Opelika Pickleball Tournaments Draw Multi-State Participants

Since its inception in 2019, Opelika Pickleball has been a hub for tournaments in the southeast United States. This year, however, the popularity of their facilities has increased even further. The over 600 members of the Opelika Pickleball club show up to each tournament and according to club president Jim Young, they bring their friends from more than 15 states to play with them. The “Paddle at the Plex” tournaments average over 700 players per event. 

Source: Jonathan Henry

The Opelika Pickleball facilities are world class with 24 covered courts that are free and open to public use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The facilities are adjacent to The Opelika SportsPlex and Aquatics Center that provides ample parking, bathrooms, showers, and concessions for players. They even have a live feed of the courts online so players can see how busy the courts are before they drive over. Opelika Pickleball Club also offers its members discounts on tournament fees, equipment, free pickleballs, and ball machines for practicing. 

Young’s advice to other pickleball club owners and operators is to be prepared for lots of players. Whether it’s running a tournament or just keeping up with the day to day facility and court management, be prepared for more players than you think. It’s always better to be prepared for more players. 

“Pickleball is like flying a jet and you’re trying to build the jet while flying it” says Young. 

The sport is growing such that a club owner may have a hard time keeping up with the growth. Young would urge clubs that are just getting started to build as many courts as possible to help with the influx of players and to make sure they are well lit for use at all times of the day. 

Young also said that he looks at the different types of players to come through the facilities and base playing times and tournament times around when each type can try to play.  For example, Opelika Pickleball tends to see the 60+ age range play during the daytime, the under 19 year olds in the late afternoon, and the 19-60 year olds in the evenings. Young says this has helped the club to maintain a good cadence. He also recommends that club owners and organizers use the USA Pickleball website to get good information and help with organizing successful tournaments.


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