Residents wait for their turn to play pickleball.

By Arianna Hooker

Pickleball is a sport in which paddles are used with a plastic ball with holes and a three-foot net is set up, and it can be played indoors or outdoors. It has become an increasingly popular sport over the last few years, and so there is a need for more space to play. On June 2, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners approved the use of $3 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to meet that need.

The American Rescue Plan Act states that the funding needs to be used for vital projects as well as meet guidelines established by the federal government while addressing the county’s specific needs. With this came the plan to add 34 pickleball courts in the area.

Patrick Cullina, recreation manager for Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation, said, “With the growth of the county, Parks & Recreation identified a gap in services we offered. By converting underutilized tennis courts and renovating existing tennis courts, the department is able to better meet the community’s needs.”

The addition of the 34 courts will go to seven separate parks around the Hillsborough area. These include Higginbotham Park, Progress Village Park, Balm Park, Springhead Park, Westwood Lakes Park, Northlakes Sports Complex, Bertha and Tony Saladino Park and Branchton Park.

New pickleball courts will be added alongside the conversion of unused tennis courts, all of which will have LED lighting. A timeline for the project has not yet been established.

Cullina said, “We are currently reviewing construction timelines and working with contractors to estimate material availability. Once a timeline is established, the county’s Capital Improvement Project website will be updated.”

As pickleball has continued to grow in popularity over the years, in 2021, Hillsborough County added 14 courts for pickleball and another 18 for the use of pickleball or tennis. With the approved use of $3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, pickleball courts should double in number to provide everyone enough space to play safely.

“Additional pickleball courts will increase the recreation opportunities for the community and ultimately increase the opportunity for health and wellness among our residents,” said Cullina.

With the addition of the new pickleball courts, residents will no longer have to be concerned about space for playing pickleball.

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