Submitted by Rick Harpster
On October 31 and November 1, the North Myrtle Beach Recreation Department hosted its first indoor Paddle at the Beach Pickleball Tournament and received rave reviews from players for the pool play format. Departing from the usual format used for most pickleball tournaments, the Paddle at the Beach event did not offer singles or mixed doubles competition. Instead, competition was limited to men’s and women’s teams only, on six indoor courts in two gymnasiums at the J. Bryan Floyd Community Center. Also, instead of providing each player with a tournament t-shirt as a gift, the Recreation Department chose to give each player a thermal mug with the city logo engraved on one side and the Paddle at the Beach logo on the opposite side.
On Friday, teams were divided into pools by age bracket. Each team in the pool played every other team in their pool in round robin competition consisting of two game matches to 11 points. This format allowed each team a minimum of eight games, with many teams playing 10 games. Specific start times for matches were pre-established and a gym manager was assigned to each gym. This provided players with an estimate of the start time for each of their matches and the gym managers kept idle court time to a minimum.
On Saturday, the results of the pool play competition were used to divide the teams into Gold and Silver brackets. Friday competition results were also used to seed the teams for double elimination tournaments. Again, departing from awarding medals to the winners, first and second place finishing teams in each bracket received a black marble paper weight engraved with the Paddle at the Beach logo and their tournament finishing position.
The pool play tournament format received high praise from the players. Each team played more games than they would have played had the Recreation Department chosen the usual double elimination tournament format. A second Paddle at the Beach is planned for April 24 and 25, 2015. This event will also use a round robin pool play format. Additional information will be on the USAPA website soon.