Cambridge resident and pickleball player Jackie Bradshaw will compete with approximately 3,000 of the best professional and amateur pickleball players in the world in Naples, Florida, next week.
Bradshaw will be competing in women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles at the 2022 Minto US Open Pickleball Championships at the East Naples Community Park April 24-30.
Her partner for women’s doubles is 17-year-old Ava Pisacrita of Louisville, Kentucky, and her mixed doubles partner is Mike Cheeseman of Illinois. She has previously played with each.
The tournament is described as one of the most prestigious events in pickleball and has a $ 100,000 purse. It will be played on 64 courts and is expected to attract 25,000 spectators.
The 24-year-old played tennis through high school and while attending Bethany College in Kansas. After two shoulder surgeries she began looking for something competitive to play and decided to go to the opening of pickleball courts in Mt Caramel, Illinois, where she was living at the time.
“The pros were there and they brought me on court and started playing with me and I was hooked from the start,” Bradshaw said. “That will be two years ago in June.”
She describes pickleball as a mixture of tennis and ping pong. A paddle is used along with a ball, similar to a whiffle ball, and is played on a court about the third of the size as a tennis court. There is a 7-foot space on either side of the net called the kitchen or no-volley zone, where a ball has to bounce before a player can step into the area and volley the ball back.
“I try to train two to three hours a day and then I cross-train as well.” She trains at the Cambridge Salvation Army gym along with other local pickleball players.
“We have a lot of players here in Cambridge and we are going to, I believe, be starting a club here in town, just to try to get more people interested in it,” Bradshaw said.
There are currently pickleball clubs in Coshocton and Zanesville. A tournament will be held in Coshocton in May, and she’s hoping to host one in Cambridge later this summer.
“We have the perfect area for it. This is like the best town for a pickleball tournament that I’ve been to,” Bradshaw said. “The hotels, the food, the people, downtown it’s all beautiful. It’s easy to get to. It’s a beautiful town and would draw so many people from Columbus, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Akron and Canton.”
Bradshaw moved to Cambridge in January to be with her parents and four younger siblings, who moved here back in August when their father, Dr. Brian Bradshaw, began teaching at Muskingum University. The family is originally from Sharon Pennsylvania.
She travels and plays in pro tournaments all over the country and is sponsored by singles pro Frank Anthony. In addition to competing, Bradshaw also teaches pickleball.
Her placement and some of the tournaments she has competed in include singles at the APP Cincinnati Open, bronze in singles APP Indianapolis Open, bronze in the mixed doubles at the APP Indianapolis Open, gold in the Marion Hub tournament mixed doubles, gold in the women’s doubles for the Boonville Classic, gold in the Henderson Tournament mixed doubles and gold in the Marion Hospice tournament both women’s and mixed doubles.
According to Minto US Open Pickleball Championships, pickleball is the fastest-growing sports in the country, with more than 4.8 million players in the US, up from just 3.1 million in 2018.
The tournament will be streamed on the Pickleball channel and broadcast live on CBS Sports Network from 7 to 9 pm April 30.
For more information on the Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships, visit www.USOPENPickleball.com.