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A really big dill: Local tennis pro to open pickleball courts

New resident realizes dream of creating home for sport

Patty Hullett
Mirror correspondent
Midlothian resident Michelle Cornish shows off her new courts at Pickleball Paradise TX, which will be opening soon.
The sun sets behind a beautiful lake at Pickleball Paradise TX, which will be opening soon in Midlothian.

A former youth tennis star in all levels and ages as a member of the United States Tennis Association (U.S.T.A.), on to a scholarship/collegiate career at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, to an adult pro who has spent all her years from age 8 to present day, this vibrant and talented lady has dedicated herself to the sport she so dearly loves – tennis.

Michelle (Knipp) Cornish and her husband Simon have recently relocated just outside of Midlothian to find a new kind of home. Their hope was to find a nice place away from the hustle and bustle of city life, with some additional land to be able to enjoy. They have lived in numerous locations in several different states over the years, but their new location seems to fit the bill for them.

New place to call home

Coach Michelle says, “We moved to an area close to Midlothian this last September, after loving and experiencing living an ‘urban’ life in downtown Dallas for five and a half years. However, we decided we wanted to look for our final ‘forever’ home in a more rural setting. We truly found our dream home by complete luck. Actually, we would say it was more fate than luck!”

Michelle continues, “A local home builder, named Chad Scott, built, lived in, and then put up for sale this lovely home and property that we feel beyond blessed to now own. Chad and his wife Trisha became instant friends to us and truly created a home of our dreams. Scott also supervised all of the construction projects surrounding the building of our new business venture called “Pickleball Paradise TX”, with four of our very own pickleball courts behind our house. We are even more excited about our decision about moving to the Midlothian area after meeting new neighbors and members of the community. We truly feel at ‘home’.”

“I am so proud to have MY VERY OWN pickleball courts,” says Michelle. “I am looking forward to a lot of great pickleball days and also of teaching ‘8 and under’ red ball tennis, as well as being an exclusive distributor and ambassador for Babolat and all of its branded products.”

What is pickleball?

Many folks might not even know what “pickleball” is. This relatively new sport was first invented and played in the summer of 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the private home of Joel Pritchard, who later served in Congress and as lieutenant governor.

Wikipedia says, “Pickleball is a paddleball sport (similar to a racquet sport) that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, much like a wiffle ball, with 26-40 round holes, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports.”

This new phenomenon was first played in the Pacific Northwest, and then it grew into warmer areas where “snow birds” (usual retired senior citizens) generally migrate to places like Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Florida. The innovative sport has spread like wildfire over the past 5 years or so. Estimate for active players has grown to 3.3 million in 2019, up 10% from 2016.

Michelle explains, “One of the reasons pickleball is unique and special, is because within a very short amount of time people of all ages and different levels of abilities can learn and enjoy how to play pickleball. It is true that pickleball became very popular with older generations, but now the game is proving to become a sport for all ages to enjoy for fun and also to have the opportunity to play competitively in.”

She continues, “Pickleball tournaments offer divisions for a wide range of aged players and levels. There are also now divisions for kids to play with their peers, too. Pickleball not only is a sport for all ages and all levels, but it also is a sport that players of all levels can enjoy playing together. Pickleball “levels” the playing field. I believe we have all learned to appreciate our outdoor activities that we can enjoy doing with our friends or family members – even more so after living through this pandemic that we have all experienced over this last year. In addition, if you have never seen pickleball played at a high competitive level, I highly encourage doing a ‘youtube’ search and watch some pickleball professional matches. They are amazing.”

Construction and final touches on courts and other amenities

According to Coach Michelle, the playing areas were built with top-of-the-line post tension foundation, to enable years of playing time on the 4 separate courts. It took 30 days for the concrete to cure before the surface coating and paint could be applied. Master Systems Courts, based in the DFW area, completed the courts by applying a court surfacing product and lines to give Pickleball Paradise TX the vibrant colors it now has. The courts are surrounded by a fence with two entrance/exit gates, made possible by Akins Metalworks and Ranch Construction. One of the gates opens up to a path to a bathroom for the use of the future pickleball players.

Michelle relays, “The exact date of the completion of the courts was February 5. We are presently working to get the bathroom facilities finished, and we’re also in the process of beautifying the area outside the courts.”

The new owner describes the area this way: “The lake behind the courts is beautiful and serene, and is the backdrop to the most incredible sunsets! Pickleball Paradise TX is set back off of Honeysuckle Road, just outside the Midlothian city limits, so during the spring and summer seasons the players will no doubt enjoy beautiful flowers blooming and the smells of the honeysuckles. In general terms, the actual location of the courts is west of the new Waxachachie High School on Highway 287 and further west of the community of Sardis.”

Getting ready for lessons, bookings, and league play

So when Michelle was asked about starting an Ellis County pickleball league, she proudly exclaims, “Absolutely! I want to share this fun sport with as many as I can in our new community. We have been extremely encouraged by people reaching out to inquire about the whispers of a unique pickleball club being built in our area. The pickleball community has been showing their support and their excitement and may be just as excited to get out on our courts as we are to have them there.”

The Cornish family plan is that Pickleball Paradise TX will provide the Ellis County people experiences that lead them to find value, fun, friendships and community within a growing sport, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The new business will be offering a “membership” to people in the surrounding communities who are looking for and will appreciate having a “boutique” type sports facility that will cater to giving players the utmost experience playing on regulation-size permanent courts, while enjoying the convenient location of the sports facility in-between Waxahachie and Midlothian.

A membership will allow individuals to book courts in advance and secure court reservations online. Coach Michelle will be offering set times for the open public to enjoy and see what the club offers. They look forward to becoming part of the community by creating special event booking times – allowing for fundraisers, team building, and community events. One of the greatest attributes about the pickleball community, is that the players truly want the sport to keep growing and for everyone to have the opportunity to find out why it has grown so quickly. Pickleball Paradise TX is an exclusive distributor for a sports industry company leader – Babolat, and it will offer pickleball and tennis sports equipment, clothing, and shoe apparel for sale.

Michelle says, “I am planning on a ‘soft’ opening in mid-March, with a grand opening/ribbon cutting event scheduled for the first weekend in May. The Grand Opening event will include special guests from the pickleball community, fun drills, prizes, display of products, equipment and more. We will be a “COVID Conscious” club and will make sure to adhere to CDC guidelines for all our outdoor activities.”

Contact information

To conclude, Michelle states, ““If interested in attending the May 1-2 Grand Opening event or becoming a member of Pickleball Paradise, TX, please contact us through our Facebook group – Pickleball Paradise TX Events and Info at: www.facebook.com/groups/pickleballparadisetxeventsandinfo/ 

or via email at: pickleballparadisetx@gmail.com.”

Other social media pages and website pages are listed below:

pickleballparadisetx for instagram and PBParadiseTX

https://twitter.com/PBParadiseTX for twitter

pickleballparadisetx  or https://www.facebook.com/pickleballparadisetx for Facebook page

www.pickleballparadisetx.com for website

pickleballparadisetx@gmail.com-email

The Cornish family

Coach Michelle lives with her husband Simon and they have been married for 26 years. He is from England and came to the U.S. to play tennis at Wichita State University. The two were married two weeks after they graduated from college, after both played on the tennis teams at WSU in Wichita, Kansas. Together they have two grown children, McKenzie who is 25 and Hadley who is 21.

Michelle explains, “I am most proud of being a mother to two incredible souls. Our children are everything to us! They are the air that we breathe. And we can’t wait to have grandchildren. I most certainly will be buying them tennis racquets and pickleball paddles immediately after their births!”