Friday, April 21, 2017

U.S. Open Pickleball Championships return benefits to Naples

Published April 21, 2017 -

The national championships in a not-so-obscure-anymore sport return to Naples starting this Sunday, and tournament organizers and county officials expect the event to be bigger and more beneficial in Year 2.

The Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships begin Sunday at East Naples Community Park. The event held its media day on Friday, and excitement resonated throughout the park – from players, officials and county commissioners who see pickleball as a boon to Collier County.

Pickleball, a hybrid of tennis and ping-pong played on a badminton-sized court, has been a favorite of retirees for decades. However, the first organized national championship tournament was last year at Naples. More than 800 players from around the country, even a group from England, participated.

The U.S. Open has seen a 40-percent increase in players in just its second year. More than 1,300 pickleballers are signed up for this year’s tournament.

To accommodate the increased interest, the Championships expanded from five to seven days. The event runs from Sunday to April 29.

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