Steve and Jennifer Dawson are the owners and pros at Bobby Riggs Racket and Paddle in Encinitas, California. When they decided to add pickleball to their well-regarded tennis program, pickleball added revenue to the organization and has, in their opinion, also enhanced the community and members’ experience. The Dawson’s embraced pickleball, as they are certain that is what legendary tennis player, Bobby Riggs, would have done. The former tennis champion loved any and all racquet sports. Membership has tripled since adding pickleball. There are now 14 pickleball courts and three tennis courts successfully co-existing at Bobby Riggs. This is a great example of how pickleball and tennis can thrive and flourish together.

With eight pickleball pros and seven tennis pros on their staff supporting both programs, the play is energetic and the membership rich with high-level competitive players. The pickleball courts are filled with pros giving individual and group lessons, “aggressive” and “open” drop-in play, leagues, joy, and laughter. The tennis courts host youth and adult tennis clinics, lessons, and individual play.

I have a first-hand account of the touted success of the facility having played at Bobby Riggs Racket and Paddle myself. My La Jolla sister recently retired, at which time she promised to try pickleball, as I had been “encouraging” (aka pestering) her for some time. Dave and I took her out to Bobby Riggs a few times last summer and she brought her friends (all current or former tennis players). If possible, they now may be more hooked on pickleball than we are. They make the drive (which in San Diego is a contact sport) to Bobby Riggs almost daily for the quality of the program and the opportunity to get better through play and lessons. Every time we played there during our short visit, the pickleball courts were full and the tennis courts had a robust youth clinic underway. As happens at a country club with a mixture of activities, all of the players happily went about their day enjoying sports that they love under “one roof”.

As Dave and I were leaving Bobby Riggs on our final day, a pickleball player we had briefly stopped to watch (DJ Young), followed us out. “How are you two doing,” he inquired. We met the masked young man and, masked up ourselves, told him we were certain we would be seeing more of him as we (by “we”, I mean Dave) follow pickleball competitions online. DJ and Callan Dawson recently won the PUNTA GORDA Men’s Doubles under 35. his example of friendliness and outreach is typical of the pickleball “culture”. It is well-known that pickleball adds a special connection among players that few sports do.

Pickleball and tennis live in harmony at Bobby Riggs Racket and Paddle. Without choosing one sport over the other, the Dawson family is doing a fantastic job of bringing their community together by providing a facility for tennis and pickleball players to mutually enjoy.

See you on the courts!


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