Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Held for Ed Robson Pickleball Center

Raymond H. Goettsch

On Sept. 2 SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association, Inc. (SPA) held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the expanded and newly constructed pickleball courts. The proceedings began at 7:30 a.m., and a capacity crowd of members and guests attended the ceremony. Guests included Tom Starrs, USA Pickleball District Ambassador for Tucson and Southern Arizona, and SaddleBrooke TWO board members Terese Butler, Joyce Howard, and Campbell Chaney.

The ceremony commenced with the unveiling of the boulder monument on the paved road to the courts. The monument names the court facility as the Ed Robson Pickleball Center.

After the unveiling, the ceremony moved to a stage erected in the Michael Hovan and Shirley Hovan Ramada. There Shawne Cryderman and Jim Schlote, co-chairpersons of the SPA fundraising team, acted as masters of ceremony for a program reviewing the somewhat tortured history of the expansion project. The proposed project was planned eight years earlier and included five years of fundraising. The construction project itself lasted nine months. Shawne underscored that the proposal had become a reality by dramatically tearing up the project drawings, to the cheers of those in attendance.

Jim reviewed the recent events that had accelerated the plan from a proposal to a construction project. He noted that approval by the SaddleBrooke TWO Board making pickleball a SaddleBrooke TWO amenity and the board’s commitment to contribute to the cost of construction was a tipping point for the proposed project. He explained that the building permit and the construction contract followed. While Jim recognized the many donors from the community, he also noted that of the total fundraising of $730,367, the SPA members collectively contributed $427,000. Jim invited the members to give themselves a hand, and they enthusiastically responded.

Shawne returned to the podium, reporting that only one remaining pickleball court was without a sponsor. She then announced that Ed Szympruch would be honored with that remaining court named after him and his wife Carol. As Shawne explained, Ed had been a tireless “Jack of all trades” volunteer during the construction of the courts, ranging from installing signage on the courts and benches to filling potholes in the road. The attendees heartily approved. The attendees were invited to toast the completion of the project with glasses of mimosas or straight orange juice. A ribbon cutting ceremony proceeded for placing signage on Ed’s court.

After the ceremony, all 14 courts were open for play. Almost immediately, the happy clacking of paddles striking pickleballs and the friendly banter of players filled the air with the sounds of pure joy.

In addition to the increased number of courts, the Ed Robson Pickleball Center has paved parking for 60 cars, parking for golf carts, and a ramada with tables, seating, and restrooms. A gala gathering will be held on Nov. 18 at the MountainView Ballroom for all SPA members and invited guests to celebrate the expansion of the Ed Robson Pickleball Center pickleball courts.