The 4th Annual Heber Fever Pickleball Tournament saw its biggest number of competitors over the weekend, as 150-plus participants across eight states put their skills to the test at the Community Center in beautiful Heber Springs.
“It is so exciting to have people come from eight different states here to Heber Springs,” said tournament director Joe Daley. “Pickleball is such a fast-growing sport, and this is proof of it right here. The folks that come here love Heber Springs, and they absolutely love the community center. This is our fourth year and things have gone well, and everyone says they will be back in 2019, so we are definitely excited about that.”
The festivities began on Thursday with singles action, followed by doubles on Friday, and mixed doubles on Saturday.
The evolution and impact the game of pickleball has had on those involved could be seen all around, as many participants were decked out from head to toe in apparel carrying the sport’s name.
“It’s great to see new people taking this sport up,” added Daley. “It’s great exercise, and just a lot of fun, so it’s wonderful to have it here in the city and at the community center. Mayor Jimmy Clark has been so incredibly supportive for us and in helping us pull this off. We can’t thank him enough. It’s been fabulous.”
The mayor himself also chimed in with his thoughts on the event. “This is a wonderful event for our community, especially in raising health awareness,” said Clark. “The hotels, restaurants and gas stations all benefited well, and these facilities were built for activities like this. This tournament has doubled in size every year, so hopefully we can keep it up and see it grow some more.”
Mayor Clark also recognized the individuals who helped put Heber Springs on the map of the pickleball circuit. “Jim and Lisa Daley, as well as Ronnie and Beverly Melvin have all been the key in getting our local club going here and have done a great job in bringing this tournament here.”
Tyler Irwin, who serves as the Heber Springs Park and Recreation athletic director, had high praise for the three-day gathering. “To start this tournament in 2015 with 60 signed up and see it grow in three years to 157 from many different places speaks for itself. Anytime you see others grow in a sport is great, and seeing anything that involves Heber Springs and how it grows throughs athletics is incredible.”
Following is a full list of winners:
E. Reves/J.B. Payne
Carol Rash/Matt Houdek
Steve Ritter/Ruth Ann Phillips
Josie Stubblefield/Kevin Campbell
Larry Patrick/Taylor Taylor