Badminton and tennis are well-known racquet sports, but now, with the rise in popularity of pickleball, local courts have become a bit more crowded.
“Pickleball is being played all around the qathet Regional District and we want to create a gathering space for all pickleball players,” said Susan Young, president of the nonprofit qathet Pickleball Association (qPA) and program director of Powell River Sport and Fitness Society (PRSFS).
PRSFS is a nonprofit society that runs Powell River Racquet Centre, located at 4320 Joyce Avenue.
“There was a concern that the racquet centre wouldn’t continue,” said PRSFS president Marilee Jones. “So, in 2020, they [racquet centre] pulled in the pickleball players, and it has worked out well for everyone.”
Previous to that, those who play the contentious, yet much-loved sport could only play at courts located outside, thus creating a short playing season.
“Currently, pickleball players play on courts in Townsite, Powell River Racquet Centre and Oceanview gym, and a few players play at all three places,” said PRSFS vice-president Lina Vallee. The racquet club shares the court with tennis, badminton and pickleball players, from 6 am to 11 pm, most days. If someone plays regularly, getting a membership makes sense, but the centre also welcomes guests of members and drop-in players.
Previous to being run by a nonprofit, the racquet centre was a more exclusive venue, and strictly for members. The groups want to emphasize to the qathet community that the centre is open and welcoming newbies and anyone curious about racquet sports.
“PRSFS and qPA have teamed up together to hold an open house on September 16 and we are having a membership drive for both organizations,” said Young.
They need new members to keep running; the entire space is run by volunteers who are also players/members.
“We are seeing [pickleball players in the racquet centre] as a win-win,” added Young. “Ultimately, what we are trying to do is get ourselves a designated facility for pickleball.”
Young said the open house is a way to support the racquet club and hopefully increase membership, and hopefully pair up seasoned players with beginners.
“Pickleball is an amazing sport,” said Young. “I am a total convert and invite people to come in and see what it’s all about.”
Jones said people are still into tennis, but pickleball numbers are surpassing tennis players, in general.
“Tennis is nowhere near as social [as pickleball] and there is way more running involved in tennis,” added Jones.
Tennis players usually start from a young age, but pickleball has been picked up by those of retirement age, although younger folks are also picking it up.
To onlookers, pickleball may not seem like a workout, and has attracted negative attention for the noise it creates.
“It’s not that hard for pickleball to grow [in popularity], it’s kind of addictive,” said Young. “After two hours I was a sweaty mess; I love it.”
The sport can be played with four to six people who stand only seven feet away from each other, giving participants opportunities to socialize and have fun.
“Its not that it isn’t a difficult sport or that you don't get a workout, you do,” said Jones. “I get about 6,000 steps after two hours of playing."
Powell River Racquet Centre will open its doors to the public on September 16, from 1 to 4 pm.
Join the Peak's email list for the top headlines right in your inbox Monday to Friday: prpeak.com/account/mailinglist.