May 2, 2023 - News

Des Moines embraces pickleball fever, remarks all tennis courts

Illustration of a pickleball racket and a tennis racket in a dueling position.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

All city-owned tennis courts are now ready for pickleball, a Des Moines spokesperson tells Axios.

Why it matters: Nationally, pickleball participation increased nearly 160% over the last three years, according to a report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

  • Locally, it's not uncommon to see more pickleball games than tennis matches at places like Waveland tennis courts.

Catch up fast: The city's parks department began offering pickleball in 2020 because it could be played outside and was more pandemic friendly than other sports.

  • So far this year there are 26 adult league teams registered and 36 spring tournament teams.

Driving the news: City crews recently finished remarking all 41 municipal tennis courts so that both games can be played on them.

  • A pickleball-only court opens next month at the EMC Pocket Park and construction on four courts at Stone Park begins in 2024.

Meanwhile, summer league registrations began yesterday.

  • Fall sign ups begin in July.

The intrigue: There's a national backlash from tennis players who say the sport is noisy and "hijacking" their courts.

  • Comedian Stephen Colbert even poked fun at the "great pickleball war" in a recent skit.

Zoom in: DSM resident and tennis player Abe Goetz tells us tensions hinge on fewer available courts, damage when nets are improperly lowered and bad court etiquette.

  • Simple gestures like waiting to cross courts in between points go a long way, Goetz says.
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