Monday, June 17, 2024
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Pickleball Leader Said Cane Creek Courts First Step

Cookeville’s Pickleball Ambassador said new courts set to be constructed at Cane Creek Park part of the steady growth of the game locally.

USA Pickleball Ambassador Harry Smith pickleball is becoming a family sport in Cookeville, with most people playing in two-person teams. Smith said there are about 1,400 registered players within a forty-mile radius of the city, and up to 200 more unregistered players.

“The encouraging thing is the number of recreation players we have,” Smith said. “You could probably divide the population about eighty-five percent recreational players and the other fifteen percent more on the competitive tournament side, but we are getting people nine to ninety now involved in pickleball.”

Smith said the new courts should be enough to support the community for the time being when combined with the six additional courts that Putnam County is also looking to add to the area. He said the next step for the pickleball community would be to establish indoor courts that they can regularly use.

“We have absolutely no indoor dedicated courts, so when bad weather sets in the players are at the mercy of the courts that are used for basketball and volleyball, and do not have access to courts like they do during the regular season,” Smith said.

Smith said the courts being built at Cane Creek Park are wide enough for wheelchairs, meaning the park could be used to play adaptive pickleball.

“The basic court itself is the same size, but the surrounding area is just a little bit larger to accommodate wheelchairs,” Smith said. “And there is no dedicated facility in the state of Tennessee to host adaptive pickleball, so we have the option maybe of becoming a center for adaptive pickleball as well.”

Smith said the sport also has the potential to bring in tourism funds once they can offer more leagues and tournaments to bring in players from other areas.