Diana Abruscato fell in love with the sport of tennis back in the 4th grade. After breaking her leg surfing, the former USTA-sponsored and rated tennis player was never able to cover the court like she used to. Looking to scratch the competitive itch she once felt, Diana found, and inevitably fell in love with, pickleball.
Immediately becoming an USAPA Ambassador, Diana naturally evolved into the role of Tournament Director. She was kind enough to share some tips with us on how to make your pickleball tournaments enjoyable for all within the community.
Diana, the Tournament Director, front and center for festivities!
What is the name of your tournament?
Surf City Pickleball Tournament
Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?
Surf City Pickleball is an all-volunteer, fully-functioning program facilitated by Les Taylor, Catherine Navetta and myself.
When was your tournament?
The 1st Annual Surf City Pickleball Tournament was held in August of 2016. We were so excited that we began preparing in November for our 2nd Annual Surf City Pickleball Tournament scheduled for August 4-6, 2017.
We chose this time of year because the tournament calendar was open to the pickleball tournament community at the time in Southern California. We also selected this schedule because during the summer, we are the coolest place to play!
Where was your tournament?
Murdy Community Park
7000 Norma Drive
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
How many players registered for the tournament?
Our first year we had 276 players. It was the largest tournament in Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, including the Central Coast of California. In May of 2017, we had 218 players signed up thus far. We are on the way to meeting or exceeding our expectations. We are going to have some fun again this year!
Paul and Sean Leaf readying for some defense
How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?
We have 12 lighted, wind-screened, outdoor courts with room for inside seating and shaded tree areas. Towards the end of the day, dedicate 4 courts to host medal matches. That allows for spectators to watch with plenty of room inside the court area to enjoy a front row seat. We have room for 16 courts, however, players enjoy the roomier feel.
Richelle Kulju (L) & (R) Carrie Dye in an intense pickleball battle!
What events/brackets did you offer?
We offer a skill-based tournament. Our committee has agreed that this offering seems to really appeal to players in all skill levels and all ages. Our skill-based tournament by design, is very workable and true to original tournaments.
We like the idea that if a player feels up to the challenge of playing in that particular division/skill level, regardless of age, they can. It provides the younger folks the opportunity to embrace the maturity of the older players, and the older players have the opportunity to challenge themselves a bit by playing in an all-age category. It’s comprehensive and inclusive to meet the wider range of players coming into the pickleball tournament community. This format is tried and a true measure of success. We offer Men’s, Mixed and Women’s. Skill levels include 3.0 – 5.0+.
Diana strikes a pose with IT Volunteer, Catherine Navetta
Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?
The Surf City Pickleball Tournament is hosted by an impeccable bunch of hand-picked talent of an all-volunteer Tournament Planning Committee.
- Tournament Director: Diana Abruscato
- Co-TD & Referee Manager: Craig Haas
- IT: Catherine Navetta and James Chretien
- Court Preparation/MVP: Les Taylor
- Our Friendly Registration Committee: Tami Bearardi, Dorinda Jung, Elaine Metz, and Bunny Estrera
- Concessions: Ruth Woldhuis
- First-Aid Station: Bryan Tice, EMT.
The most important decision when selecting a committee is to make sure that fluidity and a good flow exists among personalities within the group. At times, we all have to make tough decisions. You have to make sure we are enjoying the conversation while arriving at a tough decision. Our Tournament Planning Team has this ability, and we have mastered the art of it, which makes for loads of fun!
Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?
Tournaments must rely on sponsorships, as this can determine the measurement of success of a tournament. When pursuing a sponsorship, the most important element is to make sure the agreement is mutually beneficial. We have pickleball industry sponsors and community-based sponsors. For our tournament, our sponsors have contributed company-branded products and services for distribution at the tournament. Durafast 40 (featured below) is the tournament ball provided by Pickleball Central.
Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?
We offer complimentary healthy snack options such as fresh fruit, closed-package snack items, Gatorade. and water all three days of the tournament. Most players do not eat full meals while playing, and are looking for healthier bites to get them through the next match without weighing themselves down with a heavier meal.
At the end of the tournament day, everyone can enjoy an entertaining meal in our beautiful and historic downtown beach vacation venue at the pier. For 2017, the US Open of Surfing will be gracing our waves at the pier for all to enjoy!
Surf’s up with Dura Fast 40!
We do encourage players to bring sandwiches or take advantage of the grocery store option, Sprouts, within walking distance from the venue.
Did you charge a registration fee? How much?
We have to charge a registration fee and the price is determined by the cost to rent the facility, court rentals, required insurances, pickleballtournaments.com fees, transaction fees, truck rentals, food costs, t-shirt costs, and much more.
To encourage your city to invest in pickleball, renting a city facility is very costly. However, our committee prides ourselves on keeping the registration costs down. We know folks are traveling far and wide to join our fun-filled tournament. We want our folks to enjoy the rest of their stay here in Huntington Beach, California. We charge $50.00 a flat fee that includes playing in 2 divisions.
Anything special or unique about your tournament?
There are so many unique qualities about the Surf City Pickleball Tournament. A tidbit is that a Huntington Beach City Council Member, Jill Hardy, will be singing our National Anthem.
Our city photographer has been running the tournament video on our local HB Website and TV channel for the last year. We hope to have it USAPA Live Streamed for 2017. We are still working on that possibility.
Other than that, our hidden treasures are kept close to our hearts, as you will have to come out and see for yourself, and experience our generous spirit! The same weekend of our pickleball tournament the, US Open of Surfing Finals will be gracing our waves at the pier for all to enjoy! Come out and see what it is all about. Go to http://www.pickleballtournaments.com to register.
What is your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?
Keep your divisions at a predetermined, limited number that corresponds to the amount of courts you have.
Payment = registered
No payment = not registered
On a side note, I would just like to share something with other USAPA Sanctioned Tournament Directors and Ambassadors. The sentiment among the USAPA Pickleball Tournament Director Community it that it is a professional courtesy to hold a USAPA Sanctioned Tournament 1 month apart from each other in the same region. If you are planning to a new USAPA Sanctioned Tournament, keep the 1 month apart timing in mind, and try not to hold tournaments on the same weekend as another one in your region. Please, be courteous to your neighboring cities.