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The US Open Pickleball Championships Makes Pickleball History and Plans for the Future

News Pickle4 Team 04-30-2024

The US Open Pickleball Championships is the most prestigious tournament in pickleball, and has been since 2016. It offers the perfect blend of camaraderie and competition with some of the best pickleball athletes in the world. As The Biggest Pickleball Party in the World™, The Open is truly a celebration of the sport. During the weeklong event, amateur and professional pickleball athletes, friends, family, and fans celebrate all that is special about pickleball.

Since its inception in 2016, the US Open Pickleball Championships has been a hallmark of the sport. It has continued to make pickleball history year after year. The 2024 US Open Pickleball Championships was held from April 13-20 at East Naples Community Park and again set record-breaking numbers. Medals were awarded in over 260 events to players of all ages and skill levels with a record $150,000 in prize money given to many of the best professionals in the sport. Over 3,200 players including 460 professionals from all 50 states and 31 countries competed in more than 5,000 matches during the week in Naples, Florida.

Although no professional earned a Triple Crown (singles, doubles, mixed) this year, both Anna Leigh Waters and JW Johnson captured two gold medals in the three marquee pro events. Waters and Johnson teamed up to earn the mixed doubles title with a dominating 11-2, 11-3 win over Andrei Daescu/Megan Fudge. The 17-year-old world number one also joined forces in women’s doubles with her mother Leigh to beat Simone Jardim/Allison Harris 11/5, 11/5. Johnson earned his men’s doubles gold alongside Dylan Frazier with a comeback win over Daescu/Gabriel Tardio 9-11, 12-10, 11-1. Johnson also captured a pair of bronze medals – one in men’s singles and the other in the men’s split pro age alongside Mircea Morariu.

The gold medals for women’s and men’s pro singles were awarded to Jorja Johnson who defeated Fudge 11-2, 11-3 and Jack Foster who upended Christopher Haworth 11-5, 11-4. For a list of all medalists, visit USOpenPickleball.com

The US Open regularly draws a host of celebrity players from sports and entertainment who have caught the pickleball bug. This year’s “celebrity” players included:

  • NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry who captured three gold medals in the 80+ divisions of play (men’s singles 4.0, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles)
  • Former WTA great Joanne Russell won gold medals in both women’s doubles (age 65-69) and women’s doubles 5.0 (age 65-69) plus a pair of silver medals in mixed doubles (age 65-69) and mixed doubles skill 5.0 (ages 65-69)
  • Eight-time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl partnered with former ATP player Mikael Pernfors to compile a 2-2 record in men’s doubles (age 60-64)
  • Actor and former ATP tennis player Vince Van Patten went 3-2 in men’s senior pro singles and 1-2 in men’s split age
  • Former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel compiled a 1-2 record in both mixed split pro and men’s senior pro doubles. 

It marked the second straight year the US Open field surpassed 3,000 players. Here’s a look at the year-by-year increase in participation:

YEARPLAYERS
2016860
20171,243
20182,047
20192,161
2020Event Cancelled
20212,190 (Limited Due to COVID Restrictions)
20222,822
20233,000
20243,200

“We congratulate all of the medalists for their outstanding play and thank the thousands of players who traveled from all over the world to continue to make the US Open the Biggest Pickleball Party in the World,” said Minto US Open co-founder Terri Graham. “We also want to thank our supportive sponsors and tireless volunteers and staff who helped us ensure that the record-breaking crowds attending the most exciting pickleball tournament in the world had the time of their lives.”

The “Biggest Pickleball Party in the World™” once again provided players and fans an electric atmosphere throughout East Naples Community Park—the largest permanent pickleball facility in the world with 64 courts including the world-famous Zing Zang Championship Court. With perfect weather all week the event surpassed last year’s record crowd of 50,000 spectators. The energy, spirit of community, pure joy and fun are unlike any other pickleball event.

The event will once again prove to be an economic boom for Collier County, Florida, certainly surpassing the economic impact of $14 million in 2023. Collier County offers sports in paradise, beautiful beaches, world class restaurants and more. The US Open benefits two charities: Kiwanis and St. Matthew’s House. Kiwanis services children by fighting hunger, improving literacy and offering guidance. St. Matthew’s House works to fight homelessness, hunger, substance abuse and poverty in Southwest Florida.

The Minto US Open Pickleball Championships is organized by Spirit Promotions, LLC, a company formed by Terri Graham and Chris Evon in 2015 and now owned by parent company, Pickleball4America.

Although the 2024 US Open Pickleball Championships just ended, the team is already looking ahead to 2025. The Open has recently made three momentous announcements that will impact the future growth of the event. First, pickleball legend & Collier County resident Eva Welsher was announced as the US Open Pickleball Championships Tournament Chair​. Welsher will serve as a principal ambassador for the US Open in Collier County, nationally and abroad.

Second, as thousands of pickleball players attempt to secure a coveted spot to play in The Open, the event instituted a lottery system several years ago. Due to the immense popularity of the US Open Pickleball Championships, the event can only accept approximately 50% of lottery registrants. The US Open Pickleball Championships will be changing their software system to Pickleball Den in 2025. This switch will enable the US Open to provide an integrated experience for athletes and spectators, and also increase the lottery acceptance rate by 10%.

Third, Pickle4 has expanded their partnership with YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) to provide an additional opportunity for pickleball players to participate in the US Open Pickleball Championships. The YMCA Mid-East Regional Pickleball Tournament will be held June 28-30, 2024  at the Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn, PA. The 39 gold medal winners at this Y-USA tournament will receive a special invitation to the 2025 US Open Pickleball Championships.

With big plans in store and such incredible support from the local community and the pickleball community, the US Open Pickleball Championships is primed to continue changing pickleball history. As the most prestigious tournament in pickleball, pickleball players come to the US Open Pickleball Championships for a chance at winning a coveted medal and experiencing the one-of-a-kind pickleball event, but return to the US Open Pickleball Championships time and time again for the certainty of quality time with great people, great pickleball, and great fun. Whether you are a pickleball player, pickleball fan, or simply love a good party, the US Open Pickleball Championships is a must for your bucket list. Mark your calendar for the 2025 US Open Pickleball Championships to be held April 26th-May 3rd. 

Information on the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships is available on the event’s website at www.usopenpickleball.com and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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