Owensboro’s local pickleball club is hosting the River City Open from November 4-6. The tournament — which includes divisions for doubles, men, and women at varying skill levels — will serve as a fundraiser for Wendell Foster and will take place at Merchant Centre Court.
Alex Ross, one of the event organizers, said a recent spike in the River City Pickleball Club (RCPC) membership paired with an appetite for highly competitive play is the primary inspiration for the tournament. While the group has always offered in-house tournaments, this is their first regional tournament with players traveling from Nashville, Louisville, Lexington, St. Louis, Washington, Pennsylvania, and further.
“RCPC wanted to make this a special event, something players and visitors alike will leave saying, ‘Wow, that was a great experience; I want to come back next year,’” Ross said. “So, with the help of our event sponsors, we are doing everything we can to enhance the tournament experience for all those involved and make Owensboro a pickleball destination in the region.”
While the cost to participate is $45, admission for spectators is free. Ross said their presenting sponsor, Exit 107 Homes, played a pivotal role in “getting the ball rolling.”
“Most importantly, this event is a great way to raise money for an incredible organization in Wendell Foster,” he said. “After the tournament, all net proceeds will be donated to Wendell Foster. And if this tournament goes well, we hope to do the same for a new local charity each year.”
RCPC was founded in 2019 to help organize the local pickleball players of Owensboro and Daviess County. The group’s mission is to spread the fun and interest of pickleball, promote health and wellness, and give back to the community.
“Since 2019, our membership has seen immense growth, in part to pickleball being the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. for three years in a row,” Ross said. “We now have around 400 members ranging from beginners to professionals, and with each new court added into the community, the larger our membership seemingly becomes.”
The schedule for the Open is as follows:
- November 4: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Aged 50+ men’s and women’s doubles
- November 5: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., aged 19+ men’s and women’s doubles
- November 6: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., mixed doubles
Top pickleball pro and Owensboro-local Altaf Merchant is hosting the tournament, providing a pro clinic on November 3. The clinic is limited to 16 registrants and will teach match play and strategy for intermediate and advanced players. The cost to participate is $50.
Food trucks will also be on site for food and beverage purchases during the tournament.
“Altaf will be around for the social event and free play after match play on November 4,” Ross said. “We are also providing meals and drinks to all participants free of charge during the social event, thanks in great part to the generosity of the City of Owensboro and Visit Owensboro.”