Pros compete for World Pickleball Championship in Charlotte County

The world’s best pickleball players are in Southwest Florida, and the first ever world championship is underway in Charlotte County.

Five-hundred players worldwide are competing in the World Pickleball Championship at the Pickleplex on FSW’s Charlotte County campus Friday just outside of Punta Gorda.

The tournament is a huge economic boost for Charlotte County. Hundreds of players from all over the world and their families are attending. They’re staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants and playing at the brand new Pickleplex of Punta Gorda.

“It’s a cross between tennis or table tennis or ping pong,” Bradley Matthew said.

For the first time, hundreds of athletes are competing to be the world champion.

“I can barely contain my enthusiasm,” Matthew said. “I’m really excited.”

“It’s addicting,” Marc Deaner said. “You just want to play every day. You want to get better. You can’t wait to hit the ball every day.”

The first day of the tournament hit some bumps. Rain pushed the tournament three hours behind schedule.

“The only drawback was the rain,” Deaner said. “We got delayed. But we weathered the storm.”

Despite the rain, pros such as Lucy Kovalova from Slovakia told us competing in Florida comes with its own set of challenges.

“It’s always tricky to play in Florida because it’s really humid and windy,” Kovalova said.

The tournament runs through Monday. For ticket information, visit the World Pickleball Championship website.

Competing for sweet victory is worth the fight to these athletes.

“It’s always fun,” Kovalova said. “Fun to come to Florida and compete.”

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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