Pickleball regional tournament expects 450 participants

Utah Summer Games Pickleball Tournament, June 11, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — For the second consecutive year The Fields at Little Valley recreational complex is the backdrop for the USA Pickleball Association West Regional Tournament, as the world-class venue is set to host the tournament Thursday-Saturday.

In this photo from 2016, competitors play pickleball at the USA Pickleball Association West Regional Tournament held in St. George, Utah, April 15-16, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

“The Fields at Little Valley pickleball complex is a state of the art facility – truly something special,” said Bob Klarich, tournament director and St. George resident. Klarich said Little Valley is the only public outdoor complex in the country with 24 courts.

“It has excellent lighting for night play, stadium seating on select courts for special events like our regionals, a sound system with speakers at many of the 24 courts and plenty of shade for spectators.”

Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis as two or four players face off on a surface of 880 square feet – less than half the square footage of a tennis court for singles play and less than a third for doubles play. It carries significant appeal for athletes past their physical prime who still yearn for athletic competition.

“Pickleball is a great sport for folks of all ages, one that children and their grandparents can play together,” Klarich said. “There are very few sports where that is possible, and there is a particular draw to people 60 years and older who may have been hard-core tennis players whose bodies simply cannot take the pounding. Pickleball is low impact and is more about skill and placement than raw athleticism. People who play can continue to improve even as they age.”

Klarich said he expects approximately 450 participants to compete in three different age-group categories; 19 and older; 50 and older; and 65 and older. Within those age group categories there are different skill levels as well as singles and doubles teams.

Kevin Lewis, director of the St. George Area Sports Commission, said events like the regionals – in which 70 percent of the participants are from outside Southern Utah – make for a great introduction to the St. George area.

“What a great investment these courts have been – not only in terms of the local players who utilize them, but also our out-of-town guests who come from all over the region,” Lewis said. “We appreciate the efforts our local players have made to host the West Regionals again and we look forward to the enthusiasm of the visiting players and the positive impact they bring to our businesses and community.”

For more information visit the tournament webpage. Competitors must be USA Pickleball Association members in order to register.

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