Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.
Boynton Beach resident Ken Friedman recently captured the gold at the 2021 USA Pickleball National Indoor Championships in Hoover, Alabama in June.
Friedman, who participated in the 4.0 skill level bracket, finished undefeated in the men’s singles 65+ division. He continued an impressive run after winning the gold at the Winter Classic in Naples in January and earning the gold at the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships in Naples in April.
Friedman is currently ranked No. 1 in the world by Pickleball Global in the men’s singles 65+ age group. He is joined by fellow Boynton Beach resident Art Silverman in men’s doubles competitions.
In the 4.0 skill level bracket and 60+ doubles division, they won the silver at the Winter Classic in Naples. They also picked up the bronze at the Delray Beach Pickleball Open and captured the silver at the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships.
Friedman and Silverman are currently ranked No. 10 in Florida and No. 19 in the world in the men’s doubles 60+ age group. Friedman and Silverman both represent Valencia Cove in the Palm Beach County Pickleball League.
Friedman will participate at the New Jersey Pickleball Open in August. He will also compete at the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships in Indian Wells, California in December.
Freidman regularly trains on the pickleball courts at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. He previously played tennis at the University of Hawaii and participated on the circuit in Europe before serving as a tennis pro in Ohio.
He stopped playing tennis for several years after his concentration on work commitments while living in Cooper City. He said he was intrigued to participate in pickleball after relocating to Boynton Beach.
“As soon as I played for the first time, I picked it up quickly,” Friedman said. “It’s great exercise and it’s really social. After playing a game, you come off the court and meet a lot of different people and change courts and play with others. I have met really nice people and good friends and the camaraderie is great. It’s fantastic and you can participate in a tournament every month.”
Friedman battled a life-threatening situation five years ago after he was on a respirator from serious complications with pancreatitis. He has been focused on a healthy lifestyle and has found a passion for pickleball.
“It’s a great sport and it brings me back to my youth and keeps me active,” Friedman said. “It’s becoming more popular and a great sport for older people to keep you active to live longer. The sport has a lot of thinking and strategy involved and it keeps your mind going.”
Silverman, who has previously served as a captain for the Valencia Cove Pickleball team, will participate in the Pro Pickleball Association Orlando Cup in September.
“It’s really good exercise and I enjoy being social and meeting terrific people,” Silverman said. “I have a lot of fun.”
Palm Beach Gardens resident and pickleball professional Andrei Daescu captured a gold medal in the Men’s Open Doubles Division at the USA Pickleball National Indoor Championships.
Morning Update Newsletter
Start your day with the top stories in South Florida.
Daescu is a former tennis All-American at the University of Oklahoma. He is a former professional tennis player who competed in the US Open and also represented Romania in the Davis Cup.
Daescu currently serves as a pickleball and tennis instructor at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens. Daescu, who was introduced to pickleball in 2017 for the first time while playing in an exhibition event at BallenIsles, has helped to establish and elevate the pickleball program.
He runs clinics and tournaments and has seen an increase in members participating and taking lessons. BallenIsles has six pickleball courts and is making preparations to expand with additional courts.
“It’s popular on the west coast of Florida and definitely growing here,” Daescu said. “The game is so accessible and the learning curve is shorter. There are a lot of tournaments to play in. It’s not as physically demanding and great exercise for the residents in the 55-and-older communities. The residents in the private clubs are getting more involved.”
Daescu is currently a member of Team Selkirk and has enjoyed success by winning several pickleball tournaments in Florida. Selkirk Sport is the leading pickleball paddle and accessory brand with Made in USA paddles for both professional and recreational players.
In the USA Pickleball National Indoor Championships, Boynton Beach resident Pamela Garcia won the gold in the women’s doubles 55+ division and also took the silver in both the women’s singles and mixed doubles in the 65+ division. Boca Raton resident Toby Kaye won the silver in both the men’s singles and men’s doubles 70+ division.