Tournament Tips: 300+ Competitors, Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic

Peggy Castorri is a tournament director for Georgia Mountain Pickleball, located in Hiawassee, Georgia. As the pickleball scene in her community continues to grow, so do their tournaments. Here are some tips from Peggy on how to direct a tournament with over 300 participants.

What is the name of your tournament?

The Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic which started in 2015 as a local tournament, which then grew to a nationally promoted tournament.

Was there a group hosting the tournament?

We are Georgia Mountain Pickleball.

When was your tournament?

The tournament took place Friday through Sunday the weekend of September 16, 2016. This upcoming year will be the same weekend September 15, 16, and 17

Where was your tournament?

The location for the tournament was our picturesque Towns County Pickleball Complex, Hiawassee, Georgia. This complex was formerly abandoned and dilapidated tennis courts, and just days before the first years’ tournament 2 years ago, the courts were transformed into 14 permanently dedicated pickleball courts.

Georgia Mountain Pickleball

How many players registered for the tournament?

We had more than 350 people from 11 states –  from Arizona and Colorado in the west;  from Canada down to South Florida and Texas.

What events/brackets did you offer?

We wanted to be as broad as possible, so we offered a variety of skills and age levels in Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. Age group 10+, 50+, 60+ and 70+. Skill levels 3.0-5.0.  All ages 5.0 players. This year we will add Singles to the mix.

Georgia Mountain Game

(Credit: Paul Aaron)

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

For scheduling purposes, we used PickleballTournaments.com and they basically ran the operations on the ground the days of the tournament.  PT handled all registration and scheduling, whatever we needed they took care of it quickly, accurately and efficiently.  

Since we offered referees for all 5.0 matches and Finals, we decided to have Marsha Fresno handle this responsibility during the tournament.

The support from our local players is what makes the tournament flow and be fun. These are suggested committees.

  • Sponsorships
  • Parking
  • First aid/health
  • Gatekeepers
  • Prep and Take down
  • Hospitality
  • Meet-and-greet

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

We solicited for sponsors. Months before the tournament,  I attended local rotary club meetings and business breakfasts to let the business community know what was coming up. There were various levels of sponsorships available. Hospitality tent, T-shirt,  court, coupon booklet, and those who paid to have a marketing item placed in the player bags. We had all types of sponsors and preferred to have non- competing sponsors for the large sponsor packages. In other words, only one real estate company was on the T-shirt, however another real estate company could have a different type of sponsor and signage.

remax

We also had some on-site vendors including Real Time Pain Relief, a popular pain relief ointment for players. a local eye doctor who specializes in providing sports eyeglasses, and a local booster club hosted their fundraiser.

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

Our complimentary hydration tent was filled with water, fruits, nuts, and homemade banana bread.  The main on-site food vendor sold grilled burgers and dogs as well as hummus, candy bars, baked goods, drinks and chips and utilized the profits for their annual school fundraiser.

bob Levy

Did you charge a registration fee? How much?

We charged a registration fee of $35 plus $5 for additional events and the Meet And Greet was $10 which did not include alcohol.

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

Decide early the tone and theme of the tournament – Charity, National, Local, Regional, Doubles, Mixed, Round Robin, etc. Begin 6- 9 months in advance.

Share the workload and potential for proceeds with other community organizations.

Farm out professional help where your budget allows.

Make each player feel special – whether they win or lose.

Huntsman Pickleball Golds Won in Registration

Like many, I stayed up till midnight on Tuesday to register for the Huntsman World Senior Games. It was a competition in its own right, and some walked away winners.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.

Huntsman World Senior Games

A note: I have nothing but respect for the wonderful people running the Games, and this is no reflection on them. I just had to take a moment to lament a missed opportunity and share my tale of woe!

The Huntsman Games provided detailed instructions on how to register for pickleball. It was my opportunity to get into the world’s largest multi-sport event for 50+ athletes, and with them celebrating a 30th anniversary no less, I wanted to be prepared.

Beginning months before the deadline, I studied the “how to register for pickleball” formula with engineering precision—hey, I am an engineer!

But alas. I’m no software engineer, and that night I found my technical skills lacking.

I sat on the couch for hours past bedtime watching World Tennis, thinking I was as prepared as Djokavic when he trounced the 47th player in the world.

Woman watching TV

Not so patiently waiting (Credit: Eric Driggers)

My mental list checked out: Both partners identified. Both partners had Huntsman accounts and athlete numbers. My USAPA membership number was active and ready. Credit card prepared. Even my lodgings were booked.

When the Athlete Registration countdown screen flashed to zero, I took off. Enter, enter enter!

By 12:02, after hitting the enter screen many times, I was ushered onto the sacred registration screen. I had completed the registration entries for all four pickleball events. The only difficulty I had was entering my skill rating. The screen would not accept my entry for about 20 seconds.

With every entry filled, I hit the “Continue Registration” button at 12:03. I clicked it again. And again.

After 5-10 minutes and countless clicks, I was rewarded with the next screen. But something seemed off. I owed $199 for 12 events? No time to question it, just pay!

I entered my credit card number and its expiration date. The date worked, but I could only enter four digits for the number.

Who has a four-digit credit card!?

Frustrated

Why me? Why now? (Credit: rumolay)

The instructions required payment for registration, so I backed up and started from the beginning. I tried entering only men’s doubles, even though the instructions explicitly said to list all partners and events on the registration screen.

Enter! Yet I still couldn’t submit my credit card number.

I got an email at 12:10 saying I was waitlisted for men’s doubles. Back on the registration screen, all events were full except singles.

I frantically tried to register just for singles, but six attempts later, I’d found no success. As soon as singles showed full I tried my luck one more time for the road, but was again told I was waitlisted.

I may have won in the Grand Canyon State Games four days ago with Larry Moon, but I lost big time Tuesday night.

If only my technical prowess was up to snuff!

Sad baby

My mood today (Credit: Donnie Ray Jones)

Maybe somebody was able to game the system, or maybe I gamed myself. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Anyone else miss out and want to commiserate?

Indian Pickleball Continues to Grow at the 4th National Tournament in Jaipur

AIPA’s (All India Pickleball Association) hard work and effort has clearly gotten the pickleball rolling as more Indian players take up the competitive mantle. On November 11 – 13th at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium in Jaipur, the 4th National Pickleball Tournament was a rousing success.

Kavita and Ashwin of Rajasthan

Kavita and Ashwin of Rajasthan (Runners-Up in Mixed Doubles)

Of the 29 states in India, 12 teams were present from 10 states to show off their pickleball talent, with observers from two additional states in the wings. The participating states included:

Bihar
Haryana
Jharkhand
Kerala
Madhya Pradesh
Maharashtra
Pondicherry
Rajasthan
Sikkim
Uttarakhand

The West Bengal and Tamil Nadu visitors expressed interest in throwing their hats in the ring for next year’s tournament in Uttarakhand.

AIPA Nationals 2016

Maharashtra Sets the Standard

The winners this year were actually repeat champions from 2015, with Team Maharashtra once again claiming victory! Rajasthan still made an impressive showing on their home ground, often coming in silver just behind the winners. At least the other states know who they have to knock off the podium when the next opportunity arrives!

In Men and Women’s Singles players from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh actually overcame the Maharashtra pros, but Doubles was a sweep. The Maharashtra pairs didn’t offer any quarter as they defeated opponent after opponent and claimed gold in all three categories.

Team Maharashtra 2016

Team Maharashtra 2016

Manish Rao and Bhushan Potnis of Maharashtra won the Men’s Doubles title by defeating Dr. Bharat Ram and Prashant Kalaniair from Rajasthan. Somewhat ironically,  in the 3rd national tournament held at Panipat last year, it was Ram/Kalaniair who defeated Rao and Potnis. Can you say “sweet revenge”? The final scores were 11-5 and  11-7.

Manish Rao and Bhushan of Maharashtra

Rao/Bhushan vs Bharat/Prashant in the Men’s Doubles

Similarly, Atul Edward and Natasha Beig from Maharashtra won the mixed title by defeating Kavita and Ashwini Wadhwa of Rajasthan. It wasn’t as easy of a battle, however, as the Wadhwas managed to hold the game until the 3rd set when Edward/Beig won the final. The scores: 11-1 , 5-11 and 11-6.

Atul and Natasha vs Kavita and Ashwin

Edward/Beig vs the Wadhwas in the Mixed Doubles

The Women Doubles gold medal went to Maharashtra’s Karishma and Rujuta who beat Rajashthan’s Madhulika and Garima. It was something of a rout with the final match scores coming in at 11-2 and 11-3.

Karishma and Rujuta vs Madhulika and Garima

Karishma and Rujuta vs Madhulika and Garima in the Women’s Doubles

Hard-Won Singles Matches

Moving on to the singles: the Men’s title was won by Nikhil Singh Rajput of Rajasthnan, who was presented with a tough fight from Aniket Durgawali,  a younger player from Maharashtra. The thrilling match lasted 3 sets and continued for an impressive 50 minutes!

Nikhil Singh Rajput from Rajashtan

Men’s Singles Winner Nikhil Singh Rajput from Rajashtan

Could you stand the heat? Nikhil managed to overcome the stress by putting his 5 years of pickleball expertise to work. The scores: 11-5, 8-11 and 11-2.

As expected, the Women’s Singles title was won by the defending champion from Madhya Pradesh, Shubhi Vyas. She handily won her gold by beating her rival from Rajasthan, Rekha Chowdhary, with scores of 11-5 and 11-3.

Shubhi Vyas

The Women’s Singles champion for the 3rd year in a row: Shubhi Vyas!

Pickleball in India Gaining Fans

This is the 4th consecutive year where AIPA has organized a national-level open tournament. Pickleball continues to gain wider acceptance in India, with players from across the country gathering to witness this event.

Playing the tournament at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium was something of a dream in itself for many players, with the location being one of the most prestigious sports arenas in the country. The Rajasthan State Pickleball Association made special efforts to book the world-class facility, with top quality housing and food arrangements as well.

There were 4 courts in the spacious indoor hall where nearly 130 matches were conducted in 2 days.

India National Tournament 2016

The Hidden Champions

Special thanks go to Mr. Karan Singh and Ms. Neetu Sharma, who took great pains to make the tournament a grand success. Mr. Raghu Raj, the President of Rajasthan State Pickleball Association, was also a major force in establishing a high-quality event.

The Chief Guest for the closing ceremony was the Commissioner of Police from Jaipur City, who was very impressed by the game of pickleball. He believes that pickleball will be an added attraction for tourists who visit Jaipur and suggested that a public court should be designed in the heart of the city.

Maharashtra at Jaipur National Tournament

Will Team Maharashtra be unseated next year? Who knows… for now, they celebrate!

Image credit goes to the Rajasthan State Pickleball Association and AIPA.

The UK’s 1st International Tournament: To Pickle or Not to Pickle, That is the Question

Stratford-Upon-Avon in England is generally famous for one thing: Shakespeare. This is his birthplace, a town that can claim one of the greatest playwrights of our time as one of its own.

Now it has another equally important claim to fame: It was the host of the first ever international pickleball tournament in the United Kingdom on October 21-23rd. The tournament was organized by the UKPA and represents the first in a series to be hosted by the association.

UKPA International Tournament 2016

Pickleball on the International Stage

Any doubts about how big the sport has become in Europe and just how big it’s going to get were laid to rest by this truly international affair. 144 players from England, Wales, Canada, the U.S.A, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Germany and Ukraine all came together for this three-day event.

The result was a melting pot of styles, tactics and a crash course in how to swear in several European languages!

Over 400 games were played over the course of the three days with day one kicking off with the first-ever competitive singles tournament to be held in Europe. It was father against son, sibling versus sibling, doubles partner against doubles partner, it was an all-out war to win the first ever singles gold medal.

A Pickleball Master Class

The quality of play across the board was up there with Shakespeare’s greatest works, but the men’s under 40’s doubles final was undoubtedly one of the matches of the tournament. It was an admirable showing of power, skill and tactics between traditionally old rivals: the French and the Spanish.

After an intense three matches, the Spanish pairing eventually emerged victorious. Sacré bleu!

Due to the sheer number of games and players, the men’s final took place at 9pm on Saturday night. The number of competitors who stuck around to watch the final underlined the fantastic attitude and commitment players across the global have towards the sport.

UKPA International Tournament 2016

Passion and Enthusiasm

This commitment was echoed by every international player at the event. All had made the journey specifically for the tournament.

Few amateur sports invoke the same passion from players, the kind that sees people getting on planes or planning a holiday solely to get a few games of pickleball. Pickleball may not be as big in Europe as it is in the U.S, but it’s getting there, and what the Europeans lack in numbers, they certainly make up for in dedication and skill.

Who knows, in the near future we may be seeing the very first pickleball world championship or perhaps a pickleball Ryder Cup with the best in Europe against the best of the Americas.

Many congratulations to all the players and as one continental player said loudly and often, “Viva le Pickleball!”

Here are some more pictures of the dinking and drop shots from the weekend:

UKPA International Tournament 2016 UKPA International Tournament 2016 UKPA International Tournament 2016 UKPA International Tournament 2016 UKPA International Tournament 2016
Images courtesy of the UKPA and the competitors of the tournament.

If you’re heading over to the United Kingdom and are looking for your fix of pickleball, visit the UKPA’s website to arrange a game at a local club.

Six of the Most Exciting Women’s Open Doubles Teams at the 2016 Nationals

Twenty-two of the best women’s doubles pairs in the nation are registered to compete on Friday, November 11th in Casa Grande AZ at Nationals. Anticipate long rallies and brilliant tactics.

Women’s pickleball is fascinating to watch. For veterans in the sport, this is quintessential pickleball. If you attend Nationals or are live streaming, consider watching these six teams for extraordinary pickleball.

Simone Jardim and Corrine Carr

Simone Jardim and Corrine Carr

  1. Simone Jardim / Corrine Carr
  2. Sarah Ansboury / Christine McGrath
  3. Irina Tereschenko / Lucy Kovalova
  4. Christine Barksdale / Joy Leising
  5. Tonja Major / Catherine Parenteau
  6. Heidi Hancock / Stephanie Lane

The first three teams listed won gold, silver and bronze at the Tournament of Champions in Brigham City in September. Any one of these teams could win gold at Nationals.

Simone is arguably the finest player in pickleball right now. Her amazing two handed backhand is changing this fledgling sport. Combined with Corrine’s steady play and ability to drive balls consistently within an inch of the net, this pair is wonderful to watch. See if Corrine ever stops smiling, even when she loses a point!

Sarah Ansboury

Sarah Ansboury

Sarah is right with Simone in competing for the no. 1 ranking. She may be the steadiest player in the sport. And Christine, like Corrine, can drive beautiful winners from the kitchen line with another flawless two-handed backhand.

Irina and Lucy are the challengers with more talent and tennis instincts than any other team in the tournament. They are the Marcin and Morgan of the women’s bracket, and would likely beat them given the chance! Don’t expect a lot of long rallies from this pair. If you want to see aggressive pickleball at its finest, watch Lucy drive balls and Irina clean up at the net.

Christine Barksdale

Christine Barksdale

Any of the next three teams could break into the medal round. Christine and Joy are thrilling to watch and have played more doubles together than any other team in this bracket. Tonja and Catherine may be pairing up for the first time here. I have not seen Catherine play, but I’ve been the victim of Tonja’s smashes too often.

Finally, when Heidi and Stephanie get rolling, they can be formidable.Watch Heidi Hancock and Tonja Major to see how players with little or no tennis background have excelled at this funky sport.

I await your challenges to my picks! – Glen Peterson

Our Top Men’s Open Doubles Picks for Nationals in Casa Grande

Whether in Casa Grande or watching a live stream, here are eight pairs to keep an eye on among the 39 teams competing on November 11th this year.

If the Tournament of Champions played last month with the Onix Pure II ball is any indicator, Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates will be the top seed and favorite to win the USAPA VIII Nationals. Their patient, defensive strategy in the gold medal match against the Dawson brothers was nearly flawless.

Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates

Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates

Both Kyle and Wes were in the gold medal match at the US Open back in April, but on opposite sides of the net. Don’t expect fireworks from these two until provoked. Are they playing pickleball or performing some sort of synchronized dance? They will mesmerize and outlast any opponent. But watch closely—with two lightning quick forehands in the middle and a seemingly impenetrable defense, when the heat comes, sparks will fly.

And no team brings more heat than Marcin Rozpedski and Morgan Evans. With Morgan artistically striking Dura Fast 40 Balls from the baseline with his sword-like paddle and Marcin unceremoniously clubbing volleys from the eye formation, points rack up quickly. No dancing here, just raw athleticism. With sufficient consistency and just the right amount of patience, this team at their peak is unbeatable. Will they play an entire match without dropping points for receiving or serving in the wrong position?

Daniel Moore trophy

Daniel Moore (Credit: Daniel’s Blog)

Daniel Moore won Nationals in 2015 with Matthew Blom and took 2nd at the US Open with Wes Gabrielsen. He and Matt Staub swept the Tournament of Champions in 2015. If these two get into their rhythm early and maintain their patient, chess-like strategy all day long, enjoy watching them progress through the bracket. In their zone, these two never miss. Keep smiling, boys.

These are my top three picks. Other exciting teams to watch include Dave Weinbach and Enrique Ruiz; they each have tons of gold medals and perform well with the Dura Fast 40 Ball. Oliver Strecker and Matt Wright are relative newcomers but bring extraordinary talent as well. Can Oliver hit three soft kitchen shots in a row without striking? If he is on, watch out!

Brian Ashworth with Titan

Brian Ashworth (Credit: Dink Sports)

Also watch Brian Ashworth and Glenn Griffin. They’re two of the most humble players in pickleball, but oh can they move. Finally, check out the pairs of Chris Miller/Dalton Vavra or Kurtis Campbell/Matt Goebel if you would like to see great action combined with attitude.

These players are sure to keep things exciting. But with 39 teams and 78 players, anticipate surprises. Hey, this is PICKLEBALL!

Stay tuned for my picks in the other categories.

– Glen Peterson

Historic First – Professional Pickleball TV Broadcast!

cbs_program_banner

On Friday, May 20 @ 7 pm EST and again on Monday, May 23 @ 7 pm EST, millions of viewers will have the chance to watch professional pickleball on TV! This is the first time professional level pickleball competition is getting widespread national TV coverage. The CBS Sports Network is a cable channel with over 50  million subscribers. Will these viewers be inspired to find a court and play? We think so! Pickleball is ready to explode and we are excited to be a part of this community.

You can make a difference. The more people who watch the show, the more frequently CBS will rebroadcast it. Let’s all watch the show and help pickleball enter into the mainstream! Invite your friends over to watch the show together or organize a viewing party at your local sports bar.

CBS will be paying close attention to the reaction to this broadcast.  If the viewership is high and they get positive feedback, they will be more inclined to re-broadcast the show again and again. Consider writing and letting CBS know you want to see more pickleball on TV. Here’s the address:

CBS Headquarters
51 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019-6188
1-212-975-4321

Need help finding the CBS Sports Network channel?  DIRECTV (channel 221) carries CBS Sports Network in its Choice Extra package while Dish Network (channel 158) carries CBS Sports Network in its America’s Top 200 package. A few cable operators have placed CBS Sports Network on a sports tier.  Click here for the Channel Finder.

In celebration of this historic event, we’ve made it easier than ever to start playing with our “Paddles Under $50” collection—now’s the time to encourage friends and family onto the courts. Be sure to tune in and enjoy the games!

SELNEO-4T

Neo Composite Paddle, Regular Price $47.99

 

test

Club Wood Paddle- Koko Dom, Sale Price $19.99

tyro large

Rally Tyro Pickleball Paddle, Regular Price $39.99

Raven large

Raven Oversized Widebody, Regular Price $49.99