DUNBAR, W. Va. – One of the fastest growing sports in the United States continues to grow in Kanawha County – pickleball.
The grand opening of a new pickleball facility featuring eight lighted, regulation-size courts at the Shawnee Sports Complex took place on Tuesday. Resort and Kanawha County Commission officials hope to have the courts open by the end of September.
The paddle sport, which combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong, has been named the nation’s fastest growing sport by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association for the past two years with more than 5 million players.
“Pickleball is growing exponentially, not just in the United States but around the world and in Kanawha County. Having these pickleball courts here is a big step forward for pickleball,” Hal Pendell, District Ambassador for USA Pickleball in the North Mid-Atlantic Region, told media Tuesday.
Pendell was one of many members of the pickleball community at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The eight courts will be regulation size, meaning 22 feet long from the edge of the service box or baseline to the net, and 10 feet wide in each service box. The non-volley area or kitchen will be seven feet wide. The net height at the sideline is equal to 36 inches.
Pendell said the sport is exploding in popularity because it appeals to all ages. Recently, new pickleball courts opened in South Charleston and Pendell expects to create more throughout the county and region.
“It’s easy for anyone to play. Whether you are a teenager or are like someone like me aged 75 or over. You can be competitive at all levels and no matter what your level of expertise and it’s not your level of expertise, you can play in your age group and be competitive,” Pendell said.
The total cost of this project is $386,000 and the Kanawha County Commission provided ARP funds. BBL Carlton, LLC will construct the courts.
Ben Salango, a Kanawha County commissioner, told 580-WCHS he expects the facility to be used for recreational purposes and potentially for regional and national tournaments.
“For a five-day tournament, we can imagine being able to bring in 700 players. If they bring family and friends, you’re talking thousands of people who can play in a single tournament,” Salango said.
Salango said the addition of pickleball was the top request from residents of the Shawnee expansion. The courts will be located on redeveloped tennis courts in the complex and will also feature a championship basketball court.
“It is an important project. It’s something we got more emails and calls about adding to Shawnee than anything else,” Salango said.
Today, the Kanawha County Commission and Shawnee Sports Complex opened eight new regulation-sized lighted pickle ball courts. These fields will not only be used by the citizens of Kanawha County, but will host 200 athletes for a three-day tournament. pic.twitter.com/XxfyyPEZy5
— Kanawha County (@kanawhaus) August 9, 2022