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Pickleball Central: The Sports Giant’s Legacy Through The Years

just a few pickleball players on the court
(Image credit: Pickleball Central)

Pickleball Central is an online retailer specializing in pickleball equipment and accessories. The company was founded in 2006 by Anna Copley & David Johnson in Kent, Washington, to provide quality pickleball products to players of all skill levels. Over the years, Pickleball Central has grown steadily and established itself as a prominent player in the pickleball community. The company offers various pickleball gear through its online storefront, from paddles to balls, apparel, nets, and countless other sports accessories. 

The company prides itself on service for the customer and the future of pickleball. They detail on their website (pickleballcentral.com) how they “hear stories about individuals who now have a new lease on life because of pickleball. People who thought they were done with athletics are now playing pickleball three to four times a week.” They explain that they often “see people laughing and sharing a thrilling game. Even hearing about customers losing weight and lowering their blood pressure” due to the sport’s vigorous style and competitive nature. These testimonies are what inspire them to continue expanding within the pickleball industry.

When the company began as a small venture, one of its co-founders, David, started selling pickleball t-shirts on Cafe Press. His inspiration derived from his wife, Anna (the company’s other co-founder), having difficulties finding a pickleball t-shirt to gift someone. Recognizing the enterprise’s potential, David, a seasoned entrepreneur, established a company centered around the sport. David and Anna shared a passion for pickleball, with David even having a personal court in his backyard. Initially, Pickleball Central solely produced t-shirts. However, David noticed a growing interest in the sport and expanded the product range to include paddles and balls, and the nets, other apparel, and accessories would soon follow. This strategic effort led to exponential business growth. In 2009, David took a leap of faith and left his job to dedicate his time entirely to Pickleball Central. Initially, Anna didn’t believe the business was worth her time because it seemed meaningless. Still, after attending a seminar highlighting the importance of promoting health and community interactions, her perspective quickly changed because pickleball can help people live healthier lives. 

In March 2010, Anna joined David working full-time to operate and develop Pickleball Central. Over time, their team expanded, welcoming Pam in October 2011 (to work as the company’s shipping handler). Shortly after, Judy and Elise joined the team (in September 2012) as customer service associates. Hans, a high school student who helped them with various tasks, joined in March 2012; Stephen, the company’s bookkeeper and business analyst, joined later that year (in October 2012). Though the company started from a small project to fuel creative efforts within the pickleball arena, their team’s dedication has allowed them to progress rapidly over the years, with the recent boom in pickleball attributing to even greater success.

In January 2013, the company’s founders relocated from their home, where they initially started operating. They used converted bedrooms as offices and had a portable cubicle in their living room. The company moved to its dedicated office and warehouse space, marking a significant milestone. 

To the excitement of many, Pickleball Central, which became the largest online retailer for pickleball goods globally, would reach a whole new height when Dundon Capital Partners acquired them in December 2021. Dundon Capital Partners is a private investment firm focusing on strategic investments in various industries. Led by Tom Dundon, the company has acquired several notable names like the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA)Pickleball Tournaments (an affiliate website of Pickleball Central), and TopCourt. In addition to sports investments, Dundon Capital Partners has made strategic investments in various industries, including technology, real estate, and finance, with one of their most significant investments being the acquisition of the famous sports team, the Carolina Hurricanes, a hockey team within the National Hockey League (NHL), which they acquired a major stake of in 2018. With such a distinguished background in successful investments, the firm seeks opportunities where it can provide value and leverage its expertise to drive growth for momentous outcomes.

In the end, whether under the direct ownership of Anna Copley & David Johnson or Dundon Capital PartnersPickleball Central has contributed to the growth and popularity of pickleball by supporting local events, sponsoring tournaments, and fostering a sense of community amongst players. Their online platform makes it simple for people to access pickleball gear and resources worldwide.

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About JoleneJ

Hi, everyone. My name is Jolene. I am a senior undergraduate STEM Entrepreneurship student. I have joined the Pickleball Portal team for the summer to bring notable stories and news in the pickleball world to the forefront. By creating weekly articles on everything you need to know about pickleball, I hope to bring out your inner bookworm. See you on the other side of the page!

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