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Pickleball Enthusiasts Rejoice Over New Courts at Agawam Park

Pickleball Enthusiasts Rejoice Over New Courts: Agawam, July 10, 2024: With six courts now open at Borgatti Field, the founders of pickleball in Agawam celebrate their remarkable achievements. This summer marks the first season for the two newest courts, adding to the park’s long-standing reputation as a pickleball hub since 2015.

The journey began when Richard Dudek, 85, returned from Florida and introduced pickleball to then-Mayor Richard Cohen. “No one around here was playing pickleball,” Dudek recalled. He provided the mayor with detailed court designs, sparking interest and leading to the construction of the first two courts.

He really laid out a nice packet for the Town Council, so everybody could see what a court looked like. Back then, if you said ‘pickleball,’ they looked at you like you had two heads, because nobody knew what it was,” said Doug Paquette, Dudek’s friend and fellow pickleball enthusiast. Today, pickleball is one of America’s fastest-growing sports, attracting players of all ages due to its less harsh nature compared to tennis.

Recognizing the sport’s popularity, Agawam officials built two more courts in 2017, partially funded by a $35,000 donation from resident John Bakos. Bakos’s passion for pickleball and his contribution were instrumental in meeting the growing demand.

I am a passionate pickleball player, have enjoyed frequent play at Borgatti Field and worked hard to build the program now involving nearly 100 players. Due to the rapid interest and growth of the sport, these courts have become very overcrowded,” Bakos wrote at the time before his death in 2017.

Now, with six courts in place, Agawam’s latest project included a $277,000 upgrade to Borgatti Field, featuring new courts, a pavilion, picnic tables, and a connecting sidewalk. Most of the funding came from the Community Preservation Act (CPA), with additional support from Berkshire Power.

The demand for the courts is growing, the sport is growing locally, nationally and internationally. Pickleball is taking over, so it was time for us to add two more courts,” said Chris Sparks, Agawam’s parks and recreation director. The expansion ensures amenities for all generations, promoting exercise, socialization, and enjoyment.

While space for further expansion at Borgatti Field is limited, the growing number of regional pickleball courts has eased pressure on Agawam’s facilities. Sparks noted that Agawam was a pioneer in Western Massachusetts, but now neighboring communities also have courts.

With all of our parks, not just pickleball but the dog park, skateboard park, ballfields, it’s important to have the amenities for people of all generations and different interest groups, to give them a place to exercise, socialize and enjoy themselves,” Sparks continued.

Richard Dudek, who began playing pickleball 30 years ago in Florida, remains a dedicated player and a local hero. “A lot of people tell me, ‘Richard, you did a great job.’ I enjoy hearing that,” he said, hoping to play for at least another five years.

It all stems back to the insight of Richard Dudek,” said Sparks. “His vision brought us to where we are today.”

The pickleball courts at Borgatti Field on River Road are open from dawn to dusk on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pickleball Enthusiasts Rejoice Over New Courts (1)

News in Brief : Pickleball Enthusiasts Rejoice Over New Courts

Agawam’s Borgatti Field now boasts six pickleball courts, marking a significant milestone since the sport’s introduction to the town in 2015 by Richard Dudek. The latest expansion, including a $277,000 upgrade funded mainly by the Community Preservation Act, adds new courts, a pavilion, picnic tables, and a sidewalk.

Pickleball’s popularity has increased, leading to the construction of additional courts in 2017, funded by local resident John Bakos.

Agawam’s efforts have inspired neighboring communities to build their own courts, alleviating local demand. Dudek, a key figure in Agawam’s pickleball scene, remains an active player and a celebrated pioneer.

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