Pickleball’s popularity is picking up, and Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) officials are looking to provide more facilities for the sport in greater McLean.
The Park Authority will hold a “virtual” public meeting Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. to present options for, and gather public feedback on, implementing pickleball options at Lewinsville Park in McLean.
The park, located at 1659 Chain Bridge Road, has six tennis courts in poor condition that require resurfacing, officials said. The Park Authority’s presentation will focus on options to improve the courts and introduce pickleball at the park, either as shared-use courts with tennis or as pickleball-only courts.
Park Authority officials are considering converting some tennis courts, which measure 78 by 36 feet, into spaces that also could accommodate two pickleball courts apiece, using portable nets, or have one court that makes use of the tennis net.
The meeting will feature a comment period and the Park Authority will accept public input through Dec. 31.
Citing Sport & Fitness Industry Association figures, Park Authority officials said U.S. pickleball participation grew by more than 7 percent from 2014 to 2019, while Americans’ overall activity level stayed flat.
FCPA now has 46 outdoor pickleball courts that share space with tennis courts at 23 parks and schools, plus six indoor courts at three recreation centers. The county also plans to build six dedicated pickleball courts, two each at a Hogge, North Hill and Wakefield parks.
Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services operates between eight and 10 shared courts at five community centers and is planning a total of five more between the Gum Springs Community Center and South County Teen & Senior Center.
Rental demand for FCPA courts for all sports skyrocketed during the pandemic. The public rented the Park Authority’s courts for 1,728 hours in fiscal 2019 and only 1,080 hours during the pandemic’s start in fiscal 2020, but in fiscal 2021 rented courts for 7,276 hours – a nearly 574-percent increase from the previous year.
According to a recent FCPA survey that garnered 1,803 responses, 83 percent of respondents play pickleball at least 13 times per year and 64 percent have encountered conflicts on shared courts.
The survey also found that 88 percent of players drive to pickleball matches and 77.3 percent of those drivers are within a 10-minute ride of a court.
According to USA Pickleball’s Website, the game was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle by fathers Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, who wanted to give their bored children another summertime activity.
Players wield paddles and hit a ball perforated with holes, which prevents errant shots from going far afield. Games normally last through 11 points, but ones in tournament play sometimes go up to 15 or 21 points. In all cases, players or teams must win by two points.
Pickleball courts are 20 by 44 feet, the same size as ones for doubles badminton, and use the same dimensions for both singles and doubles play. The courts have right and left service areas and a 7-foot-wide non-volley area (known as the “kitchen”) on either side of the net, which is 36 inches high at the sidelines and dips down to 34 inches in the middle.
To learn more about the Lewinsville Park proposal and how to participate in the meeting via phone or e-mail, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/planning-development/development/lewinsville. For more information, e-mail the Public Information Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703) 324-8662.