New survey looks to gauge community interest in sport

Pickleball enthusiasts may have a new place to play the game outdoors, depending on the result of a survey being conducted by Albemarle Parks and Recreation.

According to an email sent Monday by AP&R Director Lisa Kiser, the department is taking in the opinions of the community about converting the three tennis courts at Rock Creek Park into pickleball courts.

Pickleball differs from tennis in that the court is smaller and requires less running and is played more as doubles than singles. The ball has less bounce in pickleball and the paddle is usually a solid material and not like a stringed tennis racquet. Pickleball shares a lot with ping-pong in terms of less running, but a similar approach with hand-eye coordination.

The Rock Creek Park courts are to be resurfaced this year with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Kiser said in a phone interview. Plans to mark the courts for both tennis and pickleball may happen if the survey results show interest in playing the sport outdoors at that location. The only additional costs, she said, would be to line the court and to purchase the nets and various equipment.

Currently, open indoor pickleball courts accessible to the public exist at the Niven Community Center and the E.E. Waddell Center, with the Stanly County Family YMCA and various churches around the city and county using their facilities to host games. The only outdoor location equipped for pickleball are two courts at Chuck Morehead Park.

“Pickleball is a growing sport so the community and the league running through AP&R have asked,” Kiser said about converting the Rock Creek location. “I have been approached several times. This is a good time to examine and investigate if this is something we should do.”

In the email, Kiser mentioned the survey is “to ensure (the changes are) needed and wanted and does not cause an undue hardship on the Albemarle tennis community.”

Any changes to the court would first need approval from the Albemarle City Council and then depend on how quickly a contractor could resurface the courts.

The link to the survey is: .