David and Pam Stoten talk to Sue Harris at pickleballEngland about an inspirational pandemic project to repurpose a derelict tennis court.
The idea to convert a derelict tennis court at Hoddesdon Tennis Club to a pickleball court came about rather by chance.
In May 2020, at the end of the first lockdown, David and Pam Stoten had taken their paddles down to their tennis club and were practicing dinking over one of the kids’ tennis net. One of the other tennis members asked what they were playing and when they explained she suggested, only half seriously, that they convert the derelict Court 10 tennis court.
Court 10 was in a dreadful state of repair and hadn’t been used for around 20 or 30 years.
However, David and Pam were quite taken with the idea and took some photos which they circulated to pickleball friends with the caption: “Does anyone fancy a project?”.
Says David: “The response was quite astonishing. Everyone was really positive about the project.”
The tennis club were also very supportive of the project, and although they didn’t have any funds to offer towards it, they did pay for a very large skip. The skip was ordered and small work groups were organised by David on a rota basis so that social distancing could be maintained.
Says Pam: “You can’t believe what a jungle it was. It was full of vegetation with mountains of leaves, trees, big tree trunks and a broken fence”.
Key players in the transformation were John and Linda Shanley and Mike Varney and a total of 30 people were engaged in the project.
The first job was to clear the site of all the debris which was a mammoth task in itself. The secret weapon for the next phase was a product called Revive A Drive Asphalt Binder which is a water based polymer bitumen compound which covered a multitude of sins. This was followed by the acrylic paint. The final result is a very colourful court!! Says David: “The colours on the court means that lines are unnecessary”.
The first “jungle” photos were taken on the 26th May and the court was ready for play a month later with the official opening on 4th July.
The total cost of the project, excluding the skip, was £1250 and they received a welcome donation of £150 from pickleballEngland.
“It was a great example of camaraderie at a difficult time because of the pandemic” says David.
The Club has continued to prosper and now has over 50 members and another court.
It is a part of the Hoddesdon Tennis Club who have been extremely surprised and delighted with what was achieved. “We thought that what you did was impossible” they commented.
Having acquired a taste for playing outdoors, David and Pam expect that many people will want to continue doing so even when indoor play is once again permitted.
All in all, a positive tale of teamwork and repurposing of a derelict tennis court during the year that we will never forget.
How many other unused or derelict courts are out there which could be converted for pickleball?
As told to Sue Harris, SE Regional Director.
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