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DINKING FOR DOLLARS: Pickleball pros, amateurs vie for $150,000 prize in Naples

The Minto US Open Pickleball Championship runs until next weekend and highlights the sport's booming popularity in Southwest Florida and nationwide.
Posted at 9:43 PM, Apr 16, 2024

NAPLES, Fla — It's a sport that uses words like "dinking," and "the kitchen."

You guessed it: we're talking about pickleball, the sport that is BOOMING, thanks to "Boomers" and younger, who are all embracing an activity that's given new life to racket sports and courts around the country.

Some say they pick up pickleball, because it seems a little less intense, physically, than traditional tennis. But don't tell that to the 3 thousand competitors from around the world who have come to Naples for the globe's top pickleball event, the Minto US Open Pickleball Championship.

Boasting players from 31 countries and all 50 US states, this event has drawn thousands of spectators to the Naples area since it started last weekend.

Minto US Pickleball Championships amateur players
Amateur players face off in a match at the Minto US Pickleball Championships in Naples in April 2024.

Professionals and amateurs, ranging from 8 to 88 years old, are competing for a piece of the $150,000 prize money.

"They're fierce," Dominc Catalano told Fox 4's Naples Community Correspondent Mahmoud Bennett. The silver medalist was talking about what the pro competition is like on the court.

"It's intense. But the best part is they go at it on the court, but then we come back here in the pro club here and they're all friends," Catalano said.

Minto US Pickleball Championships in Naples April 2024
Pro pickleball players showcase their talents at the Minto US Pickleball Championships in Naples in April 2024.

But the championship isn't solely about professional players. Catalano explained that amateur players are what make the championship worth having. "They make it the best atmosphere here in pickleball," he said.

The entire championship is expected to draw more than 45 thousand spectators. Its grand finale is this Saturday, April 20th.