City of Ozark welcomes new pickleball court

The City of Ozark has opened a new facility for one of the world’s fastest growing sports: pickleball.
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 10:27 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The City of Ozark opened a new facility for one of the world’s fastest-growing sports: pickleball.

The brand-new complex, which features 8 indoor hard courts that are wheelchair accessible, is the result of a promise made to the owner of Ozark Community Pickleball, Elisabeth Wise.

“Our mayor is a tennis player,” said Wise. “He came out to learn pickleball for a free clinic and the rest is history. He promised me that we would have a place to play while they refurbished our courts, and this happened.

The 7-month project was city-funded and built with the help of community volunteers.

Ozzie Maianeto director of events and facilities for Ozark leisure services: “It was a labor of love,” said Ozzie Maianeto, Director of Events and Facilities for Ozark Leisure Services. “It was about 7 months of intensive labor bringing this facility together. We had to redo floors, walls, ceilings, paint the courts, do everything, so it’s quite a pleasure to see this come to life.”

As for the sport itself, people of all ages are encouraged to play. Wise says that her introduction to pickleball was evidence of how it can change lives.

“I went to a family reunion where my cousin had Parkinson’s,” explained Wise. “I’m 70, at that time he was 72. His neurologist told him to play pickleball, and he literally arrested the progression of his Parkinson’s. Now he has to wear a helmet because it is progressing, but it’s been several years. It extended his quality of life.”

The new addition to the community is affecting the city in more than one way. Ozark Mayor Mark Blankenship says that this complex is just the beginning of progress in the area.

“It’s also a feeder for the other businesses that we’re putting here,” said Blankenship. “Since we’ve started this, we’ve opened a new restaurant next door. This week, we signed an agreement on the new gym that’s going to be coming there, so the shopping center is now full and the people are what makes it happen, so we’re excited about it.”

Those interested in learning the sport can join a beginner’s class twice a week at the complex with local trainers.

The courts will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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