Pickleball Magazine 2-3 - Page 38

of origin for tournament players. Creature comforts, such as misting tents for players and parking handled by the local Kiwanis, were also small changes that yielded a big difference. In the case of the parking, the $5 daily charge went directly to the Kiwanis’ Christmas in July program, which benefits homeless children in the area. Consequently, all of these changes for the better have created a virtual circle of growth for the US Open— larger, more streamlined events and activities means more participation, which generates more tourism and income for the county, which means more regional efforts to make the event larger and to streamline it further. The US Open brings an estimated $5 million into the local economy, with 1,300 participants, 10,000 global spectators and national television exposure that CBS Sports estimated at 6 million viewers. But even before it was a reality, Graham said the county was extremely supportive in getting the US Open off the ground. US Open Winner of Men’s Singles Pro Ben Johns “The county has been supportive since day one. Before we lifted a even more the second year,” Graham said. “They’ve been finger, they had our backs and were supportive since we made our presentation on bringing it supporting it. With a successful first year, they’ve done to Naples and they haven’t stopped; they just keep moving forward. It’s a blessing from the pickleball gods that we ended up in Naples.” To that effect, preliminary planning efforts are already underway, looking into the feasibility of adding even more courts to the site, which would benefit the US Open and the local pickleball community. Graham’s hope is that the project moves forward and that the new courts are operational for next year’s event, which is already in the works—a fact that astounds even Graham. “Never in my wildest dreams had I thought this would be part of the five-year plan. I thought maybe we could get to 1,000 participants in five years,” she said. “What we’ve accomplished in two years is incredible. This event doesn’t happen without the volunteers or our event director, Jim Ludwig, who all pull together to make this event as amazing as it is. If people didn’t come this year, they should put it on their bucket list for next year. If you play or like to US Open Winners of Mixed Doubles Pro Oliver Strecker and watch, this is the place to be; this is just a party where you Simone Jardim come and have a blast and play pickleball as well.”  • 36 TO SUBSCRIBE CALL 888.308.3720 OR GO TO THEPICKLEBALLMAG.COM