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Featured Pickler: Kai King gets his own pickleball tournament

Above: Kai King pals around with his 16-year-old cousin, Austin Richards.

Months of practicing finally paid off when Kai King, who is autistic, benefited from his routine of hitting 100 pickleballs on a court. His uncle, Alex Wadsworth, who runs Pickle Man Inc., recently hosted the inaugural Kai Pickleball tournament.

King, who Wadsworth said “was a bit overwhelmed,” did not play in the tourney. The 23-year-old did, however, hit 100 balls over the net as he always does when he visits Wadsworth.

More than 100 players showed up at a court built on Wadsworth’s property in Lutz. The tourney served as a fundraiser for the Sunrise Community, which provides living facilities for adults with disabilities in Hillsborough County.

“I was only expecting 20-30 people to show up,” said Wadsworth, adding that the turnout “put a big smile on Kai‘s face. I know he felt like he had a community around him.”

In all, $500 in donations and other contributions went to purchasing toiletries, along with body washes and hygiene products for Sunrise residents. King is one of them.

Among the three divisions winners were Wadsworth’s daughter, 13-year-old Avalina. Tania Miller took first in the adult beginner category while Matt Michels captured the adult advanced/intermediate division.

Noting the positive feedback, Wadsworth plans to do another Kai Pickleball tourney next year.

By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photo by Keeley Dame

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