Pickleball power: Women’s league popular in Palm Beach County

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The Women’s POWER Pickleball League has provided an opportunity for senior female athletes in Palm Beach County to play in a competitive setting while socializing and having fun in the process. The league has continued to grow and gain in popularity with its highest number of participants and teams participating during the spring 2022 season.

The Women’s POWER Pickleball League includes country clubs and private communities, featuring teams from Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and Lake Worth. Catherine Barton and Robin Warner formed the first women’s pickleball league for 55-and-older residents across Palm Beach County in 2019.

Barton, who serves as the director of sports at Valencia Reserve in Boynton Beach, said one of the biggest challenges for women athletes over 55 is finding a competitive and safe venue for playing sports. The women athletes who have competed in USTA or inter-club leagues in tennis have embraced pickleball as an outlet for social and physical activity.

“As pickleball leagues were developing, it was male dominated and women often found themselves playing against strong male picklers,” Barton said. “This made it difficult for women to hone their paddle skills and techniques. Likewise, when women sought all-female venues, they found themselves playing 35-and-older female athletes. It was another challenge in and of itself.”

The Women's POWER Pickleball League in Palm Beach County is growing in numbers for the spring 2022 season.

The Women’s POWER Pickleball League in Palm Beach County is growing in numbers for the spring 2022 season. (Catherine Barton / Courtesy)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Barton and Warner took advantage of restricted play by holding scrimmages within communities to build a network of women who were interested in competing and playing pickleball.

During the first season of the Women’s POWER Pickleball League in 2019-2020, they had about 150 participants. The recent fall season, which featured over 360 women and 25 teams, concluded in February. The spring 2022 season has over 660 women with 34 teams.

“The buzz about the league is reaching a new high,” Barton said. “There is a strong demand for this women’s league.”

The Women’s POWER Pickleball League has a mission to support women’s social and physical health by playing competitive pickleball. The league is dedicated to advocating for women’s pickleball, supporting 55-and-older community play, promoting health and wellness and including women with a wide range of skill levels to have fun.

Pickleball, which is a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, is one of the fastest growing sports for all ages. The game of pickleball has continued to grow with new leagues forming in Palm Beach County.

The Boomer Pickleball League recently wrapped up its inaugural fall season for men and women. The Valencia Reserve Blasters, based in Boynton Beach, captured the Division A Championship in dramatic fashion in a thrilling finals match against the Polo Trace Defibs.

The Boomer Pickleball League was initiated by Paul Thaler, a resident of Valencia Shores in Lake Worth. Valencia Shores was unable to enter into the Palm Beach County Pickleball League because of league rules, which allows participating communities with hard surface courts. Valencia Shores features clay courts, which prompted Thaler to start a separate co-ed league.

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The fall season, which had less restrictions for participants, had 22 squads and consisted of Division A with 10 teams and Division B with 12 squads.

The Valencia Reserve Blasters were able to avenge a regular season loss to the Polo Trace Defibs in the finals. The matchup featured the two teams playing doubles matches with pairs of players of different skill levels on the court. The winning team needed to secure three of five sets to earn the title. The two teams were locked in a 2-2 tie in the final match as the winner needed to reach 11 points and win by two. Valencia Reserve won the tie-breaking game by a score of 14-12 to earn the championship.

The Valencia Reserve Blasters won the inaugural fall season Division A championship in the Boomer Pickleball league.

The Valencia Reserve Blasters won the inaugural fall season Division A championship in the Boomer Pickleball league. (Catherine Barton / Courtesy)

Chuck DeMoisy, who serves as the Valencia Reserve Pickleball Club vice president, recognized the contributions of the Boomer Pickleball League’s board of director members. Neil Ostrow contributed with scheduling and as a webmaster to help manage the league.

“I want to congratulate all the teams that made this first year so amazing and fun,” DeMoisy said. ” I want to thank Paul Thaler also for helping to make it all happen.”

The Valencia Reserve Blasters championship team included Doug Branch, Bruce Conan, Chuck DeMoisy, Alan Gitlin, Jeff Goldberg, Dennis Harkins, Don Kalfus, Gary Lotenberg, Marty Messinger, Joyce Nierow, Tom Rosati, Steve Rubin, Alan Schreiber, Bob Shuster, Ed Siler, Neil Tafeen, Al Volchik and Gary Wagner. DeMoisy served as a captain and Kalfus was a co-captain who contributed with setting lineups for each match.

The 2022 Valencia Invitational Pickleball tournament will take place April 2-3 in Boynton Beach and feature 10 participating communities. The 55-and-older participants will be from the Valencia communities in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and Lake Worth.

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