Pickleball still has a long ways to go before finding a permanent home in Manteca.
The Manteca Parks and Recreation Commission expressed support for this niche sport that combines a bit of badminton, ping pong and tennis on Thursday. But, at the same time, commissioners are looking for more time to monitor public interest and input for a facility.
“We should have staff get a solid look over a period of time – perhaps a year – to see if there’s an actual demand (for pickleball),” Chairman David Breitenbucher said.
Director Bruce Mulder noted that an RV group recently approached the commission about the popularity of pickleball.
“It’s growing among the Baby Boomers,” he said.
Woodbridge by Del Webb, an active adult community in Manteca, has two courts including one that’s fully dedicated to pickleball, Mulder said.
Pickleball was also featured at the Manteca Senior Games about three years ago, generating the most participants.
As far as a pickleball facility, Mulder noted that the Center Street tennis courts are under consideration for such a conversion.
That’s OK with Leonard Smith. He’s involved in the Manteca Regional Tennis Center at the Union Road courts, serving as captain for mixed doubles.
“Don’t put our tennis court in a pickle,” Smith said.
Tennis players are often distracted by the loud noise generated from the pounding of a pickleball, according to Mulder, using information based on a recent letter from the Tennis Center.
“Union (Street) is our featured courts,” he added.
Much work is needed on Center Street courts. Commissioner Jennifer Andermahr did notice folks playing pickleball on one of the courts not too long ago. The temporary lines were chalked in.
“The courts are not in good shape,” Mulder said. “The weeds had to be whacked away but there are cracks and it needs to be resurfaced.”
Commissioner Griffin Cheek indicated that no funds are available for major improvements to this facility. “It would have to be in a pipeline of other things in the works,” he said.
Andermahr believes younger people may have interest in pickleball.
“I know East Union High students play it in P.E.,” she said.
The game can be played on any flat surface including a basketball court. Mulder indicted that badminton lines found inside gymnasiums are the same dimensions as that of pickleball.
Portable nets for the sport are available.
Parks and Recreation could consider bringing in pickleball as part of the open gym activities at some of the multi-purpose facilities, in particular, during the winter months.
“I would suggest we work with the pickleball people,” Mulder said. “I think we’ll need a period of time to see what response we get (from pickleball).”