Relishing Pickleball

David Zapatka, USAPA rating committee member

“You’ll be seeing more than tennis on the Tennis Channel. You’ll soon be seeing pickleball.”

Last month at the start of the BNP Paribas tournament, the decision to host the USAPA National Championships for the next five years was announced on television by the mayor of Indian Wells, California, with the quote above. To see this video live from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1340630926008388/permalink/1898064466931695/.

Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home of the BNP Paribas tennis tournament, one of the largest tennis tournaments in the world and known as the “fifth major,” is bringing the largest sanctioned pickleball tournament to its hallowed grounds, the USAPA National Championships. Billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Larry Ellison, owner of the world-renowned Indian Wells Tennis Garden, has signed a five-year agreement with the USAPA to host our national tournament 2018–2022. The tournament will be held November 3-11 this year. The Indian Wells Tennis Garden features the second largest tennis stadium in the world, an impressive 16,100-seat Stadium 1 as well as an equally impressive 8,000-seat Stadium 2. There are 28 world-class courts and will soon be adding championship pickleball courts to the site.

In the words of Rodney “Rocket” Grubbs, owner of Pickleball Rocks, “The USAPA has hit a home run. We don’t know all the details as of yet, but what we do know is all good.” A core group of members have been playing pickleball for some time, injecting enthusiasm and new energy into the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Even Larry Ellison has been seen at the Garden playing and enjoying pickleball.

What do we know? Larry Ellison does nothing on a small scale. He has spent tens of millions of dollars to make the Garden a world-class tennis facility. He purchased $30 million worth of land adjacent to the Garden. He wouldn’t be bringing our national tournament to his site if he didn’t believe in making it a first-class event. The real question is this: Will the 40+ courts needed to run our national tournament be dedicated courts and if not, how many temporary courts will we be playing on this year?

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]