Even if you don’t play Pickleball, the Upcoming Founders Tournament is a fun Place to Hang Out and Soak Up the Games

Founders Tournament logoLooking for a fun diversion from the Dog Days of summer? Pickleball’s Founders Tournament might be your ticket.

The tourney, now in its fourth year, will be held from August 8th through August 13th at the Founders Courts at Battle Point Park. The multi-day event is a fundraiser for the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum in partnership with the BI Metro Parks & Recreation District, and the island’s growing Pickleball community (https://bipickleball.org/).

Among many other activities, the tourney will include clinics, a Wooden Paddle contest, doubles matches with the over 65 crowd, as well as a whole slew of contests involving men’s and women’s doubles play and mixed doubles games.

Bainbridge, of course, is the home of Pickleball, which was “invented” on the island in 1965 by three friends and their families in Pleasant Beach and has grown to become an international sport, with nearly five million participants.  This year the tourney is sold out with more than 350 players signed up (nearly 500 players initially registered!).

Founders Courts courtesy of Bainbridge Island Pickleball, BIPRD - Battle Point ParkPlayers are coming from far and wide to take part. Aside from a Bainbridge contingent that makes up about 25 percent of the field, there are players registered from Hawaii, Maine, Texas, Ohio, South Dakota, Arizona, and Minnesota, and there’s a good chance a player from Taiwan will show up. This year players’ ages range from 13 – 78!

The tournament is essentially sponsored by the Historical Museum, which is staging the event in partnership with the Parks District and the Bainbridge Pickleball Group. The latter is some 500 strong on the island. The event officially gets started on Tuesday evening August 8th at the Treehouse Café in Lynwood Center, with dinner, music and door prizes.

The cost of the dinner, which will be held from 5pm to 8pm is $40 per person and includes any tax and gratuity. The public is invited, but the primary goal of the event, says Founders Tournament organizer Bill Covert, is “to express our appreciation to our volunteers and local Pickleballers who are helping us pull this off.” Covert estimates there will be at least 60 or more volunteers assisting with the tournament. The local band Sockeye will provide entertainment at the August 8th event.

Island Life Artisan Gifts signature PB giftsFor players, supporters and those attending the tournament at Battle Point Park, there will be food and refreshments available throughout from local restaurants such as Sweet Dahlia, Battle Point BBQ, Pink Gorilla, Sisters Cider House and Bainbridge Brewing. There also will a Beer Garden at the site on Saturday and Sunday from 3pm to 8pm. In addition, Island Life Artisan Gifts will have a booth at the Tournament, where owner Alex Sanso’s signature “BORN HERE • PLAYED EVERYWHERE™” Pickleball gear and gifts will be available!

A fun side trip for players and those attending is visiting Pickleball’s original court. A suggested donation of $25 will pay for guests to be shuttled to the site on the south end of the island. Those interested can sign up at the Historical Museum booth, and there will be three tours a day. The booth will include displays of the game’s history, as well as other fun historic island tidbits.

Pickleball exhibit at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (2021)
Pickleball exhibit at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (2021)

“The Museum is excited to again welcome Pickleballers from around the country to play in the annual Founders Tournament here at the birthplace of the sport,” adds Covert, a former Historical Museum board member.  “We encourage all who are interested to come out to the courts at Battle Point and enjoy lunch while checking out the exciting action!”


Play pickleball like it was originally played. Participants get a limited-edition wooden paddle. After the wooden paddle tournament will be the senior’s mixed tournament.

AUGUST 11, 2023 – WOMEN’S DOUBLES 8-49 & 50+
AUGUST 12, 2023 – MIXED DOUBLES 8-49 & 50+
AUGUST 13, 2023 – MEN’S DOUBLES 8-49 & 50+

Note: tournament play generally will be held throughout each day, beginning at approximately 8am.

For more information on the Founders Tournament, click here.

*Correction: this article was revised to remove the word “sanctioned” from paragraph 3.

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