The Chicago Pickleball Open Championship was held at Nike Sports Complex in Naperville, drawing cheers, crowds, and great competition in the sweltering heat.
Pickleball; The Sport
Ken: Pickleball is a family sport. Not only is it the fastest growing sport here in America, all ages can play it. We have a junior division here, an adult division, a pro division, a senior division.
This is a pickleball tournament… and it’s NOT the pickleball you remember from grade school gym class. These are pros… and there’s money if the paddles fall the right way.
Ken: We’re coming in at a level two tournament, and that’s basically for events that are about 25,000 in prize money, which is what we are.
Pickleball Comes to Naperville
Ken Herrman is the Event’s director… the tournament, put on by Chicago Metro Pickleball, a new non-profit organization. And they’re excited to bring the festivities ot Naperville’s Nike Sports Complex.
Trina: It came together great because we didn’t have anything like this in the Midwest. We have it in Florida, Arizona, California… but nothing like this.
Trina: I would love for Naperville to be the Mecca of Midwest, really. I want everyone to come here.
Trina Reyes is the local ambassador for the event… drawing players from across the country. That includes Kyle Yates, who came up from the south.
Kyle: I’ve never played a tournament in Chicago before, I’m from South Florida so I figured the climate in Chicago might be kind of nice but I heard this week is record highs so it’s pretty hot, little breezy, but we toughed it out.
Unfortunately for him… and the rest of the field. They arrived in Naperville during one of the hottest stretches in recent years, which had consequences.
Kyle: The first day, a couple days ago, I had some bad cramps and wound up in the hospital. Got three liters of IV fluid in me and I came back the next day and here I am and I just won gold, so… pretty happy about it.
Not only did he win the mixed-double gold, he placed second in two other events. While he was hot, both on the court, and off of it – at least there was a way to cool down.
Trina: First of all, it’s so much fun to see the pros getting dunked in the tank. And the pros are having fun because it gets hot out here and they seem to love it.
Ken: The turnout has been incredible. We have over 150 volunteers, primarily from the Naperville area that are coming out and supporting it, in ways of helping at the volunteer’s desk, helping out with the dunk tank – which is trying to raise money to buy pickleball equipment in the local elementary schools.
Overall, the tournament was a success for Herrman and company – who put it on with some help from the community.
Ken: I’ve personally enjoyed getting to work with the park district. City Councilman Kevin Coyne came out for our opening ceremony, gave a welcoming speech. Everyone has been so easy to work with and so wanting to see the sport play in the area.
Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman