An excessive heat warning one day earlier this summer did not stop pickleball players at Bicentennial Park.

Friends Cade Bissell, Colin Green, Alden Sadler and Tara Sumer were home from college when they braved the outdoors to get in a game at the park’s makeshift pickleball courts on a day when the temperature reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pickleball is a mixture of tennis, badminton and ping-pong played between two to four players across a net. The sport has its own unique vocabulary, with terms that include “opa” sometimes shouted after the third shot has been hit or the warning shout “pickle” to alert players to an incoming serve.

“It’s a lot easier to pick up than tennis,” Sadler said. “It’s not too hard to learn.”

The Sports and Fitness Industry Association has named pickleball one of America’s fastest-growing sports from 2019-2022. The game’s popularity is picking up in the Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake area. Grapevine recently built outdoor courts in Dove Park, and nearby Colleyville now has pickleball courts at City Park.

Southlake is joining pickleball craze with a $3.4 million pickleball complex that will start construction this fall.

During the June 21 City Council meeting to approve the project, Mayor John Huffman called it the “Taj Mahal” of pickleball. He said Southlake has been getting a “ton” of demand for pickleball.

Southlake’s new pickleball complex at Bicentennial Park will have nine courts with one being a championship court, according to plans.

Southlake Community Service Director Chris Tribble said in an email that construction is expected to last from September 2022 to March 2023 with the opening set for late March or April 2023.

A top community priority

The Southlake community began voicing its desire for pickleball courts in 2020 as the city worked on developing the Southlake 2035 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, Tribble said.

Of all athletic activities, pickleball had the top priority, according to a resident survey. A pickleball complex within Bicentennial Park was subsequently approved as part of the city of Southlake’s 2022 Capital Improvements Program.

“Goal No. 1 is to provide additional pickleball courts for Southlake residents,” Tribble said in an email.

In addition to having open play for Southlake residents, the community services department expects to host pickleball tournaments at the complex. Tribble said the department wants the complex to be a “destination for pickleball players.” For special events, Tribble said food trucks will be brought in.

Southlake currently offers open play pickleball indoors at The Marq in Bicentennial Park. The park also has a few tennis courts with lines drawn for pickleball and nets that players can move around as needed.

The construction and design of the complex will be done by architecture and engineering firm Parkhill Inc. The city initially expected costs for the complex to be closer to $1.05 million, according to city documents. The scope of the plan increased, though, after the first contract was approved in November.

The initial site plan included only eight courts. A lighted championship court with covered stadium-style seating was added after direction from the project team, according to documents from Southlake’s Park & Recreation Board and the Southlake Parks Development Corporation. The team also expanded the restroom and pavilion building to include office space as well as three women’s and three men’s lavatories. Plans also include two shade structures between the courts and an entry monument sign.

In addition to the courts, the city plans to install 8-foot fencing to match the existing park fence at entryways and a 10-foot fence with a windscreen to enclose the complex’s courts, according to city documents. Project plans also include landscaping, irrigation, utilities and a drainage system for the complex.

Building the complex goes beyond providing Southlake’s community with new courts to play on.

“The development of this facility is another opportunity to serve our community by supporting a high quality of life, especially in terms of health and wellness,” Tribble said.

Andrea Tredaway, Grapevine Parks and Recreation’s athletic supervisor, said pickleball is a sport that is continuing to grow. Grapevine offered pickleball inside The REC of Grapevine before building outdoor courts at Dove Park in 2020. Tredaway said because the outdoor courts are so popular, they are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It’s very popular in the neighboring cities,” Tredaway said. “It just keeps growing and growing, [and] it’s not going anywhere.”

Part of the appeal is the game’s low impact, Tredaway said. For an older demographic, she said the game is easier to pick up. It also provides fitness opportunities. Tredaway said players are able to talk to one another throughout their match.

“They socialize [when] doing something they can be pretty good at,” Tredaway said.

Pickleball, though, is not just for older generations. Oftentimes, Tredaway said she sees adults bring their children along to play. She said it is good to “see a mixture of two different worlds” who usually would not play a sport together.

Tredaway said pickleball is providing a new sport for people to try. She said Grapevine offering pickleball classes at the park has given those who are interested in the sport a chance to play. People can go outside and get competitive with friends, which she said has been fun to watch.

“We’re really excited to see what the future can hold for [pickleball],” Tredaway said.