By Steve Hubrecht

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Local tennis players are unhappy with a District of Invermere proposal to convert one of the tennis courts at the Pynelogs Rotary Ball Park into pickleball courts.

The Invermere Pickleball Club has been pressing the district for more than a year to create dedicated outdoor pickleball courts somewhere in town. A few weeks ago the district made public a plan to potentially change one of the three tennis courts by Pynelogs into four pickleball courts. The district is planning to resurface the tennis courts this year, and a report by Invermere director of public works Angela MacLean and Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik outlined the possibility of redoing one of those courts for pickleball.

That suggestion has not gone over well with Columbia Valley tennis players.

Richmond Studney told the Pioneer that at a recent meeting of Columbia Valley Mixed Doubles Tennis “the mixed doubles players were unanimous in thinking the proposal is not a good one.”

The three tennis courts at Pynelogs Rotary Ball Park all get used, explained Studney, adding recently the courts were in fact so busy that people had to patiently wait their turn to play tennis.

Once upon a time there were more than three courts at that location, but when the CPR Lodge was renovated some courts were removed, said Studney. 

“Tennis players haven’t forgotten that . . . we have not made ourselves well known, like the pickleball players have, because we haven’t needed to. But now we do need to, because if they reduce the tennis courts to two, we are going to have a difficult time accommodating people.”

All three courts are regularly used by Columbia Valley Mixed Doubles Tennis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, he explained. On Friday, April 27, the courts were not enough and “we had to rotate people in to play,” he added.

Studney also noted that tennis courts at Pynelogs Rotary Ball Park are very close to residential homes, and that the noise of pickleball will be a great disturbance for those living there. He referenced a comment by Invermere Mayor Al Miller in last week’s Pioneer that “yes, there is the noise (of pickleball). We also have trains and other things in that neighbourhood that make noise. Our discussions as council will include that and we’ll see where it goes.”

“If you are a resident there, do you really want more noise in addition to the train?” asked Studney. “They (the people living near the tennis courts) are not going to stand for this.”

Studney also said there could be safety issues in turning one of the tennis courts into four pickleball courts, explaining it simply may not fit. “The way it is shown (in the district’s proposal) is silly . . . pickleball players will be running into tennis players and vice versa. There’s just no room. It’s an impossible situation,” he said.

Invermere Pickleball Club member John Robertson said local pickleball players are also unhappy about the district’s proposal.

“The feeling is that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to take away a court from tennis. We’re (pickleball players) not in favour of that. And I don’t think there is enough space there to fit four pickleball courts and three tennis courts. It just won’t work,” Robertson told the Pioneer. “It will also be noisy for those living there. It’s not a satisfactory solution for either group or for the neighbours.”

The pickleball club put forward a proposal to Rocky Mountain School District 6 about creating pickleball courts in the Mount Nelson Athletic Park (MNAP), said Robertson. The school district owns the land on which MNAP sits.

That proposal includes building new basketball courts, said Robertson, adding that if the school district is amenable to this plan, the project would still need to be funded by the District of Invermere.