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Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America, and Maryland’s Eastern Shore is no exception. Wicomico County’s investment in the sport will provide local participants a better area to play their favorite game.

Harmon Field in Salisbury inaugurated 12 new pickleball courts on May 30 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. After the ribbon was cut, each court was full of anxious community members competing on the new sports surfaces.

The new pickleball courts, “The Courts at Harmon Field,” have lights for nighttime play. Two new basketball courts and a playground close to the pickleball courts at the YMCA are another step towards revitalizing Harmon Field.

The folks who worked with Wicomico’s Recreation and Parks staff to build these pickleball courts knew the sport would expand naturally in the community and witnessed enthusiasm for this new idea as soon as it was offered.

Workers started the conversation. Pickleball’s popularity demanded it.”

“It probably started about a year and a half, two years ago,” Wicomico Recreation and Parks Director Steve Miller said in an interview during the court’s premiere last week. “Our workers initiated the dialogue. We needed to accommodate pickleball’s growing popularity.”

Recreation and Parks contacted the YMCA because the fields were underused. The renovation began in October with the intention that the basketball and pickleball courts will provide the community a new place to play their favorite sports.

The county witnessed pickleball players compete throughout its facilities, indicating a rising interest in the sport. They seldom played on pickleball courts, demonstrating their dedication to the game.

Pickleballers were on our tennis courts and basketball courts every day. “Everywhere,” Miller said. We didn’t have a facility for them. It’s been a necessity for years. Thus, its completion is thrilling.

Pickleball players appreciate new location.

The new pickleball courts at the opening last week were welcomed by several players. After improvising, they had a dedicated space to play.

I was thrilled. Pickleball player McKayla Keith remarked, “People had to invest in nets because there weren’t many places to play with nets.” It was wonderful to play with nets.

“It allowed folks who couldn’t play to participate… Tennis courts, WinterPlace, driveways—we played. Now that we have nets, I think it will boost local sports.”

Brenda Stephens of Pocomoke has played “the new tennis” for eight years and was thrilled to have additional locations to play.

I’m from Pocomoke, so we play there. “We play on Chincoteague and there,” Stephens added. “But I want to play up here too, so these are great.”

The new courts may draw pickleball players from across the world as well as local players. Harmon Field Courts will host the USA Pickleball Mid-Atlantic Division Amateur Regionals Sept. 6-10.

By Sanjh

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