Pickleball Courts are coming to Merrill

Six lighted pickleball courts will be built in Ott’s Park in 2023, thanks to the continuing generosity of the Bierman Family Foundation. Bid documents will be prepared over the winter with construction slated for spring.

Once completed, the new pickleball courts will give residents an opportunity to compete in leagues and tournaments, and play in singles or doubles just for fun.

“Merrill presently has no dedicated venue for pickleball,” said David Johnson, City Administrator. “These courts will provide a new recreation amenity for the City of Merrill.”

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. In 2021, pickleball grew to 4.8 million players in the U.S., according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball. It combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.

In 2009, USA Pickleball held the first Nationals Pickleball Tournament in Buckeye, Arizona. Over 400 players participated in divisions for all ages. In 2021, the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships presented by Pickleball Central were held at the world-renowned Indian Wells Tennis Garden, just outside of Palm Springs, CA. The event drew more than 2,342 registered players who competed for $90,000 in prize money.

“Knowing that pickleball courts were on the Parks & Recreation Department’s wish list for a future project, I wanted to make this my last project prior to retirement,” Johnson said.

Johnson submitted the grant proposal to the Bierman Family Foundation, which was approved.

For those not familiar with the sport, a pickleball court is 20’ x 44’ for both singles and doubles. Three pickleball courts can fit on one tennis court. The net is hung at 36” at the ends and hangs 34” in the middle. A non-volley zone extends 7’ back from the net on each side, commonly called “the kitchen.” Competitive paddles used in pickleball are constructed from a high-tech composite material about twice the size of a ping-pong paddle. An official pickleball is made of plastic, is perforated, and is between .78 to .935 ounces and 2.874 to 2.972 inches in diameter. There are no color restrictions other than the ball must be a single, consistent color. Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles.