ROCKFORD — Described as a combination of tennis, table tennis, and badminton, the sport of Pickleball will draw players from around the Midwest when the Northern Illinois Pickleball Association hosts two Pickleball tournaments in the Rockford Region this year. The 1st Annual Spring Swing Open will take place at Fusion Sport Center in Loves Park April 13-14; and August 3 - 4 Hot Slam, the 3rd Annual Round Robin event will take place at the Louisa Street pickleball courts in Loves Park.
Pickleball is best described as small version of tennis with a few key differences. It is played on a badminton sized court with a tennis style net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball (similar to a whiffle ball) and solid paddles. It is easy for beginners to learn, and can attract any age level of player, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. Anyone that has played other racquet sports such as table tennis, tennis or racquetball, will adapt quickly to this game.
The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) sanctions both events taking place in the Rockford Region. The USAPA was organized to promote the growth and development of pickleball, on a national and international level. This organization provides players with official rules, tournaments, rankings and promotional materials.
The tournaments are expected to bring about 100 people to town with an approximate economic impact of $16,200. “The non-traditional sports market is one area in which we continue to focus our efforts. We are excited to welcome pickleball players to the Rockford Region and hope these tournaments bring greater awareness to this growing sport,” stated John Groh, RACVB president and CEO.
Locally, there are five pickleball courts in the region: Loves Park Playground on Luisa Street, Sinnissippi Park, Nick Saelens Memorial Park (Durand), Club Fusion, Westlake Village, and Indoor Sports Center at Sportscore Two. For more information on how or where to play pickleball, or to register for one of the tournaments, visit www.northernillinoispickleball.com.