Middletown – The Pickleball Capital of Ohio

Pickleball enthusiasts in this All American city in the southwestern part of the Buckeye state love the sport so much they decided to play for 24 hours straight – a marathon that ran from 12 Noon on September 2 through 12 Noon the next day. In all, 91 players participated in the first unofficial pickleball marathon in North America.

Stanley Volkens, coordinator of the 24-hour marathon learned the wonderful game of pickleball at the Venture Out RV Resort community in Mesa during the winter of 2005-2006. On returning home to Middletown, Stanley and his wife Marcia were driving around town on a beautiful May evening, noticed 16 tennis courts in public parks and not one person was playing. He called the Park Board the very next morning and asked if they could take a couple old tennis courts and change them over to pickleball. “They of course replied, “What is pickleball?” said Volkens.

The local parks and recreation department agreed to let Stanley tape out two courts. He placed some information in the local newspaper offering free pickleball lessons which attracted a few people along with some of his tennis buddies. “When the City Park Director came out, she was impressed and excited about the game, suggested we go to Jefferson Park with higher quality tennis courts, lights and a parking lot. In the Fall of 2007, I requested permission to change two tennis courts into six permanent pickleball courts and pretty soon we had 16 courts that we have today, and a USAPA sanctioned tournament that we hold every summer during the first weekend of August.” 

2018 marked Middletown’s 11th tournament and featured 225 players from 11 states. And, the courts are getting more and more active. “We have morning play six days a week, most evenings, round robin competition every Saturday morning.  We say we are the Pickleball Capital of Ohio,” added Volkens.

The local pickleball club now has 221 members and players are always thanking Stanley for bringing pickleball to their little corner of the world, but wife Marcia takes exception to that. “Hey, wait a minute, I’m the one that brought Stanley to Middletown!”    

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