Packing Patch Reef With Pickleball

District Commissioners continue to expand pickleball opportunities within the Boca Raton community, providing more ways to enjoy America's fastest growing sport.

The initial weeks of the new year include the opening of new courts, progress toward a covered pickleball center, and a District-owed park hosting one of Florida's biggest professional pickleball tournaments.

Earlier this week the District completed the conversion of two additional Patch Reef Park tennis courts into six new pickleball courts, doubling the park's lighted public courts.

The opening of those courts coincided with Patch Reef becoming the center of the pickleball world – at least for a week. 

Nearly 600 professional and amateur players are expected to participate in the third annual Boca Raton Masters Pickleball Championships, which began on Wednesday, Jan. 17 and runs through the weekend.

To accommodate that much play, the tournament will convert existing tennis courts via tape lines and temporary netting into additional pickleball courts – modifications that will be immediately removed following the tournament, restoring the tennis courts to full use. 

Tournament organizers will also install a Pickleroll surface on the complex's championship tennis court, creating a total of 25 pickleball courts for the tournament.

“Everyone's been very cooperative,” tournament owner and director Carl Foster said. “They've seen the growth of the sport. Patch Reef Park is a beautiful park. It's all contained there. It's good operationally for us.”

Approximately 3,500 spectators are expected to attend the tournament. The event will also include a vendor's village touting pickleball and non-pickleball products and services.

The tournament includes a celebrity pro-am on Friday, January 19 at 6 p.m. Former tennis great Ivan Lendl and numerous local media celebrities are expected to participate. 

Professional pickleballers will be vying for $25,000 in prize money. Winning amateurs will receive medals. Participants from 36 states and five countries registered to play in the Boca Raton tournament, including nearly all of the top-ranked professional pickleball players.

The tennis courts closed for the event will re-open for tennis on Monday, Jan. 22.

While enjoying a busy week of Boca Raton pickleball, District Commissioners are also planning for pickleball's future within the community.

Late in 2023 District Commissioners selected CSR Construction to build Patch Reef Park's forthcoming covered pickleball complex. The project will create 18 covered pickleball courts, two of which are ADA compliant. 

The pickleball complex will be located near the existing tennis complex and will create additional parking.

Research from the American Pickleball Professionals found that nearly 50 million people have played the sport at least once over the past year, making pickleball America's fastest growing sport. And the Boca Raton community continues to grow as a pickleball hotbed. Three of the Top 5-ranked women nationally and two of the Top 5 men live in southern Palm Beach County. 

pickleball championship court

Championship court at Patch Reef Park is converted to a pickleball court this week.

This story first appeared in the January 2024 edition of our District Dispatch newsletter. To receive future newsletters via email, enter your email address below, then click "Send Me District Newsletter Updates!"