Today is the beginning of the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships, the first USAP national championships since 2019. Long considered one of the sport’s premiere competitions, this year’s venue will be open only to competitors and fans who are vaccinated:
“All attendees are required to show valid proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. In order to do so, all players, fans, staff, volunteers and vendors must obtain a Digital Vaccine Card from CLEAR and show each day on-site at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.”
A review of the current entry list reveals that a number of well-known players, including the men’s and mixed doubles defending champions, won’t be competing at Indian Wells this week:
Ben Johns (defending champion, men’s doubles)
Simone Jardim (defending champion, mixed doubles)
Kyle Yates (defending champion, men’s doubles and mixed doubles)
Jonny Pickleball Andrews
We don’t know whether the vaccine requirement has anything to do with the absence of the above players, We suspect that in some cases it was a factor and in other cases it was not. Whatever the reason, the quality of competition at the top level is going to be significantly poorer than in years’ past.