ST. GEORGE — The Little Valley Pickleball Complex is a hub for the sport locally. Its 24 courts and accessibility make it a destination for the city’s pickleball endeavors, from public leagues to hosting events in tournaments.
Over their eight-plus years of existence, the courts have seen extensive use, in some instances from sunrise to after sunset. Combined with the general desert dust and that kicked up from a continuous construction project upwind, and the surfaces at Little Valley have been put through the gauntlet. It’s gotten to the point where many of the courts are in need of repair.
After city funds only went so far, the committed pickleball community stepped in and more than doubled the available budget for maintenance.
“People love to come here because they have so many options of levels of player to play with,” Keli Christensen, lead chair of the St. George Pickleball Advisory Committee, said.
Christensen guessed that on some days, one court may see more than 200 players. Some of the courts are in better shape than others. Some are worn all the way down to the pavement, their silica layers stripped to non-existence … often near the service lines. It can be a hazard for new players just learning to find their footing and high-level players moving intently across the court, just trusting the surface to be willing and able.
It was time for a fix.
“It takes a quicker turnaround here because of the sand issues and they do wear down,” Christensen said. “Plus our activity, with more heavy use, more players, more full courts, are taking their toll on them, too.”
However, the City of St. George could only afford to resurface five courts, according to Lesa Sandberg with the St. George Pickleball Advisory Committee. It simply wasn’t enough.
That’s when the committee stepped in.
The committee is a group of enthusiasts that work with the city to organize events, make suggestions and even coordinate some leagues. Invested in the well-being at the courts at Little Valley, they organized a massive fundraising tournament in April they dubbed “Paint Your Courts.” More than 400 players participated and around 50 more individuals donated privately.
On Tuesday, the St. George Pickleball Advisory Committee handed interim mayor Michele Randall a check for $29,000 – $4,000 more than the funds the city had allocated. With the new budget, the city will be able to mend half of the facility’s courts.
To Randall, it was indicative of the city’s culture.
“This is what’s great about St. George: the community participation,” Randall said. “They put their money where their rackets are, I guess if you want to say it. That’s what so great about it, they actually pitch in and help when something is really important to them.”
The committee presented the check at a thank-you event for the volunteers of Paint Your Courts. They followed it with some exhibition matches and even convinced Randall, who told St. George News she had never played pickleball before, out on the courts.
More information on St. George Pickleball is available on the city’s website.
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