I've titled this all-member message "Growing Pains" for reasons obvious to all of you. We have never had more members. And our 237 members (as of today) are active! The pickleball courts are busy from 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. M-F. All four courts are in use with players waiting their turn most Saturday and Sunday mornings and the Saturday clinics fill up rapidly. This coming Sunday we have a tournament for 3.0 players from 1-3 p.m. and for 3.5 players from 3-5 p.m. The sign-ups for both events were full less than an hour after the email invites went out.
We clearly have a club that is fun and doing things right. Despite our limited facilities we have more members than tennis, shuffleboard, billiards, lawn bowling, and water volleyball combined. I'm sure that comes as no surprise to most of you. Pickleball is far and away the fastest growing sport in the U.S. In the six years prior to 2019, pickleball play increased 650 percent according to the USA Pickleball Association. In 2020 pickleball participation expanded another 21.3%*. The growing interest in pickleball is evident everywhere you look. Municipalities are building facilities or converting tennis courts. Privately owned facilities are opening. Professional pickleball events are selling out. Schools are teaching pickleball in gym classes!
The takeaway from the previous paragraph is straightforward. Across all age groups, the interest in pickleball has grown rapidly and there is no sign of it slowing any time soon. That means we will continue to have more and more demand for court access here at Silveridge. "We need more court space" so many of you have voiced for several years. That is obvious. But ownership has not shown an inclination to address that concern despite ongoing requests from Club leadership and even some individual members. Management did provide us with much better lighting last year allowing us to put on new and popular evening events. But as many of you have experienced, those events often fill up just as quickly as the daytime activities.
So what can we do? I can assure you the executive committee has brainstormed for hours trying to find solutions fair to all. We will be extending an invitation to management to attend our March annual meeting to discuss the elephant in the room. In the meantime, we have come up with two ideas we wish to implement asap:
- Additional round-robin slots: Presently each skill level has four time slots per week for round robin play. Players can only sign up for three per week unless an event still isn't full 90 minutes prior to the start of play. Since there are currently twice as many 2.5 level players as 4.0 players, we are giving the 4.0 Tuesday time slot to the 2.5 group. Further, since the 1.0-2.0 group hasn't been filling up their sessions, we are giving their Friday slot to the 3.0's whose group rivals the 2.5s in size and participation. The 4.0 and 1.0/2.0 groups will now have three sessions a week and the 3.0s and 2.5s will now have five.
- Converting one round-robin time slot per week to "Drop-In": Too many members are finding round-robin sessions full when they try to register on-line. To partially remedy that problem, beginning Feb 9th,there will no longer be a limit to how many players can sign up for what was formerly their skill level's Wednesday round robin session (there will be no changes for the 1.0/2.0 group until their participation levels increase). Further, rather than assigning everyone a number and calling out pairings for fifteen minute rounds, Wednesday's games will be to 11 points and partners will change every game using the paddle rack system. The specifics for this new format, which we will refer to as "Drop-In" play, will be explained by your round robin captains at the start of play on Feb 9th.
There will still be a "snooze you lose" aspect to some events. That can't be avoided with a club our size and the limited facilities at our disposal. But the changes described above should give more players an opportunity to play in scheduled events during the week. And don't forget that everyone is still free to arrange your own games during open times in our busy schedule. Just remember to reserve your court space ahead of time or you have to yield the court to someone who did.
Before I close, a couple other quick notes:
- Although the change to "Drop-In" play takes effect the second week of February, the addition of one more 3.0 and 2.5 time slot will not occur until our communications officer returns from vacation (I know those of us who are retired are permanently on vacation - but you get my drift). Those two groups will know the additional slots have opened up when you start getting invites via email;
- Although the 3.0 and 2.5 groups will now have five time slots per week, the rule still stands for all club members that you can only sign up for three daytime events (excluding morning All-Play) each week unless an event still has room within 90 minutes of the start time;
- Until our communication officer returns, we will not be able to accommodate requests to change skill levels;
- The 2.5s haven't had a tournament scheduled yet. We haven't forgotten you;
- Our annual meeting will be held March 5th at 5 PMon the grass near the gazebo. Get it on your calendar! Bring lawn chairs or a blanket and bring your own beverage. The Club will provide PIZZA and paper plates for all. In the event of inclement weather we'll meet on Bonnie Arbez's deck (I'm joking);
- Prior to the annual meeting we are planning to prepare a petition to the ownership requesting they find a solution to our court space issue. From time to time the petition will be present at the gazebo. Please sign it. We need the support of 100% of our members.
Thanks for reading. As always, keep it between the lines!
SRPBC President '21-22
* per the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) 2021 Topline Participation Report.