Francestown July 4 celebration includes pickleball tourney

The new pickleball courts in Francestown will host a tournament July 4.

The new pickleball courts in Francestown will host a tournament July 4. PHOTO BY BOB BITTERLI

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 06-28-2023 10:33 AM

Bob Bitterli is a recent convert to pickleball.

It started after he moved to Francestown in April 2022, when the man who painted his cabinets, Bruce Dennis, told him about the game. He started playing in October, including in Peterborough, and called it a hard game to master, but one people can pick up quickly.

“You can make it what you want it to be,” he said. “You can make it a fast-paced game, or you can make it a slower net game.”

As part of his efforts to organize Francestown’s July 4 celebration, Bitterli, a member of the town’s Recreation Commission, included a pickleball tournament from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re hoping this local tournament will bring more people to the courts,” he said.

The town’s two pickleball courts are on one of the old tennis courts at 50 Old County Road South -- an old court that Bitterli said was in rough shape and wasn’t being used – after a plan to convert it was approved about a month-and-a-half ago.

“We now have an active court. Our kitchens are painted,” he said, referring to the area near the net where players are not allowed to stand while volleying the ball. “One of them is blue and the other is yellow.”

Dennis, who plays in Peterborough, taught a session on the basics and rules in Francestown. Bitterli said four to six people play two or three times a week on the new courts, and although there have been conflicts between tennis and pickleball players elsewhere over court space and noise, Bitterli said nothing of the sort has happened in Francestown.

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“We have some tennis converts now playing pickleball, so that’s all good,” he said.

There was no July 4 event in Francestown last year, and Bitterli said it was the first time he and his wife, both veterans, had never lived anywhere where there wasn’t one. While putting together this year’s event, he decided it needed an anchor aside from the barbecue, which is where the idea for the pickleball tournament came from.

The tournament, which Bitterli hopes will be ongoing, will be a round-robin doubles format, with players partnering with all other participants. Paddles and balls will be provided.

The winner will be determined by whoever scores the most total points in their games. For example, if two players score eight points in the game they play together, and then score seven and six points, respectively, in their next game with new partners, the first player would have 15 total points and the second player 14.

As for the July 4 celebration, it starts at 3 p.m. at the ball fields at 70 Old County Road South with the opening ceremony and reading of the Declaration of Independence. There will be children’s games from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and activities include a skate and bike demonstration at 3:30 p.m., the hot dog-eating contest at 4 p.m., a patriotic pet parade at 4:30 p.m. and home run derby from 5 to 6:15 p.m.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks and popsicles will be available from 3 to 6 p.m.

Evening events at Town Hall start with apple pie delivery and judging at 6 p.m., awards at 6:30 p.m., a Town Hall dance from 7 to 9 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m.