New Courts Bring Pickleball to Mililani

Chloe Kitsu

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     In November 2017, the Mililani Town Association (MTA) built the first pickleball court at Recreation Center 3, allowing the community to play the sport—a combination of ping pong, badminton and tennis. Pickleball can be played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton sized court and a slightly lower tennis net. The newly opened courts gives the pickleball players of Mililani an opportunity to play at a newer and closer court.

    “Talking to a few of the original Mililani players, I understand it started about three years ago at Diamond Head Tennis Center. Due to the drive, they started playing at Central Oahu Regional Park. Initially using chalk for lines, then string—where we now have budgeted funds to begin planning and designing pickleball courts, but money has not been released,” said United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) Pickleball Ambassador Jason Fujinaka. “It was difficult to get courts there for many reasons. Waipahu District Park had a volleyball court with lines, so that became the next spot where they played Thursday and Friday mornings. Soon after, the Mililani Town Association offered a tennis court converted to two pickleball courts as a temporary trial. Now we have four beautiful, permanent pickleball courts.”

    The overall popularity of pickleball stems from the friendly demeanor of the doubles or singles game. “Pickleball usually sells itself as once somebody has the opportunity to try it they usually have a lot of fun—the game supports all skill levels and ages. People can play recreationally or competitively,” said Fujinaka.

    Some of the challenges that come with having the pickleball court range from obtaining equipment to getting people to play the sport. “I started a business allowing players to try and buy equipment, pickleball nets—unlike tennis, pickleball courts often do not have nets so you either need to purchase and bring one, or come when someone else brings a net,” said Fujinaka.

    As the sport is new, one of the goals is to see pickleball courts be implemented into district parks. “(There is) no pickleball in Mililani District Park. Morning (time) would be excellent, but they would need to support pickleball and probably provide an attendant,” said Fujinaka.

    Pickleball is mostly common among the older players, but kids are also known to participate. Pickleball helps work all areas of the body, from hand-eye coordination, balance, reflexes, and agility without putting excessive strain on the body. “It is an enjoyable game, and as it is popular with a lot of Mililani’s older residents, it keeps them healthy and active,” said Freshman Alina Fujinaka. “It’s fun and easy to learn and keeps you active without it being too taxing. This is good for me because I can play after pole vault practice without getting too worn out.”

     In the future, many hope to see pickleball rise in popularity and become a school sport. “(It’s) a popular sport for kids and adults leading to a healthy active lifestyle—getting people off their sofa and active in this fun and social sport. (In the school) it hasn’t been adopted yet, like on the mainland,” said Jason Fujinaka.

    There will be an informational booth on pickleball at the Senior Hobby and Health Fair in May at Recreation Center 3.

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New Courts Bring Pickleball to Mililani