How to plan ahead for the busy tennis and pickleball courts during the BNP Paribas Open

Mary BarsaleauSpecial to The Desert Sun

Every year, the Coachella Valley gets an influx of tennis and pickleball players who are here to watch the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at Indian Wells. The event runs this year from March 3-17, so we will have tons of people here during that time who want to find both tennis and pickleball courts where they can play before they go to the Indian Wells venue. Courts

Let's talk tennis courts: Because the Coachella Valley, unlike other areas, does not open the public high school courts to the public, there is a dearth of tennis courts for the public. If you have them in your HOA, or you belong to a club, then no worries. If you just want to play before you go to the BNP, then you have a few options:
** Three courts at Civic Center Park in Palm Desert
** 1 court at Demuth Park in Palm Springs
** 8 courts at Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs
** 4 courts at Fritz Burns Park in La Quinta
** 2 courts at Cahuilla Hills Park in Palm Desert
** 1-2 courts in Cathedral City at Panorama Park
** 1 court near the graveyard on DeVall at a Community Park in Cathedral City
** Palm Springs Tennis Club – private
** Various private tennis clubs – google them My suggestion: During the BNP Paribas Open, open the high school tennis courts to the public after school hours. Most other cities open their public schools’ courts to the public after school hours. These courts should be open to the public after school and after team practice all year round. This is taxpayer money paying for a public-school facility, and they should benefit from being able to play there after school.

Pickleball courts: Here are the public venues where you can play pickleball during this busy period:
** Demuth Park – Palm Springs: 12 courts. White board rotation system. Busy every morning. ** Civic Center Park – Palm Desert: 12 courts. Paddle line-up system. Busy in the morning.
** Rancho Mirage Community Park: 10 courts. Paddle saddle system.
** Freedom Park: 8 courts. Paddle line up system.
** Fritz Burns Park – La Quinta: 16 courts. Paddle line up system.
** Bagdouma Park – Coachella: 2 outdoor courts.
** Salvation Army, Cathedral City (indoor): 3 courts. Check website for times.
** James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center(indoor): 2 courts.
** Demuth Park Community Center (indoor): 2 courts.
** Indio Community Center: 2 indoor courts. Pickleball courts: Here are the private clubs where there is a fee to play or join:
** Pickled Bar: 4 indoor courts – private.
** Pickleball Paradise: private club – 21 Pickleball courts. 1 tennis court.
** Palm Springs Tennis Club: they have Pickleball – contact them directly.
** PDR in Palm Desert: Contact them directly.
** Westin Mission Hills: Contact them directly. ** Mission Hills: Private club; contact them directly.
** Del Webb: Private HOA – contact them directly. Many HOA’s have pickleball, but you must be a guest of a resident. I might have missed some venues, please let me know and I can add it next week.

Tips during this busy time Because we will have a huge influx of visitors and players for the next two weeks, here are a few tips to get your pickleball fix in during this crazy time:
** Go super early, 6:30 a.m. before the crowds
** Go in the middle of the day when they are attending the Indian Wells event
** Go in the evening because most public courts have lights
** Avoid mornings, it will be crazy busy!
** Find a friend who has courts in their HOA and ask if you can meet there to play as a guest. ** Find a friend who has a membership in a private club, such as PDR, Pickleball Paradise, Westin Mission Hills, or Mission Hills. Ask to be invited as a guest.
** Borrow a portable net. As a USA Ambassador, I have seven nets, and I would be glad to lend them out to you during this crazy time. With a portable net, you can set up on the courts at Cahuilla Hills in Palm Desert (near the Bump and Grind hiking trail). They have eight sets of pickleball lines painted, so you just need to bring your own net. You could also set up on a public basketball court.
** Set-up a portable net in your garage, backyard, etc. Get your drilling in and avoid the crowds. Another option: During the next two weeks, take a break from pickleball. If you are obsessed, maybe take a step back and pursue hiking, biking, horseback riding, watching tennis, gym workouts, walking, jogging, yoga, swimming, aerobics, Pilates, weight-training, bocce ball or golf. People will be frustrated, excited, anxious, impatient. Help the situation by removing yourself from the drama.

After March 17, they will be gone. A useful tool is the Places to Play button on the USA Pickleball website. You can search by state, city, and find court locations, cost, times, etc. Upcoming dates
March 16: Grand Opening of the Rancho Mirage Community Park Pickleball Courts
March 17: Paddle for St. Paddy’s Pickleball Round Robin
March 31: April Fool’s and Easter Round Robin Both events are on the website. Email Mary to enter the event: [email protected]

Coach Mary's Tip of the Week "I Need More Topspin" As in, I need more Cowbell! from Saturday Night Live I never had topspin in high school tennis. I mastered slice but could not figure out topspin. In pickleball, I was able to develop topspin, and it is a critical tool for those who want to elevate their game. Key points: Topspin is created by taking your paddle from low to high. Start at 6 o’clock, with your paddle pointed down at the ground. Brush over the ball, toward the net and finish with your paddle coming over the ball with your knuckles facing the sky.
** When at the baseline, drive topspin, so your shot travels over the net and drops down to your opponent’s knees. This is an unattackable ball.
** When in the transition zone, use ¾ of your power. This is a touch shot. Low to high, roll over the ball, and make it drop at your opponent’s knees.
** When at the NVZ, use 50% of your power, and roll the ball from low to high to attack your opponent at the knees. Check out the following videos: Zane works with a player who is frustrated with his returns. He attempts to get this player to go low to high, and to engage his shoulders and off arm to create rotation. Watch this video to see the improvement from the beginning to the end with Zane’s student. Jordan Briones demonstrates an effective topspin serve. He shows paddle position, use of hips and shoulders, contact in front and follow-through. End your stroke pointing to the proper service box. Use your shoulders, by throwing your non-dominant arm behind you as you execute the serve. Simone Jardines does a mini lesson on the two-handed topspin backhand. She stresses:
** Short backswing
** Low to high
** Follow-through over your shoulder
** Use your left arm to create power and follow-through.
** Watch each of these videos several times, and then go out and drill! Be sure to realize that you need to engage your core, your hips, and your shoulders when you want to create topspin. ** Low to High! Follow-through out, out, out, then up and over your shoulder.
** When closer to the NVZ, use less power, and more finesse to execute the topspin.
Pickleball columnist Mary Barsaleau in Palm Springs, Calif., on September 29, 2021.