Relishing Pickleball

Notice the rare and exciting Ernie shot made by Scott Moore in the picture. This is a shot made by a player stepping outside the non-valley zone and hit right at the net.

National Championship has record attendance

David Zapatka

Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells, CA. The Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships were held November 3-11. Many Sun Lakes residents attended as participants and spectators. A record 2200+ participants from around the country and world played nearly 5,000 matches. $75,000 in prize money was the highest in the history of the sport. This year was the first of a five-year contract USAPA has with the Indian Wells Tennis Garden where 45 dedicated courts were in perfect condition. The tournament was first class. The brackets ran on time. The PA system was clear and audible. The food was excellent. The match drama and intensity on center court, where there was seating for over 1,000 spectators, as well as the adjacent courts with comfortable seating, was at a fever pitch all week long. Margaritaville, the headline sponsor, is a global lifestyle brand inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and best-selling author Jimmy Buffett.

Tennis professionals flooded the tournament making their presence known in every division at every level. Two Americans defeated two Russians in the Women’s Open final. A quarterfinal Men’s Open match pitted an ex-Romanian national team member against an ex-Polish national team member. The Mixed Doubles Open final pitted a Russian woman against a Brazilian woman. All are tennis teaching professionals in the U.S. Perennial contenders Jennifer and Steve Dawson, owners of the famous Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in southern California, a pickleball mecca, and their son Callan made their presence known finishing 5th in the Senior Mixed Open, 1st in the Senior Women’s Open, 7th in the Senior Men’s Open and 5th in the Men’s Open doubles.

Friend and frequent opponent Rodney “Rocket” Grubbs of, the largest pickleball shirt distributor in the U.S., told me he’s selling about 700 pickleball shirts per week. Jimmy Blue of, the largest paddle distributor in the U.S., told me they’re selling about 3,000 paddles per week. Pickleball continues to grow at an astronomical rate.

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected]