I'll be honest, before meeting my husband about a decade ago, I had no idea what pickleball was. I'd never heard of it! His stepfather at the time had installed a pickleball court at his house... Since then, I feel like I hear about pickleball A LOT more. Is it me, or has it really gained in popularity these past few years?

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Well, if you're into pickleball, here's something you might be interested in: A pickleball championship tournament is once again happening in Grand Rapids this summer!

First of all though, you may be wondering like I did, what even is pickleball?

What Is Pickleball?

According to USA Pickleball the sport combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It's played both indoors and out, on a badminton sized court and a slightly modified tennis net. You can find more on the basics of how to play here.

If you're thinking that it sounds like different parts of different sports mashed together... well, that's exactly how it began.

According to USA Pickleball, the game was started in 1965 in Washington by a group of dads. They returned from a game of golf to find their families sitting around with nothing to do:

The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. At first they placed the net at badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net. As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches... the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton...

From there, the three men shared the game with more people, and evolved to be what it is today! You can check out the full history of pickleball here.

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Pickleball paddle and ball [Photo: Ben Hershey, Unsplash][/caption]If you're intrigued and pickleball sounds like something you'd like to get into, here's info on the upcoming tournament in GR--

Beer City Open Pickleball Championship Returns to Grand Rapids This Summer

Hosted by The Grand Rapids Pickleball Club, The Beer City Open Pickleball Championship is July 20-24, at Belknap Park, at 30 Coldbrook St. NE.

The Beer City Open has been going on since 2018. After taking a year off in 2020 due to the pandemic, the tournament returned last summer and is back again this year, with some upgrades -- additional courts and stadium seating have been added, thanks to an investment by the Grand Rapids Pickleball Club and the City of GR.

Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission, said in a release,

The West Michigan Sports Commission is excited to see the growth of the Beer City Open as a prominent pickleball tour stop on the Association of Pickleball Professionals Tour. This event has sold out every year, and now with increased local support and greater efforts to increase Belknap Park into a top pickleball facility in the Midwest, this event will continue to be one that pros and amateurs alike will look forward to. “Not only will the competitors and spectators be treated to the finest craft beer in the country here in ‘Beer City USA,’ but the region will benefit from the nearly $1 million in visitor spending anticipated from this growing and impactful event.

This year, $90 in prize money is up for grabs!

Registration for The Beer City Open starts April 12 at 10a.m. here.

Beer City Open Tournament Director Andrea Remynse Koop says this year they expect over 750 athletes from 34 states and three countries.

Admission to the Beer City Open is free for spectators! Find out more about the event here.

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