Special to The Lake Report
After months of planning and organizing, the inaugural NOTL Classic pickleball tournament gets underway this weekend at Virgil’s twin hockey arenas.
The schedule of tourney matches has been designed to give out-of-town players maximum opportunity to enjoy NOTL’s tourism benefits, either before or after their games.
The weekend gets underway on Friday, June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Meridian Credit Union Arena) with a series of professional exhibition matches featuring eight of the leading pros in Ontario, including Adam Eatock, pro at the NOTL Pickleball Club.
Tournament matches will run for the full day Saturday starting at 8 a.m. and using six courts at both arenas. Admission to all Saturday and Sunday matches is free.
In each of the men’s and women’s doubles there will be nine groupings – three official skill levels within three age groups. The nine categories really become “sub-tournaments.”
And the schedule for each is self-contained with its own start and finish time – and its own medal presentation ceremony.
Committee member Vince Serratore explains, “From the very outset many of the out-of-town players told us they wanted free time to enjoy the tourist side of Niagara-on-the-Lake as well as the tournament itself.”
“We’ve scheduled it so that a player in, say, the doubles under-50 3.0 category can do some shopping in town before their matches or visit a winery or restaurant afterward – with or without a medal.” A major plus for both the tournament and the town.
The same nine “sub-tournaments” happen for the mixed doubles on Sunday. Play is scheduled to finish around 2 p.m., leaving ample time for any team to catch the evening performance of “Gypsy” at the Shaw.
Television coverage will be extensive.
Jack Custers at Cogeco Your TV said “Cogeco will have a live feed from the arena. On the production side, Anthony Luongo and Rich Ewtuchovich have lots of experience covering Niagara IceDogs hockey and Welland Jackfish baseball.”
“But pickleball is new to them. They’ve built special camera mounts and pre-checked all the angles. They’re looking forward to the new challenges.”
Anyone who can’t make it to the arena can tune in to YourTV Niagara channel 700 or channel 100 on Epico, all weekend long.
Spectators are invited to watch the action at both Virgil arenas on Saturday (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (8 a.m. to 2 p..m.). Admission is free and it is a chance to learn about the sport while enjoying the games and the atmosphere.
Admission to Friday’s professional pickleball exhibitions at the arena in Virgil costs $10, payable at the entrance or by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Children under 12 are free.