Ave Maria

Inaugural Pickleball Tournament Brings Competitive Spirit onto Ave Maria’s Courts

Group of friends attend Del Webb Naples 2023 Winterfest OpenErica Fish, Ave Maria Development


While Del Webb Naples offers an array of activities, including golf, bocce, tennis, card games, water aerobics, Ping Pong and more, it’s clear that pickleball reigns supreme.

The inaugural Winterfest Open took place early this January at the Del Webb Naples Pickleball Center, having hosted more than 600 participants over the two-day weekend event.

Event organizers Bill and Phyllis Olex, both avid pickleball players and Del Webb residents, set the stage for competitive mixed doubles play. Bill, a Del Webb sales consultant, was initially resistant to the pickleball craze that swept the country a few years ago.

Woman plays pickleball at Del Webb Naples court“Like most people, I fought it tooth and nail,” Bill, 58, confessed. “Now I’m addicted!”

The goals for the community’s inaugural Winterfest were straightforward:

“We wanted to showcase our community,” Bill said. “We wanted to bring more people in to see how nice it is, and we’re thrilled we accomplished just that.”

Phyllis is a pickleball instructor, and the Olex duo plays in a pickleball hotbed with over 300 pickleball members in their club.

2023 Winterfest Open tournament winners at Del Webb Naples“Our event brought people in from other states,” Phyllis, 65, said. Home to the largest amenity campus in Southwest Florida, Del Webb Naples is comprised of 12 recreational courts, and each court was organized for different age divisions and skill levels, so there was a constant cycle of games for participants and spectators.

Del Webb has already begun planning the 2025 Winterfest Open and is considering a potential expansion to a three-day event. To learn more about the community and amenities please visit Del Webb Naples Florida New Home Communities | Ave Maria.

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