In a wild testament to pickleball’s growing popularity, the Miami Open, one of the largest tennis (keyword: tennis) tournaments outside of the four Grand Slam events, is getting in on the hype this year.
Major League Pickleball (MLP), a team-based league and one of three prominent professional pickleball tours, will host a 16-team tournament at the Miami Open March 27-29. Also new and happening March 26-28 at the Miami Open will be a wheelchair tennis tournament featuring four-time Paralympic gold medalist Shingo Kunieda of Japan.
“We are delighted to welcome both wheelchair tennis players and MLP stars to this year's Miami Open presented by Itaú,” Miami Open tournament director James Blake said in a statement. “We want to continue to build on the festival atmosphere that is now so synonymous with the Open, and we are proud to be the first [top-tier] event to showcase elite wheelchair tennis and pickleball athletes to our fans.”
Beyond the Grand Slam tournaments in tennis — the U.S. Open, French Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon — the Miami Open and the Indian Wells Open in California are widely regarded as the premium tournaments in the sport, attracting the best gathering of men’s and women’s players. This year's Miami Open will take place March 17-31 at Hard Rock Stadium.
In addition to the Miami Open pickleball announcement, Miami has been pickleball central in recent times. In mid-January, the first-ever Pickle Games happened at Miami Marine Stadium, including marquee matches played on top of a floating shipping barge.
In a further testament to the tennis community embracing pickleball, the Pickleball Slam returns to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood this Sunday. The event will be televised on ESPN and features tennis legends John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, and Maria Sharapova battling it out for a total prize purse of $1 million.
Miami Open. Sunday, March 17, through Sunday, March 31, at Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens; miamiopen.com. Tickets cost $29 to $1,465 via ticketmaster.com.