Hemet, California: Two new pickleball courts open at Valley-Wide Diamond Valley Lake Park

Tony Ault, in Myvalleynews.com:

What the heck is pickleball? That is the question asked by many dignitaries attending the Friday, Feb. 22, dedication of Hemet’s newest pickleball courts at Valley-Wide Park and Recreation District’s Diamond Valley Lake Park. 

The Hemet-San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce presided over the dedication and official ribbon-cutting ceremony while players hit their wiffle balls back and forth over the nets on the two new courts just outside of the Valley-Wide Aquatic Center, 1801 Angler Ave. in Hemet. 

It was just minutes later that chamber chairman Lakshman Koka, interim Director Cyndi Lemke, Director Leonard Purvis and Allisha Paulk, field representative for 67th District Assemblyman Melissa A. Melendez, took up graphite paddles and a lightweight plastic wiffle ball to try their luck on one of the new courts. 

“Wow, this is just like ping pong,” Lemke said as she popped the whiffle across the net to Paulk, who missed the return much to her dismay. None of the dignitaries had ever played the sport previously. 

They quickly learned that wiffle ball is played on a court around one-third the size of a badminton court, using a modified tennis-style net, wooden or graphite paddles and a lightweight plastic ball. It contains elements of tennis, racquetball, badminton and table tennis. 

Scoring is much like ping pong with a first bounce required on serve or return. 

The game has become so popular across the country it wasn’t long before local players convinced the Valley-Wide Board of Directors to install the courts at the park. 

Tony Ault photo

Members of the Hemet/San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce, Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District board members, pickleball players and other dignitaries join the ribbon-cutting ceremony, dedicating the two new pickleball courts at Diamond Valley Lake Community Park at 1801 Angler Ave. in Hemet.

Dean Wetter, the general manager of Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District, took to the microphone and said the sports’ popularity will have Valley-Wide build 10 more courts in area parks before long, bringing applause from those attending the event. 

He introduced board President Nick Schouten, who said he really didn’t know what pickleball was at first, but he played a few games and enjoyed it. Board member Jan Bissell said that Valley-Wide had just broken ground at the newest park at Fairview Avenue and Mayberry Street in Valle Vista where four more pickleball courts will be built.

Hemet police Chief Rob Webb, a representative from Congressman Raul Ruiz and many of the Valley-Wide staff were at the event along with pickleball ambassadors from the area. 

Wetter thanked the owners of Adame Landscape who constructed the new courts and maintain Valley-Wide parks. 

The pickleball courts are open during the regular Valley-Wide Diamond Valley Regional Park hours. 

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.

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