Hosting national tournament ‘huge deal’ for Middletown

Middletown, which has 16 pickleball courts at Lefferson Park, has been named “Pickleball Capital of Ohio.” Middletown will host a professional tournament this summer and organizers hope it provides an economic boost. FILE PHOTO
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Middletown, which has 16 pickleball courts at Lefferson Park, has been named “Pickleball Capital of Ohio.” Middletown will host a professional tournament this summer and organizers hope it provides an economic boost. FILE PHOTO

Some of the world’s best pickleball players are coming to Middletown this summer, and officials hope the tournament showcases the courts at Lefferson Park and pumps tourism dollars into the local economy.

The Cincinnati Pickleball Open, part of the Association of Pickleball Professionals Tour (APP), will be held June 4-7 at the Lefferson Park Pickleball Courts, said Michell Cook, former board member of the Middletown Pickleball Association.

She said the tournament, the fourth stop of the 14-tournament season, will feature some of the best pickleball players vying for a $25,000 purse. Most of the other tournaments are scheduled in southern and western states and the championships are in Punta Gorda, Fla., Cook said.

MORE: Middletown finds its sports niche as the ‘Pickleball Capital of Ohio’

“This is a huge deal for Middletown,” she said. “A huge honor.”

The organizers of the APP have planned events associated with the tournament, including clinics, exhibitions and vendors, Cook said. For more info on the APP tour go to apptour.org.

This will be the first time the tournament has been held in Middletown and Cook believes that’s a testament to the volunteer work done by pickleball players renovating the former tennis courts. There are 16 dedicated pickleball courts at Lefferson, and two more will be added before the tournament, she said. Those courts represent the most at one place in Ohio, she said.

Middletown has been called the “Pickleball Capital of Ohio,” she said.

Cook and Mary Huttlinger, executive director of the Middletown Visitors Bureau, are excited about the potential economic impact the tournament will have locally. Cook said local hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues will be highlighted in tournament literature.

Cook said it’s important to support local businesses because most of those dollars remain in the community and those businesses sponsor local events.

“They’re most important to our success,” Cook said. “I get that.”

Huttlinger said plans are underway to put on “a good showing” in hopes of attracting the tournament back in 2021 and potentially hosting other national tourneys.

“The ‘welcome mat’ will be out,” she said. “We will tell businesses to be engaged, be aggressive in marketing and advertising.”

One month after the Cincinnati Pickleball Open, the Middletown Pickleball Association will host its 13th annual Middletown Ohio Pickleball Tournament. Last year’s event attracted 280 players, and with the addition of two courts, Cook expects more than 300 players.

The 2020 tournament will be July 30-Aug. 1.