Thursday, September 29, 2011

From Arkansas to Florida to Alabama - Ambassadors Working Together

Bill James, Ambassador - Hot Springs, AK, was in Destin Florida this summer and couldn't find a place to play pickleball!! So he did what any ambassador of the game would do and contacted the local community center. He shared his story with Regional Ambassador, Tom Burkhart, who passed it along to me.........................

"Just a note to let you know what happened in Destin last week. I think I told you contact had been made with the community center about a clinic. The director, Lisa Firth, was all for it.
The day before the clinic, a friend staying at the same motel heard me talking about the clinic and said he would like to come play, also. Of course, he was welcome. He is from Wynne, AR.

We arrived around 8:45 for the clinic and the marquee had the
announcement about the clinic. We marked off the court and waited. No one showed up.! So my friend and I started playing. He really got into playing and really enjoyed it.

After a while, I talked to Lisa and she said would get another staff person, Pat Markey, to come see about it. Pat came over and turns out he was a tennis teacher, racquetball teacher, squash teacher but knew nothing about pickleball. I don't think he was very impressed at first. I got him to hitting and he got more interested. We discussed the origin, rules, etc. I had several things to hand out to the players and he was looking them over.

About that time, we were just about to close up shop and two younger guys came and I asked them if they would like to learn pickleball. They were about to play basketball but said sure they would see what it was all about. After some explanation about the game, we started playing and they were pretty athletic and caught on pretty quickly. They really liked it. As we were playing Pat was watching and seeing how easily the guys caught on to playing and stayed the whole time we were playing. He came to me and said he was going to order some nets, racquets and join USAPA. He got pretty excited about it after seeing the interest the two fellows had in playing. He made sure he had all the info copied before I left. The next day I went back to the center and the director herself was excited about the prospects of getting pickleball started there at the center. I am going to be in touch and try to guide them along as much as I can from this far away. I did encourage Pat to mark the spot to be an ambassador when he joined the association. I will give a letter to approve him as a new ambassador if he applies. So, while there was limited participation, I think it will be a worthwhile contact to get pickleball started in Destin, FL. Lisa said she would really like another clinic in December or January when all the "snowbirds" come to town. I will give you a note for the newsletter encouraging any ambassador that happens to be in the Destin area to contact the community center and help them with another clinic.

To top it all off, my friend from Wynne said he was going back home and try to something started there. I will keep an eye on that one, too. "

After receiving this news, we alerted our Atlantic South Ambassadors located within a reasonable distance of the center and got a great response from Jerry and Virginia Corker from Mobile, AL.

 .........this does sound interesting and, personally, we'd prefer January instead of December, but we would be willing to help, if they'll advertise and get participants." already working to coordinate a weekend that works for booking a campground in the area for their RV and that can accommodate the centers plans for a clinic.  Hopefully we'll have this location up and running by the time that Arkansas's Bill James returns next summer.

This is just a great example of how our Ambassadors across the country work together to promote our great game. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Villages, Tournament Results

Results of the September Mulberry Age Brackets Pickleball Tournament were as follows:

Men's doubles 60-69,
Champions: Barry Gee and  Don Piper,
Runners-up Marc Bock and Ralph Volz.

Men's Doubles 70-79,
Gerry Reese and Tom Weinberg,
Runners-up Bob Fox and Dave Ripa.

Women's Doubles 50-59,
Champions: Denise Boutin and Sue Gapen,
Runners-up Diane Bock and Nancy Balne.

Women's Doubles 60-69,
Champions: Nancy Nowak and Deb Harrison,
Runners-up Jody Wyman and Robyn Muncie.

Mixed Doubles 50-59,
Champions: Frank Cherill and Diane Bock,
Runners-up Nancy Balne and Greg Hanson.

Mixed Doubles 60-69,
Champions: Marc Bock and Nancy Nowak,
Runners-up Bill Freeman and Deb Harrison.

Congrats to all participants and special congrats to our winners.

Super SHOUT-OUT to Jean Kiker and Tom Nonnemacher for organizing and conducting this special event -- we appreciate all you do for the Pickleball Community in The Villages -- Thank you!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The Pickleball Games were played at the Vickrey Community Center, 2130 Summit Blvd. in Pensacola, Florida on Friday September 23rd.    This was a single elimination tournament, best two out of three games to 11 points/win by 2.

Thank you to Jerry and Virginia Corker, Ambassadors-Mobile, AL for sending us these photos and the tournament results.

Players arrived from Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to participate in the event, and reports have it that  "A FUN TIME WAS HAD BY ALL!"

PENSACOLA SENIOR GAMES - September 23, 2011

 Gene Beaver-Gold

Ken Taylor-Gold
Alan Orr-Silver
Nick Fockler-Bronze

Jerry Corker-Gold
Vernon King-Silver
Richard Pugsley-Bronze

Dennis Janka-Gold
Mike Boileau-Silver

Tony Miller-Gold
Bill Siemeh-Silver

Marion Elsas-Gold
Tommy Ladner-Silver
Stephen Stewart-Bronze

Rose Pugsley-Gold

Virginia Corker-Gold
Tanya Nelson-Silver

Virginia Corker-Gold

Virginia and Jerry Corker-Gold
Peachie and Marion Elsas-Silver
Rose and Richard Puglsey-Bronze

Tony Miller/Tommy Ladner-Gold
Ken Taylor/Jerry Corker-Silver
Stephen Stewart/Marion Elsas-Bronze

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Pickleball the best experience possible at your gym or recreation center?

Many of us have the luxury of living in a community with dedicated pickleball courts and can play most any time we want, or are part of a pickleball club that manages the courts for the benefit of all. But there are many locations across the region where pickleball is open to the public and played at the local gym, church, recreation center or sports center.   I received an e-mail from our ambassadors in Aiken, SC  that started out by saying:

 " I am meeting with Jessica Campbell, the Recreation Program Director at Odell Weeks tomorrow to discuss sending out a survey to all of those on her (pickleball) e-mail list to determine what we can do to make playing pickleball the best experience possible.........."

Does this sound like what is happening with your players?  Mike and Loretta Beckner went on to say that the  daytime players had dwindled considerably during the summer . It was more than just people vacationing or out of town , it was more the different levels of players.  With the current schedule, players of ALL level of experience were playing at the same time, and it seemed at times that some were feeling intimidated sharing the courts with more advanced players.  Did they need to dedicate a court for beginner/advanced beginner play? Did they need to offer more instruction?  Was it the time schedule?   One way or another they needed to find a way to get people back and on a more regular basis.....the evening play is going well and it is mostly intermediate/advanced players (at least two courts are full, sometimes three) but daytime play had dwindled and it was important that all players get the opportunity and time to experience the game.

A survey was prepared and mailed to ALL the players on the center's pickleball roster.  What was exciting was that people took the time to respond AND the recreation center LISTENED and IMMEDIATELY responded with the changes they would implement.

For those of you are interested - at the bottom of the article is a link to the actual Survey that was sent.  And in response to that survey..................this note from the Recreation Director.

"Hello pickleball players! Thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out our online survey this month. Attached you will find the survey results. From reviewing them, we have decided to implement the following:

· We will offer an instructional class for Beginners/Advanced Beginners on Mondays from 9 am – 10 am that will run for 4 weeks (October 10 – 31). After class from 10 am – 11 am you can stay and play during the open play time. You will need to register in advance at the Weeks Center front desk. The cost of the class is $15 and space is limited. Registration will close on Oct. 6th. We will have a waiting list and may possibly open the class up to a second group if the need is there. Please note: you will still be required to pay the daily court fee of $1 (if resident or non-resident member) or $2 (if non-resident) on Mondays even if you are enrolled into the class.

· We plan to offer a 3rd court during all open play times, with one court being designated for Beginners/Advanced Beginners. This will be implemented as soon as another net is ordered.

· We will take a look at the beginning of next year to see if there is still an interest in forming a competitive league ladder. So that will be on hold for a few months…

· We are implementing on October 1st the option to purchase an Annual Pickleball User Pass, which will waive the daily court fee that you currently pay each time you play. The cost will be $45 if you are a resident or a non-resident member. If you are a non-resident you will have to purchase a recreation membership prior to purchasing the user pass. Please see the Weeks Center front desk staff for more information.

· We are in the process of lining one of the outdoor tennis courts that are currently open for free play so that you can play pickleball outside as often as you’d like, for free! This will be a trial process for the month of October, and we hope that it works well enough that we can continue to offer the service throughout the year. I will send out another email with information on how to adjust the net, along with some other rules that will need to be followed if you choose to use the court. In addition, we hope to be able to supply paddles and balls at the front desk to be checked out for you to use when you play outdoors.

· We will be working on a partnership with a local sports store to see if they will carry pickleball equipment so that you do not have to order your items online. I will let you know when this happens!

I hope you enjoy all of the changes and stay patient as the program continues to grow and improve. "

Mark and Loretta worked hard to get pickleball started and to earn the support of the Recreation director.   I hope that you find this information helpful - and something you can share in your local areas.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

USAPA Pickleball Tournament At Sun City Oct. 7-8 (Sep 20, 2011 Mesquite, NV, ) Hundreds of enthusiastic athletes from across the country and Canada will converge at Sun City Mesquite in October for one of the largest sanctioned pickleball tournaments in the nation.

According to the USAPA website, the first USAPA National Tournament for players of all ages was held in Buckeye, Ariz. Nov. 2-8, 2009. The tournament drew almost 400 players from 26 states and several Canadian provinces. Pickleball was included for the first time in the National Senior Games Champion Festival in September 2008.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another SC Pickleball Community

Ambassador Rena Grant introduced 15-20 new people to the game of pickleball at the nearby community of Seasons, about 10 minutes from Myrtle Beach in the celebrated Grand Stand Village of Murrells Inlet, SC.

Carol and Tom Gray who invited Rena in for the clinic say:   "Thanks so much for your help- it was a huge success and I think alot of people are interested."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kissimmee/St. Cloud Senior Games

The Kissimmee-St. Cloud Games have not been played in the last couple of years, but it was obvious from the excellent turnout that the pickleball players were very glad to have them back on the schedule.

The pickleball event was held on Monday and Tuesday, September 12th and 13th on the beautiful courts of Solivita in Poinciana, FL.  
Compliments to Tournament Directors Mike Holtzclaw and Tom Leva for a very well organized and well run event and to the Solivita Smashers who manned the food tables and score sheets and made everyone feel so welcome.  Players arrived surrounding counties, and far away states, including;  Kissimmee, Sebring, Ocala, Lakeland, Summerfield, Davenport, Hernando, The Villages, Sun City, Leesburg, Ocoee, Ft. Myers, Lecanto and Wimauma Florida.  Out of state players arrived from Morgan City and Rayne, LA and Darien, IL. 

Some of the the very best players competed in the two day event which included a single elimination age bracket competition for Mens' and Ladies' singles and doubles on Monday and mixed doubles on Tuesday.

Players ranged in age from 50 to 93 and pictured below is 93 year old Gold Medal  Singles Winner  Don Bellinger and (80-84) Gold Medal Winner, Tom Hylas, both of Kissimmee. 
Other Gold Medal Winners included:
Men's Singles
50-54 - John Rupert - Summerfield
55-59 - Jim Cetlinski - Summerfield
60-64 - Steve Kennie - Summerfield
65-69 - Alan Kaplon - Kissimmee
70-74 - Ed Janko - Leesburg
75-79 - Russ Pulman - Leesburg

Ladies Singles
50-54 - Jan Konn- Darien, IL
55-59 - Diane Bock - The Villages
60-64 - Cathy Miller - Kissimmee

Mens' Doubles
50-54 - John Rupert /Steve Kennie - Summerfield
55-59 - Frank Cherille/Tom Nonnemacher - The Villages
60-64 - Marcus Bock/Paul Kelly - The Villages
65-69 - Mark Telfer/Jim Maynard - Sebring
70-74 - Russ Pulman/Charles Yohan - Leesburg/Ocoee
75-79 - Carl Clous/Tom Hylas - Kissimmee

Ladies Doubles
50-54 - Denise Boutin/Susan Gapan - The Villages
55-59 - Sheryl Greiner/Brenda Littlefield - The Villages
60-64 - Margie Diaz/Cathy Miller - Kissimmee
65-69 - Linda Kramer/Diane Reynolds - Sebring
70-74 - Gloria Soltes/Gail Brown - Sebring

Mixed Doubles
50-4 -Don Chaulk/Susan Gapen - The Villages
55-59 - Marcus Bock/Diane Bock - The Villages
60-64 - Bill Freeman/Deb Harrison - The Villages
65-69 - Mark Telfer/Diane Reynolds - Sebring
70-74 - Jim Maynard/Gail Brown - Sebring

A listing of all winners will be posted in the USAPA RESULTS section
Click Here for photo gallery of the games.

Saturday, September 17, 2011



Florida International Senior Games

Notice to Floridians and Out of State participants - There are changes to this year's Florida Senior Games State Championships

New to the 2011 Games will be the introduction of the Florida International Senior Games where all out-of-state domestic and international competitors are only permitted to compete in the International Games, and qualifying at a local event is not required. Senior athletes will have the opportunity to compete against other nonresidents and Floridians entered in the Florida Senior Games State Championships.

Note: Florida athletes cannot enter the Florida International Senior Games directly. Floridians must enter the State Championships in order to compete. This event is being presented to better serve all athletes in this new format. Floridians will enjoy their very own State Championships, while still having the opportunity to hone their skills against out of state athletes. Out of state competitors will have a better opportunity to come to Florida enjoy our first-class facilities and competition.

CLICK HERE for more information on the games..............

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pickleball Update from Winston-Salem Ambassador

It's been a while since we heard from our Winston-Salem, NC Ambassador, and that's because  Laura Patterson  has been very very busy teaching people how to play our game.  Every Wednesday, during the month of August,  from 1-3 pm she was introducing pickleball to brand new players at the Winston-Salem Gateway YWCA.

And on  Friday, September 2nd  with a friend from Tenessee who wanted to learn the game, she stopped by to play with the group at the Senior Culter Center in High Point, NC.  She introducecd these folks back in November of 2010 and today they are playing every Wednesday and Friday. Unfortunately they are still playing on modified courts with modifed nets, but the Director  has promised to now invest in two USAPA nets.

Needless to say, her friend loved the game and vowed that she was going to find out if/where it might be played back home in Tennessee.     Also at the Center that day were to two staff members fom the YMCA in Greensboro, NC.  They had stopped by to see what the game was all about and  their timing was perfect! After Laura got them on the courts, like everyone  else, they were hooked. They invitedLaura to Greensboro to demonstrate and introduce the game to potential players there.  

Next on Laura's agenda is to get a letter out to the local high schools and see if she can do a few demonstrations there.   And she'll be making the trip again this year to the USAPA Nationals.  Good Luck Laura!!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The young, and the young at heart, enjoy Labor Day Weekend Pickleball in North Georgia!

Tanner Morneau (pictured with ASR Mascot Bocce) just turned 5 years old last month, but Dad, Mark Morneau is already introducing him to pickleball.

And Tanner has a great teacher. Ann Earley of the North Georgia Pickleball Club says that Mark is "unbelievable! Never tested in a USAPA tournament but possibly a 5.0 ranked player. Tanner, she says is definately a 2.5!"
Also pictured above are North Georgia Pickleball players, Tom Earley, Dan Ross, Jon Pyle and Marck Morneau. 
Tom and Anne Early want to send along a reminder to any of the out-of-town players who are planning on playing in their Halloween Pickleball Tournament to contact them quickly to lock in your place in the tournament.   Call or e-mail then quickly as they may need to cut off registration soon.  Even players from Palm Creek Arizona have already registered to play.

This tournament is a benefit for the Cherokee County Humane Society.....and you get a really really cool T-Shirt!!!!

Many of us are expecting rain over this Labor Day weekend - but Anne says
"we have dedicated players with squeegees and towels!"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hickory Nut Gorge (Pickleball) Olympiad

The Hickory Nut Gorge Olympiad is a three day Family sports Festival held in Lake Lure, North Carolina.   On Friday August 26th, under the direction of Don "Smoke" Hickman, pickleball was played on the tennis courts at the Rumbling Bald Resort.  This amazing video was prepared and sent to us from  pickleball player, Dick Stone, from Keowee Key, SC. 

According to Smoke.... "31 players participated in an open Pickleball Tournament at Lake Lure, North Carolina. as part of the Hickory Nut Olympiad games. Participants came from the Upstate Pickleball Group in Greenville, SC; Fletcher-Arden, NC; Keowee Key ,SC;  Brevard, NC, Hendersonville, as well as Lake Lure, NC. Competition was keen and all had a great time playing, participating, talking and sweating."

The winners were:
 Mixed Doubles - Mike Kaplan and Jan Amacher from the Upstate Pickleball Group in Greensville, SC.
Men's Doubles....Larry Formicella and Paul Coletta from Fletcher, NC.
 Women's Doubles: Laurel and Karen (sorry  we don't have last names!) of Brevard, NC.

 There is also a great write up and pictures on the  Upstate Pickleball Group's website and you can CLICK HERE for all the pictures from the event.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kyle Burger, WAAY TV 31, Joins Seniors for a game of pickleball...

Burger Bytes: Pickle Ball Huntsville, Al
August 31, 2011,

The folks at Huntsville-Madison County Senior Center have been playing Pickle Ball for a couple years.
“I love racquetball, then when I got introduced to Pickle Ball I just got so over-whelmed with it,” Monserrate Pina said. “[Jane] and I, we're the crazy ones - we'll be here everyday if we can. We enjoy it so much.”  READ MORE