The Rise of Pickleball: Courts and opportunities pepper the Valley

Pecos Park Pickleball Courts is the home of the Pecos Pickleball Club. It boasts 16 outdoor pickleball courts available from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. for anyone visiting the park. (Pickleheads/Submitted)

By Brandon Mackie

Pickleball, America’s fastest-growing sport, has taken the Valley by storm, and the Phoenix area has more pickleball facilities than anywhere else in the state.

Pickleball is easy to pick up, thanks to its social nature and accessible play style.

“In seven years of pickleball coaching, I have never seen more families involved in pickleball or more activity in our pickleball leagues,” says Steve Manolis, a certified pro ambassador at the Paseo Highlands Pickleball Complex at 3435 W. Pinnacle Peak Road, Phoenix.

With an estimated 36.5 million pickleball players in 2022, it’s no surprise local businesses have jumped on the bandwagon.

Ryan Trefry, pickleball director at Legacy Sports USA complex in Mesa, says “pickleball has been growing exponentially in the Phoenix area. More courts are being built every year and the number of players playing has been exploding.”

There are an estimated 4.8 million pickleball players in the United States, and the sport grew 14.8% from 2020 to 2021. There are 10,320 pickleball facilities nationally, according to Pickleheads, a court data provider and an online destination for pickleball players.
The sport, a cross between pingpong, badminton and tennis, was invented by three vacationers on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, in 1965.

Where to play pickleball

New courts are popping up every month, and Pickleheads reports more than 11,000 places to play across the nation. The website also says there are 298 pickleball courts in Arizona, ranking 13th in the United States.

Here are some of the most popular public places to play pickleball in the metro Phoenix area:

Pecos Park Pickleball Courts
17010 S. 48th Street, Phoenix

Home of the Pecos Pickleball Club, there are 16 outdoor pickleball courts available from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. for anyone visiting the park. If the weather takes a turn, there are also three indoor courts with events and clinics for beginners inside the community center.
The outdoor courts are free, but the city charges a fee to use the indoor pickleball complex.

Gilbert Regional Park
3005 E. Queen Creek Road, Gilbert

A slice of paradise, offering 16 dedicated pickleball courts available on a first-come, first-served basis. The state-of-the-art, competition-ready outdoor courts are all fully fenced and floodlit, with shaded rest areas.

Other amenities range from a skatepark to basketball courts and a 25-acre water park.

If you fancy something quieter and more focused, check out Phoenix’s private pickleball courts:

Pickleball Kingdom
4950 W. Ray Road, Chandler

A dedicated pickleball facility with 15 indoor courts, event spaces and a raised viewing platform. It also offers locker rooms and shower facilities, as well as a snack bar and pro shop, all contained within a new, air-conditioned building.
Athletes can take advantage of the free Pickleball 101 classes for beginners who can build themselves up to their open play sessions, leagues and tournaments.

Legacy Park
6321 S. Ellsworth Road, Mesa

Legacy Park, formerly known as Bell Bank Park, houses 41 courts, including four medal courts with spectator stands and a stadium court that seats 2,500 people.
It features training, tournaments and programs for adults and kids. For the pickleball partygoer, they also host social events, such as Dink and Dunk morning mixers and Dink and Drink evening get-togethers.

Chicken N Pickle
Westgate Entertainment District
9330 W. Hanna Lane, Glendale

The new Chicken N Pickle is a growing chain that’s proven incredibly popular for social gatherings across the country.
A selection of indoor and outdoor pickleball courts, all serviced by a range of bars and dining areas.