New Sport Comes to Palisades Recreation Center

Palisades Recreation Center will add pickleball to their official spring program as of May 1

By Dolores Quintana

USA Pickleball Association Ambassador Pong Nimnual and Palisades resident Kane Phelps have almost achieved their goal of adding the sport of Pickleball to the Pacific Palisades Recreation and Parks system as reported by The Palisadian Post

After a lot effort, Nimnual and Phelps have convinced the Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board to vote in favor of converting one of the Recreation Center’s tennis courts into a hybrid court that would allow pickleball matches and the Palisades Recreation Center will add pickleball to their official spring program as of May 1. 

Kane Phelps said,“It has taken a lot … of emails and phone calls, but we have been able to put the Palisades forward as a template that could be used to initiate the whole idea of converting tennis courts for pickleball. We pushed it to another, higher level … As a result of that, we were able to get a commitment [from the City] … They are committed to creating a hybrid situation and … I think that’s a success story.”

Pong Nimnual has said, according to the Palisadian Post, that he has been an advocate for Pickleball as an official sport of the Palisades Park Recreation Center since 2020. It was when Nimnual discovered the sport after the Covid lockdown began and everything closed. 

Nimnual said, as quoted by The Palisadian Post, “A group of us were playing badminton … and after COVID hit and everything got closed down, we were looking for another venue for us to play outside … Tennis came to mind first, but I’m not very good at tennis. Then pickleball came up. I took a couple of classes at El Segundo and fell in love with it.” Nimnual even started a petition to encourage the Palisadian Park Advisory Board to consider creating pickleball courts for residents’ use. The petition collected over 300 signatures.

Pickleball is a sport that has two to four players and is similar to other sports that use a racquet or paddle. The players use a solid paddle to hit a wiffle ball over a net. A pickleball court is similar to a badminton court, the net is similar to a tennis net and the paddles are similar to those used in table tennis. 

Interested pickleball players joined a club the Nimnual started among the badminton players that he already knew. The club made do and played the sport at open basketball courts in the area. After the tennis courts at the Palisades Recreation Center were opened, the pickleball club moved there. 

Nimnual said, as quoted by The Palisadian Post, “You can put four pickleball courts on one tennis court … You can accommodate up to 16 players on a tennis court. Before [former Palisades Recreation Center Senior Facility Director Ejiah Cooper] left, she would reserve tennis court number eight for us … Eventually, we would like tennis court number eight to be converted permanently to a hybrid … court where both [pickleball and tennis] can be played … That’s our goal.”

In the meantime, the Recreation Center will provide pickleball players some other chances to play the sport as schedules allow. As of May 1, pickleball became part of the official sports program at the Recreation Center and residents can play the sport inside the gym area Monday and Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Each player will be charged $10 for the use of the space. 

Jasmine Dowlatshahi, facility director of the Recreation Center said that the center is, “so excited to start classes soon.” Pickleball classes will start on May 2. 

Kane Phelps said, as quoted by The Palisadian Post, “Pong … is the man who is in charge and really created a culture in a community of folks here in the Palisades that has been growing exponentially. When we started, we were just a few folks and maybe there were 15 to 18 people. Now, the email list is 70 or 80 … and the enthusiasm is just over the top. It’s not just about pickleball, it’s really about community.”

If you would like more information about the pickleball club, Nimnual can be reached at pongucla@hotmail.com.

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