Saturday, December 8, 2018

Published December 7, 2018 -

HOLLY HILL (FL) — The City Commission on Tuesday will vote on economic incentives for a proposed recreational sports facility at Hollyland Park that some say could become the “Wimbledon of Pickleball.”

An Ormond Beach couple has offered to donate $3 million to build the planned 24-court complex at the city’s Hollyland Park.

It would be the second-largest pickleball facility in Florida, trailing only a 50-court facility in Naples.

The target opening date for the Pickleball Daytona of Holly Hill complex is early 2020.

Rainer and Julie Martens are asking the city to contribute $1 million in Community Redevelopment Area funds to cover the project’s infrastructure costs.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Pickleball University Schools Programs

Submitted by Gary Carmichael, Ambassador, Vero Beach, FL

On a hot sunny afternoon in November a group of volunteer members and our own IPTPA certified instructors gathered together at Pocahontas Park in Vero Beach for the purpose of introducing pickleball to eight local physical education teachers.

Pickleball University decided earlier this year that we wanted to take the sport of pickleball into our local schools in Indian River County, so you may ask how did we make this happen?  Our club's Board of Directors lead by club president, Mari Colacino, identified a small core group of our players to form a "Schools/Juniors" committee.  Together they developed a plan to raise money, purchase equipment, identify and train volunteer club members who assist our professional instructors.

Over time our club members started reaching out to friends and friends or friends involved in our local schools at all levels to seek out teachers and identify school physical education programs that expressed some interest in pickleball.  Sounds easy enough right?  About as easy as hitting a successful around-the-post pickleball shot!

The group of PE teachers that came out to our courts on that hot November afternoon had a great time learning what pickleball is all about.  To a person they expressed a sincere desire to teach our great sport to their students.

Our committee hopes to continue its good work into the new year by expanding our youth programs i the district and beyond.  The $1100 we raised were used to purchase w24 paddles, four portable nets, dozens of balls and a portable storage box to be circulated and used by our schools in Indian River County.  Our club's mission now is to grow and strengthen our partnership with the school district and together pass our love of this great sport onto the students.  Our vision is to have every child be able to learn how to play pickleball.  It is a sport that can be played for a lifetime!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pickleball comes to Pinedale

Published October 17, 2018 -

Members of the Enterprise Parks and Recreation Department made a stop at Pinedale on Oct. 16 to introduce students to pickleball, a unique sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis.

According to Enterprise Parks and Recreation Programs Coordinator Guillian Hunt, the department began offering pickleball as an activity last year and it has gained popularity since.

She said this is part of an initiative to introduce the sport to students at local schools as an alternative to typical sports such as basketball, football and baseball.

“I learned pickleball when I was in physical education classes in Virginia, and it was something different from all the sports you were doing over and over, every day, each year,” Hunt said. “It ended up being something that my whole family enjoyed and became a great family sport for us.”
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Green Cove Springs serves pickleball program to public

Published September 12, 2018 -

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - Twice a week inside Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym laughter and cheering can be heard against the rhythmic pop of racquetball-style paddles lobbing what looks like large ping-pong balls over a tennis net.

It’s the sound of Green Cove Springs swinging into the growing sport of pickleball.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It’s played on a tennis court with smaller boundaries, and players use a large paddle to hit a large, yellow plastic ball with holes over the tennis net to gain points.

The program is led by Green Cove Springs Parks and Recreation Program Director Glee Glisson, a competitive pickleball player. With Tim Murphy, music minister of First Baptist Church in Middleburg, Glisson has competed and won several pickleball tournaments in both age and skill level brackets.

“If you want to be competitive, you can do it at all levels,” said Glisson. “You can play this sport as easy as you want or as competitive as you want.”

CLICK HERE to read more.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Pickleball Pride in Hiawassee, GA

The 68th year of the "Hiawassee Parade" kicked off on July 21, 2018 with the theme of "Hometown Pride."  Over 70 players from the Georgia Mountain Pickleball Club participated and the awesome float can be viewed on YouTube here.

On the float, you will see the "pickle" and "ball" characters waving at the crowd and promoting the sport as we move along the route towards the fairgrounds.We had many that volunteered for this float project and worked numerous hours to get it completed on time.

Beth McCoy had a vision and worked tirelessly on the entire project for weeks, including making her own "Ball" costume! She was the driving force behind the project.

Many others volunteered numerous hours----Dean McCoy, Blake Harper, Virginia Steiner (dance coordinator), Tammy Lentini, Mark Petty and Eddie Palmer as the "pickle." As always, our Ambassador, John Hall who devotes an enormous amount of time for all things pickleball in Towns County participated in every aspect, including walking the 2 miles with the float to the parade end.

The small demo net that was pulled behind the float for demonstrating the sport was a classic, thanks to Blake Harper.

We also had 70 players that donated their time to walk with the float and interact with the parade goers the entire 2 miles on a hot July day.

Unfortunately, we didn't place in the contest for best float, but no one had more energy or volunteers then the pickleball float!  

Since the parade, we have had new players flocking to the courts on Saturday mornings for the novice classes. That is what you call "pickleball success!"

CLICK HERE to read more.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Welter, teammates earn pickleball gold medals in Ohio, Michigan

Published August 17, 2018 -

Cape Coral resident Mike Welter participated in the Michigan Senior Olympics in pickleball this past weekend. He won gold in singles and gold in mixed doubles with Nancy Robertson of Naples and took bonze with Glenn Geda of Michigan. Last month Welter participated in the Ohio State Senior Games and took gold in singles and gold in mixed doubles with North Fort Myers resident Bobbi Little, and took silver with Denny Vincent of Columbus, Ohio, and a part-time resident of Naples.

These games were both qualifiers for the National Senior Games in June, 2019, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Rookie gets schooled in a game of pickleball

Published June 18, 2018 -

A little over a month ago, a friend and I were working out at a local YMCA and could not help but notice how much fun a big group of people were having playing what looked like a smaller version of tennis in the gym.

So we went in, were handed a set of paddles and given a crash course on pickleball.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

In fact, it has become a new facet of my fitness journey — one that has seen me drop 115 pounds in the last year and a half. That weight loss helped my agility on the small courts — enough to chase that little whiffle ball down for corner shots.

Fast forward a few weeks to an email inviting me to come out for a morning of pickleball at Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, a chance to experience the outdoor game for the first time.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Southwest Florida scores again with U.S. Open Pickleball Championships

Published April 1, 2018 -

It’s fairly easy to assess the dollar impact of a large event – like the Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships – on the community. This is the third year in Naples for the championship, scheduled for April 21-28.

Jack Wert, executive director and CEO of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, cites an industry standard formula used for sporting events to project that the competition will bring in $3 million. And it gets extra points with the county because it takes place well after Easter, the traditional end of snowbird season. That means more money to the area in what could have been a meager time.

The expected total for 2018 builds on about $2 million from 2016, when 800 players entered; then about $2.5 million in 2017, with 1,200 players. The 2,000 players expected this year, plus spectators, spend money on hotel rooms, dinners, souvenirs and in some cases, homes in Southwest Florida.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Pickleball Clubs partner with Gift of Life Marrow Registry to Save Lives

Published March 27, 2018 -

A dedicated group of volunteers from the Delray Beach Pickleball Club and the Valencia Palms Gift of Life Club held the 2nd Annual Round Robin Pickleball Tournament benefiting Gift of Life Marrow Registry on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.

More than 100 players and spectators, including marrow donors, transplant recipients and volunteers joined together to help those battling blood diseases and in need of a transplant find their lifesaving marrow matches.

For many patients suffering from leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers there is hope of a cure through a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant. Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, but 70 percent of patients do not have a related match and must search the worldwide registry for a volunteer donor.

Those attending the event included two-time marrow donor Matthew Hocherman of Boca Raton and Barbara Goodman of Boynton Beach, whose life was saved through a bone marrow transplant. Gift of Life Founder and CEO Jay Feinberg presented medals to the tournament winners. The medalists were Michael Krooks and Arnie Weinberg – gold, David Amrani and Mark Vogel – silver and Tobias Kaye and Arthur Stein - bronze.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pickleball tourney draws players from around the South

Published March 4, 2018 -

More than 100 players from as far away as Macon and Birmingham, Alabama, took over Thornton Recreation Center for the inaugural Rome (GA) Pickleball Classic.

The four-day event wrapped up Sunday.

“It’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the country right now,” said organizer JP Selle, the tennis director at Coosa Country Club.

Over the past few years, it has become a staple at both the country club and at Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation facilities.

Played with a paddle and a plastic ball, pickleball combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. According to Lisa English and Logan Yerbey — who trounced their finals opponents in mixed doubles — it’s the sport Baby Boomers have been looking for.

What makes it such a great fit?

CLICK HERE to read more.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Cape Coral resident claims three gold medals in pickleball at the Lee County 2017 Senior Games

Published February 23, 2018 -

Cape Coral resident Mike Welter recently successfully defended his three Lee County 2017 Senior Games Pickleball titles at the WaKeHatchee indoor pickleball courts.

Welter took the gold medal in singles in the men's 65-69 age category. He then teamed up with Randy Hall of Indian Creek to take the gold medal in the men's doubles age 65-69 division. Finally, he teamed up with Bobbi Little of North Fort Myers to win the gold medal in the mixed doubles age 60-64 division. He did not lose a match during this tournament.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

AAU Pickleball Serves First-Ever Event in Florida

Published February 6, 2018 -

The AAU Englewood Chill Blast Pickleball Tournament made history this weekend as the first-ever pickleball event hosted for AAU members. (What the heck is pickleball?!) More than 180 athletes from 31 states - ranging from age 19 to 75 - competed on Florida's west coast as part of the Florida Pickleball League.

'We were so excited to host the Inaugural AAU Pickleball Tournament,' said Sindee Snow, AAU Pickleball National Chair. 'Our best success comes from the individuals who participated in the event. We are looking forward to growing the sport in all ages through the country using the AAU platform.'

CLICK HERE to read more.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Pickleball Booms in Southwest Florida

Published February 2, 2018 -

The Southern Tropics Tournament Series kicked off in December with the Florida State Pickleball Championships. The Winter Classic represents the second leg of the series.

Five hundred ninety-two pickleball players competed in the East Naples Winter Classic held January 26th-28th at East Naples Community Park. Players of all ages and skill levels ranging from 3.0-5.0 participated. The organized event, well-staffed with volunteers, ran smoothly and on time as all 44 pickleball courts were busy with action. Although the blustery days proved to be a bit of a challenge, the players persevered…and those who persevered the most came away with a medal.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

70-year-old St. Pete pickleballer overcomes adversity

Published January 24, 2018 -

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking to Dean Refakes for the first time is like talking to an old friend.

The 70-year-old part-time St. Pete resident and Chicago native has the relaxed and upbeat demeanor of a favorite golfing buddy or dinner companion, as he happily recalls tales of his athletic exploits and his medical setbacks, both of which there are many. Refakes, known as “Clean Dean,” also intersperses his conversations with comments about his love of life and especially for his three daughters, whom he raised following a divorce and calls “the apples of his eye.”

That positive attitude has helped Dean overcome a litany of physical setbacks, from broken bones to balky knees and hips, to become a high-level baseball, basketball, tennis and now pickleball player, as well as a symbol for perseverance and determination for people of all ages.

“I’ve had a very nice life, and I try to enjoy it,” Refakes said shortly after winning a gold medal in pickleball at the 2017 Florida Senior Games in Clearwater in December. “My daughters are healthy, they graduated from college, and I’ve never had a problem with them. I’ve been blessed.”

CLICK HERE to read more.