By Linda Chion
Pickleball is picking up with expansion plans in Hillsborough County that include adding courts or dual-striped courts to parks in Brandon, Bloomingdale, Plant City, Progress Village, Seffner, Springhead, Tampa, Thonotosassa and Wimauma.
The courts at the Bertha and Tony Saladino Park in Brandon are part of a $900,000 upgrade reviewed by Hillsborough County Commissioners in March. With funds from Hillsborough County Parks impact fees, the project calls for replacing one of the park’s two basketball courts with two pickleball courts, building a new basketball court, expanding the parking lot and adding sports LED lighting for nighttime playing, stormwater improvements and self-paced fitness zones.
“This is a very popular park for residents who live in the area,” said Jason MacKenzie, park planner and development manager for Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation. “Outside of its dog park and walking trail, the park needed more amenities to round it out.”
Pickleball, a sport for all ages and abilities, is a cross between tennis, table tennis, racquetball and badminton.
“There’s always been an interest in pickleball since it became the fastest-growing sport for adults,” MacKenzie said. Adding new courts and turning existing tennis courts into dual-striped courts for pickleball “is something we’re recommending to meet the growing needs of the county.”
Proposed for the county’s fiscal year 2023 budget, which starts on October 1, is roughly $3 million in funding, which includes pickleball courts for Branchton Park in Thonotosassa, Higginbotham Park in Seffner, Progress Village Park, Balm Park in Wimauma, Springhead Park in Plant City, Westwood Lakes Park in Tampa and the Northlakes Sports Complex.
According to MacKenzie, courts are under construction at Town ’N Country Park and currently exist at Bloomingdale East Park, Keystone Park and Northlakes. Dual-striped locations are on tap as well for Bloomingdale West Park, North Brandon Sports Complex, Heather Lakes Sports Complex, Fawn Ridge Park in Tampa, Nye Park in Lutz and the Roy Haynes Park and Recreation Center in Tampa.
Meanwhile, pickleball options include courts at High 5 Inc. in Brandon and the FishHawk Pickleballers in Lithia.