One of the nation’s fastest-growing sports is coming to Belleville.
The public is invited to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil Belleville’s first two pickleball courts Saturday, June 3 at 3 p.m.
The courts will be located across from tennis courts at the Municipal Sports Complex, next to the varsity baseball field and dog park accessible via the driveway off of Division Avenue.
Andy Peeke, a former University of Colorado football star-turned-pickleball coach, will be on hand to give a brief introduction to the sport.
Peeke, who is certified by the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association, will give the public a crash course on some of the rules and strategy of the sport.
Almost 5 million Americans are playing the latest in racquet sports, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. ESPN last month announced it had reached an agreement with the Professional Pickleball Association to broadcast eight tournaments, including the national championship in Dallas in November.
You know this sport is a phenomenon when TV talk show host and Jersey guy Stephen Colbert form a celebrity pickleball tournament.
“Belleville wasn’t going to escape pickelball’s wave of popularity,” Township Manager Anthony Iacono said. “There are a lot of residents who are taking up the sport, and we created these courts to accommodate them.”
For now, access to the courts will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. The township, however, will be monitoring the demand for the courts.
Peeke will also be hosting a four-week clinic at the courts. The clinic will be held each Wednesday starting on June 21.
Iacono said the town is planning to build two more courts as part of an overhaul of Plansoen Park, adjacent to School No. 9. Town officials rejected bids for the project because they were deemed too costly, but the mayor and council will begin the process again.
“Providing recreational facilities for our active adult residents to play pickleball dovetails into my ongoing goal to create a healthier and happier Belleville,” Mayor Michael A. Melham said. “Pickleball is a great game for athletes of all ages because it ties in fun and fitness. Anytime we can open a new active space for our residents is an exciting moment.”
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