The pickleball courts in Huckleberry Park will be ready for play next week, now that painting has been finished.
The project began in April, with demolition of the old tennis courts, re-asphalting, surfacing, painting and sealing the courts, along with building new poles, nets and fencing. The construction also included grading of the viewing area and the expansion of the parking area.
The work turned four tennis courts into six pickleball courts and two tennis courts.
Tom Batenhorst, Park Board president, said the work was badly needed. “The current rubber surface had been damaged by a windstorm and was becoming unplayable, for both pickleball and tennis. Also, the rise in popularity of pickleball showed the need for pickleball-only courts.”
Hannibal Parks & Recreation started offering pickleball leagues at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center in 2014 and it soon became very popular. Outdoor play was offered when shadow lines were painted and portable nets were added to the tennis courts at Huckleberry Park. Batenhorst said the designated pickleball courts will be very popular. “I expect more people to play pickleball and find groups of people to play with. We also hope to hold some tournaments.”
Batenhorst is the USA Pickleball ambassador for Marion County. He said it’s no wonder pickleball is the No. 1 growing sport in the U.S. “Pickleball is relatively easy to learn and inexpensive to get started. It is a low-impact exercise making it playable by all ages and skill levels. Pickleball is also a social game where everyone is welcomed. “
Hannibal Parks & Recreation will have a fall pickleball league for leisure, intermediate and advanced players. And Batenhorst said many players get together on Tuesday nights at Huckleberry Park to play and new players are welcome. He said, “Although it’s low-impact exercise, studies have shown pickleball can be a very good workout, with improvements in cholesterol levels and blood pressure. You can make new friends and because pickleball is so social you don’t realize you’re getting exercise. “