Pickleball’s growth causing racket among SWFL tennis players 

Author: Samantha Roesler, Gulfshore Business
Published: Updated:

Tennis has been part of Carl Back’s life since he was a child, starting in elementary school. He remembers visiting his parents on Marco Island in the ’80s and playing recreationally there, along with where he used to live in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Back moved to Marco Island six years ago but has been a member of its club for a decade. Now, he and other tennis players may have to find another home court.  

In October, the Marco Island City Council approved design plans for Phase 1 of reconstructing the city-owned racquet club. The $786,000 project will involve removing two clay tennis courts and replacing them with eight pickleball courts. If funded, Phase 2 will remove the tennis courts entirely, making room for 24 pickleball courts.

Back thinks it’s a money game for the city of Marco Island. There are 405 pickleball members at the racquet club with 430 people on the waiting list. There are about 80 tennis members with more openings available at the club. A tennis membership costs $360, more than double the cost of a $180 pickleball membership, but clay tennis courts cost about $5,000 a year to maintain, whereas a pickleball court can last about five years before it needs to be resurfaced. 

“I mean, I can’t fault them for that, because there’s certainly a high demand for pickleball,” Back said.

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