We have written much in this magazine about not only the growth of tennis, but also the increased participation in other racquet and paddle sports over the last couple of years. There is perhaps no better example of this expansion than Pickleball, the fun, easy-to-learn sport that has become the go-to sport of choice for many.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 near Seattle, Washington, the brainchild of thee dads, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, who were looking for a new activity for their bored sons during the summer. More than five decades later, the game has grown to feature 4.8 million players in the United States alone.
Played on the same size court as doubles badminton, the playing surface measures 20x44 feet, with a net 36 inches high and 34 inches in the middle, and you can create your own pickleball court, or convert a tennis or badminton court into a pickleball court. The ball used is similar to a wiffle ball with about 26-40 round holes.
“Because pickleball rules are so similar to ping-pong, it can be easy for practically anyone to learn how to play the game,” says USAPickleball.Org, the governing body for pickleball here in the States. “Whether you're a beginner who just wants to learn a new sport for fun, or you're a seasoned player who craves the thrill of more competitive play, pickleball offers something for everyone.”
The game is simple enough for anybody to begin playing and participate in recreationally, but at its highest levels is an extremely fast-paced and competitive sport. That dynamic has made it an overwhelmingly popular activity for people of all ages, and is at the heart of why the sport has dramatically seen participation increase over the last several years.
Photo Credit: Steve Taylor/Digital Spatula
Because of this, pickleball courts are popping up all over the place. Local tennis courts in parks have converted to pickleball courts, while more and more clubs and facilities are offering pickleball programming, leagues and more.
APP Tour Announces Three-Year Agreement to Host Annual Event at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
The Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) Tour announced today an historic three-year agreement to stage the APP New York City Open on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
This year’s event will take place May 25-29 and include a prize purse of $125,000, the largest of any pickleball tournament this year and largest in APP Tour history. It will be the first time the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, will host a pickleball tournament.
“The opportunity to bring the APP Tour to a venue with such rich history and tradition is the culmination of a dream that I had for our tour and players when we launched the APP in 2019,” said Ken Herrmann, founder of the APP Tour. “When we committed to elevating the player experience and investing in the careers of our players, hosting an event at one of the world’s preeminent sporting venues with a record prize pool is the kind of advancement we envisioned. For us to be able to stage an event like this in the mecca of American tennis means so much as we continue to grow our sport here in the United States. We are proud to have the incredible USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center serve as the backdrop for our players as they compete in one of our biggest events of the year.”
“The USTA National Tennis Center is pleased to partner with the APP, the first sanctioned pickleball tour for amateurs and professionals in the United States,” said NTC Chief Operating Officer Daniel Zausner. “The allure of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the rich history and tradition of our sport sets an example that others aspire to emulate.”
The New York City Open is the third of six National Championship Series events on the APP Tour calendar. These important events allow players to compete for an automatic berth to the USA Pickleball Nationals at Indian Wells, Calif., from November 5-13.
Learning More About Pickleball on Long Island with David Radisch
When David Radisch first began playing and teaching Pickleball, the sport carried with it a stigma that it was a sport solely for senior citizens. The notion that it was a sport reserved for retirees down in Florida, or older people looking to remain active.
But if the last few years have proven anything, it is that is not the case at all.
“Things have changed drastically in that regard,” said Radisch. My beginner classes are filled with people in their 30s and 40s, and we are seeing more people who are in their 20s now playing as well. It’s pretty mind boggling to see how the sport has transformed over the years. I have never met anyone who has played and didn’t like it.”
Radisch is one of the leaders of the pickleball surge we have seen here on Long Island. He is an International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) certified instructor, and currently runs the pickleball programming, including events, tournaments and social events, at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. He also runs the Nassau County-Suffolk County Pickleball Group on Facebook, which serves as a virtual meeting place for pickleball enthusiasts here on Long Island.
“We have about 1,600 members now. I love running it simply because of the passion I have for the sport,” said Radisch. “We let all the clubs and facilities post their events or tournaments on the page. I want it to be an open forum, because the more the sport can grow the better it is for everyone involved.”
Radisch has been at the forefront of creating and marketing new events for pickleball which have helped elevate the game’s presence. One of those events was the Power Pickleball Tournament, which featured doubles teams from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as they squared off for state bragging rights.
The event was streamed live on Radisch’s Facebook page, and even he was stunned with the amount of eyeballs that tuned in to watch.
“We got over 12,000 views for that first event,” recalls Radisch. “We promoted it on several sites and social media pages, but it was amazing to see how many people from all across the country were watching.”
The amount of tournaments that are now available for people to play in is remarkable, and the professional events are offering higher and higher prize money amounts. While the professional side of pickleball is certainly growing and expanding, it is the social aspect of the sport which has endeared it to so many different people. It is a welcoming game for athletes of all levels, and people of all ages, creating an exciting activity that keeps people coming back.
At most public parks that have pickleball courts, you don’t have to show up with your own group or doubles teams. Similar to finding a pickup basketball game, you can arrive at a park with your paddle, and find new players to create your own game.
“Most times they have a bucket set up, and you place your paddle in there, and the rule is that the next four paddles in the bucket, that’s who gets the court,” said Radisch. “You don’t have to have your own group to play; you can play almost anytime, anywhere. Because of this it has become much more than a sport, it’s become a lifestyle. I have had so many conversations with people who have made friends with people of all different ages and walks of life through pickleball.”
Radisch has added to the social component of the sport as he runs parties and other events at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. For example, this spring they hosted a 60s-themed event, featuring classic rock music playing, tie-dye shirts, and a banner that read Peace, Love and Pickleball. From beginner levels and social gatherings, to professional tournaments with large prize money, pickleball has arrived and is here to stay. It is an easy sport to get into, but a hard one to let go of, which is the reason behind the staggering number of increased participants in the last couple of years.
“I consider myself very lucky that I was there at the right time to become involved with the sport before it really exploded, and used my business and marketing skills to help transform and promote it,” said Radisch. “There is an event or tournament happening on Long Island almost every weekend, so it is really an exciting time for pickleball here in our community.”
Q&A with Dr. Harry Kent, owner, Pickleball Plus LLC
Why did you create Pickleball Plus?
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country and offers huge health and social benefits to players. I have always been involved in sports, from skiing at age 3 and playing professional baseball at age 17, to being active in 15+ sports throughout my life (and I have six replacement parts in my legs alone to prove it)! I started playing pickleball about three years ago and realized it made me happy. I had spent many years in medical and dental facility development. In that business, people come in for tests and are terrified that they may, and often do, get the worst news. At this point in my life, I wanted to be able to go to a club where I could have fun playing a sport I enjoy. I love to come to the club to see so many happy people enjoying pickleball. We closed on the property last August and my son, Brian, our partners and I completed all the renovations, inside and out, within two months. We were up and running this past October and already have more than 4,000 members. I am fortunate that I am now able to share my love of sports, and specifically pickleball, with others.
What makes the club special?
We are the tri-state’s newest dedicated pickleball facility. To me, Pickleball Plus is a facility like no other; it was designed and built by players and for players. Everything we have done, every change or improvement we have made and continue to make, has been based on the requests and suggestions of our members. Our members wanted lots of room between the courts, so we built eight tournament-sanctioned courts rather than squeezing in a many more. We put in special tournament lighting that makes it easier to see the balls. My staff and I have been working hard to make Pickleball Plus a warm and welcoming home for both play and community. We are dedicated to its success as a vibrant gathering retreat for both experienced and new players.
What are your plans for the club?
The future of our club is member driven. We have already and continue to introduce programs that our members have asked for: ladies leagues, more open and social play, ladders, tournaments, kids programming and much more. Our goal is to make sure Pickleball Plus continues to be a happy place where members come to have fun, enjoy healthy competition, meet new people and enjoy the sport.
Sportime to Operate Pickleball in the Parks
Earlier this year, New York State announced that it had chosen Sportime to operate the tennis and pickleball facility at Hempstead Lake State Park. In addition to 18 tennis courts, the facility is currently home to six dedicated outdoor pickleball courts, with additional pickleball courts to be added in the coming weeks, in time for the summer season.
The team at Sportime has expanded its pickleball footprint here on Long Island and is looking forward to providing players at Hempstead Lake with updated facilities, organized programs and expanded court availability, to accommodate the growing number of local pickleball enthusiasts.
“We know that the pickleball courts at Hempstead Lake have been well utilized, but as the game continues to grow, and as more people looks for places to play, it is clear that additional pickleball courts and programming at Hempstead Lake will both better accommodate existing players, and welcome new players to the facility and to the game,” explained Joe Siegel, Sportime’s Managing Director overseeing the project.
Sportime’s plan is to add four more pickleball courts on the two hard-surface tennis courts adjacent to the existing pickleball center. Sportime will offer both walk-up and advanced reservation options, and will be introducing instructional clinics, private and semi-private lessons and open play sessions. Online registration is strongly encouraged to avoid waiting or disappointment.
“When it was first announced that we would be operating Hempstead Lake, there was a lot of gossip and misinformation on social media, mostly reflecting concerns about pricing and court availability,” explained Siegel. “The truth is, there is nothing about which to be concerned. Court pricing is going up $1 per hour per player, Sportime membership is not required, and Sportime’s professional management of the facility, including a new online reservation system that designates some courts for walk-on play and others for advance reservation, is designed to minimize court waste, or hoarding, and to satisfy and serve more players.”
Sportime clubs have modified their indoor tennis courts at multiple locations to adapt to the growing demand for pickleball that has been sweeping Long Island and the Country. In addition to running special events at their clubs, Sportime will be running tournaments and clinics, open to the public, at Wantagh Park on May 21, July 23 and September 17.
“Pickleball is a game that anyone can learn and start to play quickly. Whether you have played a racket sport, or are brand new to the game, you will have a great time and get a workout,” said Siegel. “It’s a rare game that people can start to play immediately after taking their first clinic or lesson, but with pickleball, this is true for most players: a huge reason why it has become so popular.”
Pickleball Paddle Review: adidas RX44
So you have decided you want to try and pick up Pickleball. You know the rules, but don’t know which paddle to use, or which one fits your game the best. All Racquet Sports is a great source for all of your racquet sport needs including pickleball paddles and other equipments. Below is a product review of the adidas RX44 paddle, which is a great paddle for beginner to intermediate level players.
The adidas RX44 is designed for player’s comfort, providing an excellent feeling in all of your shots thanks to its Fiber Glass surface. The High Density Polypropylene core will make shots more powerful in every phase of the game, while the Spin Blade technology adds spin to your most demanding shots.
The paddle is 16 x 8’’ and is designed for intermediate players. It weighs in around 7.7 – 8.2 ounces and has a great feel in the player’s hand.
Overall, the RX44 provides the best of both worlds, both in terms of comfort in your hand and also the power it allows the player to generate. Check out some testimonials from players who have purchased the paddle and loved it:
“The adidas RX44 is a great paddle for all levels of players. I really like the grip and comfort of the play of the paddle,” said Lynda Rock in a review she wrote on PickleballCentral.Com. “I brought it to a social match of 3.5 players and everyone liked playing with the adidas RX44. We all agreed on the grip comfort, control, and power. The adidas RX44 is a good all around solid paddle.”
Where to Play on Long Island
There is no shortage of places to play, events to participate in, or beginner clinics for you to get started here on Long Island. Below are some of the places we recommend for your pickleball fix this summer:
Bethpage Park Tennis Center
99 Quaker Meeting House Road
Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735
Contact – David Radisch, Radpickleball@gmail.com
Carefree Racquet Club
1414 Jerusalem Ave
Merrick, N.Y. 11566
Contact – Lori D’Antonio, CarefreePickleballBall@gmail.com
Eastern Athletic Club
854 East Jericho Turnpike
Dix Hills, N.Y. 11746
Contact – Susan Dupre, (631) 271-6616
Glen Head Racquet Club
95 Glen Head Road
Glen Head, N.Y. 11545
Contact - Nicolas Schneider
525 Eagle Avenue
West Hempstead, N.Y. 11552
Contact – Harry Kent, email@example.com
Pine Hollow Country Club
6601 Rt 25A
East Norwich, N.Y. 11732
Contact – Alina Volman, firstname.lastname@example.org
320 Abrahams Path
Amagansett, N.Y. 11930
Contact - Hana Sromova, email@example.com
101 Norcross Avenue
Bethpage, N.Y. 11714
Contact - Maria Kinalis/Mike Ahearne,firstname.lastname@example.org
SPORTIME Hempstead Lake
1000 Lake Drive
West Hempstead, NY 11552
Sportime Kings Park
275 Old Indian Head Rd
Kings Park, N.Y. 11754
Contact - Michelle Stoerback, email@example.com
Tennis and Pickleball at The Barn
142 Montauk Highway
Westhampton, N.Y. 11977
Contact – Barry Altman, firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Clubhouse Dr
Commack, N.Y. 11725
Contact – Bruce Moodnik, email@example.com
Upcoming Long Island Tennis Magazine Events
Long Island and New York Tennis Magazines have been running events across the Metropolitan area for over a decade. In addition to our largest event, the New York Tennis Expo, we also operate the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge, New York Beach Tennis Tournaments, Kids' Days, Park Days, Courts & Cocktails, Grow Tennis New York Charity Fundraisers and much more.
We are now proudly entering the world of hosting pickleball tournaments. We will kick off the summer by hosting a prize money tournament in The Hamptons.
Saturday, June 18 Tennis & Pickleball at the Barn
Out in Westhampton, the Hamptons Pickleball Open will be held on Saturday, June 18 at Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn, featuring two divisions of play. The first is a 3.5 Mixed Doubles Division, where winning teams receive adidas Paddles. In the afternoon, the pro division takes to the courts as $2,000 prize money is up for grabs in this 5.0+ Men’s Doubles Division.
Register at LITennisMag.com/HamptonsPickleballOpen
Saturday, September 17 Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn
Be sure to check out LITennisMag.com for more information. We are planning an exciting announcement for this event.