‘A sport for everybody:’ City of Kennewick swings into action, breaks ground on 12 pickleball courts

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Pickleball fanatics, city leaders, and project developers gathered at Lawrence Scott Park in Kennewick on Wednesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking of a dozen championship-quality courts.

Governor Jay Inslee signed a measure into law back in March, officially making pickleball — a fun mix of ping-pong, badminton, and tennis — Washington’s official sport.

The 12 new courts combined with the current three will designate Kennewick as the pickleball capital of the state, a news release said.

“The project here at Lawrence Scott Park is particularly noteworthy because pickleball truly is a multigenerational sport and those actions across generations clearly enhance the quality of life for our entire community and for our residents,” said Nick Farline, the park’s recreation and facilities director for the city of Kennewick. “A critical component to our park’s system is that they build a sense of community.”

For avid players like Robert Womach who picked up the paddle about ten years ago, the additional courts are “exciting.”

“You get to play with people not only in Washington and Oregon [and] California,” Womach said. “It’s grown like we can’t believe and I think it’s just getting started.”

According to USAPickleball.org, almost five million people currently play across the country.

Ryan Nell, the treasurer for Club 509 Pickleball, said he expects that number to grow.

“It used to be just a couple of these courts [were] full and recently and in this last year alone, every one of these courts gets packed,” Nell said. “It really puts us on the map, [and] gives us the opportunity to expand here as well as across the region.”

Enthusiast Jeff Schroeder described the game as being “for anybody and everybody.”

“It doesn’t matter if they’re young or old, just that you put the ball in the court and that’s the name of the game,” Schroeder said.

The construction for the courts could begin as early as next week. The $1.3 million dollar project also includes new restrooms near the playground and a new picnic shelter that will be the largest in the park’s system, according to Kennewick city officials.

RELATED: Meet pickleball: WA’s official sport is a mix of tennis, ping pong, and badminton