Pickleball tournament draws approximately 80 competitors

Approximately 80 players, some coming from as far away as Indianapolis and Grand Rapids, took part in the inaugural Southwest Michigan Pickleball Summer Tournament at Plym Park Saturday. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Approximately 80 players, some coming from as far away as Indianapolis and Grand Rapids, took part in the inaugural Southwest Michigan Pickleball Summer Tournament at Plym Park Saturday. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

The inaugural Southwest Michigan Pickleball Summer Tournament was a huge success according to Doug Clark, tournament director.

The tournament at Plym Park was played under nearly perfect weather conditions and drew approximately 80 players to Niles.

“We have had a great turnout,” Clark said. “We have had players come from Indianapolis, Fort Wayne (Indiana), Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. So we have a great turnout from our region.”

Clark said that there were a lot of positive comments about the tournament.

“I think people were excited because the first place price was a very nice custom paddle that has our logo on it, Southwest Michigan Pickleball. That is made by Paddletek. Paddletek is our main sponsor and they are the fourth largest manufacturers of paddles in the country and they are located here in Niles.”

The Niles Parks Board approached Southwest Michigan Pickleball about holding their tournament in conjunction with its “Trails and Ales Festivus.”

“One of the other things that we did was we had a custom beer glass with their logo on it that we gave to all the participants,” Clark said.

Not only was the tournament a success, but it brought public awareness to one of the largest growing sports in the world.

“There are still so many people that when you mention pickleball they have never heard of it,” Clark said. “We were very grateful for the exposure and to let people know that there is a strong core of players here in the community who are very passionate about the game. Because it is still in this area in its infancy, we don’t really have a home.”

Right now Southwest Michigan Pickleball has two courts at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA and it has four courts at Firemen’s Park in Niles Township.

Hopefully, Clark is hoping that sometime down the road Southwest Michigan Pickleball is going a home.

If the turnout at Saturday’s tournament is any indication, that dream may become a reality sooner rather than later.




At Plym Park

Men’s Doubles 3.5

Gold: Franz Lepley-Hans Sinicki

Silver: Brian Hake-Doug Friesen

Bronze: Smitty Smith-Crusher Agulia


Men’s Doubles 4.0

Gold: Anthony Rincon-Squibby Esquibel

Silver: Eric Sumner-Scott Walstra

Bronze: Eric Hurst-Matt Keisch


Women’s 3.0, 2.5

Gold: Linda Jirous-Sara Cullen

Silver: Barbara Starke-Anne Schrader

Bronze: Judy Highfill-Louise Bookwalter


Men’s 3.0

Gold: Jacob Van Dyke-Josh Townsley

Silver: Matt Maurer-Nicholas Falletta

Bronze: Jeffrey Martin-Mike Ross


Women’s 4.0, 3.5

Gold: Carrie Bilotti-Jessica Zeiger

Silver: Mary Villerot-Nadine Geering

Bronze: Diana Clark-Amy Vandalsen


Men’s 5.0, 4.5

Gold: Jim Hackenberg-Pat Sinicki

Silver: David Sabino-Dan McLaughlin

Bronze: AJ Sharief-Irshad Sharief

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