The Parks and Recreation department hosts games every Monday and Wednesday at Hill Park.
Maitland has a number of sports leagues — including soccer, youth baseball, youth and adult basketball, and tennis — that the city helps organize and keep running.
But there’s a new sport in town that the city of Maitland is bringing to its residents — pickleball.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is hosting free games of pickleball, an increasingly popular tennis alternative, every Monday and Wednesday evening at Hill Park. The city had its first game Monday, March 25.
“We got a few inquiries and wanted to test the waters, do an introduction to pickleball and see the interest in the community,” Maitland Parks and Recreation Director Jay Conn said. “(The inquiries) have been over the past several months, maybe the last year. We knew there was interest out there and decided we wanted to give it a shot.”
Conn said staff had a general knowledge of pickleball when residents started showing interest and had to brush up on the rules. Pickleball is a variation on tennis with a smaller court and a lower net, where singles or doubles play to 11 points.
One of Hill Park’s tennis courts is taped off and reworked by staff to become two regulation pickleball courts, according to Maitland Public Information Officer Robert Sargent. Both he and Conn say they are excited for people of all ages to play the game.
Conn said the Parks and Rec team are merely supervisors for the pickleball games. Staff sets up the pickleball courts and organizes the surroundings at the tennis courts, but the teams and equipment come from Maitland residents themselves. He also said staff would be around in the beginning matches to help facilitate games and keep the night running smoothly.
“The courts are there for open play so (community members) can play at their leisure, and there won’t be instruction,” Conn said. “It’s just open courts.”
As it stands, the games are temporary. Conn said he and other staff members are gauging interest and will determine if the games will continue based on community interest.
“If there’s enough to sustain play with a variety of players (we’ll continue),” Conn said. “A lot of times, pickleball players play doubles, two on one side and two on the other … and we’ll have two courts. If there’s a dozen players out there, you can have pretty regular games switching people in and out.”
So far, the results are promising. Conn said there was a strong turnout the first game and that enthusiasm continued the next few game days despite bad weather.
“Attendance is going to ebb and flow early on until we get really established,” he said. “We’re going to continue for the next few months … and hope we come away with a solid group of regulars.”
If You Go: Maitland Pickleball Games
WHEN: 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays
WHERE: Hill Park,
801 Hillcrest Ave., Maitland