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Bridget He of Cayman Sports

Pickleball on Maple Rd.

A new owner and a new tack at Cayman Sports

by Sabine Bickford

From the October, 2018 issue

Bridget He opened Cayman Sports on S. Maple in December, but it took another nine months to fully realize her vision. In September, she held a grand opening to celebrate the completion of her move from its more tucked-away spot on Boardwalk, off of Industrial.

Cayman-which carries equipment for tennis, racquetball, badminton, squash, and the newly popular "pickleball"-first opened on Washtenaw in 1993 and has moved twice since then. He, who bought the store from its founder over four years ago, says "hopefully this is where we'll stay!"

The new space is double the size of the old one, and the cramped feeling and dated blue-grey carpet have been replaced with bright hardwood flooring and tall open ceilings. "It was a big commitment, I think," says He's marketer Nancy Kelley. "And a big leap of faith to take her store from what it was for ten years [on Boardwalk], to buy it from the previous owner, and then evolve it into this."

The biggest draw at the grand opening was definitely Cayman's demonstration pickleball court. Members of the Wolverine Pickleball Club were running a clinic to showcase what Michigan Radio recently dubbed "America's fastest-growing sport." It's a mix of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, where players use large solid paddles to hit a whiffle ball back and forth over a mini tennis court with a nearly full-size net. Ann Arbor already has many players, and this spring the city converted two tennis courts at Leslie Park into six pickleball courts.

Cayman's court is not quite as large. "The real court's bigger than this," explains Kelley. "You could actually fit a real court in this space, but just like tennis you wanna be behind the baseline." Still, it works for clinics, and patrons wait in line for a chance to get a lesson. Owner He says she plans to continue working with Wolverine to provide clinics. She's also already used the space to host a "Pilates for tennis players" class.

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High quality tennis rackets line the walls, and He offers a racket-stringing service, too-she says her clients include the U-M and EMU teams.

Despite the boutique vibe, Cayman's prices on its high-end gear are competitive, and Cayman will price match. The store also carries athletic clothing: skirts, zip-up jackets, sweatpants, and tank tops, plus a hefty selection of tennis shoes (that is, the ones for tennis, not the generic kind).

Cayman Sports, 516 S. Maple Rd. (734) 997-7800. Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sun.     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2018.]


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