Image from Flickr, via Catch Central Florida
If you’ve been practicing Pickleball and think you’re ready for the pros, you are not alone. Find out what you're made of in one of these real-life Pickleball tournaments!
PICKLEBALL Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a sport that was invented in the 1960s as a simple children's game. It combines the rules of badminton and tennis, with two or four players using paddles (larger than ping-pong paddles, and often made of wood) to hit a perforated plastic ball back and forth over a net. Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors in a 20×44-foot, modified badminton court.
2. Who Can Play Pickleball?
What is great about Pickleball is it’s an all-ages sport. Everyone from children to the elderly can take part in Pickleball tournaments, but serious players can also develop their skills over time and play at a pro level. Some Pickleball tournaments only allow skilled players while other Pickleball tournaments allow both amateurs and pros alike. People who already play tennis will find it easy to learn Pickleball, and will also find the smaller court size more comfortable to move around in than a standard tennis court.
3. How Popular Are Pickleball Tournaments?
It’s estimated that 2.46 million people play Pickleball, and as a result, hundreds of Pickleball tournaments have popped up in 48 US states and internationally in Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico.
4. How Can You Prepare for a Pickleball Tournament?
Just like any sport, it’s important to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet before and during Pickleball tournaments. And just like any sport, practice makes perfect! However, since every tournament is different, it’s important to research the details and requirements before registering. Some Pickleball tournaments require that players have a high skill level or be a member of USAPA, and so you may have to renew you USAPA membership before registering. Some Pickleball tournaments are indoors and offer free meals and T-shirts, while others are outdoors and offer nothing free. Whatever the case, it will be easier to focus on competing in the tournament if there aren’t any surprises during it. During the tournament, don’t forget to stretch and rest in between matches.
5. Where Can You Buy Paddles and Balls?
Pickleball paddles and balls are easy to buy on and offline. Large retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon and smaller ones like Pickleballcentral.com offer everything from affordable, simple paddles and balls to more expensive equipment.
HOW WE REVIEWED
We reviewed in detail the popular Pickleball tournaments in the US, comparing their registration fees, locations, requirements to register, and schedules so we could fully understand and communicate the pros and cons of each tournament. We also researched the sport itself, and its top players, to provide the necessary context to help inform the choices for the best Pickleball tournaments.
OVERALL PRICE RANGE OF PICKLEBALL TOURNAMENTS
Pickleball tournaments can cost a good amount of money to register; however, some registration fees include other freebies like T-shirts, free meals, and invites to social events. For people who live far away from a tournament, the cost of travel and lodging can be high, but some hotels offer group discounts for the tournament.
WHAT WE REVIEWED
Minto Pickleball Championships
In 2018, the Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships drew 2,000 tennis players and over 10,000 spectators, not just for its great tennis matches, but for the beach and other nearby attractions like the Naples Botanical Garden Welcome Center. Unlike many tournaments, kids are welcome to take part, and the event even kicks off with a Kids Day.
The Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships is planned for April 21st to April 29th, 2019, with registration starting in early January 2019. There is a small fee to watch tennis matches in the Zing Zang Championship Court, but otherwise, it is free to explore the grounds. Athletes also don't pay a fee unless they are taking part in matches on April 28th. As this is an outdoor tournament, we recommend bringing a hat or umbrella for shade. Also, cash is a good thing to bring, as there are food vendors and a beer garden on site.
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS 2018
The Tournament of Champions attracts both pros and amateurs, and in 2018, 150 tennis players took part. The best Pickleball players don’t just gain honor, but prize money.
This event was held in August 2018, and so far, details for 2019 have not been shared online. The entry fee for all athletes in 2018 was $115, and some events filled up quickly. The official ball for the tournament was the Yellow Dura 40.
MIDWEST PICKLEBALL CLASSIC
Although this tournament is not a USAPA-sanctioned event, only players with a skill level of 3.0 or higher are encouraged to participate. Those that do participate enjoy fun freebies, surprises, and prize incentives.
The Midwest Pickleball Classic was held on September 7th through the 9th, 2018, but details for the 2019 tournament have not been shared online. The registration fee was $40, and for that, attendees enjoyed a free T-shirt, coffee and donuts in addition to the first event. The official ball for this tournament was the DuraFast 40.
THE MICHELOB ULTRA-WOLFE SPORTS ST. LOUIS INVITATIONAL PICKLEBALL TOURNAMENT
The Michelob Ultra-Wolfe Sports Tournament is designed for pros and is, in fact, a USAPA-sanctioned event. In 2018, the event featured clinics from 6-time USAPA national champion Dave Weinibach and sponsored pro player KaSandra Gehrke.
This tournament was held on September 8th and 9th, 2018, and so far, details for the next event have not been shared online. In 2018, the registration fee was $50, but there were also clinics and group lessons that attendees could pay for and enjoy. Only USAPA members with a skill level of 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 could participate, with a $300 prize given to the top winner. The official ball for the tournament was the DURA FAST 40.
COLUMBIA BASIN CLASSIC PRESENTED BY MCCURLEY INTEGRITY SUBURU
The Columbia Basin Classic attracts serious tennis players with pro clinics (two-time national champion Lee Whitwell will be at the 2018 tournament) and skill events. However, it is not exclusive, welcoming players of all levels to Open matches that have cash prizes.
The Columbia Basin Classic Pickleball Tournament is planned for September 14th to September 16th, 2018, though registration for the tournament is now over and details for the next tournament have not been shared online. The registration fee is $50 plus $10 per event. There will also be a Pro Clinic with Lee Whitwell and Lindsey Newman. Both pros and amateurs are welcome, offering skill events and Open matches.
7TH ANNUAL BRANSON CLASSIC PICKLEBALL TOURNAMENT
This indoor tournament is a skills event that is also USAPA-sanctioned, so players are encouraged to challenge themselves! In past years, some players have had to volunteer to referee matches. However, this year referees will get paid, and so the hope is that won’t be necessary.
The 7th Annual Branson Classic is planned for September 21st to 23rd, 2018 and features 12 indoor courts. USAP membership is required to take part, and although athletes can play up to a higher skill rating, they cannot play down. Entry fees are $30 for the first event, and $10 for each additional event, as well as a $15 referee fee. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals will be awarded for each division. The official ball for the tournament is the Embossed Pink RiverStyks Ball.
WORLD TEAM PICKLEBALL NEVADA SECTIONAL TOURNAMENT
The World Team Pickleball (or WTP) tournaments are all about teamwork! Instead of individual players, the focus of the World Team Pickleball Tournament is on the teams, who are encouraged to dress in themes and similar colors. WTC clinics and tournaments are held throughout the year and throughout the US. However, this event will be in Nevada in September.
The World Team Pickleball tournament is happening on September 22nd and 23rd, 2018. The registration fee is $55, and although individuals can register, they will be assigned to a team. Teams compete in multiple back-to-back tournaments over a 2-day period and each team must have a team captain. Skill levels 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, and 5.0 are welcome. The official tournament ball is the Onix Fuse and Dura.
THORLOS ROWLETT RUMBLE FALL SMASH
250 tennis players are expected to take part in this USAPA-sanctioned, outdoor tournament. The registration fee is small but includes live music, free lunches, giveaways, and a silent auction. Rowlett is also just 26 minutes from Dallas, so it is close to big-city fun.
This outdoor event will be held October 5th through the 7th, 2018. Registration is $35 plus $10 for each event and a $10 referee fee. USAPA membership is required to register, and for seniors, SSIPA membership is required. For players under the age of 60, medals are awarded based on performance; however, for seniors (60+), medals are awarded based on skill. The official tournament ball is the Dura Fast 40.
USAPA ATLANTIC SOUTH REGIONAL
The USAPA Atlantic South Regional tournament is a Skills tournament that welcomes all ages, with medals awarded by the skill and age group of the player. One of the event days is dedicated to practicing, giving players a chance to warm up to each other and to the game.
This USAPA-sanctioned outdoor tournament is held October 18-21st, 2018. The registration fee is $52 plus $5.00 per event and a $15.00 referee fee, and only USAPA members can participate. Registrants enjoy a free T-shirt, one free lunch, and a practice day. The official tournament ball is the Dura Fast 40.
THE INDOOR OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS: PRESENTED BY ASPEN KERN AND PICKLEBALL FORUM
The Indoor Open Championships require a USAPA membership to participate but offer generous cash prizes to pros.
This USAPA-sanctioned event will be held October 27th and 28th, 2018. Although players must be members of USAPA to take part, there is $5,200 available in cash prizes! The official tournament ball is the Onix Fuse Indoor.
No Pickleball tournaments are exactly identical. The Pickleball tournament that’s right for you really depends on your skill level and location. However, the Minto Pickleball Championships offers the most well-rounded experience, allowing all ages and skills to compete but also featuring some of the best and most skilled Pickleball players in the world. To boot, it's also the most affordable of all the Pickleball tournaments on this list.