Skip to content

New association seeks dedicated pickleball courts in Guelph

'It’s time to step up and be more aggressive with what the city is able to do,' says Pickleball Guelph Association president

The pickleball craze continues to pick up pace.

Growing interest in the sport inspired a group of players to form the Pickleball Guelph Association (PGA) last year. Now they’re calling on the city to provide dedicated courts to play on.

“It’s a phenomenon. The growth is staggering,” association president Rick Thompson said of the sport. “It’s time to step up and be more aggressive with what the city is able to do.”

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the province, according to Pickleball Ontario, with the recent formation of professional leagues in the United States as well as efforts being made to have it considered for future Olympic competitions.

Played indoor or outdoor, it combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong using paddles and a plastic ball with holes.

“It’s easy to learn but it’s difficult to master,” said PGA vice-president Elden Morais, noting there are about 700 players in the city. “It’s fun, easy to play and not hard on the body.”

“It’s healthy. It’s invigorating. It’s social. It’s pretty much any level you want it to be, from casual to highly competitive,” added Thompson.

Since incorporating last April, the PGA has amassed 132 members.

“We’re really pleased with the growth of our association,” Morais said. “We want to be the voice of pickleball players in Guelph.”

Association representatives made a pitch to council ahead of its 2023 budget confirmation last month, asking for dedicated pickleball courts to be created. Currently, the city offers many multi-use courts that incorporate the sport but has no dedicated courts.

As an example of what could be done, council heard a set of four tennis courts could be split in two. That would allow for two dedicated tennis courts and five or six dedicated pickleball courts at a cost of between $250,000 and $500,000.

Though that wish wasn’t immediately granted, council directed city staff to look into it and report back ahead of the 2024 and beyond budget process, which is slated to get started this fall. Council approval is anticipated in December.

“It’s now on their radar,” Thompson said, calling the approved motion “a giant step forward.”

“The dedicated (courts piece) makes a ton of sense,” he added, noting multi-use courts have different dimensions and a “dog’s breakfast” of lines on the floor for various sports which make play more complicated.

As well, pickleball nets are hung lower than they are for tennis.

“The footprint of pickleball courts is pretty small compared to other sports,” Morais said.

At the moment, the association uses indoor courts at local schools and the Evergreen Seniors Community Centre to play, with “no capacity in the city” to play elsewhere, Thompson said, adding some people are currently travelling to Waterloo, Milton and elsewhere in order to get court time.

Having dedicated courts in the city would open the door to hosting tournaments and offering programming to teach and further grow local interest.

“Economic development is another piece here that really fits nicely,” Thompson said. “The city benefits when you bring events into Guelph.”

This year’s Pickleball Ontario championship tournament will be held in Collingwood from Sept. 21 to 24.


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
Read more