Rossmoor takes a whack at Pickleball

Pickelball is rapidly becoming America's fastest growing sport. Courtesy photo

Even though pickleball is reported to be the fastest-growing sport in America, some citizens of Rossmoor have concerns, while others can’t wait to jump on the court.

Pickleball is something of a combination of tennis and table tennis (ping pong). The court enjoys a similar configuration to tennis, only much smaller and with a “kitchen” area.
According to the U.S. Pickleball Association, four pickleball courts will fit onto a single tennis court.

Following a discussion last week, the Rossmoor Community Services District Board of Directors voted unanimously to give the sport a four-day evaluation in Rossmoor.
The RCSD has authorized General Manager Joe Mendoza and staff to create four temporary pickleball courts, using one tennis court of the four available at the Rossmoor Tennis Courts.

Before the vote, residents spoke both in favor and against the proposed Pickleball trial sessions. One resident, in fact, has started a petition that, as of Tuesday, had gathered nearly 180 signatures.

If one tennis court is used for pickleball, said Jimmy Ton, and two are used by the pros, it only leaves a single available court. “Basically,” he said, “you’re taking away 50 percent of the available courts.” Even if Pickleball is allowed, he said, it should be “done the right way.”

Another resident, Maureen Waters, said she favored a pickleball trial at Rossmoor Park.
“I would like a trial run of a pickleball court at Rossmoor Park,” she said. “My opinion hasn’t changed. But in talking with some people, I think there are some things that need to be worked out just to keep the tennis people happy and the pickleball people happy,” she said.
“My position is that you really need to address some concerns so that it doesn’t become a burden on the people surrounding wherever the pickleball courts would go,” said Ralph Vartabedian. “I think that our RCSD has the financial resources to do this in a responsible way,” he said.

He said if a decision is made to go forward, it should be done properly and limited to making it a local pickleball facility.

“I think the responsibility of the RCSD is to build it adequately, have proper acoustic engineering and just recognize that this is a neighborly residential neighborhood park, not a regional sports facility,” he emphasized.

Rob Keats, a native of South Africa, said he has lived in Rossmoor for the past four years. While he likes pickleball, Keats said he does have concerns about the noise and increased traffic.

“I like the sport,” he said. “I was quite surprised this weekend when somebody showed up at the court opposite and drawed down some lines and started playing. I didn’t realize how loud it was. That was only two people playing. I can imagine when there’s four playing, it’s going to be a racket, right?”

“If I had arrived four years ago and heard that racket, I probably wouldn’t have bought that house,” he said.

Steve Havastad said “there are a number of reasons why Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country. It’s very easy to learn, it’s fantastic exercise and enjoyable by all age groups. A great way to meet more of your neighbors and a lot of fun, and I’m not kidding about the age group thing,” he said.

“We played some 70-somethings the other day in there, they walked us back. So, the problem is that we have to drive to Seal Beach or Cypress to play and that’s a shame,” he said.

A Rossmoor resident and tennis enthusiast, Susan Kaplan, said “I’m also a tennis player and I utilized the tennis courts. At the last RCSD meeting, about a dozen of us tennis players, and homeowners, expressed our opposition to the plan to convert one of the four tennis courts into Pickleball courts.”

Kaplan mentioned a “failed attempt” to bring Pickleball into Rossmoor three years ago, suggesting plans are already underway for the Rossmoor trial run. So much so, she suggested, that pickleball ambassadors were promoting it.

“Why push it again, especially without formal discussion…this is a bad idea,” said Kaplan.
Rossmoor Directors, however, listened intently but ultimately decided unanimously that the only real way to discover the worthiness of the idea is to give it a try.

The board discussed ways to measure noise, traffic and other potential factors, and some questioned how and who would determine the Pickleball trial was a success or a failure?
“At the end of the day, and I think it’s a fair question, how is it going to be evaluated,” said Board Chairman Jeffrey Rips.

“This board is going to determine the outcome and the direction with feedback…as we’re doing all the time,” he said. “I think it’s a fair process, and a reasonable part of the process to have a test as part of it,” said Rips.

After Director Tony DeMarco moved a motion to give Mendoza the authority to set the exact dates for the proposed trial, Rips asked Mendoza to amend his motion. He asked that staff be directed to go out to the court to perform “baseline” tests before the Pickleball trial begins next week.

While the trial results will, of course, be somewhat subjective, he inferred, it is always good to have something “to measure against.”

The motion was seconded by Director Jeffrey Barke and it passed unanimously.
Mendoza said after the meeting that the trial will be held as follows:
Wednesday, July 27 from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday, July 28 from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday, July 30 from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m. – 12 noon.

He said staff will be closely monitoring potential problems like noise and traffic. Also, they will be watching such things as how Pickleball players harmonize with tennis players on nearby courts.

Rossmoor residents with questions about the Pickleball trial are urged to call (562) 430-3707, extension 100.