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Darcy Shore plays against her father, Josh Shore, at Vegas Indoor Pickleball. (K.M Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smash hit
Inside Southern Nevada’s pickleball boom
This story first appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of rjmagazine, a quarterly published inside the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Inside the pickleball craze in Southern Nevada

Step inside Vegas Indoor Pickleball on any given day, and you’ll see the indoor courts packed with players rallying the yellow plastic balls back and forth. You might also catch them, sweat-soaked and beaming, high-fiving owner Nina Lemansky as they leave.

The facility, which opened last fall, is a haven for pickleball enthusiasts of all levels. Tyson McGuffin, one of the top pros in the country, has even stopped by.

As interest in pickleball exploded in the Las Vegas Valley and pickleball players wanted to compete rain or shine, an indoor court made perfect sense. Lemansky, who has sensitive skin, used heavy sunscreen when she played, which dripped into her eyes. An indoor court helps protect her skin and ensures that she and others can play without interruption from Mother Nature.

Darcy Shore, 16, plays at Vegas Indoor Pickleball. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Darcy Shore, 16, plays at Vegas Indoor Pickleball. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Lemansky attributes the sport’s appeal to it being a “social unity tool” and an all-around activity for all ages and physical levels. “Some of the best pickleball players have never been athletic,” she says. “And they seem to be able to play the game well and enjoy being in a game that has a little bit of competition and a lot of socialization.” She also says it’s healthy to move the body and work on hand-eye coordination and positioning, while making friends within the pickleball community.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. Today, the low-impact, easy-to-learn sport continues to surge nationally and remains the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. with 48.3 million players.

Phil Wexler, 58, of Miami plays at Vegas Indoor Pickleball. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Phil Wexler, 58, of Miami plays at Vegas Indoor Pickleball. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Las Vegas will host two national events this year: a USA Pickleball-connected tournament in June at the Las Vegas Convention Center and a Professional Pickleball Association event in October at the Darling Tennis Center.

Pickleball is growing so fast locally that Clark County is working hard to keep up with demand.

“Over the past few years, the sport has become popular in Clark County, just as everywhere else,” says Richard A. Mueller, public information coordinator, for Clark County Parks and Recreation, who explains that community courts have been added at Sunset, Echo Trail, Bob Price, Sunrise, Cougar Creek, Lone Mountain Regional and Hollywood parks and will be added to two park projects over the next year to make the rapidly growing sport accessible to residents. “We do plan to incorporate it in future projects. In addition to park projects, many gymnasiums have been lined to offer indoor pickleball during select days and hours.”

Amie Taylor and Brian Sachs compete at Vegas Indoor Pickleball. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-J ...
Amie Taylor and Brian Sachs compete at Vegas Indoor Pickleball. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Catering to demand, Lemansky plans to make Vegas Indoor Pickleball a round-the-clock facility. “Some of the gyms are open 24 hours,” she says. “We want to introduce pickleball as a 24-hour activity for the local industry people.”

Those who are new to pickleball find it addictive after they start. Mireya Chavarria, who is a part of the Vegas Indoor Pickleball team, didn’t know the sport existed until Lemansky took her to the park to play. Now, she looks forward to it at the end of each week.

“It’s a stress relief,” says Chavarria, a grandmother, who adds that pickleball shakes up her routine. “Honestly, it does make you feel different.” ◆

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