Vossberg Gainor & Pickleball in the Sun’s Top 15 Pickleball Highlights from 2022

Vossberg Gainor & Pickleball in the Sun’s Top 15 Pickleball Highlights from 2022

Happy 2023 from Vossberg Gainor and Pickleball in the Sun! A message from me as a thank you for an incredible year and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come in 2023:


In no particular order, below are my top 15 pickleball highlights from 2022 where I either had the opportunity to coordinate an incredible media feature to bring America’s fastest growing sport into the spotlight, or I was personally able to play the game we all love and enjoy the Pickleball in the Sun lifestyle.


When the producers for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt: Kids Edition called I was ecstatic to be able to bring together more than 30 kids from our local Nocatee community to play pickleball and showcase why this sport is such an incredible opportunity for kids to get healthy exercise and socialize with their friends. A special thank you to my Nocatee friends who participated in this and brought their kids to the courts.


Just a day after NBC called, ABC’s Good Morning America producers called with an interest in having their on-air crew play pickleball for a live feature. Thankfully, the Nocatee community rallied together again and immediately came to the courts to play for the GMA camera crew to create another incredible feature for the sport. Eva Pilgrim and Will Ganss did a live shot from the Brooklyn Bridge Park courts as USA Pickleball ambassadors, Paul Curiale and Amote Sias, gave them a lesson in how to play the game.


When Maren Morris posted a tweet this past summer of her and her crew playing pickleball next to her tour bus, I took a shot and messaged her team through her website to see if they would be interested in doing a cover story for Pickleball Magazine about her love for the sport. They immediately got back to me and I had the incredible honor of getting on a call with Maren to talk pickleball and her creating a court on each stop of her tour.

Shortly after the story was published, we then got a call from the Jimmy Kimmel Show wanting a copy of the issue to feature on air as they interviewed Maren. Thanks to some friends, a courier got an issue in their hands and not only did they show it on air, they talked about the story for more than 3 minutes and Maren gave me a shoutout, knowing I was freaking out as they zoomed in on my article.

4. Pickleball Marketing Feature with Marketing Brew

“Pickleball took off during the pandemic, thanks in part to marketing efforts from brands and the sport’s governing body, which was recently given a facelift.”

I got the opportunity to talk with the Marketing Brew about the work Vossberg Gainor did to help USA Pickleball with their brand relaunch in 2020 and marketing tactics we used to help get the sport into the spotlight.


As I feel privileged every day to have started the world’s first ever pickleball marketing agency, being contacted by AdAge to talk about marketing the sport as they featured pickleball as #9 on their “Marketers of the Year 2022” list was an incredible honor.

“Pickleball mania has been on a steady climb since 2020, when people increasingly turned to the quirky racket sport as a pandemic-era social activity. But 2022 marked a major turning point in pickleball’s growth, with an influx of brands beginning to incorporate the up-and-coming sport into their marketing strategies. “


Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented photographers to showcase the sport, and one of those is the talented Steve Taylor. His incredible shot of Jay Devilliers was featured on the cover of the Sports Business Journal for their “Smash Hit” story on America’s hottest sport as we worked with their writer, Chris Smith, on a story featuring the various leagues in the sport.


For the last 3 years I have had the honor of contributing to Pickleball Magazine with various cover stories, articles featuring players across the country, and sharing premier pickleball destinations. When Julie Talerico, editor of Pickleball Magazine, asked if she could have a writer do a story on my Pickleball in the Sun brand, I was completely honored. Jennifer Brozak told my story better than I could and when I first saw Julie had created a 2-page spread with the feature, I was speechless. Thank you, Julie.


The sport may feel new to some, but it originated in 1965 on a court in Bainbridge Island where 3 dads started the game to entertain their kids. I couldn’t have been more excited to have had the opportunity to visit the original court as Governor Inslee signed a bill to make pickleball the Official State Sport of Washington. 

It was an honor to stand on the original court and take a photo with family members of the founders of pickleball. Thank you to the Bainbridge Island Pickleball Club members for being so welcoming. 

8 months later, another incredible honor to run into, Barb, one of the original family members at the airport bar while at the National Championships and have the privilege to talk with her about the early days of the sport.


Since moving to Nocatee I have been so fortunate to meet most of my friends while on the pickleball court. What inspired the Pickleball in the Sun brand was a group of us regularly planning weekend getaways at unique pickleball destinations to play in tournaments. So many laughs, lots of pickleball playing, visiting new places and meeting new friends along the way to invite along future Pickleball in the Sun trips.

Highlight: Signing up for some pickleball blind dates in mixed doubles and meeting these great new friends!

Special shoutout to my partner Mia Azotea who I am thankful to have met shortly after moving to Nocatee, and since then we have trained at our local pickleball courts and won lots of medals together. More Pickleball in the Sun trips to come with this group!


When I wanted to create Pickleball in the Sun products to include in a Holiday Gift Guide, I reached out to friend and local Nocatee artist, Melissa Rinaldi of Go Coastal, to hire her to bring the brand to life with one of her unique paintings. The outcome perfectly visually represented the Pickleball in the Sun brand and featured on beach towels, blankets, drinkware and apparel.

Shortly after launching the shop, Lois Alter Mark featured the Pickleball in the Sun beach towel in her Forbes Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Apparel and Accessories for a Pickleball Vacation!


The women behind some of the leading brands in pickleball never get enough credit! One of our top features Emma Masur and I got the chance to work on together was “Inside the Pickleball Boom. Meet some of the women behind the fastest-growing sport in the country.” 

A chance to feature the following women who have helped make pickleball the fastest growing sport across the country: Melissa McCurley, Stacie Townsend, Blake Renaud, Hannah Johns, Rachel Simon, Aubri Steele, M.A., Catherine Baxter, Jillian Braverman, lori g manzer & Mimi Kuchman, Elise Ivy, Kim Bastien, Jodi Wujkowski and Lori Bosch. 

One of those women, Rachel Simon, launching a book this year about the sport, “Pickleball for All,” where she interviewed players across the country to share their stories. I was honored to connect her with many of these influential players and for her to share my personal story as well.

Keep an eye on these women as they continue to bring so much value to the sport. 


The Margaritaville US Open Pickleball Championships is one of the largest tournaments and pickleball parties of the year. The whole Gainor family headed to Naples for an amazing vacation and loved having them there to support Hope Tolley and I as we competed in the tournament for the first time. Such a must-see event each year with more than 2,000 players and vacationers enjoying the “Pickleball in the Sun” atmosphere.

Thank you to Bruce Yeung and Kerry Pittenger for frequently being my personal photographer on tournament trips 🙂


One of the top highlights each year is getting the chance to visit the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to attend the “Pickleball in Paradise” event that is the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships. An incredible week seeing some of the leading brands in the game and the leaders behind them, connecting with professional players that are growing the spectator interest as they show the athleticism needed to win the gold medals, and meeting amateur players across the country who are loving being competitive athletes and having a lot of fun doing so.

This year I had the opportunity to be a part of the media for my Pickleball in the Sun brand and be on Championship court with Bruce Yeung as the top player in the world, Anna Leigh Waters, earned her National Championship Triple Crown.


As Major League Pickleball hit the headlines this year with the announcements of celebrity investment after celebrity investment, I was a guest on Wisconsin’s Afternoon News to talk with host and friend, Greg Matzek, to talk about the growth of pickleball. 


It’s no secret that pickleball is a great way to stay healthy and active. I spoke with Zara Hanawalt for Shape Magazine about why pickleball should be your next hobby and top players in the world, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters shared how they have been building a booming career in the sport, while living healthy and enjoying the sport as a famous mother-daughter duo.


2022 was one of the most incredible years in my career thanks to my clients, new media relationships, friends met across the country while traveling for Pickleball in the Sun, and my friends and family for supporting this entrepreneurial journey.

Be sure to follow @VossbergGainor & @PickleballintheSun on social media as we have another fun year in store, and see you on the courts in 2023.

Real Dill® Pickleball Clubs Announce Two Locations in Development, with more on the Way

Real Dill® Pickleball Clubs Announce Two Locations in Development, with more on the Way

Pickleball just got hotter! Congratulations to Vossberg Gainor’s client, Real Dill® Pickleball Clubs who have officially announced their brand with two locations currently in development and more to come.

Read the full press release below and visit PlayRealDill.com to learn more about their clubs. Follow @PlayRealDill on Facebook and Instagram.

For The Real Dill® Pickleball Clubs’ logo files, images, and FAQs, please find the PRESS KIT on Dropbox.

Aimwell Development Co. Announces Launch of The Real Dill Pickleball Club

A premiere pickleball sports entertainment venue and restaurant to open in summer 2023

CHICAGO, April 28th, 2022 – Today, The Real Dill Pickleball Club, a sports entertainment venue that will offer dedicated courts for playing the sport of pickleball, announced the launch of its first two locations. The Real Dill will launch its first facilities in St. Louis, Missouri, and Columbus, Ohio, in the summer of 2023. Founded by Aimwell Development Co., a real estate development firm based in Chicago, Real Dill Pickleball Clubs are supported by the investment of pickleball enthusiasts and are targeting five development properties in the United States this year, with the goal of becoming the premiere facility to help grow the sport.

“We couldn’t be more excited to help facilitate the growth of pickleball by building inclusive clubs that encourage real social connectivity,” said Todd Reed, Managing Partner of Aimwell Development Co. “The Real Dill is a hospitable environment where the pickleball community can grow their network of players and drive their competitive and social spirit.”

Each Real Dill venue will have 8 to 12 pickleball courts available on a reservation-basis and will be designed to accommodate both the avid pickleball player who engages in competitive play, as well as the recreational player who plays mainly for the purpose of entertainment. 

Aimwell Development Co. leadership brings more than 22 years of experience in developing hospitality and hotel concepts around the United States. Patrons of the Real Dill will enjoy the following amenities: 

  • Social and competitive leagues, tournaments, and events
  • Top quality food and beverage offerings that compliment club type setting
  • A hospitality focused customer service model
  • Outdoor space for socialization and game play
  •  Family entertainment center with games for all ages
  • Opportunities for pickleball lessons and private instruction
  • Health & wellness offerings and group classes for physical conditioning

The Real Dill in St. Louis will open in the summer of 2023 at The District,  a one-of-a-kind entertainment destination with live music, family friendly attractions, food, and retail offerings. Alongside other premium attractions such as The Factory and Main Event, The Real Dill will operate as a local favorite and core tenant of The District. .

The Columbus location will be built in the first phase of construction for The Galaxy at Polaris.  The original Polaris Center includes over 9 million square feet of retail, hospitality, office, and multifamily properties.  The Real Dill is slated to open at Polaris in the summer of 2023.  The Real Dill was represented on both properties by Cary Taylor of Crossroads Real Estate Group.

“We are hospitality people, and we have spent our careers creating environments in which people feel both welcomed and energized,” Reed explained. “The Real Dill is a place where groups may enjoy professional customer service and a food & beverage offering suited to compliment an active mindset.  Our focus is on keeping things simple and doing them exceptionally well.”

To learn more about The Real Dill Pickleball Club, visit PlayRealDill.com.

Follow @PlayRealDill on Facebook and Instagram.


Aimwell Development, founded in 2019 is a boutique firm with the company leaders bringing more than 22-years’ experience, focused on real estate development and investments in the hospitality, residential, and retail sectors. First developing concepts with a blend of innovative thinking and thorough analysis, then having a thorough understanding of the key factors that affect success, Aimwell Development is able to identify unique opportunities and mold them into viable projects.

Their experience developing projects that are both highly unique and sustainable guides the decision making throughout the process. As a result, work stands out as being distinctly suited to its environment and integral to the growth of the surrounding community. For more information about Aimwell Development Co., visit PlayRealDill.com. 


The Real Dill Pickleball Clubs are facilities designed to provide a welcoming, social, and active environment for the recreational and competitive pickleball players., Each venue will feature up to 12 courts for reserved play, competitive tournaments, ladders, professional coaching and lessons, as well as an inviting space for spectators to enjoy the game. Every location will feature an on-site restaurant and bar with a menu conceived to compliment the active nature of playing pickleball. Each entertainment venue is designed with multigenerational entertainment in mind and organized so that families are offered something for every age and interest including video games, wiffle ball, ping pong, shuffleboard, and much more. 

For more information visit PlayRealDill.com and follow @PlayRealDill on Facebook and Instagram.


Laura Gainor
[email protected]


Pickleball Magazine: Pickleball in Paradise

Pickleball Magazine: Pickleball in Paradise

Cover story for the Pickleball Magazine September/October 2021 Issue. Read the full issue HERE.

Pickleball in Paradise

By Laura Gainor

As the fastest-growing sport in the country continues to expand its footprint, vacationers are choosing travel destinations with pickleball in mind. So, if you’re looking to play pickleball in a little bit of paradise, here are just some of the amazing destinations waiting for you.

Banning Lewis Ranch

If you’re looking for a master-planned housing community to surround your growing family with breathtaking views and award-winning schools, or you’re seeking a retirement community to fulfill your desire for an active lifestyle that includes playing pickleball every day, be sure to check out Banning Lewis Ranch. Banning Lewis Ranch is the fastest-growing community in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with 75+ acres of trails and open space, community parks, water park, and community centers with amazing amenities, including 16 beautiful pickleball courts.

Banning Lewis Ranch offers leagues and regular programming-eight in Vista Park open to the entire community and eight newly opened courts exclusively available to residents of The Retreat—Colorado Springs’ first 55+ active adult, resort-style community, and private enclave within Banning Lewis Ranch.

For more details, visit BanningLewisRanch.com

Horseshoe Bay Resort

Just 45 minutes west of Austin, Texas, the Horseshoe Bay Resort is nestled next to one of the most “Instagrammed” beaches in the Texas Hill Country overlooking Lake Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ). The upscale resort offers a unique lake resort experience, featuring eight pickleball courts, championship golf on three courses, casual and upscale dining overlooking Lake LBJ, fun family activities on the water or s’mores next to the fire, and annual entertainment and food events such as the Beer by the Bay Music Festival.

Whether you’re visiting the resort as a guest or joining The Club as a member, the resort offers daily lessons and clinics with on-site IPTPA-certified instructors Get your doubles partner and book one of the resort’s Ultimate Pickleball Weekend Camps, which includes a two-night stay, nine hours of professional instruction and supervised match play, lunch on Saturday followed by beer and wine, pickleball drills on Sunday morning paired with mimosas and Bloody Marys. A pickleball enthusiast’s dream vacation!

Visit hsbresort.com to explore the resort’s amenities and view the upcoming calendar of events.

JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

The JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa saw the opportunity early on to create a pickleball getaway like no other for the avid players, as the number of pickleball players continued to increase year over year.

The 17 pickleball courts, plus an expansive center court with a 400-person capacity, offer spectacular views of the gorgeous Arizonian desert. On-site private lessons, daily clinics, group one-on-one instruction and ball machine rentals provide pickleball enthusiasts the opportunity to improve their competitive game, or simply join in on some pick-up games. With the new USA Pickleball corporate offices onsite, you never know who you’ll get the opportunity to play against!

While staying at the resort, guests can also enjoy the endless relaxation serenities at The Revive Spa, sip a cocktail inside one of the poolside cabanas, join friends on one of the two picturesque, 18-hole Championship courses and learn about the Arizona history, flora and fauna on a leisurely trail walk or bike ride.

Visit Marriott.com for details on JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

Las Vegas Plaza Hotel & Casino

Stunning, picturesque pickleball, Las Vegas’ best tourist entertainment, and incredible city view is what the Las Vegas Plaza Hotel & Casino has to offer. It’s a stop you don’t want to miss on your pickleball vacation tour.

As a host to one of the largest pickleball tournaments of the year, the Las Vegas Pickleball Open, the Plaza Hotel has 12 permanent pickleball courts and one championship court, which is convertible to four temporary tournament level courts.

In addition to its outstanding pickleball amenities, guests can enjoy all the best that a Vegas experiences a vacation has to offer including the casino festivities, bingo, and the 70,000-sq.-ft. pool deck, giving plenty of space for relaxation and entertainment. Plus, right next to the pickleball courts!

Visit PlazaHotelCasino.com for more information and a full list of upcoming entertainment events and pickleball tournaments.

Latitude Margaritaville

With Pickleball being a major part of the brand’s DNA, Margaritaville—the global lifestyle brand inspired by the songs and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett—is the title sponsor for the USA Pickleball National Championships. In addition to Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-better-communities, developed with Minto Communities, it has courts at a few resorts including Margaritaville Lake Resort—Lake Conroe, and the soon-to-open Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana.

Latitude Margaritaville communities are located in Daytona Beach, Hilton Head, and Watersound in the Florida “panhandle.” These active adult communities offer pickleball clinics and lessons, and feature 10 courts each.

Latitude Margaritaville offers an irresistible concoction of fun, food, music, and friends. Amenities include a state-of-the-art Fins Up! Fitness Center with indoor whirlpool and lap pool; Latitude Bar & Chill restaurant; lagoon-style Paradise Pool with beach-like entry and swim-up Tiki Island; and Changes in Attitude poolside bar, along with nature trails, pickleball and tennis courts, and a Barkaritaville Dog Park.

Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach residents even have their own private Beach Club on the Atlantic Ocean, with shuttle service from the community to the beach and back. Phase Two amenities open soon and include a Workin’ N’ Playin’ Center with arts & crafts and multipurpose rooms; Last Mango Theater for performances, dances, and banquets; Hangar Workshop for golf cart tune-ups; even more tennis courts, pickleball courts and bocce ball courts with lighting for night play; and a Barkaritaville Pet Spa.

For more information, visit LatitudeMargaritaville.com and MargaritavilleResorts.com.

Minto Communities / The Isles of Collier Preserve

Minto Communities has been ahead of the curve from the early emergence of pickleball to it becoming one of the nation’s most popular sports. The developers anticipated the growing popularity of pickleball based on listening to their community homeowners, and gave them what they wanted! And that was pickleball courts and a healthy lifestyle.  

Minto and Margaritaville joined forces in sponsoring the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships Powers by Margaritaville in Naples, Florida. Minto’s The Isles of Collier Preserve community is adjacent and connected by a gate to the East Naples Community Park, headquarters for the US Open, which brings hundreds of players and thousands of fans to the Naples area each year.

Minto also partners with the USOPC to present a pickleball instruction program that includes beginner lessons, private lessons, small group lessons and group clinics.

In addition to the pickleball lifestyle, the community’s luxury homes overlook miles of scenic kayak and hiking trails. Stroll along Fifth Avenue in Naples and discover a vast array of premier boutiques, art galleries, fine dining and entertainment opportunities.

All of us pickleball players also love a good beach day, so explore all that the beaches have to offer along the Paradise Coast on the Gulf of Mexico.

Visit mintousa.com for more information.


Last year, my family planned a trip to Florida to visit my sister. While there, we visited Nocatee, a nearby master-planned co-community. As pickleball enthusiasts, my husband and I were so excited to see 12 brand-new pickleball courts with an expansive on-site waterpark we thought only existed on a tropical vacation. We were so enthusiastic that upon returning home to Illinois, we sold our home and are now happy residents of Nocatee.

Just a few minutes from beach views and kayak launches, this master-planned community in Ponte Vedra, Florida (near Jacksonville), offers those 12 pickleball courts for residents as well as two waterparks for the kids that include waterslides. There are paths exclusively for golf carts that each family purchases once they move in, giving you an out-of-the-ordinary ride to a local restaurant or grocery store.

Other amenities include dog parks within each community neighborhood, some of the top-rated schools in Florida, an action-packed events calendar for residents and their guests, and holiday festivities that include golf cart parades, waterpark haunted houses and holiday light shows.

Del Webb Nocatee, a 55+ active adult community, also features its own pickleball and tennis courts within the gated community, as well as a clubhouse for resident activities and events.

Visit Nocatee.com for details.

OutDoor Resort Indio

The perfect desert oasis, OutDoor Resort Indio (ORI) is an exclusively Class A motorcoach community designed for active adults, located just minutes from Old Town La Quinta and Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and a few miles from fabulous shopping on El Paseo, Palm Desert. It offers a total of 419 individually owned lots wrapped around an 18-hole executive golf course, six permanent pickleball courts, and two tennis courts.

ORI Pickleball Association (ORIPA) has over 150 members. There is organized play most days with paddles on the fence by ability levels, round robins, scrambles and men’s/ladies’ days. Also, ORIPA provides free lessons weekly based on ability. The club regularly hosts parties throughout the season for both full-time residents and guests.

Many pickleball enthusiasts frequently return because of the hosted social events and its proximity to popular tournaments throughout the year. From the photos we’ve seen, it looks to be quite the spot for those seeking a fun, social pickleball getaway!

For more details, visit orindio.com.

Palm Creek Resort & Residences

With the motto “Because we waited for this moment, and it’s time to take full advantage of it,” if you’re 55 and over and haven’t heard of it yet, you need to check out the Palm Creek Resort & Residences. With some of the most incredible scenic views, there are 32 pickleball courts that have become popular for both athletic play and ongoing social events throughout the year.

Organized round robins begin daily at 8 a.m. on 24 courts for levels 2.0 through 5.0. The remaining eight courts are reserved for open play and challenge courts each morning starting at 8 a.m.

Other amenities on-site include billiards, yoga, swimming, dining, softball, horseshoes, tennis and plenty of activities to do with your friends—from bingo and arts & crafts to sewing and woodworking. A dream way of living an active lifestyle!

For a full list of upcoming tournaments, events and resort amenities, visit PalmCreek.com.

Palmetto Dunes

If you follow the pickleball tournament circuit, you frequently hear of the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, its amenities, and professional pickleball instruction given by on-site pro Sarah Ansboury. Palmetto Dunes is one of the top pickleball vacation destinations in the country and host of the annual APP Hilton Head Open.

Located in the heart of Hilton Head Island, incredible oceanfront views for three miles along the Atlantic Ocean beachfront provide the perfect venue for three world-class golf courses, vacation rentals, a full-service marina, and an 11-mile lagoon system.

In addition to daily offerings including round robins and clinics for players of all levels, the Palmetto Dunes Pickleball Center is now a world-class destination for professional pickleball players across the globe, with 24 dedicated pickleball courts and state-of-the-art lighting. Among the popular pickleball offerings are the Daily Round Robins, a pro supervised session with players progressing up the ladder depending on play results, the “Daily Dose” clinic that teaches skill development on techniques and strategies to help improve every area of the court, and Pickleball 101, which helps beginners to learn the basics such as rules, scoring, court positioning, etc.

For more information, visit PalmettoDunes.com for an unforgettable vacation experience for your friends and family.

Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

A highly desired beach resort in Sanibel, Florida, Sundial Beach Resort & Spa features 12 plexi-cushion courts, stadium seating, and is host to some of the most popular pickleball tournaments throughout the year, with camps and tournaments already announced through February, 2022.

Lessons and clinics are offered at the beautiful waterfront facility, and resort guests receive complimentary court access and equipment rentals. Memberships are available to the public for $350 annually for an individual, or $500 for the family—and for those of you looking for a long-term summer getaway, you are welcome to a six-month membership from May 1 through October 31 of $200 for a single membership and $350 for the family.

When not on the pickleball courts, other amenities to enjoy as you escape to paradise include enjoying award-winning on-site dining, heading out to the beach and finding unique treasures as you take advantage of the prime location for shelling, splashing around with the family at the resort waterparks, visiting with your pickleball friends at Turtle’s Tiki Bar, going on an adventure with kayaking, paddle boarding and other watersports, and so much more.

Visit SundialResort.com for details about upcoming tournaments and to book your pickleball island getaway! Be sure to reserve your rooms as soon as tournaments are announced to not miss your chance to stay at this highly-sought-after pickleball resort.

Spikeball, Pickleball and Volleyball Battle it Out in ‘Pro vs. Pro’ Video Series

Spikeball, Pickleball and Volleyball Battle it Out in ‘Pro vs. Pro’ Video Series

By Laura Gainor – Featured in the May/June issue of Pickleball Magazine

What do you get when you have the best players in spikeball, pickleball and volleyball come together to show off their talents in their respective sports?

A “Pro vs. Pro” video series with top-ranked pickleball players Ben Johns and Kyle Yates playing pickleball and spikeball (a.k.a. roundnet) against Preston Bies, pro roundnet player, and Casey Patterson, pro beach volleyball player.

The video series on Preston Bies’ YouTube channel called “How to Roundnet” all started with Preston taking a break from spikeball to do a 50-day pickleball binge where he trained two hours a day.

Preston, 27, of Santa Barbara, California, got stoked about pickleball and wanted to play against the best. So he did a Google search for “best pickleball player in the world” and found none other than Ben Johns’ name pop up. He figured, why not message Ben on Instagram and ask if he wants to come out to California to do a pro vs. pro video series to play spikeball and pickleball, and to bring a friend with him.

So that’s exactly what happened. Ben called Kyle Yates and asked if he was up for the challenge, so both of them flew to California to learn how to play spikeball and show Preston and Casey how to excel in the game of pickleball.

“Ben and I are always up to try something new, so when we are invited to play with the world’s best at anything, of course we’re going to say yes!” says Kyle. “My favorite part about the Pro vs. Pro competition was seeing just how amazing these other pros are at their respective sports. I was in awe of some of the shots Preston was able to hit in roundnet—and it was pretty fun to show off a bit and feel comfortable on the pickleball court!”

Not only did these incredible athletes excel at each other’s respective sports, they had some fun along the way—including Ben using a slipper as a pickleball paddle to see if he could still win against the spikeball pros in a match. Spoiler alert: Ben won.

“For playing pickleball just three months, Preston is pretty good,” says Ben. When asked if he was going to try to play roundnet again in his free time, he replied, “Free time is a word I don’t use a lot these days! But if I get the chance, I’ll absolutely play again.”

According to Chris Ruder, Founder and CEO of Spikeball, Inc.—with approximately 4 million spikeball units sold—there are about 10-20 million people who have played roundnet.

Another spikeball pro competitor, Chris Hornacek, who recently hit the courts with Tyson Aposotol for an intense singles match, is also a pickleball pro-in-the-making, which proves there are many parallels between the two sports.

“I announced on Instagram that I was playing pickleball and suddenly a ton of spikeball players were sending me direct messages saying, ‘Yeah, I play!’ and telling me where I should travel to play pickleball,” says Chris. “Everyone points you in the right direction on how to improve your game.”

With millions of passionate players for a backyard game that complements pickleball nicely, we look forward to this network of athletes continuing to join us on the courts and work their way to the top of the pro circuit. See you in November at the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships!

Check out the Pro vs. Pro video by Preston Bies of “How to Roundnet” below and visit our @USAPickleball Instagram channel for more exclusive videos and photos from competition!

The Economist: Pickleball is the Fastest-Growing Sport in America

The Economist: Pickleball is the Fastest-Growing Sport in America

We recently spoke with The Economist with USA Pickleball CEO, Stu Upson, to talk about the growth of pickleball as one of the fastest growing sports in America. More and more players are hearing chatter about the sport and want in on the action! With almost 3.5 million players across the nation, we’ll see continuous growth over the next year.

Some key quotes from the article below and visit The Economist’s website to read the full article.

“In the five years to the end of 2019, pickleball participation grew by more than 7%, while Americans’ overall activity level stayed flat, according to the Sport & Fitness Industry Association. Although data from 2020 have not yet been released, the sport has picked up more swing thanks to covid-19. Last March, when quarantines went into effect and gyms closed, portable pickleball nets temporarily sold out. Players set up courts, which are half the size of tennis courts, in driveways. “It’s the new thing,” says Derek Heil, an employee at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Dallas, who has seen a sales spike for pickleball equipment over the last year, including for higher-end paddles which sell for around $100.”

As more people take up the sport, demand for televised matches and sponsorships will increase. – Stu Upson, USA Pickleball CEO