Friday, April 16, 2021

U.S. Open Pickleball, Coming Soon!




Valentine’s Day! What a nice day to celebrate the one you love or hope to love… the kids you love, the animals you love, and well, even spread the love around to your co-workers and friends as well.

• You have probably noticed that there is smoke in the air some days. These have been controlled burns that are planned in order to rid us of the underbrush, which becomes fuel for fires when our area is terribly dry without rain during this time of year. It’s become tough for those who suffer from lung problems and diseases, but it doesn’t last long and there are ways to protect yourself from the smoke, so please be careful and get into a closed environment if you have trouble breathing. These controlled burns will help us to prevent wildfires like we had last year, so they are very important!

• Kids Love Fishing! That is the name of the event that the Collier County Junior Deputies League is hosting, and they invite everyone to fish with them at the 11th Annual Kid’s Love Fishing on Saturday, February 17th from 8 AM to noon at Lake Price at Camp Discovery, 8504 Rattlesnake Hammock Rd. Extension. A responsible adult must accompany kids. Everything is FREE; Food and drinks, catch and release fishing, pet an alligator, climbing wall, bait provided, knot tying, fire truck, fly tying, fly rod casting, spin and bait casting demos, and cast net demos. I’d like to mention a few of the supporters: Backcountry Fly Fishing Club, EMS, Sheriff’s Office, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sunshine Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Greater Naples Fire, International Game Fishing Association, Waste Management, etc. This is a great place for the kids, and lots of fun for adults to come out and volunteer or encourage the kids. Ya’ll come, ya hear!

• A new county committee is forming that you might be interested in. It’s called the Senior Affairs Advisory Board, and they are welcoming applications right now. No work involved, just your thoughts and ideas. Apply online at advisory-boards/online-advisoryboard application.

• The U. S. Open Pickleball Championship is coming up quickly and people are scurrying around to get things ready for the throngs of people who love the sport. First of all, the call for registration for 1,500 players went out recently, and in less than three hours 2,200 players from all over the world had registered. Seven hundred are now on the waiting list! As you’ve probably read in the newspaper or seen on sports television, the East Naples Community Center is now called the “Pickleball Capital of the World!” Who would have ever thought, just three years ago, that this could happen? The folks involved with the event, every one of them, whether in leadership or dedicated volunteer roles, work so diligently, doggedly, unendingly, to make the event the best in the world. Right now they are working on building another 10 courts to be ready by the April 21st start date. That will make 54 courts! From what I’ve been told, that is more courts than any other location in the country! Let me just mention the dedicated people at the top who make this happen: Jim Ludwig, Terry Graham, Chris Evon, and Carol Caefer. These people are the core of everything good that happens with this Open. Yes, Collier County is working closely with them every step of the way and is proud of all the success they are seeing together. You’ll hear more in future columns.

But, speaking of pickleball, it doesn’t only happen in April. They have just finished another three-day tournament, smaller true, but this tournament had 592 players, and that is huge! The players came from all over Florida and beyond. Another tournament will be coming up in March, plus they offer classes year ‘round, and there is a Pickleball Academy taking place regularly with classes for one day or better yet three days, where players fly in from all over the country for these lessons and games, and stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants year ‘round. People are moving here to be close to the Pickleball Capital of the World. It’s amazing to see the excitement over this game, and it’s fun to watch.

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