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Pickleball players want more courts in Boca Raton

Pickleball players gather on the courts at El Rio Park in Boca Raton on Jan. 26, 2021.jpg
Posted at 2:17 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 17:38:59-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Pickleball players are asking Boca Raton city leaders for more room to play.

The sport is one of the fastest growing in the country, and local cities are trying to keep up with the demand.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.

Raul Travieso is the president of the Boca Raton Pickleball Club, which was officially formed a year ago.

"We started in January of 2020 and COVID hit," Travieso said.

Despite the pandemic, Travieso said their club is starting to outgrow the courts in Boca Raton.

"Counties and municipalities are trying to catch up with the demand," Travieso said.

Four courts at El Rio Park are the only public ones in the city, with six more being built. Those courts are full every day, especially on the weekend.

Travieso said their club is making a pitch to the city and the Boca Raton Beach and Parks District to build more courts at the vacant Ocean Breeze site.

The city and district are currently in the works to figure out what to do with the empty golf course.

"We are just trying to get in at the ground level and say look, we need pickleball, the demand is here," Travieso said.

District Commissioner Susan Vogelgesang said they can’t move forward with any plans for Ocean Breeze until the city gives the green light to change plans for a failed golf course.

"Until we have that answer, we can't make a final determination about pickleball. But we are entertaining any and all suggestions from the public," Vogelgesang said.

Volgelgesang added that answer from the city could come later this week.

Travieso said they’ve also asked the city for courts at the new city golf course or another park. He's hoping by getting the conversation going now, the city and district will have pickleball on their mind for future park plans.