A pro pickleball tournament heads to the Jersey Shore next year

A view of pickleball courts on a sunny day.

The Avalon Pickleball courts will host a professional tournament in 2023. (Courtesy of Avalon Borough)

Professional pickleball players will gather at the Jersey Shore next year for a major tournament.

The sport, which has surged in popularity in recent years, uses a shortened, tennis-style court with rackets smaller than those used for tennis. The pickleballs themselves are similar to wiffleball, but a bit harder and larger. The sport has been expanding over the past few years and is increasingly popular at the Jersey Shore.

Next year, APP Tour Founder Ken Herman says hundreds of “pickleballers” will compete in Avalon just after Labor Day. The group held a tournament stop further north in Hamilton, New Jersey, but people kept telling him to check out the popularity of the game at the South Jersey shore resorts, so he went to Avalon.

Two people pose together and smile.
Mayor Marty Pagliughi and Ken Herman celebrate the announcement that Avalon will host a professional pickleball tournament in 2023. (Courtesy of Avalon Borough)

“I drove down here back in August and met with the team, met with the city officials, and just completely fell in love with the venue,” Herman said. “They’re putting ten more additional pickleball courts in, so we’ll have 20 dedicated courts. Plus we’re going to bring in three championship courts for a venue of 23, and we’re a half a block away from the ocean.”

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Herman says there will be plenty of players of all skill levels that will participate in the event.

“We are anticipating a field of about 800 to 900 players that will take to the courts here in Avalon and then partake in the city nightlife and beaches and all that the city has to offer.”

The economic impact of the event could be around a million dollars, helping to boost the post-Labor Day economy. The prize money will be around $70,000. The money will help a shoulder season economy that is constantly seeking reasons to extend the hours of bars and restaurants after the summer tourists leave.

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