Planning a Pickleball Tournament Just Got Easier: PickleballTournaments.com and PickleballCentral.com Become Affiliate Partners

Are you planning on holding a pickleball tournament? Do you have your committee and volunteers in place? Do you have your venue and dates picked out? What about the hundreds of other details?

The number of pickleball tournaments in the United States, and around the world, is increasing and helping to grow the sport of pickleball. At PickleballCentral we are thrilled that it is getting easier for a player to find a local pickleball tournament, but we also understand that the planning and directing of a pickleball tournament is a very complicated and time-consuming endeavor. That is why we are excited to announce that PickleballCentral.com will now be making it easier than ever for tournament directors to get everything needed for a fun, affordable and stress-free event.

PickleballCentral and PickleballTournaments Logo

On September 7, 2017 PickleballCentral and PickleballTournaments.com will begin an affiliate partnership to provide the needed services and products for pickleball tournaments. PickleballTournaments.com is the worldwide industry leader in pickleball tournament software, management and services, while PickleballCentral.com is the world’s leading online store for pickleball equipment. Working from the same set of core values, these two companies are determined to see participation in pickleball continue to grow, and the best way to accomplish that is to increase the number of available tournaments.

Tournament Planning Becomes Less Complicated

Now tournament directors will be able to quickly and easily access the #1 resource for pickleball equipment and the #1 resource for pickleball tournament registration and management during the tournament planning process. Instead of spending additional time searching a variety of sources for custom gear, apparel, medals and other tournament merchandise, now support and supplies will be just a few clicks away.

“We will offer custom pickleball t-shirts, pickleball medals, referee gear, custom pickleballs and custom pickleball paddle covers,” states Anna Copley, co-owner of PickleballCentral. “We have lots of product ideas that are unique and affordable for pickleball tournaments.”

The number of pickleball tournaments has grown at an incredible rate over the past few years, and PickleballTournaments.com has been growing as well, providing services to tournament organizers that ease their workload and make for streamlined events. Their web-based tournament management system is used by the thousands of tournament directors who register, organize and manage tournaments of all sizes, and is the one website all tournament players visit for tournament information, registration and to follow themselves or friends and family through live tournament brackets and player results.

PickleballTournaments.com

Developed by Bob Lanius, a Microsoft developer who needed a more timely and efficient tool for directing large events, this proprietary software handles everything from registration and payments to event marketing, scheduling and real-time activity tracking during the tournament. Many credit their easy-to-use management software as having a large impact on the rise in tournaments.

“No other software in the world can manage hundreds of matches across multiple brackets in the automated fashion that PickleballTournaments.com does,” states Melissa McCurley, CEO of PickleballTournaments.com. “If it weren’t for Bob developing this site, there would not be the explosion in the growth of tournaments like we see today. It just wouldn’t be possible. We all owe Bob a lot of gratitude.”

Partnering for Pickleball Growth

Having sponsored a number of tournaments, PickleballCentral had been looking for a way to become more directly involved in the planning process. The opportunity to work directly with PickleballTournaments.com came at the perfect time.

“We saw a need for pickleball specific tournament supplies, so we were thrilled when Melissa approached us last spring to discuss an affiliate partnership,” added Anna. “Partnering with PickleballTournaments.com connects us with the epicenter of pickleball tournaments. We are honored to be the Official Supplier of pickleball tournament supplies for PickleballTournaments.com and are excited about our new line of pickleball tournament products.”

Take a look at the pickleball tournament items we’re offering in conjunction with this wonderful partnership!

HEAD Paddles Bring Tried-and-True Performance to the Industry

Today we’re excited to introduce a new line of paddles from a manufacturer just entering the world of pickleball but experienced in creating equipment for many other racquet sports: HEAD.

Certain companies might make the assumption that what works in one industry can be applied to another, but HEAD took a more humble approach to development and began their pickleball journey without any preconceptions.

HEAD PickleballCentral

Instead, they spent three years researching what makes a paddle great and developing a strong new lineup with input from pickleball pro Sarah Ansboury, 2015 USAPA Nationals gold medalist.

This has resulted in two paddle series called the Xtremes and Radicals. There are four product offerings within each, and players are sure to find a fit that will match their skill level and play style.

As the official launch partner for HEAD Pickleball, we spent some time talking to Sarah and Ben Simons, Senior Business Manager at HEAD. A few defining features of these paddles are laid out below.

High Quality Design

Ben explains that the following features can be expected in all of their paddles:

    • Quality: You can’t take shortcuts to improve your game, and HEAD didn’t take shortcuts to put out their product. Ben explains, “We spent a lot of time in development and continue to ensure we’re making high quality paddles players can rely on. You should be able to walk onto the court knowing your equipment will play the same every time. This includes a well-defined weight, balance, grip size, feel and shape for each individual paddle.”
    • Extreme Control Shape: HEAD’s unique paddle shape contributes to fantastic reach, flexibility and control. The two variations within the Xtreme and Radical lines slightly alter the paddles’ balance to accommodate different play styles.
    • Stylish Graphics: “We wanted to make sure our paddles were attractive to a wide variety of players and demographics, not only in terms of play, but when it comes to appearance. Because of that, our cosmetics are bright and engaging. Fun is central to pickleball, after all!”
    • OTC Honeycomb Core: OTC stands for optimized tubular construction. “While polymer cores are used in many paddles, the truth is that there are countless variations when it comes to things like weight, cell size, shape, wall thickness and tube height. Based on our testing, we found the type we settled on resulted in optimized performance and quality.”

Sarah with Xtreme Tour Paddle

Sarah with the Xtreme Tour Paddle

Weight Ranges

All HEAD paddles weigh in at 7.6 – 8.1 ounces. HEAD explains that, through play testing, they discovered this range was the preferred average for most players.

Ben explains, “We learned that many players do not have the swing to play with an ultra-light paddle. They might think that’s what they need, but when they hit with a well balanced paddle that has a little more weight to help them drive through the shot, they find they play much better.”

After checking out the paddles ourselves, PickleballCentral has been impressed with HEAD’s ability to produce paddles at consistent weights.

Double the Options

Each Xtreme paddle has a Radical equivalent and vice versa, but the two lines have several key differences that make them best suited to certain types of players. We spoke with Sarah to determine the primary qualities of each:

Xtreme Paddles

The HEAD Xtreme Paddles

Xtreme –

  • Slightly thinner shape with corners shaved down. “This adds more speed and maneuverability to your game, particularly at the net. For racquetball players or those who tend the drag their paddles across the ground as they hit, this also prevents damage to the paddle.”
  • Lighter weight that creates an even balance.
  • Includes the Xtreme Tour, Xtreme Pro, Xtreme Pro L and Xtreme Elite
Radical Paddles

The HEAD Radical Paddles

Radical –

  • More powerful, head-heavy shape. A bit thicker design with more forgiveness when it comes to ball placement.
  • “Players will still enjoy great control, but these paddles possess more immediate ‘pop’ due to their weight.” Despite the additional heft, players often pick these up and think they’re lighter than they really are. In truth, the Radicals just have a better balance, so players get the benefits of extra weight without feeling it.
  • Includes the Radical Tour, Radical Pro, Radical Pro L and Radical Elite

Pro Performance

Sarah’s personal preference is for the Xtreme Tour Paddle.

“I told them I wanted a paddle with some power that also had good control. I love the way the paddle grabs the ball making it great when I need to block or add spin. The interesting shape feels much more maneuverable for me which helps me at the net when I need to be fast.


To see featured videos for each of the paddles, go to the HEAD product pages and click the “Videos” tab.

“One of my favorite parts of the paddle is actually the handle. They use a mold and spray foam to surround the handle, making it a solid piece which connects to the paddle as a whole. This creates a more solid feel and durable neck.”

The Xtreme Tour (and Radical Tour) are recommended for players coming from prior racquet sports due to their touch and texture, which more closely mimics the grip you can get from something like tennis strings. The graphite surface on both models provides excellent responsiveness as well.

For newer players, Sarah believes that the Xtreme Elite or Radical Elite paddle would be a good fit.

Sarah with HEAD Paddles

Sarah with HEAD Paddles

“The two Elites have the lowest price point in both lines. They actually have the same high quality core and surface materials as the other options, but they have harder grips and a smooth face. Either would make a great starter paddle that will also hold up to advanced play, but since the Pro and Pro L options are just a bit more expensive, if players wanted a more cushioned grip they could go that route as well.

“For power players, the Radical series gets the edge due to the extra weight and fiberglass surface. There’s a lot of responsiveness that gives added pop for put-aways.”

HEAD’s Dedication to the Industry

Sarah concludes that, as an instructor, she wanted to feel confident recommending paddles to her students dependent on their individual strengths.

“Being able to choose a quality paddle that’s affordable but still uses the newest technology is important in the long haul. HEAD did a lot of play testing before putting out their final products, and not just with me. The engineer would have me answer about 20 questions, and almost as soon as I had sent a paddle back, I’d get another 20 questions! I loved that they really wanted to understand the sport.

“I believe HEAD got into pickleball to truly help the growth of this sport. In the near future we’ll continue to build the HEAD player team and ambassadors while trying to bring new players into the game. I hope everyone will enjoy the diversity their paddles are bringing to the industry.”


At PickleballCentral we carry over 100 models of paddles and often get approached by new companies attempting to break into the industry. We’re glad to be the official launch partner for HEAD paddles and hope our customers and readers will love the new products!

Co-Founder Anna Copley shared her perspective on the launch by saying: “We started collaborating with HEAD last spring at the 2017 US OPEN Pickleball Championships, and we put the new paddles through our lab and player testing all summer. We’ve found them to be exceptionally durable with fantastic performance. Visitors at our Pro-Shop and staff have enjoyed them, and HEAD has developed a great set of products that we are proud to share.”

Check out the HEAD paddles directly on our site, PickleballCentral.com!

Paddletek Offers Players More Reach and Stability with the Helo

The Paddletek Helo is an exciting new addition to the world of elongated paddles. Where similar styles use smaller grips, the Helo provides exceptional cushioning and sturdiness throughout the handle without slowing down response time.

Using a large 4-1/2″ grip with this paddle greatly improves durability since the head-dominant design can cause structural stress along face/grip meeting point. It also gives players greater stability when using a ping pong-style grip with a finger bracing against the face.

The Helo’s 17″ length is still its most notable feature, offering an extended reach that allows players to cover more ground in both singles and doubles. This makes it an ideal pick for intermediate to advanced players who want the ability to reach long shots, as well as beginners who want to become competitive despite limited mobility.

Individuals coming from backgrounds in other racquet sports in particular may find it easier to familiarize themselves with this style of paddle and enjoy the head-dominant design.

The Helo has an oblong sweet spot that runs from the middle of the paddle to the top of its face. Adjusting from a square-shaped paddle to the Helo’s shape can take some adjustment, but once players start hitting in its upper region, they tap into the full reactivity of Paddletek’s ProPolyCore.

This is the same core used in popular paddles like the Element, known for its vibration reduction. This helps prevent “pickleball elbow” and other stress-related injuries. It produces a quiet sound, making it a great fit for communities with noise restrictions. The sturdy polymer honeycomb creates consistency across the paddle and makes it easier to control than harder cores.

Compared to Paddletek’s other elongated paddle, the Horizon, the Helo has a slightly longer but thinner face, providing even more reach. It also weighs more than the Horizon but still lies in a medium range (7.6 – 7.9 oz), giving it extra power in every hit.

Paddletek has taken special care with the appearance of this paddle in addition to how it plays. Where earlier designs would cover the center of the paddle with paint, the Helo keeps the face clear so that it’s easy to tell where the sweet spot is at a glance. This also reduces the weight of the paddle overall to prevent it from running too heavy.Paddletek Helo

The dotted pattern along the sides of the Helo is elegant yet simple, providing a nice complement to Paddletek’s other offerings. It currently comes in blue, raspberry and red colors.

For fans of the Element who want greater versatility, or for those who love longer paddles and want a high level of durability in their paddle, the Helo will be sure to please.

Take a closer look at the Helo’s specs and high-quality construction at PickleballCentral.

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