The 2023 Baird Wealth Management Cincinnati Open PPA tournament is in the books. It was a fun tournament with a great venue, great play, great crowd, and great weather!
Going into this tournament, there were questions as to whether all of the pros would participate after all of the tour wars during the past couple of weeks. Would the MLP-signed players attend? I’m glad to report they did!
Cincinnati Loves Pickleball!
We are fortunate to have the Lindner Family Tennis Center practically in our backyard. It’s a great venue for the Western & Southern Tennis Open and has become a great venue for the PPA. In addition to the nice venue, (and regardless of what Travis Rettenmaier said on his podcast) Greater Cincinnati has much to offer all of the out-of-town guests, including 2 new indoor pickleball venues that opened within the last year – The Pickle Lodge and Aces Pickleball + Kitchen. Cincinnati is a great central location drawing fans and players from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, and more.
PPA Cincinnati Stepped It Up in 2023
We attended both the 2022 and 2023 PPA Cincinnati tournaments. While we heard some complaints from the 2022 tournament (and other PPA tournaments in general), we didn’t hear any from the 2023 Cincinnati tournament (other than cost, but that’s not exclusive to Cincinnati).
The weather all weekend was great for outdoor pickleball play. Although it might not have looked pretty on TV, the cloudy days with temperatures in the 70s made it nice for players and spectators. There also wasn’t any rain which made complaints of delays or changed format non-existent this year.
As for the spectator grounds, they seemed to be laid out better this year. There were a few different food trucks with an area to relax and play mini ping pong. There were several vendors with some passing out free products. My only suggestion would be to give a little more room in the vendor area. It was crowded at times walking up and down the aisle.
The Fans Came Out
Regardless of how it looked on YouTube, there were large crowds Friday – Sunday. On Friday, we watched the PPA remove their PPA barriers from the spectator stands on Center Court. Typically, they have barriers spread across the top section of seats. Even with the barriers removed on both sides of the stadium, there were times that fans were standing behind the seats or looking over the wall from the Grandstand courts.
As this was probably one of the larger venues to host the PPA, they might want to take advantage of it and move Center Court to a larger stadium next year. Additionally, the PPA might want to consider moving the Grandstand courts to multiple stadiums since it was tight on each side of the court. We watched Tyson McGuffin bang into the fence going after a ball (and I don’t think he was the only one). Fortunately, there are many court options at the Lindner Center.
Watching the pros play was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed seeing the pro players walking around the venue. We’re not ones to ask players for pictures, but if we were, we would have gotten a ton of them. As the players start earning more money, I hope their accessibility doesn’t change (although, I’m afraid it will as the sport grows).
I believe the pro players enjoyed playing at the venue. They played in front of large crowds and I imagine had access to a nice player’s lounge.
On the other hand, the amateurs played on tennis courts that had pickleball lines. It’s too bad it has to be that way, but when you have close to 1,000 players registered, that’s the only option until larger pickleball venues are built. The nice thing was many of the players were able to play near the pros, especially if they made it to a medal match.
Ben Johns’ 100th Gold
This tournament was memorable for many reasons, and while the tournament had some player drama and match-upsets, I’ll let other bloggers and podcasters share that. However, one major highlight was seeing Ben Johns get his 100th gold medal. That’s a huge accomplishment which the tour celebrated with multiple award recognitions and even some fireworks.
A Successful PPA Tournament
It’s hard to tell what made PPA Cincinnati 2023 a success. I believe it was a combination of things. I imagine the PPA has learned from past tournaments and implemented better ideas (as ones who personally work in tournaments, we’re always looking for ways to improve the next event:)). After all of the fallout from the MLP/PPA tour war, maybe the PPA stepped it up. The beautiful venue was also a huge factor with ample parking and restrooms. There aren’t many venues as large as (and laid out like) the Lindner Tennis Center. The Lindner Center has hosted numerous events over the years. They know what works. And… as someone who calls Cincinnati home, I have to say that the people made it great.
It will be interesting to see what happens with all of the pro tours going forward. However, one thing I do know is we’re looking forward to having professional pickleball tours continue to come to Cincinnati in the upcoming years.
Teresa is the idea-maker behind PickleballMAX. Teresa joins Todd to manage and market PickleballMAX. She creates pickleball content and assists with pickleball tournaments. In 2023, she wrote a pickleball devotional book titled Pickleball Is [Not] Life.