Pickleball coming to Hawthorn Woods park

Due to popular demand, Hawthorn Woods is set to become the latest public entity in Lake County to offer pickleball as an activity.

Work continues to create a pickleball court atop an existing tennis court at Bridlewoods Park on the west side of town. The project involves overlaying and painting the smaller, pickleball court dimensions on the tennis court surface.

"It's like being on a basketball court that's laid out to also play volleyball," explained Brian Sullivan, the village's director of parks and recreation.

Pickleball is a fast growing paddle sport that mixes badminton, tennis and pingpong. It has seen a steady increase in suburban participation, with new courts opening from Naperville to Waukegan. Last fall, for example, the Vernon Hills Park District converted tennis courts at Deerpath Park into six pickleball courts.

The USA Pickleball Association describes the activity as one of the fastest growing sports in the country and lists 266 places to play in Illinois. That compares with 192 locations listed last fall and 124 in 2015, when Fremont Township opened outdoor courts at Behm Homestead Park on Peterson Road.

Hawthorn Woods is taking a more modest approach to start, with an overlay on a single court rather than a stand-alone facility or complete conversion of tennis courts.

Sullivan said the village received a number of requests from residents, particularly seniors, looking to pickleball for physical fitness and group activities closer to home. Because it is a small entity the department can be flexible, he added.

"When people call with ideas, we can be responsive and pickleball was one of them," he said. "It's a controllable kind of experiment and we're excited to try it."

Bridlewoods Park is east of Route 12 and north of North Old McHenry Road. The court will be free and open to the public, just like tennis courts, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Parks workers have applied a first coat of a special polymer paint for the main pickleball playing surface but weather has delayed the application of a second coat as well as a separate color near the net.

Sullivan hopes to have the court ready for play by June 1 and said the village will be gauging the response. Good participation could lead to overlaying pickleball on tennis courts in other village parks, he said.

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