult racket sport enthusiasts who have seen a decline in mobility or stamina.
Cub Creek now has eight outdoor pickleball courts, which introduces the opportunity for sanctioned tournaments to be played in the downtown.
Town of Wilkesboro staff have told me that they’ve been approached by three nonprofit groups that have expressed interest in hosting tournaments at Cub Creek.
Town staff are encouraging local pickleballers to form a club or nonprofit group that could raise funds, apply for grants and organize tournaments.
For years, the local pickleball scene has been led by David Wiles and Bob Berry. David and Bob have been the sport’s key ambassadors and proponents who are broadcasting that Wilkesboro is now ready for the pickleball spotlight.
What could be next for Cub Creek and what’s known as one of the fastest growing sports in America? Well, most likely it’ll be baby steps, such as hosting a small event sanctioned by the sport’s governing body, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).
Perhaps one day Wilkesboro could be the site of a prestigious event like the Bodyarmor State Games, scheduled for June 18-20 at Cary Tennis Park, for which there are 427 registered players, each paying from $30 to $65 to compete on one of the facility’s four lighted courts.
If you dare to dream, Wilkesboro, set your sights on a signature event coming to town, such as a qualifier for the USAPA’s national championships. There’s one in California in late June/early July that has 575 registered players so far who will compete for a $65,000 purse.
This would require more courts, however. The complex at Newport Beach, Calif., has 31 permanent pickleball courts. Baby steps, indeed.
But, for now, enjoy the ball whacking on one of Wilkesboro’s eight pristine courts. And thank the town for expanding the recreational opportunities at Cub Creek and growing the local outdoor economy.
The town used its own employees and resources to prepare the site, which was completed recently by Ronda-based Triangle Fence Co. Factoring in their work and the town’s in-kind contributions, it cost around $90,000 to install the six courts.
A town staffer told me that the project coming to fruition in about two months was “a great representation of the beauty of small, local government. Times changed and the community discovered a new activity. The community spoke that love and desire to its elected body (town council). The elected body gave direction and staff implemented.
“At the end of the day, we were able to move efficiently to supply the requests of the citizens with an activity that allows for future growth and opportunities that extend beyond our town limits.”
The narrative of how the best pickleball facility in northwest North Carolina was built in about two months is an unequivocal success story, one we’ll enjoy in spirit and health for decades to come.