Mary Beth Sallee
Hart Co. News-Herald
One of the fastest-growing sports has made its way to Hart County.
Pickleball courts have been constructed at Thelma Stovall Park in Munfordville. Players, whether seeking the sport as a hobby or competitively, will now have a permanent outdoor place to practice and play. A ribbon cutting was held on June 22 to officially open the courts.
Pickleball combines aspects of tennis, badminton, and table tennis (ping-pong). The sport is played by two to four people using a paddle and a plastic ball on a badminton-sized court and across a slightly modified tennis net.
The decision to construct the pickleball courts was made by Munfordville Tourism and the City of Munfordville.
Melody Chaney, who is a member of the Munfordville Tourism Board, has been playing pickleball for about a year and a half. She said what makes the sport unique is that it can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels
“You don’t have to have a lot of natural athleticism to be able to play, and you don’t have to be a certain age,” Chaney said. “…It’s a good way to come out and be with a group of people who maybe have a similar skill level and you can enjoy playing with.”
The pickleball courts at Thelma Stovall Park were constructed on the parking lot that was directly adjacent to the playground area. Some parents have voiced concerns of there no longer being parking spaces located next to the playground, as well as seating at the playground being very limited.
Munfordville Tourism Executive Director Coni Shepperd addressed these concerns.
“The present location of the pickleball courts did absorb a paved area initially intended for use by the city to access the building and sewer pump,” Shepperd said. “Over time, patrons to our park started using this narrow area for parking. Safety concerns had been expressed to the city about parking being within a few feet of the playground and restrooms. After much thought and consideration, tourism and the city made the decision to repurpose this area for pickleball, adding a whole new element to our community that sets us apart and will attract a new group to our city park. We recognize the need for additional seating around the playground area and have begun plans to resolve this matter in the very near future.”
Despite any concerns, both Shepperd and Chaney believe having the pickleball courts is a great opportunity for the community.
“We are very excited to have this in our park for everyone to use,” Shepperd said.
“It’s good for socialization,” Chaney added. “…Unlike golf and other sports I’ve been involved in, it’s a really low cost.”
Pickleball clinics are currently being planned for Munfordville as a way for everyone in the community to learn more about the sport. The courts at the park are free and available to the public.
For additional information about pickleball in Hart County, visit the Green River Pickleball Facebook page at www.facebook.com/greenriverpickleball. Pickleball bats and balls are available for rent and purchase at the Munfordville Welcome Center and Gift Shop. To rent bats, the charge is $10 with $6 returned to you. As for purchase, Kanga bats are $15, Versix are $25, and the One Shot bat is $35. Balls are $5 each.