Relishing Pickleball: At Ballenisles, It’s All The Rage

Even though the sport was invented in 1965, it seems as though pickleball came out of nowhere just a couple of years ago and took the country by storm. Many resorts and private clubs saw the trend and started modifying tennis courts to meet demand. Now, at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a new seven-court dedicated pickleball complex has opened, and it seems that the sport is here to stay, complementing one of the top tennis programs in the country. “Pickleball is here to stay and we are ensuring our pickleball facilities meet and exceed our members’ expectations,” said BallenIsles’ Director of Racquet Sports Gary Henderson. “We see ourselves as leading the way in the country club industry with the opening of our new dedicated complex, which complements our incredible tennis facility and program.” The courts opened for play on December 9, followed by a grand opening celebration on December 22. After the ribbon-cutting, pickleball exhibitions were held, featuring the No. 1 ladies team in the world, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters, and JW Johnson, winner of the APP Next Generation Masters and the best player in the world under 23 years old. Additional exhibitions included Henderson, Head Tennis Professional Andrei Daescu — a top player in the country himself — along with former No.2 in the world at doubles Ellis Ferreira, and former No. 7 in the world and two-time champion Johan Kriek.

“The new complex extends our previous pickleball offering from two stand-alone courts to nine in total.”

“We’ve received rave reviews and praise from the membership,” Henderson said. “The new complex extends our previous pickleball offering from two stand-alone courts to nine in total.”
The new complex was completed in typical BallenIsles style, offering members the opportunity to play early in the morning until late in the evening, having the latest LED lighting, drink stations, comfortable seating areas, and beautiful landscaping which complements the entirety of the BallenIsles community. “The new pickleball facility is outstanding,” commented Steve Rosner, member and active pickleball participant at the club. “The quality and details of the overall complex just have members so excited. We are very much looking forward to the continued growth of our pickleball community at BallenIsles, and this complex is only going to add to the growing excitement of the game.” 


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FACING DOWN the bored dispositions of several family members and friends lounging about on a summer afternoon on Bainbridge Island near Seattle in the summer of 1965, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell were looking for a way to entertain their crew.

Searching for badminton equipment that could be used on the old badminton court on Pritchard’s property, they scrounged up several ping pong paddles and a Wiffle ball, and on that dusty court in the summer of 1965, boredom was vanquished and pickleball was born.

As of 2019, more than 3.3 million Americans had taken up pickleball according to Sports and Fitness Association’s 2019 annual report, with numbers rapidly approaching 4 million today. The sport is on-pace to grow by at least a half-million players each year, and likely more. Pickleball statisticians and enthusiasts are predicting worldwide participation to be high enough for the sport to be an Olympic event in 2028.

In addition to a short learning curve, pickleball provides a beneficial physical workout for a wide range of ages and abilities. Compared to tennis (which it often is, due to the similar look of the court and the use of a racquet/paddle and a ball), the court is smaller, requiring less range of motion and causing less stress on muscles, tendons and joints; the paddle is lighter than a tennis racquet; and the ball travels slower and bounces higher. Pickleball also offers a varied pace of play, even within individual matches, and a 15-minute session can give the body some great exercise.

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