USA Pickleball Junior Connection – Florida Shines on Junior Pickleball

USA Pickleball Junior Connection – Florida Shines on Junior Pickleball

By USAPA Juniors Committee Chair Bob Nibarger

Pictona at Holly Hill Florida – Junior Pickleball Within the Planning Process

Our Beginning

Waiting to play at the crowded Daytona Beach Shores courts, Chuck Mecklem, a fellow pickleball player turned and said to local enthusiast Rainer Martens, “We need more pickleball courts. “Would you join a group of us to see what we can do?” That started a three-year odyssey that led to a public-private partnership between the City of Holly Hill and Martens Charities, the foundation that Rainer Martens and his wife Julie created. The City of Holly Hill, nestled in between Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach, offered the use of a mostly idol 15-acre park located in the heart of the city to build more courts. All that was needed was to raise the money to build the courts. Julie and Rainer knew that would take years; too long for them to wait. The Martens had just sold a hotel and restaurant, so they decided to help fund Pictona, the name being a blending of PICkleball + dayTONA. The City contributed $1.3 million, grants and donations amounted to $500,000, and Martens Charities paid the balance of what became a $6 million project. Pictona is a not-for-profit club that operates the facility and its programs. Pictona has 24 spacious courts, 8 under cover, and a 9000 sq. ft. clubhouse which contains a restaurant called the Kitchen (of course), locker rooms, a games room, and senior activity center.

Community Centered Focus

Pictona is more than a pickleball facility; it’s a community center focused on physical activity and healthy living and includes table tennis, croquet, shuffleboard, bocce ball, and horseshoes. The facility optimizes viewing of pickleball with a 180-foot balcony above the covered courts and bleachers with shade covers at many of the courts. Pictona has a community garden for children and adults to grow vegetables, and a hydroponic garden that will provide the vegetables served in the Kitchen. The facility is only the means to accomplish what the club wants to achieve. Through pickleball and other physical activities Pictona’s mission is to help children and adults live an active, healthy life by playing pickleball and other physical activities.

Youth Pickleball Key Ingredient

One initiative is to develop a Youth Pickleball Program consisting of a curriculum developed by physical educators’ Lu Kandt and Mary Burns. With their leadership Pictona will implement the curriculum with local schools this fall, teaching physical educators and pickleball instructors how to provide well-planned, progressive instruction to fourth through eighth grade students. Pictona was fortunate to have received a substantial grant from Brown & Brown Insurance company to fund their efforts for the next five years. This fall the group will take portable nets and equipment to the schools to introduce pickleball and then invite these students and their parents to come to Pictona for a day of fun. The students will receive instruction from our team of volunteers, and the parents receive the same on separate courts. After a break of milk and cookies for the adults and vegetables for the kids, the team will bring everyone together for family pickleball. According to Rainer,  “We aspire to share our curriculum and teaching methods with physical educators across the country to make this wonderful lifetime sport a standard part of physical education curriculums and after school programs. We wish to do the same in sharing our program with instructors who teach young people this sport. Our immediate purpose is to provide students an excellent introduction to the sport. Later we will develop more advanced curriculums for those who want to enjoy competitive play and those who want to improve their skills for recreational play. It’s all coming to Pictona soon. Our facility opens July 15 and our grand opening is September 26- 27, 2020.”

Special thanks to Rainer and Julie Martens and their team for this informative and creative approach to junior pickleball.   To submit an article to Junior Connection, please send us a note at

Rainer and Julie Martens with Mimi Cook, Pictona Club President, at the ground breaking of Pictona at Holly Hill.

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