As recently as eight years ago, Chesterfield had no dedicated public pickleball courts. The number is now 40.
It all began back in 2015, when the county’s Parks and Recreation Department converted three of the nine asphalt tennis courts at Rockwood Park into an eight-court pickleball facility now known as the Scott Pickleball Center. The new courts were an immediate hit, often fully occupied with a long line of people waiting for their turn to play.
In response to growing community demand, Chesterfield Parks and Recreation repurposed two tennis courts at Daniel Park for six additional pickleball courts in 2018.
Since then, it has opened a 12-court pickleball complex behind the Career and Technical Center @ Hull, added eight courts at Dodd Park and six more at Huguenot Park.
There are now dedicated public courts in four of Chesterfield’s five magisterial districts, as well as future plans for a 12-court facility at Horner Park in the northwestern Matoaca District.
That also doesn’t include 10 dual-use courts, which have lines for both tennis and pickleball, at Ettrick and Goyne parks and Swift Creek and Midlothian middle schools.
“I like to think we do a good job of listening to our residents,” said Stuart Connock, assistant director of Parks and Recreation for planning and construction.
Connock noted that before moving forward on repurposing tennis courts for pickleball, the department engaged the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC), which includes citizen representation from all five magisterial districts, and posted signs at the courts asking for the community’s input.
“Staff felt like we weren’t seeing the use of many tennis courts, that things were changing, but we didn’t want to go out there and unilaterally change the courts,” he added. “We tested the waters and got public sentiment every time we did a conversion.”
Pickleball, which is played indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court using a paddle and perforated ball similar to a whiffle ball, has exploded in popularity across the U.S. over the past decade.
According to a 2023 study by the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP), more than 48 million American adults – nearly 19% of the country’s total adult population – have played pickleball at least once over the past 12 months.
The research also found that the average age of pickleball players is 34.8 years, significantly younger than previously assumed for a sport that was originally embraced by seniors looking for a safe way to stay active. Children are now being taught to play pickleball in K-12 physical education classes and sticking with it in large numbers.
“It appeals to so many people at every level and every age, and I think that is one of the reasons it has grown the way it has – everybody can play pickleball to their ability,” said Chesterfield resident Linda Scott, USA Pickleball’s ambassador for Virginia’s Central District, an area that stretches east from Chesterfield to Williamsburg. “What I love to see is the multigenerational play. This is something people can do with their kids and grandkids. They have fun with each other and isn’t that a great thing?”
Repurposing existing tennis courts has been the most cost-effective way for the county to meet demand for dedicated pickleball courts because it eliminates about 75% of the cost of building new: clearing trees, grading, paving, and putting up new fencing and lights.
“We wanted to make sure we had quality facilities for people to play and picked locations where you have enough convenient parking, a restroom fairly close, all those things to make it a total experience,” Connock said. “We’ve certainly come a long way very quickly.”
Scott said she and thousands of her fellow Chesterfield pickleball enthusiasts “couldn’t be more grateful” to Parks and Recreation staff for supporting the sport’s growth in the county.
“We have a reputation all over Virginia -- people in other areas will say ‘Yes, we have some courts here, but Chesterfield is the place you want to go if you’re looking to get into a league,’” she added. “We have more activity than anyone else. We’re known as the hub where it all started.”
PUBLIC PICKLEBALL COURTS IN CHESTERFIELD
CTC@Hull (12 dedicated), 13900 Hull Street Rd.
Daniel Park (6 dedicated), 6600 Whitepine Rd.
Dodd Park (8 dedicated), 201 Enon Church Rd.
Ettrick Park (2 dual-use), 20621 Woodpecker Rd.
Goyne Park (2 dual-use), 5300 Ecoff Ave.
Huguenot Park (6 dedicated), 10901 Robious Rd.
Midlothian Middle School (2 dual-use), 13501 Midlothian Tpke.
Rockwood Park (8 dedicated), 3401 Courthouse Rd.
Swift Creek Middle School (4 dual-use), 3700 Old Hundred Rd.