I certainly don’t consider myself a cry-baby, but I will admit I teared up during the recent US Open Pickleball Championship. I was standing with Daniel Moore, as they played the national anthem before the Mixed Doubles final. Daniel leaned over and said, “Can you believe this?”
Thanks US Open Pickleball
Honestly, two years ago I would have never thought that this was my life. It is truly incredible how far the sport of pickleball has come. Major props go to Terri, Chris, Jim and the entire team that put on this historic event. The US Open was unlike any other pickleball tournament that I have ever seen. The organization, the medical support team, the attention and care that was given to the players made this a truly special event.
I am so pleased that so many players traveled from out west to Naples. And in fact, every player I spoke to was totally amazed at how well it all came together. And everyone is planning on making the trip next year! It’s clear that up until this event, most of the “major” tournaments required those in the east to do most of the traveling. And a lot of east coast folks haven’t had the opportunity to see those of us from the west coast play. But that all changed with this event. Which leads me to the fans!
Thanks US Open Pickleball Fans
What really took the event to the next level was the fans! I met folks that travelled all the way from Vermont. Not to play. Not to cheer on a family member or friend. They traveled over 1000 miles to see us play. And as a player, I can tell you there is nothing like the experience of hearing your name while you’re on center court! As I walked around the grounds, folks stopped me and asked if they could take a selfie with me. Some even asked for an autograph. Of course, my answer was always, yes…but frankly I was a bit shocked. Am I going to see that paddle I signed on eBay?
Again, it speaks to how far this sport has come and how far we can take it. Millions of people, who think of pickleball as that sport with the funny name, will have an opportunity to see it on TV soon. Some of the players are organizing viewing parties back in their hometowns, complete with door prizes. (Note to self, I need to steal that idea.) I think we are on the verge of an unprecedented growth spurt, for the game that is already perhaps the fastest growing sport in America. And I couldn’t be happier. Because, like you I love this sport.
In closing I’d like to once again thank the organizers and volunteers that put on this historic event. And I want to thank my partners (Christine, Daniel and Chris) and all the competitors that showed such class and dedication throughout the week. Looking forward to seeing you next year!