• September 19, 2020

RECREATION: Odessa Country Club officials, members unveil club’s pickleball courts - Odessa American: Sports

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RECREATION: Odessa Country Club officials, members unveil club’s pickleball courts

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Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 7:58 pm

One of the fastest growing sports in the country now has a new designated spot to play in the Permian Basin.

Members at Odessa Country Club officially opened a pair of new pickleball courts during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

The courts are an addition to the tennis courts on the club’s property and also sit next to two tennis courts that have since been designated for pickleball.

For Kevin Slater, the inspiration to get the project going came from a visit to Horseshoe Bay near Austin a few years ago. 

 “We just visited a few places and just notice the number of people playing and the activity level there,” Slater said. “Most of us that were playing tennis started playing it and when we came back, we decided to just build it from the bottom up.”

Slater was the chairman of the committee behind the project and he and Odessa Country Club general manager Ryan George started putting the wheels in motion.

From the planning stages to the finishing touches, the courts took about a year to complete. The club also added LED lights around the court to allow for games to be played at night.

Slater added that one of the benefits of pickleball is the game’s ability to attract players of all ages.

“Older people like myself and others started playing for exercise but for the fun of the sport too,” he said. “Before you know it, you’re hooked into it because you wake up the next morning and you’re not so sore that you don’t want to play for a while.

“I think it’s a sport that’s growing even at the junior level as well.”

The game of pickleball is similar to tennis with a few noticeable differences.

A pickleball court is smaller than a standard tennis court and the net is lower as well. Paddles are used as opposed to rackets and the ball must bounce twice before a point can be earned by either side.

Games are typically played up to 11 points and the winner has to win by two points.

Ashley Cappelini, a member at the club, had been using the tennis courts as a temporary spot to play. With the new courts in place, she said that it makes it easier for everyone and presents an opportunity for more people to join up.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “I usually come out and play with a few other ladies and sometimes and we’ll have two different groups playing at the same time.

“It’s social, you’re getting exercise, we’re outside and there are just so many fun things that I like about it.”

Cappelini added that she initially learned about the game from David Mendez, the director of tennis at Odessa Country Club. Mendez said he brought the sport to George’s attention after attending a tennis conference and helped pick out the spot where the courts sit now.

“I think this is something that will definitely be a great addition for the members and their guests,” Mendez said. “Our main goal is to have this sport as something that can grow.”

Mendez added that the club plans to offer pickleball lessons and also start and offer different leagues to give more people the chance to play.

As for Slater, he also is optimistic for the sport’s future in the area now that there is that opportunity to grow.

“There’s a lot of people that just saw the sport and it looked like fun and somewhat easy to pick up,” he said. “Before you know it, they’re coming out and playing here all the time.

“I have no doubts that it’s going to be the same way here and we’ll have a number of people come out to start to play.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

Odessa, TX

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