NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Pickleball is headed to New Haven courts!
New Haven will host the 2023 USA Pickleball Atlantic Diamond Regional Tournament from Friday, March 31 through Sunday, April 2.
While hundreds of players are scheduled to take the courts at the Floyd Little Field House, many people are still not sure what pickleball is.
Pickleball is halfway between ping pong and tennis, and it is becoming very popular.
“I played tennis for 55 years. I moved to pickleball to try it out, and I loved it, so I never went back to tennis,” said Noel Ruiz, a pickleball player from Stratford. “You meet nice people, it’s like a big family.”
New Haven just turned one of the Edgewood Park tennis courts into three pickleball courts. That’s where we found Ruiz and Billy Bostic, a pickleball player, and high school tennis coach. They were so nice, they let a complete stranger play for the first time. That stranger found it was a lot of fun. Bostic says some of his friends have also been convinced.
“They said they would never play it, but once they started playing it, just hitting around, just like you and I just did, now they love the game,” Bostic said.
And now, the city of New Haven is betting big on pickleball.
The USA Pickleball Atlantic Diamond Region houses the six New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
“I am thrilled to bring a major league tournament to New Haven,” said Win Oppel, the Managing Director of ZeroZeroStartCT, a pickleball event organizer. “We’ve been billing it as the biggest pickleball party in New England, and it truly is. This will be the largest pickleball tournament held in New England this year.”
Oppel and partner Mike Hoxie of Pickleball is Great, Inc. will turn the Floyd Little Field House from a basketball court into a series of 20 pickleball courts starting tomorrow.
“So, we have about 544 players coming to visit the city of New Haven to play pickleball,” said Felicia Shashinka of the New Haven Youth and Recreation Department.
That will mean a big economic boost for the Elm City this weekend. Organizers are donating nets and paddles to the city, and the city plans on building more courts in the near future.
New Haven is offering beginning pickleball clinics during the next two months. The first is next week. Click here for more information.