New pickleball courts set to open in Moore Haven

GLADES COUNTY — Six brand new pickleball courts are scheduled to open at the Glades RV Resort near Moore Haven on Jan. 12.

The new courts have been a longtime project of USA Pickleball Association Ambassador for Hendry/Glades Tim Camden, who has pushed to have more courts for the fast-growing sport.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Camden. “We’ve been politicking for these courts for the last eight years. After a while I thought they were going to be called the Tim Camden Memorial courts because they weren’t going to be here until I died. But they’re here now, and we’re thrilled.”

Activities will begin at 10 a.m., including training sessions for new players and a potluck. An official ribbon cutting for the new courts is scheduled for noon.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion

The pickleball courts at Silver Palm RV Resort in Okeechobee are just one of the many places you can play the sport. In addition to the new courts at Glades RV Resort in Moore Haven, you can find courts at Riverbend RV Resort in LaBelle, KOA Campgrounds in Okeechobee, Sun ’N Lake Pickleball Club in Sebring and Tanglewood in Sebring.

The sport of pickleball is similar to tennis and played with a 34-inch net, lightweight paddles and a plastic perforated ball. The game uses a court that is 20 feet wide by 44 feet long.

Pickleball is played either as doubles (two players per team) or singles; doubles is most common. The same size playing area and rules are used for both singles and doubles. The serve must be made underhand. Paddle contact with the ball must be below the server’s waist. The serve is initiated with at least one foot behind the baseline; neither foot may contact the baseline or court until after the ball is struck. The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court. Only one serve attempt is allowed.

The sport has been increasing in popularity all across the Lake Okeechobee area.

In March 2017 several Okeechobee pickleball players traveled to Sebring to compete in the Tanglewood Winter Classic. Melody White and Linda Rafferty from Ancient Oaks RV Resort in Okeechobee won a silver medal in the tournament while Dave Cortese and Dave Bellan from Silver Palms RV Resort in Okeechobee brought home the gold.

The 2018 Sugar Festival Pickleball Tournament held at Glades RV Resort featured teams representing Glades, Clewiston and Okeechobee. The Glades team swept the tournament, winning first place in the men’s and women’s division. Camden says there are tentative plans for another pickleball tournament during the 2019 Sugar Festival.

Camden also teaches beginner pickleball classes every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. at Glades RV Resort for anyone interested in learning the sport. All you need to bring is a pair of tennis shoes and some water.

“I have to give a special thanks to Glades Resort owner Tom Tripoli for building these courts,” explained Camden. “This is our grand opening. We’re going to have open play pickleball starting at 8 a.m., then beginner lessons at 10 a.m. and a ribbon cutting at noon. Bring a covered dish because we’re going to have a potluck as well as some music. Should be a fun time.”

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