• Ribbon-cutting ceremony held Tuesday
• Players remember hauling pickleball nets to go play
• Sport’s popularity reason for courts
Playing pickleball was a mobile operation for a handful of Montrose players five years ago.
Pickleball player Jim Hicks said he would haul the nets in his SUV and whenever the group played the sport, he would drive over with the nets and they would put them up to play.
“We had to do what we had to do because Baldridge Park was the only place we had when we started,” Hicks said.
Now Hicks and the rest won’t have to waste time setting up nets anymore because six new pickleball courts opened Tuesday morning outside of the Montrose Community Recreation Center.
Montrose Recreation District staff members held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and then a raffle for the pickleball players in attendance. The reasoning to hold the drawing was for players to all have an equal chance to play first, according to MRD 50+/Activities Coordinator Cindy Marino.
“We knew everyone wanted to play,” Marino said. “We did a drawing to put the first people able to play at the courts for a first time.”
The short notice didn’t stop people in the community from coming to play. Marino said she emailed her list of rec center pickleball players Sunday and about 55 people attended.
The growth of the sport in the community was also the reason for why MRD decided to build the courts.
According to Montrose Recreation District Executive Director Ken Sherbenou, the rec district received $350,000 from a Great Outdoors Colorado grant. The money pulled for the grant comes from the Colorado Lottery.
Marino, who also plays pickleball, first heard of the sport while on the job. She learned it was popular with the older residents and she wanted to know more. After learning more about the sport on the USA Pickleball Association website, she decided to give it a chance.
“It is so much fun,” Marino said. “It gives adults who haven’t been competing in sports an opportunity to compete again.”
Hicks noted his enjoyment of not only the physical side of the game, but also the mental aspect.
“You get your exercise and you use your mind,” Hicks said. “. . . you just can’t hit the ball.”
As pickleball continues to become well-known, Sherbenou said he’s happy to see the sport growing in Montrose.
“It’s going to be fun to see the program continue to explode in popularity,” Sherbenou said.
MRD will host the 5th Annual Alpine Bank Western Region Pickleball Tournament this weekend. The event will begin with check in at 8 a.m. and the tournament will start at 9 a.m. Saturday and then 8:30 Sunday.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ education/sports reporter.