FAIRFIELD, Conn. — The growing phenomenon of Pickleball has gained a new foothold in the town of Fairfield, which has opened its first official Pickleball courts at Tunxis Hill Park.
While Pickleball can be played on most courts in Fairfield, the Parks and Recreation Department dedicated four new courts at Tunxis Hill Park, 225 Melville Ave., for anyone to play at no cost.
“It is fantastic to see so much enthusiasm for the Pickleball phenomenon that has come to Fairfield," First Selectman Mike Tetreau said. "I am thrilled this game has become so popular at the Bigelow Center and is also getting more recognition in our community.”
Tetreau at a celebration of the Pickleball courts were Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Lombardo, Fairfield’s Acting USA Pickleball Association Ambassador Maryann Charmoz, retired PE teacher and Pickleball Volunteer Coordinator for the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities Betsy Hulme, and many of the Bigelow Center’s regular players and others from the community who are hooked on this fun game.
Pickleball is easy to learn and can be played at any level. A player uses a graphite paddle and plastic ball on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.
It is a mix of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
The sport was introduced at the Bigelow Center in Fairfield in 2013 after a suggestion from Diane Sullivan, a retired tennis pro who used to organize the Pilot Pen Tournament in New Haven.
The game became a huge hit at the Bigelow Center with enrollment increasing each week and about 150 players currently registered. Individuals have learned to play Pickleball by enrolling in Continuing Education Program classes, attending free clinics, or watching a game.
The enthusiasm grew so much that additional space was sought outdoors.
“The new Pickleball courts bring together people from all over Fairfield, as well as the regular players from the Bigelow Center. Many of the players are tennis players, yet many are not,” said Hulme, retired PE teacher and Pickleball volunteer coordinator for the Bigelow Center.
Maryann Charmoz said, “As acting USAPA Ambassador for the Town of Fairfield, I am pleased to say that our Town is one of the first in our area to implement dedicated outdoor Pickleball courts."
This year marks the 51st anniversary of the creation of Pickleball and currently, the USAPA is tracking over 200,000 Pickleball players and 12,668 Pickleball courts in North America, she said.
"It's amazing to watch this game take off and see the joy that it brings to all players,” she said.
The summer outdoor schedule offers a drop-in format in which anyone who wants to play regardless of level is welcome to come and participate.
The schedule is as follows: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 12 p.m. and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. These times require no sign up or fees.
For anyone over the age of 55, the Bigelow Center offers indoor space typically five days a week with some Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. Individuals can either sign up at the front desk at the Bigelow Center, 100 Mona Terrace, or call 203-256-3166.
Pickleball will resume at the Bigelow Center in mid- to late September. Program Coordinator for the Bigelow Center Margaret Andrews helped to launch this popular sport.
“I believe Pickleball is so popular because it’s easier than tennis and the rules are easier, making it possible for seniors who may no longer be able to play tennis (and many who can) and those who want to learn an 'easier' sport, have fun. I must say, however, that our good players are very aggressive out there,” Andrews said.
For more information, contact the Bigelow Center at 203-256-3166 or the Parks and Recreation Department at 203-256-3191.
Photo caption: First Selectman Mike Tetreau, Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Lombardo, Fairfield’s Acting USA Pickleball Association Ambassador Maryann Charmoz, retired PE teacher and Pickleball Volunteer Coordinator for the Bigelow Center for Senior Activities Betsy Hulme, and many of the Bigelow Center’s regular players and others from the community celebrating the new Pickleball courts at Tunxis Hill Park.
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