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Arrival Of Pro Tournament Puts Middletown On World Pickleball Map

Ann Thompson
Middletown says it has the most outdoor pickleball courts in Ohio with 16.

Middletown will join Hilton Head, S.C., Las Vegas and Indianapolis as one of 14 stops on the APP (Association of Pickleball Professionals) tour this year. The tournament - The Cincinnati Pickleball Open, with a $25,000 purse - will be held at Lefferson Park June 4-7.

Middletown is gaining notoriety in the pickleball world. It's billed as the "Pickleball Capital of Ohio" with the most outdoor courts in the state. Routinely the courts are filled when the weather is nice, as reported by WVXU.

Pickleball, a mix of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, seems to have a pull on people. Michell Cook, secretary of the Middletown Pickleball Association, resisted it initially at age 42 because she thought she was too young. Now she's been playing for about 10 years and loves it.

President Tony Brewer was pestered by his mother in Florida to play. "I went down and spent a week's vacation to humor her. I got up every morning at 6:00 a.m. to play pickleball with her and I got hooked."

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
From left: Association President Tony Brewer, VP Gayle Lear, Secretary Michell Cook and the man credited with bringing pickleball to Middletown, Stanley Volkens.

Middletown will be the fourth stop on the tour this year. Eight of the world's top players have already signed up for the tournament. They include Jay Devilliers, Ben Johns, Kasandra Gehrke, Tyson McGuffin, Riley Newman, Leigh Waters and Kyle Yates.

Amateur players can compete in the June tournament at all skill levels, and can sign up here. There will also be clinics and exhibitions.

You can find more information on the APP tour website.