“The Wimbledon of pickleball will be in our backyard,” Holly Hill Mayor Chris Via joked.
Ormond Beach resident Rainer Martens used to travel the world with his softball team, the Florida Legends, the most decorated senior softball team in the United States. He retired from softball in 2015, and the desire grew for him to transition to another sport.
He chose pickleball, which his wife, Julie Martens, had been playing since 2012.
“I felt like I needed to go play her sport,” he said. “It’s been great.”
The Martenses noticed a lack of court-availability in the greater Daytona area. So, with a public-private partnership with the city of Holly Hill, the Martens celebrated the ground opening for Pictona, a 24-court pickleball sports complex at Holly Land Park, located at 1066 Ridgewood Ave.
The ceremony took place on the afternoon of Friday, March 10, and included Holly Hill Mayor Chris Via, City Manager Joe Forte, Commissioner John Penny, the Martenses, and Pickleball Daytona’s Mimi Cook, who is also an Ormond Beach resident.
“The Wimbledon of pickleball will be in our backyard,” Via joked.
The courts, which are scheduled to open in 2020, will host leagues, tournaments, instructors and more.
And beyond the need to have more access to the sport, the Martenses are a couple invested in physical activity.
“Our entire careers have been around physical activity,” said Rainer Martens, who was a professor of sports psychology and the owner of a publishing company that published physical activity resources. “This gave us an opportunity to support more physical activity in a community we felt needed it.”
Julie Martens added: “This will be a community center for active people.”
The Martenses, along with all the others involved in the process, stuck golden shovels into the ground, signaling “the first real step in seeing it come to fruition.”
“We’ve got a lot to do,” Julie Martens said. “But this was step No. 1.”