Many things haven't made total sense in our state's first (and hopefully last) full lockdown due to a pandemic.  One thing that made more than a modicum of sense was the closure of the local pickleball courts in March.  The doubles variation has a potential to expose and transmit to others the virus if one of the four players had it.  Add to that the virus-vulnerable older demographic that has taken the sport up, and you can make a reasoned argument to close them.  To be safe, the local/national pickleball association asked for them to be closed for use, and the City of Ludington complied, using the usual barriers and police tape to do so.

File photo

Oddly enough, just a few blocks down Tinkham Avenue is the Schoenherr Tennis Center, a facility that remained open as the schools across the street closed down for the school year.  In the couple dozen times I have used these tennis courts during the shutdown, there have been four times when these courts were being used by pickleball players with the rackets and pickleball used for that sport.

Just last night, two courts were in use by pickleball players during the hour plus I was there playing tennis, while nobody other than myself and my opponent were using the courts for tennis.  Tennis courts are a poor substitute for pickleball courts due to the dimensions of them being much different, so I thought I would try to get them their own facility back since the latest batch of executive orders seem to allow such.  

Last night I found a recent Return to Play document from the USA Pickleball Association, who originally recommended shutting such facilities down.  This May 1st directive gives details on how best to reopen these facilities that were not state-specific.  It offers guidelines for minimizing risks and procedures if you do play.  

I was fully hoping to use that guidance to petition the City of Ludington to reopen the pickleball courts this morning, so that our pickleball-playing friends would have a proper facility for their pastime.  But it turns out I didn't have to.  

On my way to take a picture of the closed courts this morning, I found instead evidence that they had opened.  The police tape was down the "Covid-19" warning sign was nowhere to be found, the gate was bungeed open, and the courts looked freshly groomed.  

So instead of doing a post bellyaching about why the pickleball courts aren't open when the tennis courts are, the national association says they can be, and the skate park is open for younger kids, I get to do a happy notification article to our area's pickleball players that the courts are open and ready to be played. 

Please do so safely.

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Pickleball usually is popular on Sundays, but I didn't see anybody at the courts, so I looked closer.  The entrances were still open, there was no police tape anywhere, but there was a white piece of paper on the fence-- the same white paper you see on most of the buildings downtown explaining they are closed.  I expected the worst, possibly like many pickleball players who may have seen the sign, but it was only a paper describing how to safely play pickleball under the executive orders directions.   

The Ludington Pickleball Association may want to put up a sign that indicates to those who pass by that the courts are indeed open for business.  They still have nothing on their website, Facebook site, or on-site to clearly indicate they're open:

I had never heard of pickleball until reading it here. Thanks


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