There’s no denying that pickleball has hit fever pitch. Where once there were only a few public places where one could partake in this particular pastime, new venues are popping up all around the city, the latest of which is called Pickletown.
From the outside, looking at the front of the site from Lincoln Blvd, it really doesn’t look like much. In fact, it doesn’t look like there’s anything there at all. Once upon a time, it was home to Hi De Ho Comics (now at 1803 Lincoln Blvd) followed by one or two different pop-ups, but for the majority of the time since then, it’s been vacant.
Enter Ilene Feldman and Mary Pat Faley. The former is a sportswear marketing specialist with decades of experience and the latter is a former US Professional Tennis Association pro, host on the Tennis Channel, author and keynote speaker on any subject as long as it’s tennis.
In a similar vein to Picklepop, that’s opening up soon at 1231 Third Street, Feldman and Faley don’t know for sure how long they will be at this venue, so specially-designed Professional Pickleball Association and Major League Pickleball approved court flooring is set to be delivered and installed any day now. That way, if they do have to move, they can take everything with them with relative ease.
“We’re not a secret,” laughs Feldman. “I mean I know we don’t have much signage and we didn’t want to have the front doors opening up on Lincoln Blvd [because of the dust and noise from the construction sites] so everyone comes in from around the back.”
But the pair are constantly on the lookout for larger spaces to take their concept to the next level. “We found a couple of places, but permitting in Santa Monica is a nightmare. Hopefully they’ll loosen up a little bit just because of the desire for pickleball in Santa Monica as well as all of West Los Angeles, you know people are clamoring to play and there’s not many places to go,” Feldman says.
She says that they have their eye on another location in West Los Angeles that is a lot bigger, 20,000 square feet in total that could probably house 14 indoor courts. “I’m not saying where that is, because I don’t want to jinx it,” she said.
“There are a lot of advantages to playing indoors,” Feldman says. “Take today, it’s crazy hot, but we also have to deal with wind and of course the noise. With the right amount of soundproofing we won’t be annoying the neighbors. We can’t do that outdoors.
One of the unique selling points of Pickletown is that given Faley’s extensive history with tennis and the fact that she’s a certified pro-level coach in pickleball, she’s readily available to give lessons, instruct and teach, in addition to being able to simply rent the court space to play and practice.
“It’s truly a sport for all ages,” Faley says. “I envision Pickletown as a place that grandparents can come and play with their children and their grandchildren. There’s no other sport where you can get three generations having a great time playing on one court.”
The space offers fully equipped bathrooms and showers, but there won’t be much of a social area or a bar, so they won’t be applying for a liquor license. Instead, Faley says, they plan to have select food trucks gather from time to time in the back space, next to the outdoor court.
There is some space on the second floor, mezzanine-style area that Kristen Anderson, the former competitive figure skater who was key in popularizing pilates, is going to use for a small studio.
A full listing of the service on offer together with details of upcoming pickleball kids camp, training sessions, events and court rental are available on the website, pickletownla.com.