Kyle Yates, from Fort Myers, competes in the Pickleball Global Challenge Cup in 2018. Yates is playing in the event this year, which returns to the indoor courts at Tennis & Pickleball US in Bonita Springs from Wednesday through Friday. (Photo: Submitted)
The Pickleball Global Challenge Cup, a professional event returning to Bonita Springs this week, is offering fans a different brand of pickleball than what they’re used to.
Hosted at the courts at Pickleball & Tennis US, an equipment and apparel store, the Cup focuses on singles, while most pro events focus on doubles. The event also features matches played with a brief time limit rather than played to set final score. It’s also a team event.
And perhaps most exciting for fans, the matches are in an air-conditioned indoor space. The Cup runs Wednesday through Friday.
“We want (the players) to play as many matches as possible so they can play against many different styles and give some variety to the people watching,” said Jan David, owner of Pickleball & Tennis US and creator of the event.
Fans watch a match at the 2018 Pickleball Global Challenge Cup. The Cup returns to the indoor courts at Tennis & Pickleball US in Bonita Springs from Wednesday through Friday, bringing 25 of the highest-ranked players in the world. (Photo: Submitted)
The Pickleball Global Challenge Cup debuted last year and featured eight pro players playing on two teams representing paddle manufacturers. This year the event has been expanded to 25 of the world’s best players divided into Team East and Team West.
David, who opened a tennis store in Naples eight years ago before moving to Bonita Springs and expanding to pickleball, based his tournament on tennis’ Laver Cup in which the U.S. and Europe compete. It’s a three-day event with teams getting one point for a victory Wednesday, two points for a win on Thursday, and three points for a win on Friday.
There’s also a $30,000 purse for the pros. The players will receive $500 for each match they win.
The matches take place on an indoor court that seats 300 people. Pickleball & Tennis US built a court a few years ago when the store next door in their shopping center left, vacating a space large enough.
Team Selkirk, representing the paddle manufacturer, won the Pickleball Global Challenge Cup in 2018. The Cup returns to the indoor courts at Tennis & Pickleball US in Bonita Springs from Wednesday through Friday, bringing 25 of the highest-ranked players in the world. (Photo: Submitted)
The pros in the event, most of whom will participate in the U.S. Pickleball Open in Naples on April 28-May 4, were selected by Pickleball Global’s new individual player rankings. An online network that brings players together, Pickleball Global debuted its rankings just a few weeks ago.
While the U.S. Pickleball Association gives players a rating from 2.5 (novice) to 5.0 (pro), it does not rank players of the same rating. Pickleball Global created its system by weighting tournaments based on their competitiveness and taking a players’ top eight results from the previous 52 weeks.