The first dedicated Pickleball Court in Australia. Halcyon Glades, Caboolture, Queensland, Australia 2016
During the last few years, Pickleball has been gaining a foothold in Spain, Netherlands, UK & Japan. Surprisingly, Pickleball hasn’t had much of an uptake in Australia, even though Australians love participating in sport. Cities, towns and villages put time, effort and funding into building excellent sport complexes (rugby, soccer, tennis, swimming, baseball and netball in addition to bowls, cricket and surf clubs). When asked why such little interest in Pickleball in Australia, responses range from the windy weather and school bureaucracy to young Australians commit to one sport early in life and stay with it.
Small pockets of PB players, however, are beginning to emerge across the vast Australian continent. Games are played on local tennis courts or in sports centers. Many tennis courts have a synthetic grass and sand surface that significantly reduces a Pickle ball’s bounce and are not much fun to play on.
A partnership of two Queensland developers, a solicitor and a doctor, started a business with the goal of building senior communities for 50+ active adults. They visited retirement communities in USA and observed the uptake of Pickleball there. Realizing the value of Pickleball for older Australians, when they built Halcyon Glades, a 50+ community in Caboolture, Queensland, they included the ubiquitous tennis court and added one Pickleball court. It turned out that this modest court is the first dedicated Pickleball playing surface in Australia.
A few observations from the Halcyon Glades Pickleball Court & Tennis Facility.
1. Residents are quickly taking up Pickleball with energy & enthusiasm and a desire to improve their skill levels.
2. The number of Pickleball players is growing rapidly; visitors see Pickleball being played and want to play too.
3. The tennis court has been marked for two pickleball courts and is now used almost exclusively for Pickleball games, even with the unfriendly Pickleball surface.
No doubt Pickleball will become an essential amenity in 50+ communities in Australia. Hopefully developers will use a hard surface with top coatings that have 10 percent or more cushioning on dedicated Pickleball courts. This could also be done for tennis courts eliminating the use of synthetic/sand surfaces and allowing flexible court use by marking up the courts for both PB and Tennis. Having a hard surface with built in cushioning would save wear and tear on knees and hips and enable older players to enjoy the game well into their twilight years.
Getting Pickleball started for those under 50 in Australia may take many years. If Pickleball is to be played in the schools, a difficult numbers game involving state & education department bureaucracy has to be tackled. The best option may be for local tennis clubs to set up a proper Pickleball court or two, watch Pickleball catch on and take it from there.