By Michael Cascaes
As one walks around the campus at the University of Tampa (UT) they can not help but realize the facilities, amenities and location that make it a nationally ranked campus. UT is ranked in the top 30 most beautiful college campuses in the United States according to Best Value Schools. The 110-acre campus is made up of: a bell tower, palm trees, dorms, laundry facilities, classrooms, lounges, study areas, places to eat, pools, a hot tub, playing fields, along with volleyball, basketball and tennis courts.
UT is known to constantly be renovating and improving their campus to maximize the potential for the students that live at and go to the university. As students walk around campus seeing the renovations to the Fitness and Recreation Center one may notice that the university is missing pickleball courts. Pickleball is one of the nations newest and most popular sports but it is nonexistent on the campus of UT.
“Pickleball is a simple but competitive fast paced game that combines elements from tennis, ping pong and badminton.” Carly Dalton, a resident of Hyde park who is often found on the courts, said. “Pickleball, like golf and tennis, can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. The game is played both indoor or outdoor with just a paddle, net and a plastic ball so it does not cost much to play.”
A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court; it measures 20×44 feet. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle whereas a tennis court has a net of 42 inches at its posts. The court is lined similar to a tennis court with right and left service boxes but differs with a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net. The non-volley zone is referred to as the “kitchen”. Courts can be constructed specifically for pickleball but the university can also consider converting existing tennis courts on campus.
“Down the street at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park there are currently four pickleball courts,” Matthew Jakob, a student from UT, said. “Two of the four courts are makeshift that were created out of the tennis court. The park put pickleball lines and temporary nets on each side of one of the tennis courts; creating two courts out of the one.”
Jakob believes that UT can do the same with one or two of the six tennis courts that are on campus. Students are often found attempting to play at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park but struggle due to the high volume of people that are attempting to play at once.
“I love playing pickleball but I struggle to find the time when the sun is not beaming and the courts aren’t filled,” Brian Eager, a student from UT, said. “If the university were to add courts for only students to have access to it would be beneficial for me and my group of friends to get games in. Nothing against the people in the park but I enjoy playing a lot more when I am competing with and against my friends.”
Adding courts at UT has the potential to draw students to a competitive and fast paced game that will improve students health. Improving the health of students maintains the university’s mission of maximizing the campus to benefit the students.