Pickleball tournament will bring hundreds to the Elm City

Pickleball tournament happening this weekend in New Haven
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:14 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WFSB) - Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America.

This weekend a pickleball tournament will be bringing in hundreds of participants from up and down the east coast over to the Elm City.

What is Pickleball?

It is similar to tennis where players hit a ball over a net, but they play with a paddle like ping pong.

Not only are the organizers excited, but so are the players and local businesses.

William Meng says he picked up a pickleball paddle a year ago.

“Saw pickleball courts, right next to the tennis courts. I was like, ‘that looks really fun, let me try it.’ Started playing and never looked back,” said Meng.

Now he’s looking to test his skills against some of the best amateurs in the game.

This weekend he’ll be one of more than 540 players from 16 states taking part in USA Pickleball’s Atlantic Diamond Regional Tournament in New Haven.

“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,” Win Oppe, Tournament Organizer.

Michael Piscitelli, New Haven’s Economic Development Administrator, says that having over 500 people coming to the Elm City is an opportunity to show what they have to offer.

“Last night we had a bunch of folks check-in, all excited about the weekend. We share a lot of the local information with them, not just the pizza restaurants which of course we encourage, but a lot of the local restaurants they can walk to from our hotel, so really good win-win for all of us,” said Robert Fusco, Courtyard Marriott New Haven at Yale.

The tournament is a win for Elm City kids too.

Tournament organizers are donating some of the nets and balls used this weekend to New Haven’s Youth and Recreation Department for its free clinics, along with a portion of the tournament’s proceeds.

“It’s awesome because these are some of the best players in the state as well as New England, so just want a good challenge, try to bring home gold, but we’ll see how it goes,” added Meng.

The tournament starts tomorrow afternoon and is free for spectators.

The tournament runs through Sunday with winners advancing to the national competition later this year in Florida.