Things to do in Miami: APP Plantation open March 2-6, 2022
In case you missed the obvious, pickleball is clearly where it is in racquet sports these days.
From the visible influx of pickleball courts in South Florida parks to the more than 4.2 million pickleball players in the United States alone, people near and far are paddling like never before as the sport, originating on Bainbridge Island, Washington in the mid-1960s, continues to gain momentum.
On March 2, Broward County is participating in the launch of the inaugural Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) Plantation Open. Over 600 players in total – encompassing top pros as well as amateurs – will compete for glory and prizes.
In the pro division, over $40,000 in prize money is up for grabs in the tournament, which runs through Sunday, March 6.
“If you haven’t experienced a professional pickleball match, once you see it up close it’s a little different,” says Carl Foster, CEO of Foster Events Group, an APP Tour partner who has produces pickleball events similar to Boca Raton. and Delray Beach. “Every day more and more people are playing pickleball, so we’ll see how it develops over the years.”
The APP Tour has signed a three-year agreement to host the Plantation Open at Plantation Central Park. To accommodate the event, the park had to add five courts, including a 300-seat court for marquee matches. In total, there will be 17 courts for the players.
Notable pros gearing up for the Plantation Open include world number two Zane Navratil, as well as local pros JW Johnson and Johnny Goldberg. Between the professional and amateur brackets, Foster says the age of participants ranges from 13 to 80, noting that “increasingly, the younger generation is getting into pickleball as well.” Beyond the pro tournament, amateurs are divided into tournaments based on skill level.
Similar to the layout of major tennis tournaments, guests can simply walk in and watch matches on the off-stadium/long court. In addition to the first seats on the stadium pitch, for a fee, there will be rows of preferred bleachers as well as 32 elevated VIP tables that include complimentary snacks and drinks. To complete the tournament atmosphere, 20 sponsor tents will be selling everything from pickleball paddles to jewelry, and seven food vendors.
With the first year of the Plantation Open in motion and player registration sold out, Foster and organizers are already looking to expand his footprint for year two.
“Maybe next year we can expand to even more grounds as the sport develops,” he says. “The first year is always a challenge, but everyone at Plantation has been great and there’s such a base of players to work with.”
Association of Pickleball Plantation Open Professionals. Wednesday, March 2 through Sunday, March 6 at Plantation Central Park, 9151 NW Second St., Plantation; apptour.org. Free entry; VIP tickets and preferred seats cost between $20 and $500 through eventbrite.com.
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