Wednesday, February 7, 2018

AAU Pickleball Serves First-Ever Event in Florida

Published February 6, 2018 -

The AAU Englewood Chill Blast Pickleball Tournament made history this weekend as the first-ever pickleball event hosted for AAU members. (What the heck is pickleball?!) More than 180 athletes from 31 states - ranging from age 19 to 75 - competed on Florida's west coast as part of the Florida Pickleball League.

'We were so excited to host the Inaugural AAU Pickleball Tournament,' said Sindee Snow, AAU Pickleball National Chair. 'Our best success comes from the individuals who participated in the event. We are looking forward to growing the sport in all ages through the country using the AAU platform.'

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Pickleball Booms in Southwest Florida

Published February 2, 2018 -

The Southern Tropics Tournament Series kicked off in December with the Florida State Pickleball Championships. The Winter Classic represents the second leg of the series.

Five hundred ninety-two pickleball players competed in the East Naples Winter Classic held January 26th-28th at East Naples Community Park. Players of all ages and skill levels ranging from 3.0-5.0 participated. The organized event, well-staffed with volunteers, ran smoothly and on time as all 44 pickleball courts were busy with action. Although the blustery days proved to be a bit of a challenge, the players persevered…and those who persevered the most came away with a medal.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

70-year-old St. Pete pickleballer overcomes adversity

Published January 24, 2018 -

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking to Dean Refakes for the first time is like talking to an old friend.

The 70-year-old part-time St. Pete resident and Chicago native has the relaxed and upbeat demeanor of a favorite golfing buddy or dinner companion, as he happily recalls tales of his athletic exploits and his medical setbacks, both of which there are many. Refakes, known as “Clean Dean,” also intersperses his conversations with comments about his love of life and especially for his three daughters, whom he raised following a divorce and calls “the apples of his eye.”

That positive attitude has helped Dean overcome a litany of physical setbacks, from broken bones to balky knees and hips, to become a high-level baseball, basketball, tennis and now pickleball player, as well as a symbol for perseverance and determination for people of all ages.

“I’ve had a very nice life, and I try to enjoy it,” Refakes said shortly after winning a gold medal in pickleball at the 2017 Florida Senior Games in Clearwater in December. “My daughters are healthy, they graduated from college, and I’ve never had a problem with them. I’ve been blessed.”

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