Further evidence of the tennis community accepting that pickleball is not just the new kid on the block but is here to stay comes with the news that the USTA Mid-Atlantic Foundation has announced the January opening of Village Pickle in Loudoun County, Virginia. This will be the county’s first dedicated indoor pickleball facility.
Vacant Retail Space
The Village at Leesburg will use its vacant retail space to house the new center, which will initially feature four courts with the intention of expanding to eight during the summer.
The driving force behind this idea is Henry Fonvielle, president of Rappaport, the overseeing entity for leasing at the Village at Leesburg.
Last summer, Fonvielle set up temporary courts in an empty storefront, which sparked huge interest among pickleball enthusiasts, with over 150 participants turning up. The popularity of the event prompted Fonvielle to realize that a permanent venture had potential.
“Wow, this is really going to work,” Fonvielle remembers thinking at the time.
Came Together Quickly
This idea led to invitations to pickleball organizations for them to establish permanent courts and ultimately resulted in a partnership with the USTA.
Fonvielle highlighted the alignment with the nonprofit’s focus on health and wellness, noting the swift, grassroots development of the initiative.
“It has really come together quickly,” Fonvielle told Norman K. Styer at Loudoun Now, “It happened at a very grassroots manner.”
Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, CEO of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Foundation, talked enthusiastically about the center, highlighting the alignment with the organization’s efforts to establish a top-notch tennis competition complex in the Leesburg vicinity.
“We really want to create a home in Loudoun County,” she said.
Mutual Benefits Of Tennis And Pickleball
The Foundation, although primarily focused on tennis, has collaborated with pickleballers for two years, culminating in this innovative indoor court concept.
Fitzpatrick-Navarro emphasized the mutual benefits of tennis and pickleball, foreseeing the nation’s first USTA-operated indoor pickleball space.
“There is a lot of compliments to the two sports,” she said.
Recognizing the surge in pickleball’s popularity and how it now attracts players of various ages and skill levels, Fitzpatrick-Navarro also highlighted the sport’s inclusive nature. She anticipates the Leesburg Center will promote inclusivity, increasing its appeal to diverse demographics.
“This will be a welcoming place for all people,” she said.
Fonvielle said the location at the Village of Leesburg, Virginia, with its bowling alley, movie theater, and trampoline center, in addition to restaurants and bars, will provide the ideal combination of amenities to make the new USTA facility a success.
He envisions ideal family scenarios: “You can drop the kids at the movies, play pickleball, and then go out to dinner,” he said.
Scheduled to open in January, Village Pickle’s opening hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, providing food and beverages at the Dell Food & Brew Hall.
The USTA plans to introduce a monthly membership fee of $125, with special packages for the first 200 members, offering benefits such as free play, court rentals, and early access to various programs.
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