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New outdoor pickleball courts expected to open soon

June 11, 2020

Photo by River City Pickleball

Owensboro’s first outdoor pickleball facility featuring four newly installed courts is expected to open soon at York Park. 

The River City Pickleball Club formed a partnership with the City of Owensboro to convert the tennis court at York Park into the top-notch facility, and an opening date should be announced in the coming days.

The club began in March of 2019 with Owensboro residents John Gillians, Paula Hayden, David Ryan, Kellie Childress McKee and Bill Wiekel joined forces with migrants to the area John Ehlers and Scott Clites. 

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Within nine months they registered upwards of 120 members, forming partnerships with local churches to host open play, leagues, tournaments, and training sessions. Collaborations with Centre Court and Cliff Hagan Boys & Girls Club also served as expanded playing venues.

Ehlers, who serves as the group’s treasurer, said they have members of all skill levels.

“We offer men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles leagues that cater to all ability levels,” he said. “Some of our members are there for the fitness and social aspect while others crave competition.”

Ehlers and the rest of the board were ecstatic that the city agreed to jump on board, allowing them to take their efforts outside.

“The city has been converting low-use tennis courts to other forms of recreation recently, so they were excited to join us in a 50/50 partnership,” he said.  “This joint venture has been months in the planning. While play at York Park is likely to begin (soon), an official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony will likely be delayed until July when large groups can again gather.” 

Director of Owensboro Parks and Recreation Amanda Rogers and her team were equally as excited about the new venture.

“The City of Owensboro and our Parks and Recreation team work hard to create strong relationships in the community and work to create winning partnerships for our citizens,” she said. “Working with RCPC to create a partnership for shared funding and programming Owensboro’s first outdoor pickleball court has been our pleasure.”

Tennis Technologies of Louisville handled construction at the new facility. York Park is located in Owensboro’s west end where York Drive, North York Street and South York Street converge.

While the new facilities will be open to the public at no cost, there are designated times during the day for club use only. Membership in the organization is a $25 per year per person ($45 per couple).

“We provide events at various times of the day to accommodate all work schedules,” Ehlers said. “We make a concerted effort to create a playing environment that allows players to compete with and against opponents of similar ability on certain days, while also providing court times when all members of the club can gather to play together and to socialize.”

Ehlers added that none of this would have been possible without the help of several individuals, but added that local pickleball pro Altaf Merchant played a pivotal role. 

“It is great when citizens work to support passion and grow recreational amenities in our community,” Rogers said. “We are excited to create an outdoor home for the sport and expect to see the growth of this sport in our community skyrocket due to this addition and the support of RCPB.”

For more information about the River City Pickleball Club and how to join visit rivercitypickleballclub.org or reach out to them on Facebook at @rivercitypickleballinc. 

June 11, 2020

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