RANCHO SANTA FE — Pickleball is finding its niche in Rancho Santa Fe.
The Rancho Santa Fe Association board unanimously approved the long-awaited Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club’s new pickleball membership at its Aug. 8 meeting.
The membership will allow covenant residents to participate regularly in what some have called one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. Pickleball is a paddleball sport that looks a whole lot like tennis, but on a much smaller court and with players using solid paddles.
The club has had a pickleball program in addition to its tennis program for the last four years, and has seven pickleball courts structured within two of its tennis courts.
Pickleball players in the covenant currently have the option to either have a private lesson, attend the club’s Saturday clinics, pay the non-member fee or play as a guest of a tennis club member up to 12 times per year.
But now, the club is hoping to step up its commitment to the sport.
“The time has come, everybody in our local tennis world has a pickleball membership and we would like to have one,” Tennis Club President Courtney LeBeau said.
Representatives of the club told the board that people have been regularly expressing an interest, and there are viable candidates to join the new membership. The club is hoping to attract 25 covenant residents to the pickleball membership.
“We figured it was just a way to reach out to the community that is not being included with our activities,” LeBeau said.
The annual dues for pickleball members would be $600.The enrollment fee for the membership would be $500, or $250 for covenant members who are already part of the Golf Club.
The club’s staff are also hoping to bring in 10 sponsored memberships — which would be charged at $800 annually. Sponsored memberships would be for pickleball players outside of the covenant community.
Board member Sharon Ruhnau, who has expressed opposition in the past to sponsored memberships in the tennis club, was hesitant to approve a service that would “embrace people who don’t live here.”
“ … My concern is the continual creep of non-covenant members in the tennis club,” she said.
The board opted to approve the membership for covenant residents, and come back in December to gauge demand for the sport within the community. At that point, the board will consider whether to approve sponsored members within the pickleball membership.
Top: Pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, is similar to tennis but played on a much smaller court. Stock photo