Jacksonville Sports Day

Former UF Stars Helps Launch Pickleball Championships, Streaming Live on ESPN

Flickr/John Beagle

As professional and amateur sports organizations continue to do their part in maintaining best practices to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, postponing competitions and events worldwide, there is a void of original live sports programming on TV. Enter the Its Pickleball Mania World Pickleball Championship, set for Thursday at noon ET, streaming exclusively on ESPN3 as the only live TV sporting event currently available to viewers.

Former University of Florida football and NFL veteran Brandon Siler and ex-UF tennis standout Ryan Sherry are among those at helm of the endeavor, which will give fans a taste of live sports action in this most difficult time.

Four of the world’s top professional pickleball players will vie for the first Pickleball Mania crown. They will battle it out in semifinals and finals action at a private residence under strict quarantine guidelines. The four competitors will be joined by a small production and event crew of no more than six people as the event complies fully with present restrictions and social distancing practices.

Fans can tune in for all three matches live on ESPN3 via their streaming players, computers and mobile devices. The final match will also be presented on tape delay on a variety of national and international networks at a later date.

“With everything that is going on in the world right now, we’re glad to be able to bring entertainment with safe health practices and the showcase of a little known sport to the world,” said Sherry. “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America for a reason. It’s easy to learn, easy to improve, any age can play, it’s social, and incredibly fun and addictive. Pickleball combines sport and racquet backgrounds in a way no other sport does. Anyone with a sports background can find parallels between their background and pickleball.”

“Pickleball appeals to the old, the young, celebrities, former professionals in others sports. It has something for everyone,” said Siler. “And we’re just happy to be able to showcase this to the world at a time when people are yearning for something to root for.”

Brandon Siler (Wikimedia/Jeffrey Beall)

“Pickleball is sweeping the world by storm and is currently the fastest growing sport in the world,” added co-founder P.J. Jensen. “I promise you this, if you ever pick up a pickleball paddle and play a game of singles or doubles you will be hooked! Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping pong and requires speed, power, finesse and strategy. If you think for a second this is an old people’s game, you will be sadly mistaken and proven wrong! Tune in and watch live for yourself!”

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. The fast-growing, fast-paced game is played with a paddle and plastic ball with holes, as doubles or singles, on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.

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