Tournament Tips: The Happy Trails Classic and the Power of Committees

Mike McKay has directed two tournaments which involved over 20 committees of volunteers. Thanks to his strong sense of organization and the teams’ efforts, each competition has run smoothly. If you want to get an idea of what it takes to manage a big group of volunteers, Mike is your guy!  

mikemckaypicklballfriends

Mike McKay (center) with his pickleball buddies.

What is the name of your tournament?

The Happy Trails Classic. This was the 14th year of the tournament. As for me, this the second one that I’ve directed. I’ve helped in different capacities in the past as more of a worker bee. 

Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?

The Happy Trails Pickleball Club in Surprise, Arizona. It’s a northwestern suburb of Phoenix.

When was your tournament?

January 16 through the 20th. Our tournament ran over five days. 

Where was your tournament?

Happy Trails RV Resort in Surprise, Arizona. 

How many players registered for the tournament?

455 players registered.

 How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?

We had 10 pickleball courts. 4 were temporary courts. They were all outdoor. It’s a blessing in Arizona. There’s not too much indoor stuff because weather isn’t too bad. This year though, we had some weather to contend with. On Thursday, 10 in the morning, we had showers water down the courts, and had to suspend play. From Thursday to Friday, we had to dry the courts four different times.

wetfield

The pickleball community gets together to dry off the courts.

We had to put beach towels on top of the court to help dry, and then wring out the towels. Across from our venue, we had to go the laundromat, and dump quarters into it. We had to go 4 times! Everyone is hunched over, dragging towels over, ruining our backs. It was quite a challenge, and the club stepped to it. It was really a great memory for me, and I think the community in total. 

What events/brackets did you offer?  

It was men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles. Our tournament was a culmination of skill and age. We had 50-59, 60-69, and 70 & up.

We hired pickleballtournaments.com to keep track of our brackets. We got a phone call from four guys in the area that were over 80 years young.They wanted to know if we would get them medals. We ended up making that work out. Pickleballtournaments.com scheduled them in the 70+ bracket first thing in the morning to play each other. They got their medals. It was a great memory.

brackets

The Event Desk overseeing a successful tournament.

Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?

We had over 20 committees that performed a lot of different tasks. 210 to 215 volunteers over the course of fives days  with many people doing many jobs different days. We try to keep the shifts shorter about 4 hours max so it’s fun for the people and not so much quote-unquote work. If you make that work fun, everyone is going to have a much more enjoyable time.

  • Check-in
  • Runners (They keep the courts full. To be timely and efficient with your day, as soon as you get the results from the most distant court to the tournament event desk, the faster you’re putting the next match out.)
  • Run the Boards at the Event Desk (Get the announcements out to keep the courts full.)
  • Court Maintenance
  • Hospitality
  • Parking Shuttles (Players had to park 3/10 of a mile away. People are directed to the parking lot, and then a shuttle crew with golf carts would cart people back and forth from 6 in the morning until the end of the day.)
  • Photography
  • Seating
  • Managing Referee
  • Safety Committee 
  • Social Committee  (This included overseeing a dinner and dance.)
  • Vendors
  • Signage
  • Lunches 
  • Technical Support
  • Posting (This person gets the results from the Runner at the Event Desk. They would input the results into pickleballtournaments.com software. They would also update the brackets so friends and families of players can figure out which court their loved ones are playing on.)
  • Fruit Gatherers

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?

We don’t really seek out sponsors. Our resort really doesn’t allow us to hang banners on the fencing. We did have PickleballCentral. They were great to us. They gave us 625 of their nice, bright orange drawstring bags that we used as player gifts. We’ve got 455 players, so we had a bag for each of them. We had all these items that we gathered and purchased for each player, typically a t-shirt and a bottle of water.

We stuffed about 500 of them. Here in our park, we strung out 40 tables to fill these bags. We’ve got groups of ladies and men that will play 1 to 3 on Thursday, and after they play they’d stuff these bags. So we put food items, water, notices for other tournaments, pens, and gifts. We even had toothbrushes.

Was the tournament a fundraising event? For what charity or cause? How much did you raise?

It was a little bit of a fundraiser. We take the money for court improvements. We’ve benefited by benches, shade structures, and new nets for the resort.

mikemckay

Mike McKay and his wife after a hard-played game.

Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?

Here at our resort, we have a little restaurant. It’s all run by volunteers. We are fortunate to have this group of volunteers.  We had Waldorf salads. We had ciabatta sandwiches. Bratwurst was a big hit on the rainy day! We had chicken salad croissants. There were just so many great options. Each lunch consisted of  a menu item, chips, and a drink for $5.00. By doing all of this with volunteers, it keeps the food costs down.

We went through 12 jars of pickles! When you play this silly sport, people get leg cramps. Vinegar helps with the leg cramps. Players carry around packets of mustard for the same reason.

We also had 10 dozen donuts every morning to start.

We are huge on hospitality. Everything is free. I don’t care if you’re a player. If you’re playing, and your family or friends want something, they can help themselves. I don’t care if you’re a player or someone walking down the sidewalk.

Did you charge a registration fee? How much?

It was $45.00 to register, and then $5.00 for each event. So if you played men’s doubles and mixed, it was $45 plus $10.

Anything special or unique about your tournament?

It’s a very welcoming tournament. It’s got a great reputation. And the demand has grown so fast. Pickleballtournaments.com told us that our tournament was the first time women’s doubles filled before the men’s!

What are your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?

If somebody is putting a tournament together, include a lot of people. You’re going to need a lot of help. Start quite a bit early. You’re going to have a lot of challenges pop up. You’ll have to revert to “plan b” a lot of times.

Try to make it as fun as possible, especially for the volunteers. It’s just pickleball. Nobody’s making a living at this. It’s a very social game that brings people together. 

Start early enough. Don’t wait too long to start. I benefited from taking over from someone else. A lot of people have done it 12 years prior to me. I’m already talking over something that’s in place instead of starting anew.

Our tournament ended the January 20th. We have next January scheduled already. We have meetings and dates already set. All the committee chairs are established for next year as well.

I think there’s a tournament checklist on USAPA. I would recommend anyone new to this to check out the guidelines: Tournament director’s checklist. There’s a lot of food for thought on there that’s very helpful.

Running your event through pickleballtournaments.com is great and is a very reasonable fee.

 

Meet The Pros: Manish Rao

Meet the Pros: Manish Rao – #change is inevitable #Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change

playing pickleball in Bangkok, Thailand.

#proliterebel #reverethegear #bangkokopen #bronze with My partner Sachin Mandrekar All well that ends well — playing pickleball in Bangkok, Thailand.

We are always on the lookout for good news stories about the game of pickleball.  Manish Rao is very happy about pickleball coming into his life.  He posted on Facebook recently:

This (Facebook) post is not about ego-boosting or self-marketing, it’s just a post to show gratitude to people who have made a big difference in my life. In 2011 I was reduced to minimal activity due to my back issue, sciatica. It kept me away from all sports and thus resulted in a huge weight increase, and signs of prosperity by means of hair loss. I was living in the world of fooling myself and kept saying I can’t change as it’s destiny. But its not destiny which has to change but the mind has to. Will power is important, but more important is to find the right people in the walk of life who can make this change happen through their positive thoughts.

In March, 2014 one lazy Sunday evening I met Sunil Valavalkar, who, along with his team, gave me a demonstration of an unknown game called pickleball. At that time I didn’t know that my life would change so drastically because of that Sunday. My great friend Ravi Shetty and I took the demonstration of this sport to our building and since then this sport has become my life. Its been 2-3 years that I have been playing this sport and this sport is responsible for me being happy and healthy, along with that it has given me friends all across the world. I am totally indebted to sir Sunil Valavalkar and pickleball. Not only the mental agility has increased but my physical ability is at an all time high. Sports can elevate self-confidence to a level which cannot be imagined. I am thankful to all these people in my life who were there for me at the right time and hence my life changed for the better. If not for all those people who have been a part of my wonderful journey, I would have been a Mr. Nobody sulking in life and just existing in life and not living life. I am not saying that I am the happiest person in life and no worries or stress at all. All I am saying is that my life is much better than what I had expected. Today I have a great family, a lovely sports career and a bunch of great friends. #bepositive #nevergiveup

There is always more to the story, so we asked him the following Meet The Pros questions. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major tournament wins?

Gold : Men’s Doubles  : Atlantic Regional ( Portland Maine) June 2016 : Partner Ravi Shetty ( New York ) 3.5 level
Gold : Men’s Doubles : 2016 : Nationals  winner : Venue : Jaipur : Partner Bhushan Potnis

 Silver : Doubles : 2015 : Nationals : @ Haryana , Panipat : partner Sachin Mandrekar
Gold :  Mumbai Open : 2017 : Jan : Partner Bhushan Potnis
Gold :  State Open : 2016 : Partner Bhushan Potnis
Gold :  Mumbai District : 2015 : Partner Sachin Mandrekar
Silver: Mumbai District : 2016 : Partner : Bhushan Potnis

Rebel PowerSpin

Rebel PowerSpin

What paddle do you play with and why?

Early on I used to play with the Paddletek Bantam EX-L. In 2016, I shifted to  thePro-Lite Rebel. I’m loving it for the balance and spin control. I totally feel like a Rebel with this paddle and can’t imagine playing pickleball with with anything but this piece of art. #proliteproud: #Rebel  I really am thankful to Pro-Lite for providing me with these amazing paddles.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

In my childhood I used to play a modified sport kind of like pickleball in our building premises. We played the game with a tennis ball and handmade paddles on the badminton court. So when we participated in the demo of this sport in 2014, we were totally hooked on the game immediately. It’s been almost 3 years now since I started this game and I’m a total addict; on days I don’t play pickleball I get withdrawal symptoms. We’ve made a dedicated court on our building premises, so every day is pickleball day!

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I love playing outdoors!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I am a doubles player and love the doubles game as its a game of strategy and planning unlike in single. I love the patience involved in the doubles game and the bonding with the partner makes it special, hence I always prefer the doubles game.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Manish withbuddies

Pickleball buddies Sachin Mandrekar, Saumitra Korgaonkar, Bhushan Potnis, Sunil Joshi, Abhijit Madbhavi and Ashutosh Madbhavi.

My favorite place to play pickleball is my Home Court @ Mumbai, Mangal Kripa. This has been my residence since childhood and to have a dedicated court for this amazing sport makes it special. I love playing on this court as we are a group of highly passionate pickleball players under one roof.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

The secret is nothing but just love of this sport and having a passion for the game. Once the passion is there it’s just a matter of time to master the game. The main thing about this game is to have patience. This game is like chess, its more mind work than power. The less the errors, the more wins.

What’s your day job?

I am the CEO of my own Business of Security Automation systems, Electromech Automation Pvt Ltd. I have been involved with this firm for the last 25 years.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

I play approximately 7 to 9 hours in a week. We play in the evening every day after work on week days from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm, and on weekends we try to play twice a day.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t believe in luck much; however, the harder I work , the luckier I get! The only ritual before the tournament is to FOCUS and not get distracted!

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

Personally, the only goal I have for pickleball is to see this game grow in India exponentially. I want to play in the USOPEN in 2018 and every year after that! That’s a goal I want to fulfill. Personally this game has given me immense pleasure in life and changed my complete outlook for life! 

Anything else you’d like to share about your pickleball experience?

Oh, this is very tricky question; I can go on and on about my experience of pickleball. I will try to give a few.

I always was a sports man, but in 2010 an injury to my back got me into lazy mode resulting in putting on lots of weight. It has changed only by the addition of pickleball into my life. I got back to sports as this sport is non-invasive and easy on the body initially. The addiction of this sport gave me the will power to over come my back injury and made my goal to lose weight fast. Totally I have lost 14 kilograms in one year, all due to pickleball!

I am a short-tempered person, but I can safely say that due to this game and its very nature of requiring patience with the shots, especially dinks, it  has worked wonders with my temperament. I am much more relaxed and generally don’t lose my top over silly things! My confidence level is at the highest level nowadays and the interaction with the younger generation for coaching of pickleball gets me energized. I am also happy to be the First Indian Player to be officially in a sports gear contract for Pickleball in India, thanks to team PROLITE! This has been a real boost to me to make this game grow more and more. This game has been a game-changer for me and for my family. I am happy that my wife Ashwini and my daughter Tanya are a avid pickleballers too.

Thank you Manish for sharing your enthusiasm for this wonderful game of Pickleball.  See you at the USOPEN in 2018!

 

The IFP Bainbridge Cup 2017 – Pickleball History in the Making

It’s a rare moment indeed when you can be part of an historic sporting event.

In 1927, when Great Britain visited the United States to play in the first Ryder Cup, they had no idea the spectacle it would become. Nor did fans or players foresee how big the World Cup would grow when they experienced the first Cup in Uruguay in 1930.

International Pickleball Tournament - Spain 2016

International Pickleball Tournament – Spain 2016

Now it’s pickleball’s turn to make history with the launch of the IFP Bainbridge Cup. Due to the rapid growth of Pickleball around the world, the future of pickleball’s Intercontinental Team Competition appears bright, with the inaugural event set to take place in Madrid Spain, September 15, 2017. The IFP is the International Federation of Pickleball, the governing body of the sport and the organizer of the Cup.

Bainbridge Cup Format

The Bainbridge Cup features two teams: “Team North America” and “Team Europe” (with the possibility of a third “Rest of the World” team). Each Team will compete to take home the first ever Bainbridge Cup trophy. Participation in the Cup is open to ALL players who register, thus players of all age and skill levels are invited to take part.

The format includes Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles Matches, and all players are guaranteed a minimum of four matches. It will be a round robin format with players grouped by skill and age. The Team with the most points (match victories) over the course of the day will be crowned the winner.

Join the Team

Playing in the Cup offers a unique opportunity to join the Team of some of the biggest names in pickleball: Team “North America” players include Marcin Rozpedski, Jennifer Lucore, Kyle Yates, Simone Jardim, Alice Tym, Rob and Jodi Elliott, and Daniel Moore. For Team Europe, top players include Oliver Strecker, Ernesto Cardenas, Faye Plummer, Carlos Perez, Cyril Dirand, Leonardo Gonzalez, Gema Garcia and Ian Medhurst.

IFP Bainbridge Cup Logo - 2017 Spain

 5 Full Days of Pickleball

Immediately following the Cup competition (Friday, Sept. 15) will be another international competition: on September 16 and 17 the 3rd Annual International Pickleball Tournament will be held at the same location as the Cup. Therefore, there will be three consecutive days of competition at the same location: September 15, 16 and 17, 2017. In addition, the Pickleball Pros in attendance will be offering free clinics on the two days prior to the competition, on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 13 and 14.

Venue and Early Registration

The Cup and International Tournament will be played at Ciudad de la Raqueta (Racquet City), one of Madrid’s premier racquet sport clubs. There will be 20 competitive courts and a Championship Court with stadium seating. Early registration runs until May 31st. The event is filling up fast so registration is encouraged now to ensure a spot. Registration and detailed Cup information is available at PickleballTournaments.com.

Podium Shot - Spain International Tournament 2016

Podium Shot – Spain International Tournament 2016

See the Sites of Spain

Madrid, Spain’s vibrant capital city, is full of history, culture, a festive environment and wonderful gastronomy. It is home to the Royal Palace as well as the Prado Museum, which features one of the finest art collections in the world. Tour activities have been organized to allow participants to make the most of their trip. For more information send an email to info@pickleballspain.org.

Be a Part of History

It all adds up to five days of fantastic pickleball and history being made. And you can be part of it all, as a player or spectator. Years from now, when Pickleball is an Olympic Sport and the Bainbridge Cup is televised by ESPN, you can say, “I was there at the very beginning of it all.”

 

— Mike Hess, President of the IFP

Raise Your Floor… Not Your Ceiling

Sorry, no HGTV tips here. Just PickleballSpeak!

Ever had one of those days on the court where nothing feels right, nothing goes right and the weakest player in your community is smiling because he or she just collected their first win from you and will never, ever let you forget?

Pickleball winners

Pickleball winners (Credit: Michael D. Martin)

First, if there is any joy in winning, why not give a little joy? Second, we’ve all been there. But some players, whether in recreational or tournament play, are able to perform well no matter the opponents, ball, venue, wind, temperature or emotional state. They have raised their floor to a level of consistency that gets past those first rounds of tournament play until the muscle and mind are in sync and performing.

My wife and I showed up late to the beautiful Freedom Park courts in Palm Desert a couple days ago just after I took two silvers in Marcin Rozpedski’s tournament. We planned to just drill slowly that morning, but within a few minutes we were facing some outstanding players who were feeling great and banging away. One even had my Selkirk Omni 31P XO paddle (I love getting beat by someone with my paddle)!

Anyway, in order to prevail, we really had to focus and play well with almost no warm up! I was afraid that I would have to donate my trophies to the club otherwise!

Pickleball jump

One way to raise your floor is to jump off of it! (Credit: Chad Ryan)

My floor is often too low, but here are a couple things I think about to try and raise my floor:

1. Find your rhythm by watching the spinning ball. Which way is it spinning? Did I see the blur of my paddle hit the ball? Don’t be distracted by opponents or your partner. There is only a ball and a beat. Feet dancing. Back, bounce, swing. How many balls can I return in a row without mistakes?

2. Be consistent rather than banging away. Bangers often have low floors because balls either go long or in the net. Give every ball a life by hitting over the net and in. Make your opponents beat you with extraordinary shots. Then smile and congratulate them.

3. Warm up for at least 45 minutes prior to an important first match. Get relaxed. Hit at least ten great third shots in a row. I smile at players who spend lots of time and money going to tournaments and then warm up for only ten minutes prior to their first match when they know that their peak performance normally doesn’t occur till after an hour or two of play—and that they can sustain that level for many hours.

Finger on paddle

Player showing proper finger-on-paddle-face form (Credit: Baliboa Racquet)

4. Grab your paddle more firmly with your finger on the face. This can reduce the wrist action required in strokes. Wrist action in pickleball is tricky because players cannot “grab” the ball with topspin as in tennis or ping pong. Striking the ball more squarely with a firm wrist improves consistency.

5. Drill, baby, drill. Spend less of your time playing games, and more time drilling with a partner.

Some players have very high ceilings and very low floors… and they find it difficult to attract great partners. Players with lower ceilings but much higher floors attract great partners. Being a top club or tournament player demands consistently strong performance through ten to twenty games.

I would love to hear other thoughts or tips from players on raising their floor level of play.

 

Tournament Tips: The Delaware Senior Olympics, Finding the Right Resources

Sue Brooker helps run the Delaware Senior Olympics in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. With over 150 participants at each tournament, she relies on a group of volunteers to manage the busy event. We appreciate her taking the time to share her work with with us! 

Susan Brooker and Georgia Billger

What is the name of your tournament?

The Delaware Senior Olympics Pickleball Tournament. Every other year we have the opportunity to qualify for the National Senior Olympics.  In order to qualify, you must come in first through fourth in the Delaware Senior Olympics Pickleball Tournament. Our qualifiers are going to Birmingham, AL the first week of June to play in the Nationals which should see over 600 pickleball players from throughout the 50 states of US and Canada.

Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?

The Delaware Senior Olympics hosted the tournament. We are a not-for-profit, volunteer, sports and fitness organization with a 20+ member Board of Directors. Founded in 1991, the organization’s mission is to promote healthy lifestyles and fitness for senior adults through competitive and non-competitive athletic activities. 

 DE Senior Olympics 002

When was the tournament?

I’ve presided over two tournaments so far. One in September of 2015 and one in September of 2016. I’ll be managing another one this year on September 8th through the 10th. We’re going from two days to three days. Also, since this is a non-qualifying year, we are expanding the participation from just 50+ to 90+ age group  to 30+ year-olds to 90+ year-olds.

I also participate as a Sponsor for numerous small tournaments in Delaware and Maryland yearly as well, offering my expertise wherever I could. I was also instrumental in bringing the first pickleball pro, Sarah Ansboury, to the state last October to offer seminars to over 100 participates.

Where was your tournament?

The first tournament took place in 2015 at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware. Last year and this year, our tournament will again take place at the Levy Court Kent County Recreational Center 1683 New Burton Road, Dover, DE  19904; 302-744-2495.

How many players registered for the tournament?

In 2015 we had 146 players. In 2016, we hit capacity at 175. We had to close registration three weeks early since we were full. That is another reason we are going to three days this year. We have players come from all over the United States. From California to Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, South Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, and Connecticut. And I’m only mentioning a few states. We have always had more out-of-state than in-state players. Our tournament is recognized as one of the best  tournaments in a five state surrounding area.

How many courts were available for the tournament?

There were twelve indoor courts. 

What events/brackets did you offer? 

Women’s and Men’s Doubles plus Mixed Doubles and Men’s and Women’s Singles. Age brackets play 30 to 39, 40 to 49 and 50 to 54 and every five years. Skill levels are asked so we can put top skilled players in byes as well as against one another. According to National Senior Games rules, you must play in your own age group, not by skill. 

Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?

I’ve always believed that you’re only as good as the volunteer staff around you. I have captains that oversee each area. They recruit others to help them and then report to me if any issues arise. These key captains are:

  • Referees
  • Fundraising
  • First Aid
  • Sign In
  • IT (since one of the first tasks was to bring our tournament from handwriting to computerizing through Pickleballtournaments.com)
  • Master of Ceremonies/ Announcer
  • Set up
  • Final Clean Up.  Each captain recruits others to help them and they report to me.

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?

Most sponsors want their name out there! I have been very lucky to get sponsors that offer giveaways at no cost. They just want a place at the tournament to sell their products. All these sponsors are listed on our Website with Pickleballtournaments.com. We also post their banners at no cost in our facility during the tournament.
I continue to court my sponsors year long! Just ask PickleballCentral! Last year, they gave us sunglasses to give away and we posted picks after the tournament of players wearing the glasses. We took them to Oregon and Florida this past month, too.Thanks Again PickleballCentral!
SUSANDIANE

Susan with fellow pickleballer, Diane.

Was the tournament a fundraising event? For what charity or cause? How much did you raise?
We at Delaware Senior Olympics have been involved with helping to raising money for YMCA and Toys for Tots.  We have fundraising tables at the tournament where we sell sponsor giveaways. We raised over $1,100 last year at the fundraising table.
Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?
We did in 2015. We had water containers and took sandwich orders. However, last year we found that the best way to go was with food trucks. We will do that again this year. Our facility has a number of water fountains that you can fill water containers with.
Did you charge a registration fee? Yes How much?
We charge $20 which is a membership to Delaware Senior Olympics. It is $11 per event entered.
Anything special or unique about your tournament?
We believe in having fun from the beginning to end. We make a big deal out of handing out medals. We take pictures of all winners and have it so that they can download them for free. We also have a great award ceremony that is decorated with our banner and our slogan for the year. Last year it was, “Pickleballers Don’t Quit!” The year before’s slogan was, “Past, Present, Future of Pickleball!”
sue3

Sue with pickleball partner, Patty Woodruff

What are your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?
Learn to be flexible and listen to your volunteers. They know how to do their jobs! Keep it light and fun. Play pickleball in the tournament. That makes you accessible to everyone. Walk around and see how things are going.
Make sure you have a first-aid table manned by nurses or CPR-trained professionals. We had 3 AEDs (automated external defibrillator) at our facility, and brought another one as well. It is surprising how few tournaments realize the importance of AEDs. We have also a cooler full of ice and first-aid kits.
 
Do a little planning everyday, and learn from others who are in the know!  Reach out to your local and surrounding states Ambassadors. They can help too.

The Move

It’s like trying to change a tire while the car is still moving…

PickleballCentral successfully relocated its offices and warehouse operations this last weekend. Moving can be stressful. Finding that perfect friend with a truck willing to work for pizza and a cold beverage is tough. But, we did it. And for anyone who has moved recently, we apologize for increasing your level of (vicarious) stress as you read this blog.

We started the business on the dining table of our home. That was over 10 years ago. Almost 5 years ago we moved into a 5,000 square foot facility with offices, a warehouse, and enough room for one court. Over the years, we grew, and grew.

We went from carrying only around 100 products to carrying over 2,000. We grew from just 3 employees, to over 20. And sometime during 2016 we just ran out of space. The way we finally convinced ourselves we had to move again was when the pickleball court ended up becoming the storage space for incoming pallets of merchandise.

The new warehouse

Moving a business in Seattle isn’t easy. The commercial real estate market here is very tight, and we literally looked at dozens and dozens of spaces. It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears – except, we found that dozens were too big, dozens were too small, and almost none were “just right.”

But literally right around the corner from our existing offices, we found a wonderful new facility – over 18,000 square feet of space. Enough space for our staff, our 2,000+ products, and most importantly, our court.

Not only do we have room for one court, we actually have room for four courts! We hope to be opening the courts to the public by the end of the month, and stay tuned to this blog for more details about this exciting development in our business.

We are also honored to be the location for The Pickleball Museum. We also hope to have this open to the public by May 1st. Stay tuned for announcements and details!

New customer service office

The move could not have been accomplished without the incredible leadership of our Co-Founder & President David Johnson, and the entire staff here at PickleballCentral. As most of you know, we go to extreme measures to make sure our customers are well served.

Moving this operation so that we could operate at our old offices through Friday evening’s orders, and then being able to open for business on Monday morning without missing a beat was tough.

We had to move over 100,000 pieces of inventory – luckily some of that we could pre-stage on pallets at the new location. We had to move 20 team member’s offices. We had to tear down our shelving, and set it up at the new location, and move all the products stored on those shelves.  But with a lot of planning, and incredible work, we were  able to do it. And by 6:00 AM Monday morning, we were operating business as usual, shipping pickleball equipment to customers all over the world. It’s like trying to change a tire on a moving vehicle – but somehow, we did it.

Take a look at the time lapse video that started on Friday evening and ended Monday morning. You can see how much a small team of people can accomplish in one weekend if we all work together.

As I sign off – I want to express a special thank you to our team here at PickleballCentral – we are blessed to have what we think is the best team any business could have. They work hard. They play hard. And now they have courts to play on

Stop by and visit us in a few weeks when we have The Pickleball Museum, the Pro Shop and courts up and running!

Our new address is 22330 68th Ave. S., Kent, WA 98032

 

– By Anna Copley, Partner

Provo City Fire and Rescue Are Great Pickleballers

Provo City Fire and Rescue Are Great Pickleballers

A while back we posted a video by Scott Anderson on our PickleballCentral Facebook page. It featured the Provo City Fire and Rescue team playing pickleball in full firefighter gear.  

We decided to ask Scott for more of the story on how they got into pickleball. Enjoy!

Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson

Tell us about playing pickleball in the firehouse. How did you get started?

The Provo City Fire and Rescue Station was introduced to pickleball at the Provo City rec center, which has 3 indoor courts and 8 outdoor courts. If we don’t get calls during our PT time in the mornings we often play after working out. We have a blast playing pickleball at the firehouse. We don’t play in full gear often, so that day we did we made sure to record it. 😁

Does everyone play? Why do you play?

Not all the firefighters play, I’d say maybe half of our department. Those of us that do love the competition and how fun it is. Some just play for fun on the days they work, a few like me participate in tournaments when we can. 

Have you ever been playing pickleball and have the fire alarm go off?

Yes, we’ve been playing and had the alarm go off! We carry our radios with us so we can just drop our paddles and be ready to go! It’s weird playing pickleball one minute and the next minute you could be in your fire gear going on a call.

What kind of paddles and balls do you use?

We have mostly Paddletek paddles and Onix Pure 2 Balls.

Do you ever compete in tournaments?

I’m one of the few who play in tournaments. I remember my first tournament was with my friend and captain. We entered our first tournament a few years ago not having any clue what level we were. We had only played a few times and tried the 4.0 level and found out quickly we shouldn’t be in that division. We did win one match though! I’m a 4.5 level player now.

Do you ever compete with other firehouses?

I’m wondering if there are any full time firefighters out there that are 5.0’s? 😬 We haven’t competed with other firehouses yet. I can see that happening soon though.  Yes, we play away from the firehouse when we’re off duty too.

Do you play pickleball away from the firehouse, when you’re off duty?

I introduced my wife to pickleball and she played with me for a while, then passed me up and reached the 5.0 level. So I’m trying to catch up to her now! We love it and look forward to playing it every chance we get.

provo-city-rec-center

Provo City Recreation Center

Thank you Scott, for sharing more of the Provo City Fire and Rescue pickleball story with us. Here’s hoping you find other fire stations nearby that will join you in some friendly competition.