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Pickle Man will expand from 4 to 6 tournaments in second season

Having hosted four tournaments in its inaugural year, Pickle Man, Inc. set a date for its first series of 2024, and just like the previous events, it will be played on Alex Wadsworth’s property.


The Lutz homeowner, who co-founded Pickle Man with Gary Ivanov, hosted tourneys in 2023 on a court he had built in front of the family’s home off Lake Le Clare Road. The first one

was played last April with the last event taking place in November 2023.


Next up is a Feb. 20 series with Wadsworth aiming to schedule one every other month for the rest of this year. Initially slated for early January, that tourney was pushed back, Wadsworth reasoned, primarily due to him realizing that families were busy during the winter

holidays.


Players compete in a Pickle Man tournament on a court in front of Alex Wadsworth’s home.
Players competed in a Pickle Man tournament on a court in front of Alex Wadsworth’s home.

In all, Wadsworth is planning for six tourneys this year.


“We want to do one every other month,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand.”


The February event marks the first one that will be played for a charitable cause. With

financial backing from the Thrivent Action Team, the tourney will benefit the Sunrise Community Group’s Hillsborough County chapter, a home that provides assistance for

disabled adults.


A few of the participants in Pickle Man’s fourth tournament stuck around for a group photo at the conclusion of the event.
A few of the participants in Pickle Man’s fourth tournament stuck around for a group photo at the conclusion of the event.

That decision stems, in part, from Wadsworth helping to raise his 23-year-old autistic nephew Kai King, whose mother passed away in 2020.


“He comes over once a week and hits 100 balls. He finds it therapeutic,” Wadsworth said. “He hasn’t played in his own game yet, but he’s working up to it.”


Wadsworth is thrilled that his concept of hosting pickleball tourneys on a court he built in his front yard has taken off. He fondly recalled the initial event last April, which preceded subsequent tourneys in June, August and November 2023.


Kai King, Alex Wadsworth’s nephew, shown here holding a pickleball paddle, hopes to play his first pickleball game soon.
Kai King, Alex Wadsworth’s nephew, hopes to play in his first game soon.

“The day it happened, it was really exciting and nerve-wracking because we only had one

court,” Wadsworth said. “Everybody had a blast.”


Wadsworth’s tourneys always have four divisions — beginners, intermediate and advanced, as well as one for kids. That jells with his philosophy, he said, “to create unforgettable

pickleball opportunities that bring together enthusiasts of all skill levels” throughout

the Tampa Bay area.


Kids play in a pickleball tournament on Alex Wadsworth's property.
All of Alex Wadsworth’s pickleball tournaments have included a kids division.

While the advanced division games get rather competitive, Wadsworth’s goal is to ensure that people simply enjoy coming out to his home and have a good time playing the sport.


Regardless of what division they play in, he noted, the tourneys serve as “a catalyst to introduce people to the sport.”


By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos by Steve Lee and Alex Wadsworth

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