It was a slam dink.
Take arguably the fastest-growing sport out there and host a two-day tournament for fanatics of pickleball and, sure enough, players showed up to compete.
Pickleball Fanatics — a pair of pickleball instructors based in Central Pasco — hosted an adult and youth tournament at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway, with players coming from near and far to compete in different divisions and competitions.
About 120 players showed up — including 18 youth players — as the duo of Kathy McCausey and Val Thomopalos looked to promote the sport. They also are using the proceeds to benefit the rec complex — specifically to get public, permanent courts either there or at a nearby location.
“The demand for (permanent pickleball) courts is very significant,” McCausey said. “It’s really just about getting enough money and talking to the right people to get it approved.”
McCausey and Thomopalos say they’ve been working to communicate with the Pasco County Commission to get public, permanent courts, specifically in the Central Pasco area.
Besides the rec complex, other possible locations are Land O’ Lakes Heritage Park and Wesley Chapel District Park. The pickleball partners also mentioned the county might want courts at Starkey Ranch District Park, as well.
Currently, when pickleball players get together, temporary lines are put on tennis courts. Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Center in Zephyrhills has pickleball courts, but using them requires a membership.
“They don’t really like having to put down lines every time,” Thomopalos said. “We really want something just for pickleball in Central Pasco, and this sport is absolutely popular enough to warrant them.”
The duo has raised somewhere between $10,000 to $15,000, but definitely know it will take a lot more money — as well as the backing of a county board member — to achieve their goal.
But for now, Pickleball Fanatics will continue to promote the sport by hosting free play, tournaments and the rest of the pickleball craze.
“Anyone can come out and play,” Thomopalos said. “There are no requirements, no experience level — if you want to come play pickleball, come play pickleball with us!”
Details: Led by Kathay McCausey and Val Thomopalos, the two instructors give lessons, run tournaments and coordinate impromptu meet-ups of pickleball enthusiasts in Central Pasco.
Info: Visit PickleballFanatics.biz, or email .
Published October 25, 2023