Further proof of pickleball’s inexorable rise has been provided by the announcement that the Miami Open, presented by Itaú, will feature not only a wheelchair event but also the inclusion of Major League Pickleball (MLP), marking the inaugural occurrence of these events at any 1000 series tournament.
MLP Set To Make Its Debut
Scheduled to take place at the iconic Hard Rock Stadium in the city from March 17 to 31, the 2024 Miami Open aims to provide fans with an off-court experience that parallels the on-court excellence of the world’s finest male and female tennis players participating in this ATP and WTA 1000 event.
Major League Pickleball (MLP) is set to make its debut, featuring a pro-am and a two-day tournament showcasing 16 of the globe’s top players.
During the All-Star tournament, these 16 MLP pros will demonstrate their skills in round-robin pool play and engage in three playoff matches.
Additional Pickleball Attractions
Additional pickleball attractions include the MLP stars teaming up with celebrities in a Pro-Am round-robin tournament and a Pro-Am team exhibition match. Among the standout players in MLP, Jessie Irvine has been named as one who may participate.
In another groundbreaking move, wheelchair tennis will debut at the tournament from March 26-28. The event will be spearheaded by Japan’s Shingo Kunieda, a four-time Paralympic gold medalist and the recipient of 28 major singles titles.
Grand Slam champions Great Britain’s Gordon Reid and Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez are already confirmed participants, adding further prestige to the wheelchair tennis segment of the Miami Open.
“The Festival Atmosphere”
“We are delighted to welcome both wheelchair tennis players and MLP stars to this year’s Miami Open presented by Itaú,” Tournament Director James Blake said. “We want to continue to build on the festival atmosphere that is now so synonymous with the Open, and we are proud to be the first 1000 series event to showcase elite wheelchair tennis and pickleball athletes to our fans.”
However, some tennis enthusiasts, while appreciating the introduction of a wheelchair event, have voiced their dissatisfaction with the inclusion of pickleball on various social media platforms.
One fan, in particular, voiced concerns about the potential overshadowing of tennis by this paddle sport:
“So this is how it ends, first taking over the courts I love and then the tournaments,” a fan posted on X (formerly Twitter).
“Blasphemous”, stated another.
BREAKING:— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) January 29, 2024
Miami Open will feature Pickleball and Wheelchair tennis alongside the regularly scheduled Masters 1000 event.
Wheelchair tennis 🗓 Mar 26 – Mar 28 on Butch Buchholz Court / Grandstand Court
Pickleball 🗓 Mar 27 – Mar 29 on Butch Buchholz Stadium pic.twitter.com/wKuR3RpeMJ
Another fan supported the idea of a wheelchair event but wasn’t at all in favor of the pickleball event featuring as well. They seemed to think it was a sport for grandmas!
“I’m all for wheelchair tennis…but why in the hell are they adding pickleball? Get that grandma sh*t out of here,” the fan posted.
Breaking: The Miami Open has announced Wheelchair Tennis and Major League Pickleball will be held on site alongside the regular combined Masters 1000 tournament.— Gill Gross 🧋 (@Gill_Gross) January 29, 2024
“Marking the first-time both events will take place at any 1000 series tournament.”
“Fan Experience Is Paramount”
Inside the only tennis stadium court built within an NFL venue, stadium ticket holders will have the opportunity to experience Milos, the award-winning seafood restaurant and the first premium bookable dining option at the tournament, another new addition for 2024.
“The fan experience is paramount to everything we do at Hard Rock Stadium, and we are excited to build on the already extensive variety of culinary offerings and add to the action at this year’s Miami Open presented by Itaú,” said Chris Clements, Senior Vice President, and Chief Financial Officer of Hard Rock Stadium.
“We pride ourselves on delivering the most culturally immersive tennis tournament with elite on-court action and best-in-class food and beverage. This year, with an action-packed lineup of international tennis, elite wheelchair tennis, and MLP, we look forward to offering fans the best tournament to date.”
Pickleball Slam 2, the second iteration of the Pickleball Slam series featuring Maria Sharapova, John McEnroe, and husband-and-wife duo Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, will be taking place at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida about seven miles north of Hard Rock Stadium, on February 4.
For a list of activities, please visit miamiopen.com/activities.
For ticket information, visit miamiopen.com.
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