Chop Shots in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico
Thinking about visiting Mexico to play pickleball? Chapala would be a great place to try, even, or especially if, you don't speak Spanish. It is located on the north shore of Mexico's largest freshwater lake. There are just over 50,000 inhabitants in the area which includes about 10,000 in the neighboring town of Ajijic (Ah-hee'-hick").
Many American and Canadian ex-pats, and there are lots, live in the smaller village of Ajijic, especially in the peak season from November to the end of April, and the large census swing likely stems from the ebb and flow of these inhabitants. Coming at this time of year has its pros and cons. It is quite warm in the day, but if you are an early morning pickleball player then it has perfect weather. This area has been called the land of eternal spring due to its consistently mild temperature, with highs ranging from 70s to 80s F throughout the year, and lows in the 40s and 50s F. There is also low humidity, and very little rain from November through May.
As in San Miguel de Allende, the expat community swells the numbers of pickleball players during the peak season from January to April, and coming in May allows for plenty of court time.
We had arranged to play on Wednesday evening with a few people, but we showed up on a Tuesday night and walked the few short blocks from our Airbnb, just to check out the courts. We were wearing sandals and didn't have our paddles, but we were greeted at the courts warmly, and we were happy to see a few people we already knew from the wonderful pickleball mecca, Tres Palapas, in Los Barriles, BCS (a location that will be featured in another post).
We had heard that there was good pickleball in Chapala, but what we found was much better than good. We found the future of Mexican pickleball playing on the courts at Hotel Monte Carlo. A couple of great players, Carlos and Sam, are training up young guys with impressive tennis backgrounds, to compete at the highest levels. We were fortunate to watch some of them practicing and we're looking forward to seeing a few of them at nationals. They were amazing - fast young legs, precision placement, bullet drives, soft touches, and lightening reflexes. They're going far!
The next evening we arrived and met up with Donna Rosensen, to play awesome fun games with a small group until it was dark. Previously in SMA, we had bought a pickleball t-shirt to start a pass it forward tradition to link clubs together. We gave it to Carlos, and he generously gave us two Chapala pickleball hats which we will gift to the next places we play. We hope to continue this all the way north to Vancouver, B.C.
Chapala's fine players had even more to offer - another fine place to play in the area! Donna invited us to play the next morning at the Ajijic Fraccionamiento San Juan Cosala Racquet Club. That's a mouthful, but definitely worth visiting.
The club is part of a beautiful gated residential area, and at the center there are six dedicated pickleball courts, lots of tennis courts, a swimming pool, gym and clubhouse. The streets are named after tennis greats from all over the world – Jimmy Conners, Chris Evert, Raul Ramirez, Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King, and many more.
It is very quiet this time of year, but Donna, Ky and I did drills for awhile and then we were joined by Victor, a young man who works there helping people practice or rounding out as a fourth in our case until our other player showed up. Lots of good close games and best of all, lots of laughter and fun.
If you go info:
Chapala Location: Hotel Villa Monte Carlo
Google Maps : 7QRX+P4 Chapala, Jalisco
Contact: Carlos Castro: email@example.com
Rate: 100 pesos from 8:30 am - 3 pm, 50 pesos from 3 - close (no lights, so at dark)
Ajijic location: Ajijic Fraccionamiento San Juan Cosala Raquet Club
Google Maps: 7MV9+27 San Juan Cosalá, Jalisco
Contact: Donna Rosensen firstname.lastname@example.org
Rate: 100 pesos for the day