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June 1, 2023


This year, all 50 states and 20 countries were represented, with players ranging in age from 8 to 88 years old. There were 3,030 players, 297 of whom were pros and 2,742 amateurs.

By Alice Tym

The 2023 US Open was held at the wonderful public East Naples Community Park in Naples, Florida, where the Collier County administration began supporting pickleball early in the boom and continues to make improvements to the 64-court facility. The tournament is billed as “The Biggest Pickleball Party in the World” and acceptance is done by a lottery.


Local stars Simone Jardim, two-time US Open Triple Crown Champion, and Kyle Yates, six-time Pro Champion, were crowd favorites and pickleball always seems to have new rising stars at each tournament. Professional referee Melody Woodsum says, “Every year the tournament is evolving, and new talent appears. The owners of the Open are always responsive to feedback and act quickly to make changes. Everyone should come to watch.”


For pickleball aficionados, there’s an opportunity to observe the play up close and personal. Even if you don’t have a ticket to the championship court, you can watch the top players on the field courts—or catch Simone Jardim at the Joola tent. The vendors play a huge role in showcasing their players and the latest equipment. Or you can have a sit-down couch chat with a pickleball specialist under the new Welcome Center highlighted by a Jumbotron showing live play.


Total Pickleball’s Tim Buwick was happy to give his perspective, explaining “pickleball is here to stay. Tennis in the ’70s was driven by the top pros. Pickleball is driven by a grassroots movement which, in turn, gave birth to pro tours. People are getting into the sport because of their neighbors. Pickleball is so accessible. It is the soccer of racket sports. There is a low barrier to enter.”


At the Open, founders Terri Graham and Chris Evon focus on all the players. You don’t need a grounds pass. They are selling the sport, not the player. This is the Tourney of the People.


Naples’ Brian Allers, 46, adds, “Pickleball has adapted to social media very well. Gen X has grown up in the internet age. All the top players are on Facebook and Twitter. I learned how to wrap my paddle grip from a Ben Johns YouTube segment. I have gained most of my instruction on YouTube and it has been from the top pros.”


The media has become a huge part of the show at the Open because it has made quality pickleball accessible to everyone. Terri and Chris approached Rusty and Meredith Howes of Pickleball Channel before the first Open. Now Pickleball Channel is a fixture at the Open, providing global distribution of the daily livestreams and has collaborated over the years in preparation for the CBS Sports Network live broadcast. The production truck of Ray Colaiacovo, producer and packager for CBSSN, is a beehive of activity.


Rusty explains, “Media companies are changing the way people watch. Now viewers stream rather than watch only traditional TV.” Meredith adds, “Pickleball Channel continues to embrace the concept of all digital access, which is a plus for pickleball.” Rusty along with his team invented the idea of the “kitchen cam,” which was necessary to shoot pickleball effectively. Drones are used by Pickleball Channel for creative shots as well as for information.


At the US Open, Pickleball Channel and Digital Wave Productions came together to create a larger team including multiple cameras, editors, graphics and sound specialists. Rusty and Meredith are often up until 2:30 a.m. doing data management and creating new content for the next day. Pickleball Channel owns the most robust library of pickleball content, which includes every year of the US Open Pickleball Championships, historical footage, instruction, news, tournaments and more. The Howes’ advice for players is to “wear the brand you are sponsored by and post a lot on social media.” They also advise players to collaborate with the media by having a good photo and bio available to present.


Many spectators commented that the women stole the show at this year’s Open. Parris Todd became a US Open Triple Crown Champion, displaying supreme athleticism in baseline rallies. Points were intense in both the pro and senior pro men’s and women’s play. In the “Pro Split Age” events, a US Open creation with one pro over 50 and one under 50, category, Mari Humberg and Sheri Courter were down 2-9 in the third game before winning 15-13, 1-11, 11-9. Sheri had advice for fans after the match: “When you dink, don’t just be patient. Hunt! Be brave. Don’t just get the ball back. Dictate rather than react.”


The US Open title is the most prestigious title in the world of sports. The competition and the excitement around the courts is like no other pickleball event in the world. The US Open has set numerous records once again. Pros, amateurs and fans consider this the highlight of their pickleball year!


The US Open serves as a great tournament to play better pickleball. It offers strong competition, accessible pros, wonderful vendors, and first-class media coverage. The operations staff led by Melissa McCurley makes sure that the events run on time and players are kept informed of any changes necessitated by the weather. It’s a well-oiled machine, a seamless, must-play event on a crowded pickleball calendar. 

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