GUILFORD — Experienced pickleball players and those picking up a paddle for the very first time now have a place to play outside in the region. Friends of Community Fitness formally opened the court located behind the High Street facility with a Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting during the early evening of Thursday, Aug. 18.
Comfit Executive Director Britney Gallagher thanked those who braved a bit of passing rain to attend the ceremony and everyone who contributed. “We had a lot of donors, a lot of people involved in the fundraising,” she said. “So thank you very much for all of your efforts. We are really excited to have this new court, the best court in the area.”
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, in part due to all ages and abilities being able to play. The game is a cross between several paddle ball sports, with a scoring system all of its own. ComFit has offered indoor pickleball for the last few years, but the outdoor court provides an even better option with more space.
The Comfit pickleball court was designed with a wood red stockade fence around three sides to block the wind and help keep the ball from rolling away. A chain-link fence is on the entrance side (the court has a second gate to help in retrieving errant balls) of the court to enable spectators to watch play.
A Comfit member donated a maple bench adjacent to the court. Mulch around the perimeter ensures long-term groundwork stability, and helps prevent balls from rolling under the fence. The green court surface has been painted to reduce heat on sunny days, also making the surface non-slip which enables play to continue even with inclement weather (as was experienced during the day of and day before the ribbon cutting).
A Lobster Pickleball machine can be rented. Several modes help players with their game such as oscillating, speed, frequency and even an adjustable spin option. The Lobster machine, paddles, and balls can be used indoors or outdoors and are available when the ComFit office is open.
The court is open from sunrise to sunset for members and day-pass holders. A lockbox is on the fence to pay the $5 day-pass fee when the office is closed.
“We love to support this (member) organization but we also love to support our organizations that make investments not only in their own companies but in the communities in which they reside,” Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Denise Buzzelli said just before the ceremonial ribbon was snipped by Gallagher.
“I’m just thrilled about this, I think it’s going to have an impact for the locals and for tourism as well because folks who come to the area – I know first hand – will ask when they call, ‘what is there to do there,?’” Buzzelli said. She said the inquiries mention the caller has kids and/or likes to exercise and be active and would like to know what options they may have for these interests.
“The fact that you offer an option for a day pass – it’s not exclusive to membership – I think is phenomenal,” Buzzelli said. “I am really very pleased and very excited that this is an investment in the community and the region really for anyone that wants to enjoy it.”