Renowned Tennis Club Embraces Pickleball – I ♥ PickleballDavid Frank October 10, 2019 5 Comments
»ANNOUNCER: Last time on I Heart Pickleball
we met Pickleball Ken in Colorado. This time we travel to the San Diego
area to meet the Dawson family, and hear how pickleball has breathed new
life into the Bobby Riggs Tennis Club. ♪♪ energetic music ♪♪ ♪♪ energetic music ♪♪ ♪♪ energetic music ♪♪ ♪♪ music fades ♪♪ »I Heart Pickleball is powered by Hyland’s Leg Cramps,
proud supporter of pickleball players everywhere. »STEVE DAWSON:
Bobby Riggs was the former #1 tennis player in the world,
famous for being the only person ever in the history of tennis to win
Wimbledon in singles and doubles and mixed doubles the same year. And
he also became famous for his battle of the sexes matches against Billie Jean King.
He goes down in history as one of the great tennis figures of all time.
I’m Steve Dawson. This is my wife, Jennifer. »JENNIFER: I’m a tennis pro
here at Bobby Riggs Tennis Club. I’ve been a tennis pro for probably about 30 years.
»STEVE: Bobby Riggs Tennis Club is located in Encinitas, CA.
Perhaps most famous based upon the museum we’re sitting in which is the
Bobby Riggs Tennis Museum. It’s host of his three Wimbledon trophies, his US Open trophies
and the memorabilia he’s collected through his entire life. Once upon
a time, three people came here to the club. They were
a group of stranded pickleballers that had just exited a tennis club
down the street because that club no longer made them feel welcome.
»JAY: Approximately three years ago, myself and another
lady decided to come over here. »STEVE: And they came here
and said, “Steve, can we play here on a weekend afternoon?” »JAY: He was
tennis all the way, and he was a little bit standoffish.
However we convinced him to allow us to try to play pickleball here at the
facility. »STEVE: Saturday and Sundays are dead. I’ll give you the courts from 2-5
when no one’s here anyway. Put down your lines. They would actually come
in and tape them down Saturday afternoon, and then take them back up Saturday evening
because people would play tennis on Sunday morning. And then they’d tape them back down again. So this
would go on. »JENNIFER: A lot of taping. »STEVE: Yeah! Six months this went on. »CHUCK: I do
remember putting tape down, and I was really good at putting my foot
on the tape and letting somebody else do the pulling. »STEVE: It started with maybe
15 people, and six months later it was probably 60 or 70. »JAY: Steve got involved and
he learned to play the game of pickleball. Well, he loved it. »JENNIFER: When
Steve brought pickleball into Bobby Riggs, I was kind of not
really sure of it. But then Steve really got hooked right away. I mean,
when he first started, he just could not stop playing pickleball. He loved it.
And he was trying to get me for about 6 months to a year trying to
get me to play. And then finally I did, and I fell in love it.
»JAY: And so we convinced him to lay down pickleball lines on his
existing tennis courts. »STEVE: So we sort of put down permanent lines that
didn’t interfere with the tennis lines. Three of our seven courts
were dual-purpose courts, tennis and pickleball. »JAY: In June of last
year, Steve was in the process of completely re-vamping the whole tennis surface.
»STEVE: The courts got bad, the courts were cracked up. We had to resurface them,
so since we’re resurfacing anyway, why don’t we convert one of
the courts to permanent pickleball courts. It just so happened to be
our stadium tennis court was the court that we converted to four permanent courts.
But at least it gave pickleball it’s own side of the club so that it could
have pickleball on one side, tennis on the other. We debuted those four permanent
courts out there at the SoCal Classic a year ago. That was the coming out party for the permanent
courts at Bobby Riggs. »JAY: And in the three years, we have now grown it to where we
are playing seven days a week here. Sometimes open play twice a day. »STEVE: And since the
permanent courts, I think our growth is like tripled in pickleball.
It’s really made a big difference. ♪♪ energetic, inspiring music ♪♪
»JENNIFER: Both our boys are addicted to pickleball. Love it.
»CALLAN: When I first saw pickleball, I thought it was pretty weird. And eventually
one of the neighbors, this little 12 year old kid, was like, “Hey, Callan, come play with me in this
little social tournament.” And I was like all right. And then ever since then I got hooked and
been playing 2-3 times a week ever since. »STEVE: Callan and I have played one
tournament together in our lives and it was Nationals 2015 where we made it all
the way to the finals coming through the back draw. We played like 10 matches or 10 hours.
That’s one of the great things about pickleball. Here is a father/son going to the national
championship of a sport. How great is that? But I was just totally thrilled with being there and
being there with my son. To me that was the greatest thing that pickleball has brought to my life.
»CALLAN: That’s what makes pickleball such an awesome sport, is that, I mean, I can go out there and
play two 19 year old kids and have a blast. But I can also play someone like my
dad or Scott Moore who are almost thirty years older than me, and I still
try my absolute hardest. And it’s still a great game. And it’s still just as fun. »STEVE: Our kids’
grandpa and grandparents are out here playing. My two boys play regularly with them.
Their aunts and uncles play. Their cousins play. So, literally, on any given weekend,
you’ll have three generations of Dawsons and Larkings out here.
»NAN: Jennifer Dawson is my sister. And we grew up playing tennis together since
we were little kids. Steve and Jennifer instituted pickleball here. At
first I was reluctant because I was already so invested in tennis. But my
husband and I are empty nesters now, and we really wanted to find
something to do together. And so we thought we’ll try pickleball. We can
learn together and start at the same place. So, we’ve been playing pickleball ever
since. »STEVE: Bobby Riggs Tennis Club is a place where both tennis and
pickleball succeed and grow equally. And people of both sports come together
and make this whole facility happen. We coexist like that little bumper sticker.
»JENNIFER: I’m still really involved in tennis, traveling around the world and playing
tournaments and representing the U.S. in the International Cup Team. A lot
of times people will say, “Oh, I can’t play pickleball while I’m playing tennis
because it’s going to screw up my swing.” But I’ve found that it
actually helps my tennis. »STEVE: We’ll both play tennis today and we’ll both play
pickleball tonight. She has a tennis tournament in South Africa. Then we’re going to go to… »JENNIFER: US Open
»STEVE: US Open for pickleball. »MICHELLE: My name is Michelle Granieri. I’ve been playing tennis
most of my life. I decided to take up pickleball at the end of the summer. My
husband is not a tennis player and decided we wanted to try a sport together.
Honestly, I think we were hooked after the first lesson. We were able
to go play matches that same day and compete, and it’s been
really fun. We play twice a week together and I still also
play tennis twice a week. ♪♪ inspirational music ♪♪ ♪♪ inspirational music ♪♪
»JENNIFER: Well, I think pickleball plays a huge part of the community here at Bobby
Riggs because it just brings so many people together, whether you are a pickleball player,
tennis player, squash player, badminton player, raquetball, I mean,
all these people come together. »MICHELLE: I love Bobby Riggs Tennis Club
for the friendly community. I love being able to play a day of tennis here and
I can walk over and play pickleball all in the same day. »NAN: I am ecstatic
that Jennifer and Steve brought pickleball here. It was a sport I was
reluctant to try. But now that I’ve dipped my feet into it,
I’m thoroughly hooked. I’m not ever going to give up tennis. I’ve been
playing it for my entire life. And I’m happy that I can play pickleball and tennis and
hopefully do it for the rest of my life. »STEVE: If a tennis club is
considering pickleball to enhance the experience for the members and
financially bring in more revenue, I would say it’s crazy
to not have pickleball. Because often times they’re done on different
hours and different days. So, it makes no sense to have courts sit there and bake
in the sun when they could be generating revenue with a growing population of
pickleball players. »JENNIFER: And I think if you’re debating whether you
should bring pickleball into the club, I think you can always try it
the way we did by first taping some lines, bring in some portable
nets. And then you’ll kind of go in stages. »CALLAN: It seems like there’s always
people here and just makes the club seem more packed and more crowded and more things
going on. Yeah, because there’s always people here. »CHUCK: Well, what I like about the
Bobby Riggs Tennis Club is the staff and management. They have embraced
pickleball in such a fashion that we’ve been able to grow this tremendously.
»JAY: It was great being here in the beginning of pickleball.
I see the future as continually growing. »STEVE: Bobby Riggs
was not just a tennis player, but a paddle tennis player. And he
loved all sports with paddles and balls. So if Bobby Riggs were alive today
there is no doubt that he would be thoroughly addicted to pickleball and playing pickleball
everyday here at the Bobby Riggs Tennis Club. ♪♪ inspirational music fades ♪♪
»ANNOUNCER: No matter where you are pickleball can bring us together to celebrate
community, learn new things and have fun. If you know someone we should feature on
a future episode, we would love to hear from you. All you have to do
is send us an email and tell us your idea. This episode of I Heart Pickleball
has been brought to you by Hyland’s Leg Cramps, America’s #1
over-the-counter leg cramp medicine. For more information, go to
Hylands.com ♪♪ upbeat music ♪♪ ♪♪ music fades ♪♪ ♪♪ music fades ♪♪ ♪♪ music fades ♪♪ ♪♪ music fades ♪♪