Top professional players are converging on ‘Pickleball Capital of Ohio’

The courts of the Middletown Pickleball Association will be packed the next four days when some of the world's best players on are town. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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The courts of the Middletown Pickleball Association will be packed the next four days when some of the world's best players on are town. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Cincinnati Pickleball Open being played through Sunday in Middletown.

MIDDLETOWN — When Stanley Volkens introduced pickleball to the Middletown community in 2006, he had “no idea” what the future would hold.

Now, 16 years later, Middletown is known as the “Pickleball Capital of Ohio” because it has 18 courts, the most in one location in the state.

Volkens, 92, joked that he put up the ‘capital’ sign years ago at the courts and “nobody ever took it down.”

This weekend, some of the world’s best professional pickleball players and amateurs will take to the courts for the Cincinnati Pickleball Open, part of the Association of Pickleball Professionals Tour (APP) with a total purse of $35,000.

This is the third time Middletown has hosted the tournament and Michell Cook, tournament director, said players have raved about the venue, the volunteers and local restaurants, bars and hotels.

She said many of the local hotels are full due to the 450 players spending the weekend in Middletown. Cook said local hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues have been highlighted in tournament literature.

Cook said the tournament will have a “huge impact” on the local economy.

“We are fortunate to have this here,” she said. “It still amazes me.”

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Michell Cook, tournament director, said Middletown is fortunate to host such a prestigious pickleball tournament. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Michell Cook, tournament director, said Middletown is fortunate to host such a prestigious pickleball tournament. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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Michell Cook, tournament director, said Middletown is fortunate to host such a prestigious pickleball tournament. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Also this weekend, the ninth annual Women’s Wine & Chocolate Walk is expected to draw 1,000 guests downtown on Saturday.

The pickleball tournament has received support from the city, according to Cook. WiFi is available at the courts that allows for live streaming of the tournament and the tournament is using the city’s recently purchased portable restrooms that are handicapped accessible.

Cook said food trucks and vendors will be set up all four days at Lefferson Park.

The pickleball courts are converted tennis courts that were in dilapidated condition, Cook said. She said local pickleball players have donated their time and money over the years building and maintaining the courts.

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Many volunteers were busy Wednesday afternoon preparing for the national pickleball tournament coming to Middletown this weekend. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Many volunteers were busy Wednesday afternoon preparing for the national pickleball tournament coming to Middletown this weekend. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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Many volunteers were busy Wednesday afternoon preparing for the national pickleball tournament coming to Middletown this weekend. RICK McCRABB/STAFF


HOW TO GO

WHAT: Cincinnati Pickleball Open, part of the Association of Pickleball Professionals Tour (APP)

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Middletown Pickleball Courts, 2145 S. Breiel Blvd.

HOW MUCH: Free admission today, $10 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Free admission all four days to Middletown Pickleball Association members and volunteers.

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