ABOUT US: The First Costa Rica Pickleball Club!
USAPA Pickleball Ambassador for Costa Rica
Tony is the USAPA pickleball ambassador for Costa Rica, and Tony & Celeste are the owners and operators of Pickleball Costa Rica residing full time in the country. As an American, Tony has also spoken Spanish for 50 years, making it very helpful to not only get around more easily than tour leaders from other countries, but it also helps us to mix in better with the Costa Rican culture and the wonderful people here.
We met during our work as flight attendants, are parents of three children, and have been married for 36 years. Both of us, have had the experience of living in foreign countries before moving to Costa Rica.
Because we've traveled extensively and know the areas, we have favorite locations we would love to have you experience. Our courts are located in two areas; Two courts (one covered and one outdoors) at Vientos Bajos, and 3 sheltered courts in Santiago, all located outside of San Ramon, Alajuela, Costa Rica. It is our intent is to spread the sport of pickleball throughout the country. We are in the process of forming a pickleball association and an 8 court complex in our area.
Costa Rica's Pickleball Growth: We started playing in Spokane, Wa., in 2012, with the suggestion from our daughter that we try it. We took a liking to it immediately. Eventually we found The Hub, in Spokane Valley, where there are 8 courts and many with the same love of pickleball. When we moved down to Costa Rica, the sport had to come too! Pickleball grew slowly at first, because the first court was small and in bad condition. Once the a better, larger court was found and lines for 3 courts were painted, the club gained membership fairly quickly.
As we fell in love with Costa Rica and it's lush beauty, and at that time, we were the only Pickleball group in the country. We decided to start tours so we could share the beauty with others, and still play pickleball. So, Pickleball Costa Rica was born! So far, there are two other groups recently formed besides us, and we assume more developing in the near future. We think the cat's finally out of the bag!
We and other fellow picklers have given many pickleball demonstrations at various schools, tennis clubs, the Ministry of Physical Education for Costa Rica, have presented it during the popular "Family Days" during their summertime, and have traveled to multiple public courts and private tennis clubs to display the sport. Now, almost half of our group of players are Costa Rican. We also have picklers requesting play time while on vacation, and there are ex-pat and Costa Rican players that come occasionally from an hour or more away from our courts.
Photography: Tony is passionate about photography. Enjoying competition, he has been an award winning photographer for 44 years, he is well-rounded and excels in nature, portraiture, wildlife, macro, natural (available) lighting, scenics, both color and black & white, and Photoshop. Because of this experience and a love for teaching photography, he was (when we lived in the states), frequently asked to critique at various camera clubs and competitions. While judging, it is his desire to instruct the entrants what was done well, and how they can improve. But most important; how to accomplish it! No photographer can grow unless they are willing to accept constructive critique. Thus said, he is willing to help those on our pickleball tours to improve their photographs technically and artistically if they desire to improve, and hopefully leave Costa Rica a better photographer with some award-winning images. Check out his images on BetterPhoto.com/Tony Horpel
Video: In the 1980's, when video became portable, he rekindled his childhood obsession for film / editing, which then became a passion for video & editing. This medium became his souce of income for years to come. For 32 yrs, he and Celeste, had a large business in So. Calif. with 9 videographers and 7 editors, and then, later, a smaller business in Washington state. During those years they shot just under 800 weddings.
Sports: In his younger days Tony was a wrestler, an avid windsurfer, scuba diver, played tennis and ping pong, softball leagues
Spanish Speaker: Tony started taking Spanish in 1960, in California during 5th grade and continued with it for 12 years, through college. His major was Latin American Studies. He visited Argentina as a foreign exchange student, where his Spanish really took off, leading to work with several airlines, including Pan Am and Western Airlines, where he was the designated Spanish speaker.
Tony has traveled extensively throughout the world, having been a flight attendant for Pan Am in his early years, and then with Western Airlines after Pan Am folded. This is where Tony and Celeste met.
Celeste is Tony's right-hand in the business, but he's the brains! She creates the tours by researching every detail, designs, and secures the services for our tours, making sure all goes well.
Pickleball: Celeste also plays pickleball, but not at the same skill level as Tony. She had 2 yrs. off with a shoulder injury.
Videography: She was Tony's partner in video for 29 years. She helped run the business and videotaping. Video is where her passion and talent was.
In younger years she was an avid skier, x-Country skier, water skier, windsurfer, and bicyclist. She loved hiking and backpacking, and she and Tony scuba dived together for years as well. Her favorite hobby is reading when she has time, along with sewing/crafts, gardening, and has been blessed with traveling to 37 countries with some help from being a former airline employee.
Spanish came along with living in Costa Rica and enjoying the sweet people here.