Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday a group of up-to 30 pickleball players meet at the Bonnyville tennis courts to for fun, comradely, and competition. From the enthusiasm and shear amount of players hitting the court, you’d think there was a pickleball association in the town; but there’s not. It’s just friends and newbies gathering for some fun. Nearly every other day a newbie joins the court, making pickleball Bonnyville’s fastest growing sport!
Anyone is welcome to try it out, and the veterans are more than willing to teach. Most bring extra rackets and there’s always someone wanting to spread the love of the sport. The regulars are typically over 45 years old; however the sport is open for anyone. There are quite a few younger players who have been joining and popping in on drop in days. If you’d like to try out the game, head to the tennis courts any Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday evening between 7:00 and 9:00 pm.
The group is currently lobbying the Town of Bonnyville for some courts, specific to the sport, to be installed on the east side of the Senior’s Centre. There’s a few reasons they cannot continue on the tennis courts:
- the courts are old and in need of repairs
- the size of pickleball court & nets is smaller than tennis
- players must bring own nets, perminent nets would save time & cost to players.
The group hosted a fun tournament in July. Players from St. Paul, Cold Lake, and surrounding communities came to play. Bigger competitive tournaments can bring hundreds of players and tourist to the community. With designated courts the group could host events like Smashfest or the Plus 55 Games, an annual pickleball tournament in Sherwood Park.
Many have seen the players mornings at the Centennial Centre in Bonnyville, especially in the winter. The group will gather at 9:00 am, usually all six courts will be full for the two hours as players swap in and out, mini-tournament style. The Centennial Centre works great in the winter, although it is never guaranteed to be open for pickleballers. If another organization books the field house than pickleballers are bumped. Having permanent courts for summer play would help with some of these difficulties.
The group hopes to continue to attract newbies and grow big enough to gain some attention from the local municipalities, with the goal of one day having dedicated courts in Bonnyville.