LIMA —The unfamiliar sound of wiffle ball hitting a paddle echoed through the Westwood Tennis and Fitness center as more than 120 pickleball players descended on the city to participate in the first 2017 Great American Pickleball Fall Classic held over the weekend.
The sound may be unfamiliar in the tennis facility but it was music to Tyler Hunt’s ears. Hunt, the organizer and USA Pickleball Association Ambassador, said the two-day event attracted individuals from the area, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“We have 131 players registered and Saturday we had 55 teams and Sunday we had 35,” Hunt said. “We actually had a couple of hotels in the area sell out because of all the travelers.” This is exactly what we wanted to see from Lima pickleball and some of the best players in the region came to this tournament.”
Teams and players squared off in three divisions in men’s, women’s and mixed co-ed doubles.
Sharon Hall of Middletown and Pat Patrus of West Chester made the two-hour trip north because of the competition and to have a little fun.
“We play pickleball all the time,” Hall said. “We knew there was going to be some good competition up here.”
Hunt admitted that they were shooting for 96 players and hoping for 75 but exceeded those numbers.
With help, Hunt said the process to organize the event began two months ago and after a lot of hard work and working with area sponsors and Westwood Tennis and Fitness Center, were able to put everything in place.
“This was above and beyond what we expected,” Hunt said. “For only having two months it has been amazing how well it has been. We have had a good group of volunteers and sponsors. We have had pickleball companies and local sponsors have really helped us out.”
One of the main chores was taping off the boundaries and borders of the pickleball court inside the tennis courts.
“Westwood has been a great facility for us,” Hunt said. “They let us have the courts and have been supportive of pickleball so far. It is just an excellent venue and many people have come and commented how great the venue is and how nice the courts are.”
Hunt added that all the extra effort that has been put in to bring this event to Lima has been worth it and is hoping to stage more of these events in the future.