League. “You need a stable platform, shoes made for tennis
or pickleball,” Ann Chauss says. “Other athletic shoes are too
squishy. The chance of injuries is greater.”
BEST TO START SLOWLY
Jamie Chauss encourages new athletes to listen to their
bodies and start slowly, as they would with any sport. “Many
people play every day, but it’s good to give yourself a day off.”
One of pickleball’s appeals is the ability to jump right in.
Signing up with an instructor is a good place to start, learning
the basics and how to keep score. Paddle costs range from
less than $20 to more than $200, so it’s best to try the game
before investing much money.
Ann Chauss played tennis for five years before discovering
pickleball. “There’s a learning curve. I picked it up fast
because of tennis but anyone can learn within a month.” She
and her husband started playing on improvised courts at
their community in Stuart. “I stood there reading the printed
instructions. We did half of it wrong at first,” she says.
They began looking for communities with better courts.
PGA Village Verano off Crosstown Parkway in Port St. Lucie
was under construction at the time, promising 27 courts. “We
moved before they were even done,” she says.
The 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry report shows that more
than half of pickleball players who play eight or more times a
year are in the 55-plus category; close to a third are older than
65. The average age, however, is under 40. The fun, challenge
and social aspects of the sport draw a younger crowd.
In 2019, 31-year-old Blake Casino and a friend were looking
for something to do. Checking out a Port St. Lucie events
website, they discovered that the World Pickleball Open was
being held that same day at Verano.
“I had no idea what pickleball was,” Casino remembers,
“but I figured that any world championship was worthwhile.”
The men were so intrigued by what they saw at the tournament
that they headed for a sporting goods store to buy
equipment. Researching public pickleball courts, they went to
Whispering Pines Park on Southwest Darwin Boulevard. “It
was almost completely empty,” Casino says.
Casino started promoting pickleball to friends, recruiting
players. Just as things started picking up, COVID-19 hit. Although
court play slowed down, interest grew, with players
honing their skills in driveways and backyards.
When parks opened back up, Casino says the sport “exploded.
During season now, Monday through Friday, you’ll
see every court filled.”
Of the 64 parks in Port St. Lucie, only Whispering Pines
Park and Winterlakes Park include outdoor pickleball courts.
Indoor courts are available at MidFlorida Credit Union Event
Center, as well as at Minsky Gym, within Whispering Pines.
“The city needs to step up,” Ann Chauss says. “We play
during the day, but if I worked, I’d want to play at night.
Port St. Lucie needs more courts and more lighted courts.”
Several local planned communities have pickleball courts
with instructors on hand and on-site clinics. “Walking trails
are the still the most asked-for amenity,” Jamie Chauss says.
“Golf used to be No. 2. Now, it’s pickleball.”
The Chausses work with Treasure Coast House Hunters,
marketing homes specifically for pickleball enthusiasts. “As
pickleball players ourselves,” their website states, “we are >>
PGA Village Verano has been called the Pickleball Center of South Florida. In November, it hosted the Cresswind Cup tournament for seven southeastern
Kolter communities, winning many of the trophies.
Port St. Lucie Magazine 21