CityPickle Lands at Wollman Rink in Central Park
CityPickle, New York City’s Home for Pickleball, Heading to Wollman Rink this Summer
The largest pickleball installation in the Northeast will welcome all skill levels to 14 courts from 7:00 am-9:00 pm daily, starting April 7th
As reported by James Barron in the New York Times, "In Spring, New Yorkers' Thoughts Turn to Pickleball":
You know it’s spring when the talk at Wollman Rink in Central Park is not about skating. It’s about pickleball.
The rink will be home to 14 pickleball courts from April 7 to Oct. 9, enough for 196 hours of play every day. CityPickle, the company that will run the pickleball installation, will start taking court reservations on March 31.
Pickleballers say their sport is more accessible than others — as our Victor Mather noted several months ago, “your colleagues, great-uncle and dental hygienist may be talking your ear off about their pickleball exploits.” Pickleball is like tennis (and badminton and Ping-Pong) — there’s a net. But pickleball players say that it’s easier to learn and play than tennis: Pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts, which means that players do not have to run as far or whack the ball as far.
That may explain why it became America’s fastest-growing sport, surging nearly 40 percent between 2019 and 2021. Now there are nearly 10,000 pickleball locations nationwide, according to USA Pickleball, the sport’s national governing body.
But its Places2Play website lists only one place in Manhattan, at a recreation center on West 60th Street where pickleball players have it out on a converted basketball court. A Google search indicates that there are other courts, but Mary Cannon and Erica Desai, who started CityPickle in August 2021, said the supply-and-demand equation remains woefully out of balance.
“Right now the way many people play is they bring their own nets to scraps of pavement around the city,” said Desai, a former acting chief of staff with the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “They can’t schedule ahead. They’re playing on surfaces that are cracked. In Wollman, not only will be able to accommodate a lot of people, they’ll be playing on a professional surface.” Players at Wollman will stand on an acrylic surface that rolls out like a carpet — it does not have to be poured like concrete, she said. It is coming from the company that supplies the courts for two pickleball leagues in this country and two in India.
The two women met about 15 years ago and became doubles tennis partners. “We both have room for improvement,” Cannon said with a laugh. “Unlike tennis, where you have to be pretty equally matched, with pickleball, you can have a diversity of athletic abilities.”
“Mary moves to the front, and I stay in the back,” Desai said about their playing style. “I get the deeper shots, and she goes for the winners.”