The First Bangkok Open Pickleball Tournament

“This tournament will go down in pickleball history!” Manisha exclaimed, one of over seventy players taking part in the first Bangkok Open.

As new competitions spring up all around the world, we have Mr. Sunil Valavalkar of AIPA (All India Pickleball Association) to thank for giving us a dink by dink breakdown of some fresh action in Thailand and how this event came to be.

Team India - Bangkok Open 2017

The Bangkok Open Pickleball Tournament took place at the Santisuk English School on February 19th this year and involved an international cast including players from Thailand, India, the US, Australia, Vietnam and several other Asian countries.

Although it wasn’t an IFP-sanctioned tournament, the event reflected a high standard of organization and competition.

It all started in December 2016 when Steve Cable sent an email to Sunil Valavalkar inviting Indian players to join the tournament.

The two didn’t expect a huge response, but a week before the sign-up deadline, Sunil had received over 30 requests from players all across India. The picklers responded out of pure passion, willing to cover all travel costs on their own.

The rush of feedback was a double-edged sword for Steve. He’d only accounted for an additional 10 players at the tournament, but with a bit of finagling, he managed to accept 22 participants from India. In the end, there were 5 players from state of Maharashtra, 9 from Rajasthan, 4 from Bihar, 2 from Jharkhand and 3 from Uttarakhand.

Karan-Kavita - Bangkok Open 2017

Once the player selection was finalized, Rahul Wani took over the task of giving Team India a professional look.

He created playing kits for the whole team consisting of blazers, trousers and shirts displaying AIPA’s logo and the Indian national flag. Team India was ready to represent!

Even though high-level Indian picklers like Manish Rao, Atul Edward, Shanai Mehta and Anish Mehta have competed in international tournaments before, none have ever done so on behalf of their country.

As such, it was a special treat to see a pickleball team in their national colors for the first time.

At 8 am sharp, the tournament began after a brief introduction by Steve. It consisted of three events: men’s doubles, mixed doubles and women’s doubles.

The initial rounds were played in a round-robin style, where 4 groups had to play 3 matches. The top 2 teams from each group qualified for the knock-out rounds.

Santisuk English School - Bangkok Open 2017

Every match was played with a competitive yet sporting spirit. Three courts were made across the parking area of the school, but the organizers had to stay on their toes to maintain the time schedule. There were a large number of matches, with many lasting over 30 minutes.

The following pairs from India reached the qualifying rounds in men’s doubles: Manish and Sachin, Dr. Bharat and Ashwani, Anand and Siddarth, and Gajendra and Gourav.

The 3 medal positions would all be won by Indian players, but it was anyone’s guess as to which pair would come out on top.

Everyone thought Manish and Sachin would be the winners, since Manish is a proven international player and has great chemistry with his partner. Yet there’s a reason why people say pickleball is a great leveler.

While playing the semi-finals against Anand and Siddarth, Sachin started cramping. He tried to continue through the pain, but ended up collapsing on the court due to a pulled muscle.

Fifteen minutes were allowed for injury time, but Sachin couldn’t recover that quickly, so both Sachin and Manish decided to forfeit.

Anand-Siddarth - Bangkok Open 2017

The incident proved very lucky for Anand/Siddharth, who went on to overcome Dr. Bharat/Ashwani to become the men’s doubles gold medalists.

This was a fairy tale ending for the pair, who had lost the first set 11;0 due to nerves, then regained their composure to beat the favored pair of Dr. Bharat/Ashwani 11;0, 9:11, 4;11.

The mixed doubles finals came down to Steve Cable/Fang vs Niraj/Megha. The Thai pair was very aggressive and won the first set 11:4 , then Niraj/Megha pulled up their socks and won the second set against all odds. The final set was an epic one, with Megha in particular pushing herself to the limit, but it wasn’t enough to save the team. Steve and Fang kept their nerves to win the third set, and with that, mixed doubles gold.

The final scores were 11:4 , 5 :11 and 11:5.

Sunil and Manisha with Nopaluck Cable - Bangkok Open 2017

The women’s doubles had a different format: Instead of fixed partners, the players had a chance to partner with and against every other player over several matches. It was a unique experience, with the results declared on an individual basis.

Thai pickler Fang was declared the winner based on overall points, with Rekha from India nabbing 2nd.

Each participating player received a certificate and the winners were given gold/silver/bronze medals with t-shirts as mementos.

Thanks to the Bangkok Open, many players from India and Thailand developed a mutual respect for one another. During the closing ceremony, Sunil expressed his desire to set up an Asian Federation of Pickleball—a wish that was applauded by all players present.

Indian Team - Bangkok Open 2017

Some teams won and others lost… but the big winner was pickleball! “Victory is in the quality of the competition and not the final score.“

We wish the best to all the competitors, and for an eventual repeat of the Bangkok Open!

Sunil and Nopaluck - Bangkok Open 2017

Sunil and Nopaluck

Our Courts Are Open for Business: Visit Pickleball Station in Kent, WA!

If you’re in the King County area, then we have some great news for you!

We’ve just established Washington’s first dedicated indoor pickleball facility. Beginning May 1st, Pickleball Station will officially open to the public. Pickleball Station was founded by the same people who own and operate PickleballCentral. We’re considering it a “sister company” located in the same facility, but with a distinct and separate focus: Becoming your favorite place to play pickleball in the Seattle area.

With the amount of fellow picklers growing by the day, we’ve made it easier to get your pickleball fix!

Pickleball Station Logo

Areas of Focus

1. We will have 4 indoor courts available to the public. These courts will be available 7 days a week, from 7am – 10pm. These brand new courts feel like playing on an outdoor surface, but without the rain, snow, fog, and dirt!

2. Pickleball Station contains our Pro Shop. We have over 2,000 different products available for purchase including over 100 different models of paddles, balls, training aids, accessories and the industry’s best selection of pickleball apparel. The Pro Shop is staffed by real pickleball players who have expertise to help you find exactly what you need. It’s just like our online store, but in a physical brick & mortar location. Eventually, we’ll have the Pickleball Museum in our lobby.

3. The final area of focus are our Teaching, Training and Tournaments programs. We are so excited to have hired one of the region’s very best players as our new Pro Shop Manager. Peter Hudachko is a 5.0 player who has won multiple medals at prestigious tournaments. In addition to managing our court facilities and Pro Shop, he’ll develop our Teaching, Training and Tournaments Programs which will meet the needs of players of all skill levels.

Pickleball Station Courts

Pickleball Station Location

Come visit our new location and try out the fantastic courts for yourselves!

Our new address and phone number are:

Pickleball Station
22330 68th Ave South
Kent, Washington, 98032

(253)-243-9858

Pickleball Station Activities

Again, the hours of operation are 7am – 10pm, seven days a week. You can get court time in one of three ways and do any of the following through the Pickleball Station website:

1. Reserve a Court: During May you can reserve a court for $15.00 per hour. This is an introductory rate, so you should come check out our facility and see what we offer. We provide courts with balls included – and you can choose from Dura or Pure 2 balls.

2. Come for Drop-In Play: During the month of May, we will be offering  drop-in play from 9:00 AM – Noon, and again from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM. The courts will be open first come, first served.  We will be limited the number of drop ins each day to make sure everyone gets court time! The introductory rate will be $5.00 per person for 3 hours.

3. Book a Lesson: If you want to work on improving your game and work one-on-one or in a small group (of up to four), you can book a lesson with Peter or one of his staff. One of our private pickleball lessons will allow you to learn the fundamentals and find your comfort zone. Or, if you’re already an accomplished player we guarantee we can help refine your game.  The lessons and instructional program will launch formally in late May or early June.  Introductory rates for lessons (including court time) are $50 per hour.

Pickleball Pro Shop

In the coming weeks, we will be announcing a series of events including local Pickleball Leagues and Pickleball Clinics! Stay tuned for more details.

We are so excited for this new facility and we can’t wait for you to join us. See you on the courts!

Pickleball Magazine Continues To Grow! Check Out The Latest Issue Online…

Pickleball Magazine has moved into its second year of operation, and we’re excited to see them continuing to publish fantastic tips, news and pro interviews from the world of pickleball. The publication provides a great look into the realm of both casual players and industry experts.

Many pros, coaches and manufacturers have contributed to the magazine to share cutting-edge information and exciting new developments in our favorite sport.

PBM Cover - April 2017

The latest edition has a couple must read articles including a great feature on stacking,  tips to playing on different surfaces, and a whole host of updates on tournaments and USAPA news.  If you’d like to take a look at the latest April 2017 issue, PBM has graciously allowed us to share an online version of it right here: Click to view.

If you’d prefer to have a physical issue delivered, we’d love to have you sign up for a mail subscription on our site. It only costs $18 a year for USAPA members or $24 for nonmembers.

(Note that it will say “Online Delivery” during checkout for shipping, but you will receive both the digital and physical editions.)

PBM 411 - April 2017

You’ll be getting the best of pickleball sent right to your door and support the folks who are seeking to improve the game. Congratulations to Wayne, the USAPA and the team over at Pickleball Magazine for their continued success—we’re big fans.

To our readers, enjoy the issue and keep on picklin’!

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

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

Chicken N Pickle: Food, Fun and Pickleball All Under the Same Roof

Many players speak in awe of Chicken N Pickle, the “do-it-all” restaurant/entertainment complex hybrid that’s taking the pickleball world by storm. For those who haven’t heard of it yet, it’s time to remedy that so you can start booking a trip down to Kansas City, Missouri!

Chicken N Pickle Complex

The fantastic Chicken N Pickle complex

Chicken-N-Pickle consists of an incredible 8 courts (4 indoor and 4 outdoor), a beer garden with a shack serving 25+ canned beers, full bar and sandwiches.

There’s also a 5,600 sq. ft. restaurant featuring wood fire rotisserie chicken with all-natural healthy ingredients, 30+ TVs, a rooftop bar, courtyard with a jumbo TV and yard games that opened last November.

Maybe if we ask nicely we can live there?

Thanks to Kellen Mumm, the VP of Operations, for kindly taking the time to share new details about this wonderland and how it got started! [Note: This interview was conducted last year and so all mentions of specific dates were for 2016.]

How was Chicken N Pickle conceived? Or: What came first, the Chicken or the Pickle? 

Chicken N Pickle was born over a couple of beers. David Johnson, the owner, was the first to bring up the idea. [Want to know something really weird? David Johnson is the owner of PickleballCentral, but he’s a different David… weird coincidence!]

He saw pickleball and was amazed by the social aspect of the sport. It was incredible to see 30+ people all hanging around these courts talking and having fun. He played with some friends for the first time in AZ and (just like everybody else) played one game and was hooked.

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

He knew we needed this in Kansas City and his first thought was to add a restaurant. One of his favorite restaurants in the Grand Cayman Islands is called Chicken! Chicken! So he thought, “Why not a rotisserie chicken place?” Bill Crooks was brought on as a consultant because of his experience opening over 30 restaurants nationwide, and he’s helped us find some incredible talent such as Bill Koning as General Manager and Alex Staab as Chef.

Since that initial meeting, our idea has grown into the giant complex you see today.

Do you play pickleball personally? Where did you first discover the game and what are your favorite parts of it?

I first played pickleball in high school, but I didn’t know it was called pickleball at the time because my PE teacher decided to name it after himself! I rediscovered it (this time under the right title) when CnP was born and have been playing ever since. Since we opened I play 5-6 times per week and I like to think I’m getting pretty good.

Chicken N Pickle Indoor Courts

Chicken N Pickle indoor courts

I love how easy it is to get started, and it’s the only sport that you can play with anyone regardless of age, gender and athletic ability. It’s a great family sport and a great date night sport. Since I’m very competitive by nature it’s fun to compete at, and it’s humbling when someone twice my age runs me around the court and doesn’t let me score a point…

Your group seems to use a lot of Selkirk-branded paddles – is there are partnership between you two? And if so, how did that come about?

I was introduced to Andy Gensch, who is one of the few 5.0 players in the Kansas City area. He then introduced me to Selkirk and they’ve just been amazing to work with. We use the Selkirk 20P-XL as our rental paddles so our customers get to play with top-of-the-line equipment. We want everything at CnP to be tournament-grade pickleball and Selkirk helps us achieve that. I personally play with the 300A-XL and love it.

Andy Gensch

Andy Gensch

What are your eventual goals with Chicken N Pickle? Would you like to expand to more locations or are you concentrating on building your first location for the time being?

We would love to bring Chicken N Pickle to other cities across the country as we feel pickleball is growing faster than it can handle and we want to help that cause. We are focusing on making this first one work; there have been and will be more lessons from this prototype that will help us bring our concept to many locations.

What has the local response been like? Do you find yourself getting customers who are already picklers, or more newcomers to the sport who get hooked after visiting?

We’ve taught pickleball to more people than I can count. It’s been amazing! The local picklers and newcomers stop by because there’s no place like it and CnP has this atmosphere of fun. We have a lot of leagues going now and I would say 50% are people that have started playing at CnP in the past 2 months.

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

Andy Gensch seems to help out with teaching at Chicken N Pickle, and you have classes coming up with other pros as well. Are you looking to do outreach to develop other events like this?

Andy has been amazing and I have the testimonials from his lessons to prove it! He has been a big part of bringing people like Enrique Ruiz and Dee Davidson in for clinics, which were huge successes. We also have Dave Wienbach coming for a clinic and he’ll play in our October tournament.

Andy loves pickleball and has been instrumental in growing the game. We both love the fact there are so many new faces. The clinics and lessons he provides are going to make the sport that much more competitive. We do beginner clinics and advanced clinics as much as we can to help give our players more resources.

You host food trucks in addition to your rotisserie offerings. How did that idea develop and do you find it adds another layer of fun for visitors? It seems like you use a lot of nearby stores to give people a locally-flavored experience.

We are huge on everything local. Local produce when we can, local beers (we plan to have 28 taps with all local flavors). People in Kansas City love  supporting their neighbors and we’re no different.

David Johnson of Chicken N Pickle

Bill Crooks, primary Chicken N Pickle consultant

Is there anything in particular you’d like to say to our PickleballCentral readers?

I would invite anyone passing through Kansas City to stop by and play a game and give me feedback! We want to grow pickleball as much as possible. We also have events every month, such as: Oktoberfest on September 1st, Halloween on October 2nd and our first ever pickleball tournament Oct 20 – 24. Sign-ups have been going fast.


You can find out more about Chicken N Pickle on their site and find out what events they have coming up at their blog. Everyone visit if you can, and send them some love to let CnP know you want to see MORE of their facilities in the near future!

 

Pickleball Helps Keep Youth Active in Yavapai County Detention Center

We all know pickleball is great for stress relief, and who better to benefit than cooped up kids? Last year the Prescott Pickleball Association and its associates took the game to those who’d appreciate it at the Yavapai County Detention Center. The youth had a great time learning the game and getting to release some steam.

Listening for Opportunities

The idea was planted when former racquetball champion Jerry Northwood formed the Prescott Pickleball Association with members of his club, the Willow Hills PBC, and other interested players. The group was looking to construct eight outdoor courts at Prescott’s Pioneer Park and needed city council approval to move forward.

Before Jerry got a chance to speak with the council, a woman named Gay Staling from the Yavapai County Detention Center gave a presentation.

Yavapai County Detention Center Demo

From left to right: Ben Sialega, Jerry Northwood and J.T. Schulze demonstrates pickleball during a visit to the center

Jerry had never considered putting a program together for detainees, but was inspired by the thought and introduced himself to Gay afterwards. To his surprise, he didn’t have to overcome any logistical or security nightmares. In fact, the YCDC already had a gym on site!

With the help of fellow pickler Ben Sialega, Jerry visited the center and determined what would be needed to arrange a 2-hour clinic for 11 boys and 11 girls (one hour for each group). Members from the Willow Hills PBC donated both equipment and time as volunteer coaches after going through a background check.

Sharing the Fundamentals

The clinics involved an introduction and history of pickleball followed by a demonstration using advanced players.

“We made sure to use both male and female players so that everyone could see it’s possible to be competitive regardless of gender. For those in the group who had experience with similar sports like racquetball, tennis or table tennis, we showed them how quickly they could pick up the game and start having fun.”

The schedule included a daily 1-hour visit over the course of a week to teach the kids all the basic rules, safety tips and warm-up exercises. After a positive response from the youth (ages 12-18) and the detention officers, they continued the program 1 day a week for 2 hours. The youth, staff and volunteer coaches all appreciate the new activity.

Yavapai County Detention Center Explanation

Jerry Northwood explains pickleball to youth in the juvenile detention center

“When a student is released from the facility I give them my card and encourage them to call me so I can set them up with a club in their area. Hopefully the desire to keep on playing will be a healthy distraction from other things they could get involved in,” Jerry says.

Rallying toward a Happier Future

In addition to the detention center, the Prescott Pickleball Association provides duplicate programs for the Boys/Girls Club of Prescott. They have one indoor court with approximately twenty youth, ages 12-15. They call the program “modified” pickleball as the ceiling is only 8’ high.

“Believe it or not, this actually works and the staff and youth love it! They are currently in the process of constructing three outdoor pickleball courts as part of a sport court. We are two months into this program.

Willow Hills Pickleball Club also has a program for youth ages 10-15. They have 3 indoor courts and run the clinic for 1-1/2 to 2 hours each week.”

The youth of the YCDC tapping paddles in the "good game" gesture

The youth of the YCDC tapping paddles in the “good game” gesture

“We have a ball machine we named Samson to help teach. Our primary objective is to have kids learn the sport so they can be competitive with adults. We did have complaints about balls ending up all over the place beforehand… for some reason, the adult players didn’t appreciate that! Now we have 11-year-old youths playing in adult tournaments.

Finally, we have a program for veterans and first responders to learn racquetball and pickleball. The vets live at the VA and in a VA program for PTSD, brain injury trauma and alcohol/drug abuse. This program is the first of its kind in the U.S. and has been going for over three years now.

It’s extremely rewarding to see lives changed.”

A great big “thank you” to Jerry and his associates for letting us share their story and for putting forth the effort to support people of all ages from all walks of life with the power of pickleball.