Lewes pickleball proposal not sitting well with tennis players

January 20, 2020

A proposal by Lewes’s Parks and Recreation Commission to reconfigure the tennis courts at Canalfront Park in favor of pickleball isn’t sitting well with tennis players in the area.

The proposal was discussed at a public workshop meeting held Jan. 15 at the Rollins Community Center in Lewes.

The estimated $160,000 project would include resurfacing for the existing basketball, tennis and pickleball courts to address heavy cracking, along with new nets. New mesh windscreens on the north and east sides of the tennis and pickleball courts are also included in the project put together by engineers with George, Miles and Buhr.

The sticking point at the workshop session was the proposed removal of one of the two existing tennis courts so four dedicated pickleball courts could be put in its place. Those courts would have permanent nets and court striping exclusively for pickleball.

The other tennis court would remain, but there would also be pickleball court striping along with the tennis striping so portable nets could be brought in by pickleball players for use when tennis players weren’t there.

The proposal would result in six pickleball courts available when tennis players weren’t using the single court; four when the tennis court was being used.

Dave Shook, a tennis coach and teaching professional, said removing one of the courts amounts to driving away the young people of town who want to learn how to play tennis. He said the eight courts at the high school aren’t in great shape and aren’t as accessible to the young people who live in Lewes. Several other tennis players also objected to losing one of their two courts.

Sue Brooker organizes lots of pickleball at the courts and for the most part represented the sentiments of dozens of pickleball players who supported the proposal. She said pickleball numbers are growing rapidly across the country while tennis numbers are declining. She noted that there are many times as many pickleball players using the courts each week as tennis players who, she said, are few and far between.

Alison Kirk, who chairs the parks and recreation commission, said comments will be discussed and plans tweaked according to the views of the committee members. She said whatever project is settled on could be put out to bid in the next few weeks with construction starting as early as the fall. She added that half of the money for the project is coming from a state grant with the other half to be matched by the city. “We will still have to raise a few thousand dollars to meet the entire expense,” she said.