Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 17, 2014 – Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort, which added 16 pickleball courts two years ago, is hosting the Grand Canyon State Games Wednesday through Sunday, the third largest pickleball tournament in the world. Is tennis going by the wayside? Probably not.
But at RV parks and resorts across the Sunbelt, empty-nesters and retirees are abandoning tennis in favor of pickleball, an easy to learn, senior-friendly sports that requires hitting the ball over a net, but in a small court that doesn’t require nearly as much running around.
“Pickleball is amazingly popular,” said Vickie Jepperson, manager of Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort in El Mirage, Ariz. “In all my years working in the RV resort business, I’ve never seen a sport, other than golf, that is this popular.”
So popular, in fact, that RV parks and resorts in Arizona and across the Sunbelt are converting some of their tennis courts into pickleball courts and building new pickleball courts to accommodate the rapidly increasing numbers of pickleball enthusiasts, said Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
“We put in our first two pickleball courts in 2011. Then we added two more in 2013. And this summer we’re putting in two more,” said Cherie Suddarth, manager of the 745-site Gold Canyon RV and Golf Resort in Gold Canyon, Ariz.
Demand for pickleball courts has become so intense that RV parks and resorts that don’t have pickleball are losing snowbird business to other parks that do. Even parks that don’t have enough pickleball courts are at risk.
Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort installed its first two pickleball courts six years ago. But so many snowbirds took an interest in pickleball that lines started to develop and the resort ended up losing some of its snowbirds to other parks that had more pickleball courts.
We didn’t have enough pickleball courts, so we lost people,” Jepperson said.
But not for long.
Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort responded to demand by adding 16 more pickleball courts, which were completed two years ago.
And the park’s facilities are so highly regarded that the 1,284 site resort will be hosting the Grand Canyon State Games, the third largest pickleball tournament in the world, from Wednesday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 23.
Jepperson said pickleball has become a big business that draws players from all over the country.
And RV park and resorts that have the largest and highest quality pickleball facilities often wind up hosting pickleball tournaments that bring in more guests.
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande will have an in-house tournament today, Feb. 17 through Wednesday, Feb. 19 which involves the parks’ guests. But March 7 to 9 the resort will have its annual open tournament, which will draw hundreds of pickleball enthusiasts, said Wendell Johnson, Palm Creek’s General Manager.
“We have had several people come in RVs for the tournament and then come back to stay with us during the following winter season. We have also had many non-RVers come for the tournament and later rent or buy a home. Our 24 pickleball courts have been a great marketing tool for Palm Creek.”
Indeed, pickleball is so popular it’s not just popular with snowbirds, but people of all ages.
“We’ve even converted some of our tennis courts into pickleball courts,” said Mickelson of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, who owns J & H RV Park in Flagstaff.
Suddarth of Gold Canyon RV & Golf Resort said pickleball is also easy to learn, so it’s a sport that anyone can learn quickly. “It’s a great activity for people to meet each other and have fun,” she said.
For more information on the rising popularity of pickleball and other trends involving the RV Parks, campgrounds and resorts of Arizona, please contact Jo Ann Mickelson at 623.551.1577 or visit GoCampingInArizona.com.
Following is contact information for RV resort sources referenced in this article:
Here are other RV parks and resorts in Arizona that have pickleball courts: