The Kansas City Pickleball Classic, an amateur pickleball tournament, is taking place this weekend in Overland Park.
When and where: Tournament play will occur during the mornings, from Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15, at Elite Tennis and Wellnes, 14481 Metcalf Avenue.
The host: This week’s tournament is being powered by the World Pickleball Tour, which manages the largest non-sanctioned amateur pickleball tournament series in the country.
It is also one of the only tours to award cash prizes at the amateur level, according to World Pickleball Tour director of operations Ben Harrison.
Details: A total of 206 amateur pickleball players between the ages of 18 to 75 are signed up to play in the tournament starting this Friday.
World Pickleball Tour allows anyone who is within a 3.0 all the way to 5.0 skill level to participate in the event.
“I would say that the dual level of 3.0 is right at the beginner stage,” Harrison said. “If you wanted to sign up and participate, and you’ve never really played before, you can rate yourself based on previous experience with like ping pong or tennis.”
Though each competition is separated by skill level, the events may then be divided by ages if turnout is high enough to warrant a split, Harrison said.
The purse for this event is $5,000, which will be divided up among the first-place winners within each skill level.
Supplementary aspects: In addition to the tournament itself, the event will also have a “festival-like” ambience to keep both the audience and competitors entertained throughout the weekend, Harrison said.
Live music will be playing throughout the tournament, and photographers will be snapping complimentary photos of the players.
There are also plans in place to bring on pickleball celebrities, influencers and podcasters to keep the crowd amused.
“We’re going for a fun atmosphere,” Harrison said. “There’s some different brands of tours out there that are very competitive and also very serious, but we want people to hang out and have a good time.”
Tournament schedule: On Friday, the games taking place are men’s singles and women’s doubles.
Then on Saturday, it is mixed doubles followed by men’s doubles and women’s singles on Sunday.
“The reason we do it like that is because… our host site, which is where people can sign up for the tournament, only allows a person to participate in one event per day,” Harrison said.
A full, detailed tournament schedule for this weekend can be found here on World Pickleball Tour’s website.
Background: World Pickleball Tour hosted its first ever event in Columbus, Ohio, in June 2021.
Since starting as a tournament with only two events in the first year, the organization has since grown to manage over 20 competitions across the country in 2022.
Harrison said there is even potential to expand internationally by next year.
“I’ve looked at some different facilities in Canada, Mexico and Europe, and we’re always accepting inquiries,” he said.
Key quote: “We really just want to make this tournament inclusive,” Harrison said. “We know it’s been the fastest growing sport in the country the past two years, but probably 95% of pickleball players in the country are amateurs. We really want to cater towards that bigger slice of the population.”