The qualities of great reality TV are as varied as the shows themselves. Intense moments, surprising twists, and inspiring stories are just a few of the reasons this genre has become increasingly popular among TV and streaming viewers.
A High-Stakes Reality Competition
Pickleball Paddle Battle, a high-stakes reality competition, will bring plenty of intense gameplay, heartfelt stories, and life-changing prizes that neither pickleball enthusiasts nor reality show fans will want to miss.
The show was created and produced by Mike “Ace” Rodrigues, CEO of Pickleball Kingdom, a Chandler, Arizona-based facility that hosts corporate gatherings, memberships, and pickleball classes for beginners. Rodrigues formed a production company, Pickleball Kingdom Productions, to launch the show.
A total of 16 contestants, featuring eight male and eight female participants, will square off against one another for the chance to win professional pickleball sponsorships or ownership of a Pickleball Kingdom franchise.
Filming for the competition will take place from September 16-24, but the action won’t be limited to the court. Cameras will follow each competitor 24/7 for those behind-the-scenes moments synonymous with reality shows.
Rodrigues, who grew up in Hawaii before moving to Arizona 25 years ago, says Pickleball Paddle Battle isn’t your typical linear reality show with one prize or objective for contestants to chase.
“In this case, we have four dreams that we’re literally making come true, two for the men and two for the women. The players have absolute control. They have their futures, their destinies in their hands.”Ace Rodrigues, Creator of Pickleball Paddle Battle
After a casting call was announced in July, hundreds of applications poured into Rodrigues and his Pickleball Kingdom staff. They selected 16 competitors from across the U.S. and Canada based on their exceptional skills, passion for pickleball, and unwavering determination.
Rodrigues played football at the University of Hawaii before an injury prematurely ended his career. He forged a successful path in the financial industry, specializing in investments and fundraising for startups. It was there Rodrigues earned his nickname “Ace” after his fellow investment agents began calling him the Investment Ace.
After selling his investment agency, Rodrigues turned to the energy efficiency sector before the idea of establishing an indoor pickleball facility began to take root. He was introduced to the sport by friends during the pandemic, and it took less than five minutes for him to be bitten by the pickleball bug.
“I would invite 15 to 20 guys to come out at a time, and we’d play,” Rodrigues recalled.
However, it didn’t take long for Rodrigues to notice the downsides of the sport: long lines, filthy courts, and having to play outdoors in inclement weather. If this were indoors, he thought, all these problems would go away.
Rodrigues decided to turn his new passion into a business venture. In May 2022, he opened Pickleball Kingdom with 15 courts, all indoors. His model thrives on the concept of no waiting and a pleasant indoor environment.
The business did so well that Rodrigues decided to begin franchising. That’s when the idea to create Pickleball Paddle Battle began to form in his mind. He realized the warmth and inclusivity of pickleball was the impetus for making his dream come true, and he wanted to give others the same opportunity.
“I wanted to give back to the community by making dreams come true,” he explained. “The obvious dream for so many high-level players is to be able to play on the pro circuit. A lot of them are there from a skill level (standpoint); they just can’t get there from a financial standpoint.”
A Two-Pronged Approach
Selecting the four winners for Pickleball Paddle Battle is a two-pronged approach. The two pro sponsorships will be determined by a scoring system based on head-to-head competition, while viewers will have the opportunity to vote for the two Pickleball Kingdom franchise ownership winners.
The 16 contestants range in age from 23 to 43 and come from all walks of life, including a schoolteacher, an attorney, an American Ninja Warrior, a couple of professional tennis players, a triathlete… even a TV newscaster.
Warm, Competitive, And Caring
Rodrigues is still negotiating with a television network and streaming service to air the show, but he is confident it will be available to the viewing public by the end of 2023. Once filming is complete, samples of footage will be available for those interested in finding out what the show is about. While monetization is obviously important, it’s not Rodrigues’s number one focus.
“We are producing this to have the largest audience possible because we feel we’re ambassadors of the sport, (and) we want exposure for these players. We want the world to know just how warm, how competitive, how caring pickleball players are. We’re gonna give the world a chance to meet them, to see what they’re like both on and off the court.”
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