The Little Rock Athletic Club hosted the 2023 Pickleball State Championship: Best of the Best on Friday, August 18th.
Largest Prize Purse In Arkansas
The tournament, which featured Arkansas’s largest pickleball prize purse, was organized by 103.7 THE BUZZ and Little Rock Athletic Club. It brought together the top-ranked pickleball players from all over the state.
In this first year, the event attracted 98 entrants from all across the state.
You could watch online with live streams of the games, updates, and discussions happening in a specially created group! The organizers also waived visitor fees at Athletic for those who wished to watch the indoor competition in person.
Ladies’ singles champion: Katie Gaines
Men’s singles: Johan den Toom
Ladies’ doubles: Kate Gaines and Shannon Hudson
Men’s doubles: Johan den Toom and John Hysell
Mixed doubles: Shannon Hudson and Johan den Toom
A Little Trash Talk
Local television station KATV got these reactions from the locals:
Enthusiast Cindy Osment said of the sport, “It is interesting. I am sure that the older pickleball players that started the sport or the unathletic people that started the sport are not as excited now that athletic people have taken over,”
Bronson Adams is evidently one of the more competitive players: “Yeah, I like to get a little trash talk in, of course. That is what gets me going.”
Joe Dixon talked about how although pickleball seems to be a recent phenomenon, it has been around a while now: “A lot of these advanced players have been playing for several years. The sport has obviously been around since like the ’50s but is really starting to catch on mainstream now. The money is really flowing into pickleball now.”
Dixon is a player and advocate for the sport and works to promote it across the state. He created a nonprofit called Arkansas Pickleball.
He added, “I think once you put a paddle in your hand, you will understand. It is almost the greatest thing that has ever happened to a lot of people. It offers a fun athletic experience. It also offers a social experience. There is a social side to it. It is almost like joining a cult or a family.”
Click here for more of our articles about the smaller tournaments that happen on a regular basis around our nation.
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