Published April 26, 2016 - www.paradisecoast.com
NAPLES, FLA., APRIL 25, 2016 – Eight hundred and thirty-five athletes will compete on 47 courts at East Naples Community Park in Naples, Fla. April 27 through May 1 for prestige and $25,000 in prize money in the first-ever U.S. Open Pickleball Championships while over 3,000 fans descend on the area, filling hotel rooms and RV parks in advance of the courtside action.
Pickleball is America’s fastest growing recreational sport and Collier County tourism officials and the pickleball championship’s promoters hope to make Naples and Collier County “ground zero” for pickleball, now played by more than 2.5 million people worldwide. The tournament agreement with the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau extends three years through 2018.
“The pickleball championship event brings national and worldwide attention to greater Naples and Collier County as a community that supports healthy lifestyles and offers a warm welcome and plenty of amenities for fans of this fast-growing sport,” said Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau.
There are registered players from 39 states and eight countries outside the U.S. - the U.K., the Czech Republic, Australia, Aruba, Canada, Japan, India and the island city-state of Singapore.
Thousands of spectators and players are expected to fill the adjacent U.S. Open Village hospitality zone, the U.S. Open Expo vendor and sponsor tradeshow, and fill the 700 ticketed stadium seats at the Zing Zang Championship Court where pro pickleball players will battle it out for $25,000 in prize money. Ticket proceeds support the charities Pickleball For All (based in Collier County), the Macular Degeneration Partnership and the Conine Clubhouse at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
To open the tournament on Tuesday, April 26, a press conference and ribbon cutting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., followed by a pro exhibition from Noon to 1 p.m. Following the pros, it’s Kids Day, with 75 local school children invited to learn the game. Open play and adult clinics begin at 3 p.m. The full tournament schedule gets underway on Wednesday with 2,100 matches played over a five day period. The tournament schedule is available online at usopenpickleballchampionship.com/event.html.
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