Local Pickleball Club Begins Work for Outdoor Courts
By Matt Baide
The Centralia Pickleball Club was out at the Gold Street Park on Tuesday, cleaning up the area where the city will be helping install four new outdoor pickleball courts.
“We did a lot of brush, weed cleaning. We took down some old fencing, we took down an old drinking fountain, so that’s what we did today,” club member Neal Renga said. “The next stage is pressure wash the surface and then the city will be coming in and doing some of their stuff.”
The club has been playing at the courts for three years, and painted lines on some of the tennis courts a couple years ago and play at the courts regularly when the weather permits.
Centralia City Council approved the project for the park last week following the city’s acquisition of the land from Centralia College. Along with the pickleball courts, bocce ball courts and a soccer area will be added later.
The city will provide two professional pickleball nets at a cost of $500 each, and will be putting in a total of $5,000 into the project that will go towards fencing and painting lines on the courts. The city asked the club to provide labor, which they are moving forward with quickly to try and get courts in place to use as soon as possible.
“Outdoors, you play with a different ball, a little bit harder ball,” Renga said. “You do have the elements, mainly the wind, to deal with. You have to be a little more accurate with a lot of your shots. It’s a little faster game.
“Indoors, you have a softer ball, it’s a little more giving when it hits you,” he added. “Outdoors is fun. You’re out there in the fresh air, it’s just nice to be able to be outside, enjoy the game.”
Renga hopes that the installation of the new courts will attract more people to play pickleball and expand the clubs reach throughout the Twin Cities.
“It could go a long ways. If the news media picks up on it that there are outdoor courts available, and maybe people who don’t belong to Thorbeckes just learn the game, they can pick up their paddles, some balls and instructions online and learn how to play the game,” Renga said. “It would be a good family outing to come out on a Sunday and play pickleball.”
Pickleball is continuing to grow as a sport, and there are many different outdoor courts throughout the northwest as a result. But these will be the first outdoor courts in Lewis County, and one of few outdoor public courts in Southwest Washington.
“There isn’t much outdoors because of the rain we have here, a lot of people might have a court in their backyard if they have a big enough yard,” Renga said. “As far as I know, there’s nothing south of Olympia where the city has been involved to take some of their own property and put up some outdoor courts, but I think it will add a lot to the city and as they finish their other parts of this area here, I think it’s really good.”