Vellano Park tennis court

The tennis court nestled in Vellano Park with wide-open views of the valley will close Monday to be retrofitted for pickleball courts. 

Pickleball enthusiasts are off the sidelines and into the limelight after almost four years of urging the City of Chino Hills to pay attention to the growing popularity of the game and build permanent courts.

On Monday, the tennis court at Vellano Park will close so that construction can begin on four permanent pickleball courts. 

Estimated completion date is late September 2021.

The 3.5-acre Vellano Park on Aviano Lane is on the south side of Woodview Road, just outside the Vellano development. It is a city-owned neighborhood park, open to the community. 

Other amenities include a playground and tot lot, full basketball court, barbecues, picnic areas, two gazebos that can be reserved for parties, restrooms, a large grass area, and a dirt trail.

Popularity surges

Pickleball combines badminton, ping pong and tennis. A lightweight ball, comparable to a Wiffle ball, is hit over a net with paddles.

A surge in pickleball activity during the pandemic and continued requests from residents convinced the community services department to recommend the conversion of the tennis court at Vellano to pickleball courts in February.

The city considered Torrey Pines Park, south of Los Serranos Country Club Drive, in fall 2019 for four pickleball courts but the park’s price tag exceeded $850,000 and the project was placed on hold when the pandemic hit, with no timetable.

Recreational pickleball is currently played on Grand Avenue Park’s hockey rink. 

Lighting

Several residents and parks and recreation commissioners requested lighting for those who like to play after work in the fall and winter, but officials estimated at the time that it could cost between $30,000 and $35,000.

Community services director Jonathan Marshall said Thursday the city is in conversations with a lighting vendor on costs. 

A timeline for installing lights has not yet been determined, he said.

Chino Hills resident Michael Orduno, who along with Chino Hills pickleball ambassador and advocate Steve Zalai have been the most fervent in their quest for courts, said pickleball players are grateful the courts are going to be built.

“I believe the city realizes that pickleball is here to stay,” Mr. Orduno said. “We currently play at Maple Hills Park in Diamond Bar where they built four permanent courts and they are used every day, both mornings and evenings.”

He hopes the city will consider other locations for permanent courts such as Grand Avenue Park where there is ample parking, lights, and restrooms.

Tennis enthusiasts who play at Vellano will find alternative tennis courts at Crossroads Park at Chino Hills Parkway near Carbon Canyon Road, Grand Avenue Park on Grand Avenue near Pleasant Hill Drive, and Hope for the Hills Park on Avenida Cabrillo off Eucalyptus Avenue.

For questions or more information on the pickleball conversion project, visit chinohills.org/VellanoPark or contact the community services department at (909) 364-2710.

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