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The Wenatchee Racquet and Athletic Club has closed down all of its outside courts on Monday, March 23, 2020.

WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Racquet & Athletic Club announced Monday it would have to close down its outdoor pickleball and tennis courts. After an outcry on social media that the club was violating the mandate against having too many people gathered at the facility, WRAC general manager Evy Gillin said they sought a clarification from the Chelan-Douglas Health District on the matter.

“In a conversation with a health district representative, they have informed us they have changed their position and are now treating the outdoor facility at the WRAC as a recreational facility, and, according to the governor’s mandate, recreational facilities are to be shut down,” she said.

The news came as a surprise. Gillin said they were doing everything in their power to comply with the state mandate. They still feel like they were doing things correctly, but at this point, she said they have no choice but to halt court activity.

Members are being informed they can no longer play on their courts.

Drop-in pickleball was being offered in the afternoons on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and in the evenings on Tuesday and Thursday, with weekend times blocked out as well. Drop-in tennis was offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday at midday.

Gillin said the WRAC was taking steps to make sure the players were safe.

“We were offering drop-in play not program play. Those people who were coming were doing so at their own accord. We were going to space out to have only one match per two courts on a five-acre facility, but that is not enough,” Gillin said. “We were providing gloves and sanitation and following protocols with distancing between players and informing them of this.”

Only new balls were being used for pickleball.

"The balls were to be new and thrown away once they were used. Gloves were distributed to players to handle the ball in their off hand, so they did not contact the ball directly,” she said.

At most, Gillian said they can handle 36 pickleball players on their courts at any one time.

Complaints from social media were taken to heart by the WRAC.

“There was some misinformation. The basis of the comments was hard to take, but we went to the health department for directive on this. We have been all along. We’re trying to comply the best we can,” Gillin said.

Most of the complaints centered around the number of people at the facility one time. It was argued there were 50 people there.

“I don’t when they looked or what was going on at that particular time. It could have been when people were coming and going. There was no event or special invitation for people to come out and play at a particular time,” she said.

Gillin said people are looking for outlets for exercise. Area parks are busy too with people wanting to get some fresh air and exercise. This was an alternative for that, she said.

"We’re trying to be cognizant of allowing the time for this virus to take its course and try to keep our members as healthy as possible, but it’s a disappointment it’s not being allowed as an alternative and we’re being lumped into the larger group because it very difficult to identify these things individually and treat them individually,” Gillin said.

Gillin said she has heard from many club members. Most are appreciative of the fact the WRAC was trying to stay open. She sent an email to all members Monday afternoon to update them on the situation.

At present, the only thing the WRAC can offer the community at his time are the videos of instructors doing classes they normally would do at the club.

Ian Dunn: 664-7157