“Pickleball brought them together. That’s pretty special.”

Pickleball’s Pandemic Boom: How Matt Manasse Became Hollywood’s Go-To Coach

Pickleball is exploding. Meet Matt Manasse the coach to the stars.

Text by Marah Eakin
Images by Cody James

Pickleball’s star is on the rise, and so is the profile of Matt Manasse. Thanks to the interest in one of the fastest growing sports, Manasse has became Hollywood’s go-to-guy at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, coaching comedian Larry David, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, and United Talent Agency co-founder Jim Berkus. His nickname is “Pickleball McNasty” to many of his former clients, including Entourage creator Doug Ellin, and regularly makes house calls to train people at their multi-million dollar L.A. mansions. Not bad for a game much of America only started hearing about over the last two years.

A blend of badminton, tennis, and ping pong, pickleball is a game that can be played by pretty much anyone, from ages eight to 80. It’s easy to pick up, doesn’t require a wide range of movement or much exertion, and can quickly get competitive. It’s also on the come up, with a 2021 Sports & Fitness Industry Association report estimating that 4 million active “picklers” pick up a racket at least once a year, a number that represents a 21.3 percent increase from the number of players in 2019. 

Though he’s a pro now, Manasse himself only found the sport when he was stuck at home during the early days of pandemic lockdowns. A former collegiate tennis player turned professional coach, Manasse was working with tennis pro Shelby Rogers when the pandemic shut down the WTA Tour. 

Pretty…pretty…pretty good: You can count Larry David among Manasse’s high-profile Pickleball students.

Finding himself out of a job, he returned to his hometown of Erie, PA, where, looking for a little exercise and excitement, he looked up his old tennis buddies only to find they’d all switched over to pickleball. He gave it a try and quickly became enamored. “I was home alone with nothing to do,” says Manasse. “I got into [pickleball], and kind of became obsessed. It was my escape during the pandemic when there was nothing going on.”

With his competitive tennis background, Manasse quickly outpaced his Erie peers in terms of pickleball skills. One day, while he was clicking around online, he happened upon a video of one of his old friends, who’d since become a pickleball coach in Florida. “I saw videos of him playing with top pros and I felt like I could hang,” Manasse says. He quickly found himself in Florida teaming up with Pickleball Pro Ryan Sherry for an upcoming tournament. 

“We trained for a week and then I ended up going to a clinic with the No. 1 [ranked] woman in the world and No. 1 [ranked] guy in the world: Simone Jardim and Ben Johns,” says Manasse. “I actually stayed with them during the clinic, which would be like if, three months into playing tennis, I was able to go to camp with Roger Federer and Serena Williams and live with them for the week while they were teaching me.” 

After the tournament, Manasse came out to California, where he ended up playing with Ellin and Tennis Pro Sam Querrey.

Manasse says meeting Ellin and others convinced him he could make the move to L.A., where he quickly focused on The Riviera because of his familiarity with the club. “I remember one of the first mornings we drove in we almost hit Mark Wahlberg. He got out of the car and took pictures with my whole team and was really nice. It was like, ‘This club is where everyone’s at. This is where people make things happen.’” 

Noticing the club didn’t have a pickleball program yet, Manasse pitched one to management, who took the bait. He says The Riviera is “a nice place to be every day”—a suggestion that’s perhaps an understatement given the almost 100 year old club’s sterling reputation, lush grounds, exclusive clientele, and spot on the PGA Tour. 

Manasse says the Riviera’s clientele also embraced him. “It’s funny,” he says. “If you told me these are the circles that I’d be running around with… Now, in a way, it seems normal. I consider a lot of my students  friends.”

One of those groups has came to hold a special place in his heart. Dubbed “The Sunday Crew,” the group’s heavy-hitting roster was composed of Larry David and his wife Ashley Underwood; There’s Something About Mary producer Bradley Thomas and his wife Izzy; Berkus and his wife Ria; Emanuel and his fiancée Sarah Staudinger, and producer Joel Silver, who prefers to watch. 

“I think the husbands used to just play golf and then the women were left behind,” he says. “This is something they found they can all do together.” 

Manasse says he’s especially impressed with the group’s camaraderie, despite Jim Berkus and Emanuel’s status as heads of opposing talent agencies. “The fact that these two power figures can come together on a Sunday and play… Pickleball brought them together. That’s pretty special.”

Serving up the Fun at Marriott Residences

Text by Marc Graser

Developers are paying close attention to America’s fastest-growing sport, and making pickleball courts a must-have amenity for resort-like living. This easy-to-learn sport, a mix of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, requires minimal space, and fosters a vibrant social scene, making it perfect for Owners to connect over friendly competition. Here are some Marriott Residences that will appeal to pickleball enthusiasts, whether they are novices or expert-level pros. 

At The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Pompano Beach, pickleball courts overlook a marina with 14 boat slips and a yacht club on the waterfront set Sunset Deck of the Marina Tower, which also offers a bocce court, putting green, and golf simulator.

As the tallest residential property on the ocean in South Florida, the North Tower of The St. Regis Residences, Sunny Isles Beach, Miami, will offer residents access to pickleball and paddle courts as part of its expansive fitness and wellness amenities. The two 62-story towers will have 336 units and soar 750 feet. The property is set to open in 2027, so there’s plenty of time to brush up on your pickleball skills beforehand. 

Play pickleball with views of Biscayne Bay at The St. Regis Residences, Miami, as part of the Brickell property’s more than 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities. They also include a fully equipped fitness center, an indoor lap pool, salt spa room, saunas, and steam room. 

Pickleball played at the St. Regis Residences, Sunny Isles Beach, Miami.

The second phase of The Ritz Carlton Residences, Tampa will include pickleball and tennis courts, fitness center, professional-grade golf simulator, on-demand spa service treatment rooms, steam rooms and saunas, and a viewing deck with views of the Bay when it is completed in 2026.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, The Woodlands, the first standalone Ritz-Carlton residences in Texas, will include pickleball courts, in addition to a golf simulator, restaurant from legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, community herb garden, wine storage and tasting room, and dock with kayaks and paddle boards.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Orlando, Grande Lakes provides access to The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Tennis Club’s illuminated pickleball court at the 500-acre luxury resort. It also features an 18-hole championship course that’s a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

While The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Fort Lauderdale and W Residences Fort Lauderdale won’t have their own pickleball courts on site, the world’s first dedicated pickleball stadium, named The Fort, is slated to open in 2024, with 43 professional pickleball courts in Snyder Park.

Pickleball is finding a strong following in Singapore, as well, with at least 200 courts available around the city. But Owners at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Singapore, Cairnhill, just minutes from the upscale dining and shopping options at Orchard Road, get access to their own courts at the 36-story tower.

And owners of villas and estate homes at Nekajui, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residence, coming soon to Peninsula Papagayo, an acclaimed 1,400-acre resort community on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast, have access to three pickleball courts with Har-Tru surfaces at the Peninsula Papagayo Club. It has its own pickleball pro who offers weekly clinics and private lessons.



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