The town of Mars Hill is set to host its second pickleball tournament of 2023 in October. This event comes in the wake of the sport’s burgeoning popularity in Western North Carolina.
The “Madison Madness” tournament, scheduled for October 14-15, is a collaborative effort between the Mars Hill Pickleball Club and the town of Mars Hill.
The venue for this competition will be the Mars Hill Recreation Park, featuring men’s and women’s doubles tournaments on October 14, followed by a mixed doubles tournament on October 15.
Participation in the tournament requires a registration fee of $75, with proceeds earmarked for the Community Housing Coalition.
The tournament directors will be Cathy Hicks, spouse of acclaimed 10-time Grammy award winner Bobby Hicks, along with Cat Case.
Regarding anticipated turnout, Hicks expressed uncertainty due to other tournaments in Asheville and Kingsport, Tennessee, being held at the same time.
She said, “We’re hopeful that we’ll get about the same number that we got back in the spring. There are just so many tournaments right now. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of tournaments out there. So, we’re all kind of fighting for the same tournament.”
The organizing team also faces limitations in the number of participants they can accommodate, as Mars Hill Park only has four available pickleball courts.
A Huge Upsurge Of Interest
Susan Sewell, a board member at CHCSewell, was instrumental in coordinating the initial tournament in the spring and has also volunteered to organize the upcoming Madison Madness event.
Hicks and Sewell have observed a huge upsurge of interest in pickleball across the region.
Hicks explained, “We use Team Reach as a site where people go to find out when the sessions are. Right now, we’re on 167 people that are on Team Reach. It’s really become a very fast-growing sport.”
Sewell added that this number is more than double the player count during the spring tournament. She was especially grateful to the town for its significant support, including the provision of nets and court markings.
As Hicks points out, apart from its physical benefits, pickleball is also nurturing networking opportunities and social gatherings among Western North Carolina players.
She says, “That’s the classic definition of a good exercise program – one you stick with. And one of the reasons you stick with it is because A, it’s enjoyable, and B, you have the social aspect of it, where people are kind of holding you accountable and saying, ‘Hey, we need you to come out and play.’
“Pickleball answers all those shortfalls we’re seeing in other sports. Tennis is a great game, but it’s not the social game pickleball is.
“You can play it at any age. Because of the way the game is designed, an 80-year-old can play a 20-year-old. Now, the 20-year-old may ultimately win, but the 80-year-old can also be competitive just because of the way the game is designed.”
Games Start At 8
Susan Sewell noted that CHC will run a booth with refreshments for the players throughout the tournament.
Games are scheduled to commence at 8 a.m. daily.
For those interested in participating, registration details can be found at pickleballbrackets.com.
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