Wednesday, October 27, 2021

In My Own Backyard

Coach Wayne’s Corner

In my career as a competitor and as an instructor, I have attended and competed in professional and amateur tournaments at various locations around the country. I have also been involved with the vender/service operational aspects of major events; such as training and monitoring ball boys and ball girls, as well as providing racquet stringing services for professional tennis tournaments, so I am familiar with the logistics required to run major sporting events.

However, this year, as an instructor at The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park, I now have an enlightened understanding and comprehension of what it’s like to be the host site of a world class event/tournament like The Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships.

The amount of time, effort and hard work put in by the tournament organizers, Collier County Parks and Recreation employees, the staff of East Naples Community Park and The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida, is an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.

U.S. Open Pickleball Championship Founders, Terri Graham and Chris Evon.

Planning and organizing such an event is a full time responsibility. Terri and Chris, along with Donna Fiala and the Collier County Board of Commissioners, work year round to make “The Open” the spectacular event that it has become.

In addition to the planning and logistics involved with organizing and setting up for an event of this size, the day to day, hour to hour, minute by minute, responsibility of monitoring the schedule of play is another whole logistical challenge of its own.

With literally hundreds of matches taking place each day, the tournament staff does a magical job of keeping matches running on schedule, rotating and providing practice courts and posting the scores.

The vendors are there from dusk to dawn to provide you an opportunity to gain information on the latest and greatest paddle and equipment technologies on the market in the sport of pickleball.

So when you are enjoying yourself at next year’s Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships, look around and appreciate all of the hard work that goes into the production of an international sporting event of this caliber and take a minute to say thanks to some of the hard working individuals who are part of the incredible team which make it the world class sports experience event it has become.

Also, until next year’s tournament, take pride in the fact that The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida and The Minto U.S. Open Championships have made East Naples Community Park and our hometown of Naples, what is now referred to as, “The Pickleball Capital of the world!

Some interesting facts and statistics on what it takes to put an event like the U.S. Open together. There are:

  • 58 courts used for the competition.
  • 30 court side boxes in The Zing Zang Championship Court.
  • 2,200 players representing 47 states and 16 countries.
  • 175 referees.
  • 580 volunteers putting in 10,000 hours.
  • 15 tents (two are air conditioned).
  • Five generators for power using 1700 gallons of fuel.
  • 30 bathrooms.
  • 28 rented golf carts.
  • Two shuttle buses.
  • 200 American flags.


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