Pickleball Tournament in Bakersfield Supports Local Firefighters

Tyler Frost, Reporter

The nation’s fastest-growing sport reached Bakersfield with The Central Valley Classic commencing to benefit the local firefighter’s union. The charitable three-day pickleball tournament was the first official USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) sanctioned tournament in the Central Valley. The classic, presented by Brand New Day, was hosted at the Greenacres Pickleplex in Bakersfield from Oct. 4th through Oct. 6th.

National Pickleball, a division of Advanced Sports Media Group (ASM), offered a free clinic on the evening of Oct. 3rd preceding the tournament. The tournament then kicked off with Men’s Doubles on Oct. 4th, followed by Mixed Doubles on Oct. 5th, and Women’s Double’s on Oct. 6th.

Pickleballers of all adult ages gathered to compete and support the charity classic. The eight courts at Greenacres Park were filled with experienced and non-experienced pickleball players alike, representing their own charities and causes with team shirts and fierce play. Each day of the event saw over 80 participants leave it all out on the court. The tournament had a double-elimination format with a winner and loser bracket. The players went back and forth through the entirety of the day until their team was eliminated, in hopes of winning it all.

The charity benefit was held to raise proceeds for the IAFF Local 1301 Firefighter Union. The event featured many sponsors, donors, and businesses, including Bakersfield Eye Care Optometric. Each spectator and sponsor attended to support the cause and root for the players. Local food trucks “Curbside Kitchen,” and “Fit and Grub,” also made their way to the Pickleplex to feed those in attendance.

ASM COO Seth Burleigh stated, “We are excited to work with USAPA District Ambassador and Bakersfield resident, Vincent Rivera, on this tournament to further promote pickleball in the Central Valley and support the community and first responders.” Burleigh continued, “We are also glad to offer prize money to all division winners as a sign of appreciation to all of our participants, not just pro-level players.”

Pickleball was recently featured on the Today Show, NBC News, and USA Today. The game is nationally recognized as a sport on the come-up, being played frequently in schoolyards, local parks, rec centers, and prisons. Rick Hannah, a participant in the tournament of the Bronx (Pickle) Ballers said, “I play daily here at Greenacres park, and the courts are usually busy from 7 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Pickleball is definitely a sport on the rise.”

The first-of-its-kind Bakersfield Pickleball Tournament presented itself as a medium for promoting charity, pickleball, and support for local firefighters in an action-packed event.