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iPN Wichita Winterfest

Posted on February 12, 2024 by under Pickleball.    

We hosted our very first iPickle Nation pickleball tournament in Wichita a couple of weeks ago at Genesis Rock Road where they now have 10 pickleball courts painted on their tennis courts in the bubble. Genesis is getting into pickleball – finally – and it was time to celebrate this. Here’s a short video I made of all the medalists:

It’s a pretty short video because we didn’t have as many teams participate as I would have liked. We drew 65 players. While we had enough teams to host the tournament, we were dozens of players shy of the 100+ that I wanted to see. Last year, Chicken N Pickle hosted a tournament and, even with talent like Jack Oxler participating in it, the event drew less than 50. I really don’t understand why (a) Wichita players aren’t playing the local tournaments, and (b) players from all over aren’t flocking here to play. What is it about Wichita? What are we doing wrong? Or is it something we are not doing?

Since I started playing in tournaments three years ago, I have traveled West as far as California and East as far as Florida and played in maybe a hundred tournaments. Some have been amazing and some I will probably never, ever want to play ever again. It costs a lot of money to travel somewhere and play in a tournament, even when you drive there and don’t factor in air fare. You still have the cost of lodging, food, etc. besides the already astronomical tournament registration fees that just seem to continue to increase year over year as the popularity of the sport increases.

I quickly realized that it’s not sustainable for me to travel and play in all of these tournaments and that there are many pickleball enthusiasts, amateur pickleball players like myself, in Wichita who would enjoy playing in these tournaments but don’t have the resources to travel all over. For the last year or so, I’ve made it a goal to try and bring events to Wichita so that players like me could enjoy the competition without all of the added travel expenses. But now I’m wondering if I am unique in my desire to want to be able to play in tournaments at home. Maybe people really want to spend thousands of dollars traveling all over the place to play in these tournaments so we don’t really need any big tournaments at home.

I’m actually starting to wonder. Maybe I don’t know our local pickleball population at all and I truly have no idea what our community needs? Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

Anyway, despite not drawing as many players and teams as we would have liked, the weekend was actually quite productive. I’d never used the Pickleball Brackets platform before and this tournament allowed me to see how to use it behind the scenes. I’ve only ever interacted with the platform as a tournament player so I’ve never really seen how the Tournament Directors use it. Duane Christian from iPickle Nation gave me access so I could see some of that and he explained to me how they organize their tournaments. I learned a ton.

I’m not sure how worthwhile it would be to host another one of these types of tournaments but at least I have some experience under my belt. I wish you all the best in your pickleball endeavors, no matter where it may take you. Until next time!

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