Highland Park hosts Chicago Open pickleball tournament with $50K top prize

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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Highland Park will host the Chicago Open pickleball tournament, which comes with a top prize of $50,000.

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- It's a paddle-based pastime that's picking up steam: pickleball! A tournament for hundreds of players starts this week in Highland Park.

Practice makes perfect for the pickleball professionals and amateurs pounding the pavement and packing courts there.

"It takes a lot of tennis, badminton and ping pong and they put it all together on a court," said Julie Johnson, senior pro pickleball player.

She along with more than 700 pickleball pros are all playing for a $50,000 prize in the Chicago Open hosted by the Association of Pickleball Professionals.

"Pickleball, it's right away, any level can play a game, so I think that's what attracts so many people," said Dekel Bar, professional pickleball player.

Bar is ranked fifth in the world for pickleball doubles. He and organizers said it's the fastest growing sport in the country because all you need is a paddle, a whiffle ball and a court.

"And it just keeps growing every year but it's fun, it makes it more exciting," Bar said.

Professional pickleball players told ABC 7 the perfect serve packs a punch and puts the other player to the test.

Even the amateurs have to paddle with precision to win the game. But pickleball is about more than just a paddle or a prize. It's about the people.

"Actually my grandma started the whole family on pickleball. And now my dad and mom play, my brother plays, and we travel the country," said Ali Muno, amateur pickleball player. "It's super social. So you can play with just about anybody. My grandma to the little cousins. And then friends from the gym who don't know how to play, we've been teaching everybody,"

So, whether you're a seasoned pro or not, pickleball can be your pastime too. Tickets to see the pros play this week are only $10.

You can find tickets here.