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Brothers juggle school with running their new indoor pickleball facility

Kennedy and Ben Klaus are back at school, but they have not quit their summer jobs. Even though they are at different campuses, the brothers still run Tampa Bay Pickleball at the Oldsmar Flea Market.

“They’re kind of juggling,” said Eric Klaus, their father who financially backed the indoor facility that opened in April. “It’s their thing but I can help them behind the scenes.”

Kennedy and Ben Klaus pose for a photo at their indoor pickleball facility.
The Klaus brothers, Kennedy and Ben, are the driving force behind Tampa Bay Pickleball.

For Kennedy, a junior at the University of Alabama, it is a bit more challenging than it is for Ben, an Alonso High junior.

“I work on the backend,” said 20-year-old Kennedy, noting that he handles scheduling for the various programs offered along with some customer service and website duties. “It’s a

juggling act, not being at the facility.”

Ben, 16, makes a short drive to the facility after school and handles more of the on-site management with some accounting duties. That will change in the spring when he plays lacrosse for Alonso, a sport Kennedy also played at that school.

Ben Klaus plays on the indoor courts at Tampa Bay Pickleball.
Ben Klaus plays on the indoor courts at Tampa Bay Pickleball.

What started the ball rolling was the boys’ grandmother, Elaine Klaus, who got into pickleball and encouraged family members to check it out. Eric said they were reluctant at first.

“Now she makes fun of us because we’ve got a pickleball place,” he said.

For her part, Elaine is an avid player and proud of her family’s involvement in the sport.

“They’d always joke with me, ‘Pickleball is for old people, grandma,’” she recalled. “Here they are now, owning a facility and loving the sport. I’m proud of how hard they work and love how they are building relationships and a community.”

Elaine Klaus plays pickleball on the indoor Tampa Bay Pickleball courts.
Elaine Klaus, an avid player, got her grandsons into pickleball.

Not long after the brothers and their father began playing pickleball, the boys dropped by his office on New Year’s Eve to tell them about a vacant warehouse at the flea market and how indoor pickleball courts could be a family-run business.

The boys were not new to startups, Kennedy having set up a pressure-washing business when he was 10. The brothers are not quite sure of what’s in store for Tampa Bay Pickleball, but already there is talk of expansion and improvements.

Ben Klaus, instructor Erin Brown, Eric Klaus and Kennedy Klaus pose for a photo at the Tampa Bay Pickleball facility.
Getting together for a group photo at the facility are Ben Klaus, instructor Erin Brown, Eric Klaus and Kennedy Klaus.

“It’s a fun journey so far,” said Ben, adding that the best part about running the business is spending time with his father and brother.

“Never in a million years did we guess that we’d get into pickleball,” Kennedy added. “I didn’t realize how good (the sport) is and how much strategy is involved.”

By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Eric Klaus

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