Why pickleball fans ended the Seattle Open tournament with a funeral
When the Seattle Open pickleball tournament finished up this weekend, fans opted to close the big event with a funeral.
Pickleball has been called the fastest-growinuug sport in the United States, attracting all ages. The champion of the 2023 Seattle Open's women's division was Anna Leigh Waters of Florida, who is just 16 years old.
As the tournament was winding down Sunday, pickleball fans held a New Orleans style funeral, marching through Seattle's Woodland Park as a band played a somber funeral dirge. The demonstration was meant to point out that the pickleball courts used in the tournament will now be converted back to tennis courts.
The Seattle Open started with a bit of drama. Shortly before the event, the pickleball courts that were slated for the tournament were deemed unusable. The Professional Pickleball Association paid to quickly resurface tennis courts at Green Lake and convert them to pickleball courts. Now that the tournament is over, the space is slated to be repainted as tennis courts.
The group of fans and players objected to the conversion back to tennis courts. They are also calling on the city to create 24 new pickleball courts by 2024. They've started an online petition called the "24 by '24 Pickleball Campaign."
In a statement, they argue that "Seattle Parks has neglected the growth of pickleball, favoring tennis over pickleball. It’s like this all over the city every day. And people are fed up." The group says that Seattle has three dedicated pickleball courts, while other cities have far more.
While Seattle has three dedicated courts, there are also a range of other public facilities that double as pickleball courts, according to Pickleheads.com.
Dyer Oxley contributed to this post.