Gary Lessis’s Vision

The American Pro Pickleball tournament was in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, for the first time ever. CBS Sports broadcast the event.

They played at Sawyer Point, on the courts across from my condo building. My neighbors sometimes complain about the noise of ball whacks bothering them when they’re out on their balconies. Since my balcony backs up to a highway, I have no sympathy.

The courts are gorgeous. Freshly resurfaced with twelve (!) coats of various sealants. There are brand new lights for night play and a new webcam so potential players can know court conditions before they arrive.

It didn’t used to be this way.

When I moved in six years ago, there were five tennis courts. Badly cracked asphalt painted green and flaking. Rarely played on except for weekends around the US Open.

After the finale of the official ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this Spring, I stood next to Gary Lessis, the mastermind of the court renovation. We looked out over twenty pickleball courts and two tennis courts that can convert to four more pickleball courts. If we had been standing on the court surface, it would have felt springy under our feet.

“Gary, how did you have the vision for all this? Back when it was cracked and lousy, how did you see this?”

It was early evening. The lights were on and players in bright clothing reflected like colorful lightning bugs.

I looked at Gary, but Gary stayed fixed on the courts, shook his head. “I didn’t.”

“No?” I didn’t know him well. Maybe he didn’t want me prying.

“No. All I wanted was a couple of pickleball courts.”


“Yeah. Then it was lights. Then a new surface. Then better lights, because the first ones lit up the sky.”

His eyes scanned the expanse of courts, each one occupied. “I just went from one thing to the next.”

“What’s next?” I asked.

He turned toward me. “Tournaments. We’re going to be the pickleball capital of the Midwest.”

I’ve always thought I wasn’t good at visionary thinking. But maybe I’m more like Gary. Maybe I just need to make one change, make one thing different. Then, do whatever seems like the next thing.

Chewing the Cud of Good

Stems of basil in a small pink glass vase, with sunshine streaming through the glass

Thankful for Jane Friedman, and a webinar that went well.


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