Pickleball in Doral:   Does pickleball have an advantage over tennis?


By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español

According to the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP), 48.3 million American adults had played pickleball at least once in the past 12 months as of March 29, 2023. This represents an increase of 35% since the organization’s last research was concluded in August 2022

City of Doral hasn’t been immune to the popularity of this sport and since last year several activities have been organized to promote it. However, because demand is growing faster than supply, another sport is affected: tennis. Considering that when a game is equal in points (40 all or deuce), the player who wins the next one has an advantage, who will take victory in this case?


More demand, less supply means sharing

The massive incursion of pickleball into Doral began in 2023 when residents started to show great interest towards this sport. Since then, the Parks and Recreation Department has been working in improving the availability of options for players with tournaments such as Pickle-Ween, the city’s first ever pickleball tournament that took place last Halloween and is expected to be approved again this year for a second edition.

In this direction, the city also created something called ‘open play’ in which certain times of the day on specific days and parks, tennis courts are used for the practice of pickleball. “What we have now are hybrid courts that serve both sports,” Councilwoman Maureen Porras, the main promoter of pickleball in the city, explains.

This initiative has caused inconveniences for both pickleball and tennis players who need to reserve courts in advance through a reservation system to be able to play. Many tennis players complain that people who reserve often times are nowhere to be seen, leaving a space unused. This issue added to the fact there are less available courts nowadays, has made them feel it’s hard to find a free spot to play.

In addition, some pickleball players claim to have very few opportunities to play because courts are always full or reserved, and others say they have seen tennis players on courts designated for pickleball.

“We have an issue of space, and in order to alleviate this situation we are going to assemble courts to exclusively play pickleball,” Councilwoman Porras says referring to the proposal passed last year to explore where they could be located.

From this exploration phase, in charge of the parks department, it was determined Doral Central Park, currently under construction, would be the site to have the largest number of courts dedicated to pickleball.

But at a subsequent council meeting it was decided to convert the tennis courts at Doral Glades Park into pickleball courts. “We did it so as not to delay this project any further or add more to the Central Park budget,” Porras states.

The courts, which have been delayed in being opened due to permits and selection of the vendor, would be ready to the public in mid-June if everything goes well. It is expected that the courts allow tennis players to find more available spaces, since they would no longer share the now hybrid courts of Morgan Levy Park and Doral Legacy Park.

The goal is also to meet the high demand of pickleball courts, an easier task considering that on a tennis court, three or four pickleball courts can be set up and at least four people can play on each one.

Once the Doral Glades courts are open, the city will evaluate whether or not they helped solve the issue of supply and demand or if it’s necessary to come up with a new solution. “For now, we have to share the courts. We are working in finding a way to provide opportunities for both tennis and pickleball players, but we must understand the latter is growing too quickly,” the Councilwoman says.

Codina Partners has proposed retail, parking and pickleball courts in Downtown Doral

On the other hand, this past January, the firm Codina Partners announced they will develop 25,000 square feet of retail with 13 tenant units and rooftop amenities such as pickleball courts along Northwest 87th Avenue. Construction is expected to begin this summer and be completed for the second or third quarter of next year.

Regarding the reservation system, Maureen says that little by little it has been improving. “We have taken note of each of the residents’ complaints and many things have been fixed. It’s important to contact the parks department (doralparksinfo@cityofdoral.com) in case of an issue because we cannot help if we are unfamiliar with the situations happening.”

Posting on social media is not the best way to submit a complaint since they aren’t monitored on a frequent basis. As revealed to this paper, the councilwoman was not aware that some people make reservations but fail to appear at courts and would be willing to suggest improvement measures on this regard so long as she receives comments about it.

In this specific case, the goal is for both tennis and pickleball players to take a piece of victory and that neither one has an advantage over the other, using a little patience and a sense of community so that everyone can win.


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