Tag Archive | "NYC Pickleball"

Pickleball Is On The Rise: One Bronx Resident Requests More Courts

Alex Rosenblum speaks at the Parks and Recreation meeting last Wednesday about adding pickleball courts to Seton Park.

Alex Rosenblum, 74, grew up as an athlete playing hockey and tennis. Being active was a huge part of his life until he had his first heart attack at 42. Rosenblum’s cardiologist told him to “take it easy.” 

Taking his doctors advice Rosenblum bought a place down in Florida and spent his winters there — he noticed people were playing a game that looked familiar — it was a lot like tennis. 

It was called pickleball.

“It’s a social game, there’s a camaraderie there,” Rosenblum said. 

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport for the second year in a row according to The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, and now,  Rosenblum is asking the Parks Department to create more pickleball courts in the Bronx. 

“I saw the courts in Florida and I was a longtime tennis player. And I thought, ‘hey, I can do that,’” Rosenblum said. But when he came back to Riverdale he could hardly find anywhere to play. 

Pickleball is played on a badminton-size court with a paddle and ball. It’s commonly played with two people per team with points scored by the serving team. 

According to the national USA pickleball site there are more than 4.8 million participants across the country. 

In the Bronx, there’s one designated court to play pickleball. It’s located near the southwest playground in Van Cortlandt Park. During COVID, there was a pickleball craze and so the Parks Department created a court as an experiment, said Stephanie Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance. 

But it’s a “poor design,” according to Rosenblum. It’s part of a paved game court, allowing people to freestyle any game they choose without having the structure needed for a pickleball court, he said. 

Rosenblum noticed that Seton Park, just a couple miles from Van Cortlandt park, had six tennis courts that could easily be turned into a couple of pickleball courts; other pickleball players in the community felt the same way, according to Rosenblum. 

Rosenblum started to contact community leaders and the Parks Department on behalf of other pickleball players in Riverdale. He sent dozens of emails and letters requesting pickleball courts be added in Seton Park.

At a Parks and Recreation meeting last Wednesday night, Rosenblum was hoping to announce his ideas to the Parks Department in-person but they failed to show.  

“I had hoped that somebody from the Parks Department would be here to view the status report but that’s not the case,” Bob Bender, the Interim Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee said. 

Instead Bender read a statement from the Parks Department. They said that the park is concerned the tennis courts cannot be adequately transformed into a pickleball court in Seton Park, but they are looking into putting a pickleball court in a different area.  

“I’m surprised that the Parks Department says that you can’t convert it because all over the country they take a tennis court and they could squeeze in four pickleball courts…easily,”  Rosenblum said.  

In an email to BronxInk, a spokesperson for the Parks Department stated the department was exploring two additional locations for new courts in the Bronx and is in discussion with the community board to make this happen. 

“It’s always our goal to provide a balance of access between all of the various sports and activities that our regular park visitors enjoy,” said Dan Kastanis Senior Press Officer of NYC Parks. 

Tennis and pickleball player Carol Stricker said she’s been reaching out to politicians and community leaders for over a year about the tennis courts at Seton Park. 

“If they were to fix up the courts they can certainly take one of the tennis courts or two of the tennis courts and put pickleball lines on it,” Stricker said. 

There are 11 pickleball areas in the city and the Bronx has one court that’s located in Riverdale, according to NYC parks data. Each pickleball area has multiple courts on them, except in the Bronx. 

Photo of a pickleball court in Leif Erikson park in Brooklyn from Eric Ho, Co-Founder of NYC Pickleball.

New York is one of the regions in the U.S. with the largest number of total participants in the sport, according to a USA Pickleball fact sheet  As the pickleball community grows in NYC so does the need for courts. Co-Founder of NYC pickleball, Eric Ho, said the difficulty in New York is there are limited courts.  

Ho, 33, said he picked up his first pickleball paddles in the summer of 2020 with his wife Ray. 

“We were looking for anything to toss around just like everyone else who was desperate to get outside,” Ho said. 

He said it was hard to find anyone playing in New York at the time and he didn’t realize what a pickleball community was supposed to look like until he went down to Memphis to visit his in-laws. 

When Ho and his wife came back to New York City in March of 2021, they started to find small groups all around the city. 

He recently left his job to be a full time pickleball coach and to run NYC pickleball. He and his wife created the website for players around the city to connect and learn about the sport. 

“People are looking for places to play in New York and they just haven’t been able to figure it out through the parks department. Nothing’s been super clear,” Ho said.

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