For Immediate Release

Media contacts:
Michael Obyc, 239-821-3909
Terri Graham, 239-777-2969
JoNell Modys, 239-580-8481
Erin Smith, 239-465-1288

Editor’s Note & Photo Opportunity Alert:A Press Conference is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26 at East Naples Community Park, 3500 Thomasson Dr, Naples, FL 34112, to open the first-ever national U.S. Open Pickleball Championships.Immediately following at Noon, there will be a one-hour pro player exhibition followed by a Kids Day educational experience to teach 75 local school kids how to play pickleball. See the Media Alert attached for more information.



NAPLES, FLA., APRIL 25, 2016 – Eight hundred and thirty-five athletes will compete on 47 courts at East Naples Community Park in Naples, Fla. April 27 through May 1 for prestige and $25,000 in prize money in the first-ever U.S. Open Pickleball Championships while over 3,000 fans descend on the area, filling hotel rooms and RV parks in advance of the courtside action.

Pickleball is America’s fastest growing recreational sport and Collier County tourism officials and the pickleball championship’s promoters hope to make Naples and Collier County “ground zero” for pickleball, now played by more than 2.5 million people worldwide. The tournament agreement with the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau extends three years through 2018.

“The pickleball championship event brings national and worldwide attention to greater Naples and Collier County as a community that supports healthy lifestyles and offers a warm welcome and plenty of amenities for fans of this fast-growing sport,” said Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau.

There are registered players from 39 states and eight countries outside the U.S. - the U.K., the Czech Republic, Australia, Aruba, Canada, Japan, India and the island city-state of Singapore.

Thousands of spectators and players are expected to fill the adjacent U.S. Open Village hospitality zone, the U.S. Open Expo vendor and sponsor tradeshow, and fill the 700 ticketed stadium seats at the Zing Zang Championship Court where pro pickleball players will battle it out for $25,000 in prize money. Ticket proceeds support the charities Pickleball For All (based in Collier County), the Macular Degeneration Partnership and the Conine Clubhouse at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

To open the tournament on Tuesday, April 26, a press conference and ribbon cutting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., followed by a pro exhibition from Noon to 1 p.m. Following the pros, it’s Kids Day, with 75 local school children invited to learn the game. Open play and adult clinics begin at 3 p.m. The full tournament schedule gets underway on Wednesday with 2,100 matches played over a five day period. The tournament schedule is available online at

Spectators are welcome throughout the event. Entry into the park, the U.S. Open Village and Miller Lite Beer Garden is free with food and beverages available for purchase for lunch and dinner and live music every afternoon. Many matches are free to watch. Tickets are required to watch the top pro players compete on the Zing Zang Championship Court. Tickets for matches on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday are $10. Tickets for pro play on Friday and during the Saturday night finals are sold out. For ticket information contact Spirit Promotions at Limited tickets will be available at the door.

Entrance to parties on Friday and Saturday nights at U.S. Open Village is free. The Friday, April 29th Tito’s Country Western Party features live country music by the Hot Damn Duo and BBQ dinners from Texas Tony’s for sale. There’s plenty of room for dancing and boots and western wear are encouraged. Saturday night’s Championship Party promises plenty of surprises, music and Italian food for purchase.

When co-founders of the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships Terri Graham and Chris Evon first began scouting locations for the inaugural event, they noticed that most all major competitions were being held along the U.S. west coast. They presented the idea for hosting the event to the sports tourism team at the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau in early 2015.

“We’re so pleased that the sports tourism team in Collier County saw the growth potential and popularity of pickleball right away, and we’re thrilled to bring this prestigious event to the greater Naples Community,” said Graham.

Minto Communities, with homes in the new Isles of Collier Preserve and TwinEagles recently signed on as title sponsor for the tournament. Other major sponsors include Zing Zang, famous for its bloody mary mix and other cocktail mixers, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Naples, Marco Island, Everglades – Florida’s Paradise Coast, along with many other national and local sponsors.

While as many as 10,000 spectators are expected throughout the week, county sports tourism officials expect more than 3,000 people, primarily players and their friends and family, to fill area hotel rooms and cheer for their favorite players and teams. Hotel rooms at special pickleball rates at area hotels are still available. Hotel information including booking codes for pickleball event rates is available at the U.S. Open Pickleball tournament website at

About Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB – Sports Tourism / Athletes in Paradise

The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is the official tourism marketing and management agency for Collier County, Florida, known as Florida’s Paradise Coast. The CVB provides information and assistance for travel media, group meeting and event planners, tour operators, travel agents, and sports event organizers. It is funded entirely by the Collier County tourist development tax collected by hotels, short term vacation rentals and campgrounds. No local property taxes are used to fund the CVB or its marketing campaigns and tourism industry support activities. For more information on sports tourism marketing, call 239-252-6293 or follow Athletes in Paradise on Facebook.

Michael Obyc
Senior Sports Marketing Manager
(239) 252-6293

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