Racquet sport participation is growing in the U.S. with people of all ages and abilities picking up the sport as a way to stay active, healthy, and social. Beginning in June, the USTA National Campus will bring the new trend to Lake Nona by adding pickleball and padel courts to the facility, with planned programming and social and professional events also scheduled.
“Racquet sport participation growth is surging in the U.S., and by working together, we can drive the popularity and accessibility of all racquet sports,” said Mike Dowse, USTA CEO. “In essence, the USTA National Campus will be the world’s leading racquet sports R&D center to drive innovation in coaching education, player development, programming, court surfaces, and technology.”
This June, four pickleball courts and four padel courts – complete with permanent nets and lights – will be added to the Nemours Family Zone.
Think of pickleball as a crafty mix of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. Like tennis, pickleball can be played in singles or doubles, but the pickleball ball is plastic and perforated like a wiffleball. Pickleball is a sport for everyone and a great way to stay active.
Various programs and social opportunities will be offered, with players able to find the perfect level using the USAPA rating program. Jenny Taylor, a certified International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) instructor, has been hired as head professional pickleball instructor at the National Campus. In addition to teaching, Taylor’s major focus will be on the organization of lesson plans and management of the program, player pathway, staff development, and player engagement.
Pickleball programming options include camps, private lessons, or small group lessons to meet every player’s needs. Players will also have the option to reserve pickleball courts for play.
Padel is a racquet sport that is different from the sport known in the U.S. and Canada as paddle tennis. Padel is typically played as doubles in an enclosed court with artificial turf that is roughly 25% smaller than the size of a tennis court. Scoring is the same as tennis, and the points are started with an underhand serve. Padel is played with a paddle or racquet with no strings and a lower compression ball than tennis that is easier to control.
Leading the padel programming will be Marcos del Pilar as director of padel. Del Pilar brings over 25 years of experience managing clubs and sports projects and, most recently, starting padel programs around the world. Padel programming at the campus will also begin in early June, and it will include junior and adult clinics for beginners, intermediate, and competition as well as social events and camps.
Pickleball and padel courts are open Monday-Thursday from 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information on pickleball and padel programming, events, or court reservations, please call (407) 675-2502 or visit the PLAY Section of ustanationalcampus.com.