Pickleball Points: The big line, pickleball lines and tennis lines

The biggest line in sport is “I would have won, if…”

And then there are pickleball lines.

Remember — if the ball hits any part of the line, it is good. I discovered that some of you believe if the ball hits the outer half of the line, then it is out. I can’t imagine how that rumor got started, but I imagine there was a very close score involved.

Rules generally make common sense, and it would make no sense to allow the inside of the line to be good and the outside bad. Who could see well enough to enforce it? I have seen enough unintentional bad calls to know that many of you can’t see the whole line, and it would be impossible to determine the outside of the line. If you can’t see it clearly outside the line, then don’t call it out.

Finally, if you are thinking about adding pickleball lines to your community tennis courts this spring, here are some options. The reasonable question people should ask is how they can best overpaint pickleball lines on their under-used tennis courts to make them serviceable to both tennis and pickleball. Since outdoor tennis and pickleball courts should be oriented north-south because of the sun, there are three options.

Option 1: The first option, and not necessarily the best, is to utilize the existing tennis court and overpaint one pickleball court on it. The net across the tennis court is not much of a problem because the tennis net (36-inch height) can be dropped 2 inches for pickleball (34-inch height). We first did this at our community.

The challenge is how to paint a 44-by-20-foot pickleball court onto a 78-foot tennis court that is 27 feet wide. The major problem is that it leaves only a 1-foot, 10-inch space, depending on line width, just beyond the tennis service line at each end. Your good tennis players won’t notice, but your mediocre tennis players might complain loudly.

To help reduce confusion, pickleball courts typically use lighter, pastel lines when they overlay on the tennis court, which has bright white lines. There is also a pickleball line affectionately known as the “kitchen” line, 7 feet from the net, that should not create any problem for any tennis players.

Option 2. More often than not, two pickleball courts are overpainted on each tennis court, one at each end in the same north/south direction as the tennis court, and the tennis net provides a backstop for both pickleball courts. There is less chance of confusion, because the pickleball baseline proximity to the tennis service line is not as close.

Serious pickleballers would prefer this option, because they can hit around the pickleball net post on wide shots. Portable pickleball nets on wheels (about $250 each, plus freight) can be rolled into place for pickleball and then rolled aside for tennis play. When not in use, the pickleball nets are parked at courtside, near the fence.

Option 3. Dedicated pickleball courts are a third option. But to do that, you lose the tennis court, and it requires resurfacing, and new net posts. An example are the courts behind Clayton Elementary School near Dagsboro, where First State Pickleball Club raised money, and — with considerable sweat equity — repaved the old tennis courts in that location and installed 10 dedicated courts. You can simply install more pickleball courts than tennis courts on most existing pavements.

I hope this article helps explain how you can adapt your tennis courts to accommodate pickleball. The benefit of every racket sport is that they are good exercise and sociable occasions to meet friends. Just get outside and play, regardless of whether it is tennis, pickleball, badminton or any fun game. After all, you “would have won if…”

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.


By Vaughn Baker

Special to the Coastal Point