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Despite snow, championship pickleball tournament still on: 'It's the Disneyland of pickleball'

The Professional Pickleball Association says 1,000 players are taking part in the competition that runs Thursday through Sunday at Life Time in Lakeville.

The snow may have put a stop to some things, but not pickleball.

Dubbed the fasted growing sport, the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) formed in 2019 and now holds about a dozen tournaments across the country every year. 

The national championship is being held at the Life Time health club in Lakeville from Thursday to Sunday. 

"I was lucky enough to beat the snowstorm," said Jay Devilliers, who's ranked the third-best player in the world. "I didn’t think it would hit that bad where a lot of flights were canceled."

Devilliers lives in Kansas, but is from France. There are also players from as far away as Argentina, Brazil and Israel. The PPA said some of its staff members drove as many as 30 hours to make it to Minnesota on time. 

"Who doesn't want to work in a job where everybody is here to have fun," said PPA President Bryce Morgan. "It's the Disneyland of pickleball."

It took two days to transform what are usually the tennis courts at Lifetime. A representative said the organization has recorded another 39,000 pickleball players in just the last year. 

And it's adding 70 more courts to its clubs across the country by April, bumping its total to at least 520.

It's hard to be this good right away, but it's fun to play right away," said Morgan. 

"I never thought I was going to play pickleball, but once I step on the court, it’s just so friendly, so welcoming and so easy to pick up," said Devilliers, who used to play tennis and earned a scholarship to play at Wichita State University. "I’m very excited to come back here, even though the weather."

The tournament, and the weather, only get better throughout the weekend. But it's too late to sign-up to play if you're in an amateur league.

Spectator tickets are still available through Sunday or you can always watch online at TennisChannel.com and PPA TV.

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