Relishing Pickleball

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The sweet sound of pickleball is making its way into tennis resorts and resort hotels around the country.

Playing in the Marriott Desert Ridge Holiday Classic SSIPA Tournament in North Phoenix the first week of December, I was introduced to a beautiful resort sporting tennis and pickleball courts adjacent to each other. Having played USTA tennis leagues around the valley for years, this resort was familiar to me, as our Sun Lakes tennis team would travel to play the Marriott’s men’s tennis team. It looks very different. Three of the eight tennis courts have been converted to 12 pickleball courts. The courts were filled to capacity with high-energy pickleball players for three days as the Super Senior International Pickleball Association, SSIPA, held it’s first of six tournaments in the Valley this season.

It was interesting to discover the Marriott, a well-respected, high-end resort, would make the decision to convert tennis courts to pickleball courts. Speaking with the Marriott representative at the tournament, it was disclosed that Marriott Resort Hotels all over the country are installing pickleball courts to meet the high demand for the sport. This is giving the Marriott an edge over their competition.

Another interesting development is the number of high-end tennis resorts around the country putting pickleball courts in their facilities. Tennis pros are discovering this brings in more clientele, and they can sell lessons, clinics, equipment, apparel, league and tournament participation. Since 16 pickleball players play in the same space as four tennis players, the return on the cost of the real estate is enhanced.

Marcin Rozpedski, director of tennis at The Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, CA, Poland’s former No. 1 tennis player and Victoria Azarenka’s hitting partner when she became the No. 1 tennis player in the world, won the 2016 USAPA National Championship men’s singles title. He built six dedicated pickleball courts in the country club responding to members’ demands.

Steve and Jennifer Dawson, tennis pros and owners of the world-famous Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in Encinitas, CA, built four pickleball courts in their facility. They both play pickleball professionally, as do their children. I have had the privilege of playing Steve and son Dawson at the USAPA National Championships. Unfortunately, it was they who won the event! Mom Jennifer was the triple-crown winner at the 2017 U.S. Open Pickleball Championships this year!