Tags Articles tagged with "pickleball"


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Though construction is already underway, ground was officially broken for outdoor pickleball courts at Copper Sky  Tuesday. Maricopa City Councilmember Marvin Brown, from left, joins Vice Mayor Henry Wade, pickleball ambassador Rocky Myers, Mayor Christian Price and Councilmember Nancy Smith to turn dirt. The facility will have six pickle ball courts.

Crews start construction of pickleball courts at Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

Almost a year ago, pickleball aficionados in Maricopa learned they would at last realize their dream of having dedicated courts for their sport.

The City of Maricopa set aside more than $400,000 for six pickleball courts. This week, crews began construction next to the skate park at Copper Sky.

Ironically, Rocky Myers, the face of the drive for more pickleball, was not in town when the announcement was made in May. It took him and his fellow players by surprise.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said. “You could have picked me up off the pavement.”

No Pollyanna, however, he’s keeping his expectations grounded. He has been keeping a watchful eye on the process as the City prepares to follow through on the promise of the budget.

The plans are not everything he would like to see, like the ability to host state-level tournaments.

“I’m real excited to get the courts, but it’s disappointing,” he said. “We need at least 10 courts for a tournament.”

As planned, there is room for only six courts between the skate park and the tennis courts. Each court has a 44-by-20 feet playing area inside a fenced area of 64-by-34 feet, “to execute all possible shots” including around the post, Myers said.

He started his campaign for pickleball courts three years ago as the popularity of the sport become more apparent. Up to this point, the city tried to accommodate players by restriping basketball/volleyball courts inside the multigenerational complex and allowing players to use tennis courts, which Myers said was not ideal because of the different net dimensions.

The plans include a 10-foot-wide, covered walkway between courts to create shade for benches and a place to rest. The perimeter is expected to be an eight-foot chain link fence.

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Will LaHousse directs Desert Wind students in the rules of pickleball. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Pickleball aficionados proclaim it to be the fastest growing sport in America, expected to reach 8 million by the end of the year. In Maricopa, it is estimated over 1,000 adults and kids have learned to play. Five days a week, they take over half the gym space at Copper Sky, with players waiting in line for a game. Official pickleball ambassadors Rocky Myers and Will LaHousse have gathered their friends to teach the game at local middle schools.

8-88: Ages of pickleball players in Maricopa
8-9: Ounces a pickleball paddle weighs
9: Pickleball courts at Province
44×20: Dimensions in feet of a pickleball court
99.9: Percentage of Maricopa pickleball matches played in doubles
550: Maricopa Wells and Desert Wind Middle School students taught in 2017

“It was last year, I went to the school superintendent and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to introduce pickleball,’” Myers said. “And then I got a call [from Desert Wind], so that’s when we came down.”

DWMS seventh grader Adrian Caro is a natural at other sports and picked up pickleball pretty quickly. “It’s kinda cool, I guess,” he said.

The game is played indoors at Copper Sky Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is played outside on the tennis courts at Pacana Park and Copper Sky and on the nine private pickleball courts at Province.

For many months, Myers has been campaigning for outdoor courts dedicated to pickleball at Copper Sky, so residents can play in the evenings and weekends.

“There are 3-4 dozen avid Maricopa players that go every week or several times a week to nearby cities to play,” he said. “Indoor play is great, but it doesn’t compare to playing outside.”

In March, local players will provide free pickleball lessons on the tennis courts at Copper Sky. Sessions are planned for March 3, March 10 and March 17 from 10 a.m. to noon. Paddles and balls will be provided.



This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Bryan Mitchell, 88, plays pickleball twice a week at Copper Sky. Photo by Victor Moreno


Bryan Mitchell will be 89 years old in April. A retired executive, he takes physical fitness seriously. On his own or with new friends, he has a fitness regimen for every week day.

“I watch my diet so that I get the right foods, but I don’t necessarily cut back on the sweets, so I gotta keep working at it,” he said.

A resident of the Redwood neighborhood of Glennwilde, Mitchell came to Maricopa after his 2015 retirement. It was actually his second retirement.

A native of Chicago, he worked his first career there with what was then the A.C. Neilsen Company (now The Neilsen Corporation). As a controller in the mid-‘80s, he was among staff transferred to New York. After two years, the struggling company reorganized and laid off those employees.

Opting not to return to Chicago, Mitchell took early retirement and became a real estate broker. It was his occupation for 28 years in New York, even after his wife died in 2012. He finally called it quits at the age of 86.

His daughter, Susan Bellfield, had moved to Maricopa to be near friends around 2005. She thought the community would be a good fit for her father. So, when she stayed with him after his retirement, she talked him into moving to Arizona.

“I like the weather here,” he said. “And it’s less expensive to live here.”

Attributing Mitchell’s long, independent life at least in part to physical activity is an easy assumption. He used to play tennis and racquetball. Once he moved to Maricopa, he was ready to try something new both for activity and society.

He heard talk at his church about one of the congregants playing pickleball in Province, and he set out to find out what it was and where it might be available to non-Province residents.

That led him to Copper Sky, where he fell in with a motley crew.

“I enjoyed it right from the beginning,” Mitchell said. “It took me a little while to learn it, but it’s really a lot of fun. I look forward to it. They’re a great bunch of people here, too. They’re a lot of fun to play with.”

Now he plays pickleball with a growing group of players at Copper Sky on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, he hits the treadmill at home, where he lives with “a little dog that’s about as old as I am in dog years.”

Mitchell promotes the benefits of pickleball to others looking for light recreation to stay active.

“It’s a great sport for almost any age and any condition,” he said. “You have people who are overweight, people who are underweight, old people, younger people. It’s good for everybody. And you get good exercise from it because they run you around.”

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.


PPP's David Killen (third from left) winning gold in pickleball doubles in Spain. Submitted photo

Spain hosted two international pickleball tournaments in mid-September, and six Province Pickleball Players (PPP) participated.

The Bainbridge Cup pitted North America against Europe. With all six PPPs competing, North America overwhelmed the European team 200-102.

The Spanish Open is a competition where age and skill level determines the brackets. In the Spanish Open, held at the Ciudad De La Raqueta Club in Madrid, Province competitors won six medals, three of which were gold.

 . David Killen won gold in 65-plus men’s doubles & 60-plus mixed doubles.
· Randal Robb won gold in the men’s 50-plus doubles.
· Will LaHousse (vice president of PPP) received a silver medal in 60-plus mixed doubles.
· Beth Sulek-LaHousse garnered a bronze medal in women’s 55-plus doubles.
· Fay Bruns won a bronze medal in the women’s 60-plus doubles.

Twenty countries competed, and PPP had the most participants of any club. The 2018 Bainbridge Cup will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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Jesse Eyman, Timmy Delgadillo and Stephen Eyman are among Maricopa pickleball players who will compete in Nationals VIII in Casa Grande. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Four young men from Maricopa, including two teens, will compete in the USA Pickleball Association’s Nationals tournament in Casa Grande Nov. 5-14.

Three Eyman brothers are playing along with 14-year-old Timmy Delgadillo, who is the youngest Maricopa representative in the field. All live in Thunderbird Farms. Delgadillo and James Eyman, 18, will compete in the juniors division, while Jesse and Stephen Eyman (23 and 20, respectively) play in the men’s division.

Maricopa’s other competitors are all 50 and older.

Jesse Eyman said he and his brothers were introduced to pickleball just three months ago while at Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex.

“We saw some people playing and thought, ‘What is that?’ and ‘That looks like fun,’” he said.

They quickly got hooked on the upstart sport and bought their own gear.

Delgadillo faces players from California, Utah, Nevada, Florida and Arizona in his age group. He said he wants to compete “for the experience.” James Eyman is guaranteed at least a bronze, with only three competitors in the junior men’s singles for ages 17-18.

Jesse and Stephen Eyman are taking on a crowded field in men’s doubles for the age 19+ division.

Among the 50+ players representing Maricopa are Jeff Whipple, Peter Lavigueur, Bruce McClain and David Killen.

The Nationals VIII will be on courts at the Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, which has 32 pickleball courts. Last year, more than 800 competed.

Pickleball is played inside at Copper Sky on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 pm. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Outdoors, the tennis courts at Copper Sky and Pacana are available to be converted to pickleball any time, as long as no tennis players are waiting. Province has nine pickleball courts.


This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Pickleball players in Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

For a couple of years now, a passion for pickleball has been apparent in Maricopa. It has now reached the point that aficionados are asking the City of Maricopa for courts of their own.

The pickleballers’ estimated cost of eight dedicated pickleball courts is $200,000.

Pickleball ambassador and advocate Rocky Myers is convinced having a bigger pickleball presence will be a boost to the Maricopa economy.

“It will bring in more retirees, and pretty soon retirees will make up one in five of the population,” Myers said.

He said he knew families that moved out of Sun Lakes because there were not enough pickleball courts.

Myers is afraid the same could happen in Maricopa.

“Right now pickleball is really growing but there is no place to play,” he said. “There’s plenty of room there at Copper Sky. If they build courts, people will come.”

Maricopan pickleballers have three mornings a week to use half of the gymnasium at Copper Sky, with pickleball lines interspersed with markings from other sports and a surface they do not consider ideal. Outside, they try to play on the tennis courts, which have a net that is too high.

“It’s hard on the tennis players, too,” said Robert Matysiak, 68. “They try to accommodate us, but it’s their court.”

Two years ago, the city added pickleball markings to its tennis courts at Pacana Park.

Pickleball has rules similar to tennis, badminton and ping pong. It was created in the 1960s in Washington.

Matysiak said one of the reasons he enjoys pickleball is the close proximity of the opponents.

“We can talk to each other and joke across the net,” he said. “In tennis, you have to yell across the court.”

It is also not as demanding on the body as tennis while still providing exercise and health benefits. In Maricopa, pickleball first scored in the 55+ community of Province, which was where Myers was introduced to it.

Locally, that has given pickleball the reputation of being a retirees’ game, but Margo Malouf wants to see younger players in Maricopa.

Malouf is also an ambassador, an official title with the USA Pickleball Association.

“When you go around the country, you see a lot of young adults and kids playing,” she said.

In communities with dedicated pickleball courts, children and grandparents alike are playing. “It makes the game more fun,” she said.

For many years, Myers was a competitor in marathon and Ironman events, and he loved playing tennis in college. He thought physical activity of any account was over when he had his knees replaced in 2009.

He discovered pickleball in Province in 2013 and fell in love with it. But he is not a resident of Province. To get his pickleball fix, he would travel to Sun Lakes. He has also played in Ahwatukee, Surprise, Palm Creek and Robson Ranch.

When Copper Sky offered pickleball classes, public interest began to grow. Myers estimated about 300 people play in Maricopa.

“This year, we have noticed more and more people picking up the sport and we find it is harder to get on any court to play,” Glennwilde resident Marilyn Cory said. “We have often driven to each tennis court only to find they are all in use and there are others waiting to play.”

Jeff Whipple, 55, a self-described snowbird from Alberta, Canada, started coming to Maricopa two years ago.

“I came looking for something to do,” he said. “I never heard of pickleball until last year. Now I’m addicted.”

He was one of several players who wrote to Maricopa City Council asking for dedicated courts like the nine in Province.

“Sitting, waiting for courts is very frustrating,” he said. “We completely understand that play falls off after the snowbirds go home, but we believe it is a big drawing card for the city to have public courts.”

He said the eight courts Myers asked city council to consider would be just a start.

“If we had eight courts, we could start having tournaments,” he said.

It is just that idea Myers wants to sell to councilmembers to persuade them pickleball has economic benefits to Maricopa.

“I don’t see any big industry relocating here,” he said. “But I’m convinced people will move here to play pickleball. And some won’t move here because there is really no place to play.”

Pickleball courts are not in the city’s budget.

Contact Rocky Myers at 520-494-2030.

This story appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.