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Tampa Pickleball Crew, Pickletopia unite for a kids summer camp

Photo courtesy of Pickletopia
Goodson and Koval are shown with several campers and their prizes.

Starting them young apparently is the primary goal as Pickletopia and the Tampa Pickleball Crew recently united for a kids summer camp. Sessions took place on four recently added courts at the Crew’s Ybor City warehouse.

The inaugural camps, for ages 9-14, ran for two of four weeks in June with nearly 30 boys and girls in attendance. Campers learned fundamentals, shot mechanics and rules of the game from Pickletopia instructors Lisa Krawetz, Stacey Koval, Trevor Smith and Greg Goodson.

“We’ve had some amazing kids come through,” said Krawetz, Pickletopia’s founder. “The kids are getting really good.”

Photo courtesy of Pickletopia
Boys and girls toss pickleballs into the air.

Koval, the lead instructor for the camp, believes that teaching the fast-growing sport to a younger generation is long overdue.

“The parents were playing, grandparents were playing,” she said. “Now, we get to bring the kids in.”

Koval launched a pickleball program this year at Academy Prep, a middle school in Tampa. Like many avid pickleball players she excelled in tennis. She and her husband David, who works in financial services, moved to the Tampa Bay area from North Carolina nearly four years ago.

“I fell in love with pickleball,” said Koval, who began playing the sport with Krawetz and eventually became an instructor.

“She’s doing what she loves to do,” Krawetz said of Koval. “She has great energy that she gives the kids.”

Photo courtesy of Pickletopia
Campers in a circle reach in to touch paddles.

Working on the basics, as well as making it fun and working in some physical fitness routines, were part of Koval’s program. Like Krawetz, she was impressed with how well the campers took to the sport.

“Every child was able to improve,” Koval said. “We met them at their level and they were able to progress. The parents recognized that.”

Added Krawetz, “Kids were able to connect with (others) on the court; [they were] trying a new sport and getting better.”

Another four-day kids camp session at the open-air facility in Ybor City begins July 29.

Courtesy of Pickletopia
Pickletopia instructors were Lisa Krawetz, Greg Goodson, Stacey Koval and Trevor Smith.

“We’re planning another one at the end of the summer because the demand was there,” Krawetz said.

The kids camp is not the only option for the younger generation joining the pickleball craze. At Tampa Bay Pickleball, an air-conditioned indoor facility in Oldsmar, high school tournaments have been played monthly since January.

Kids divisions also have been part of tournaments run by Pickleball Fanatics at the Land O’Lakes Recreation Complex and Pickle Man Inc. in Lutz.

Additionally, Mitchell Elementary in Tampa added pickleball to its after-school recreation program this past spring.


Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Pickletopia

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