Week 341-345 - Pickleball Tournaments 101 - 03-24-2013
Okay, we know that those of you who look forward to weekly
travelogues have missed us. Others are saying, oh yeah, we know
the Mattsons, didn't they just write last week? Well no, we have
not written for five weeks. Why not? Because we are boring! We
spent the last two months at Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort playing
Pickleball. Not much to write about. Yes, we are stuck on
Pickleball and played 10 tournaments this season. We have taught
quite a few friends back home how to play Pickleball at the PB
court at our house. And now for those in North SLO County, there
is Pickleball at Centennial Park in Paso Robles. As of this
writing, they play on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00am
to 11:00am or whenever everybody goes home.
Perhaps someday, one of you might want to play in a tournament.
This week we explain all aspects of finding, registering for and
playing a tournament.
First, you need to find out when and where there is a tournament.
Point your browser to usapa.org
and on the home page you
will find TOURNAMENTS
, click on Schedule
Scroll through the schedule looking for your area. The schedule
covers the entire USA. Here we found the Fun in the Sun
tournament in Sun City West, Arizona, just 90 miles from us. Click
on the information links. At a minimum you will have a Calendar
View link that tells you the days of the tournament. Or you might
see a More Information link that will tell you what days each event
is played, the times, cost, if lunch is provided or available and
much more. And finally at some time, weeks before the tournament
you will have a paper or online form to complete to register. Most
tournaments cost from $25 to $50 dollars per player for one or more
events. Events are divided into Mens, Womens and Mixed Doubles.
These groups will be separated by age groups and/or skill levels.
Today's tournaments are usually for skill levels 3.5, 4.0,4.5 and
5.0. Some larger tournaments might include skill level 3.0. Start at
the lowest level available for your first tournament.
Once registered, you just need to show up on your day and enjoy the
sport. The Fun in the Sun tournament was Monday, Tuesday and
Wednesday. It included a meal ticket for lunch on one day and a
ticket for the "Meet and Greet". This social event was on Sunday
evening after a organized practice session. The food was good and it
was a great time to meet new people and get reacquainted with old
Sun City West allowed RV travelers to dry camp in the parking lot.
We stayed for three nights with just a two minute walk to the
courts. Compare that to some of our Palm Creek friends who had to
drive 90 miles each day each way to play. Surprisingly we were the
only motorhome at the tournament. Oh well, they'll learn some day.
Okay, it's Monday and time for Women's Doubles. Ellen played with
her friend Geri. The event starts at 8:00am. So 1) leave the
Mothership at 7:28am and get to the Check In station by 7:30am and
let them know you are there. Then 2) pick a nice "home base" for the
day. Grass and some shade is nice. Finally 3) Get to your court and
practice. Good luck!
Here is the starting bracket for the Women's 4.0 event. Ellen and
Geri first play Donna and Robin. In the winner's bracket you must
win 2 out of 3 games to 11 points. If you win a match, you play
again 2 out of 3. Keep winning matches and you will get to the Gold
Medal match. But, if you lose a 2/3 match, then you drop down to
the loser's bracket. The losers play just one game to 15 points.
Win and go on; lose and go to lunch, you're done. If you keep
winning, you can get all the way to the Bronze Medal match. If you
win the Bronze (having beaten all the losers), you get to advance to
the Gold Medal match to play the team who has never lost a match.
Okay you're doing great and this time you beat the winners 2 out of
3. Fabulous! But now you lost one match that put you into the
loser's bracket. You just beat the winners and handed them their
first loss. So both you and they have lost only one match. Enter
the playoff, one more game to 15 points. Whoever wins gets Gold,
the loser gets Silver. That's your path victory.
Enough of looking forward to Gold; you haven't played your first
game yet, just practiced on your court. 1) The Head Referee is ready
and sends a referee to your court. He or she explains the
tournament's rules and answers any questions. The referee is there
to help you. You can ask any questions before or during the games.
The ref will pick one player to call 1 or 2. The winner can pick to
serve first, receive first or choose the side to start on. You will
switch sides for your second game and on the third game you will
switch sides when the first team earns 6 points. Side is important
to keep the sun out of your eyes or have the wind behind your back
(best). Okay, the ref is ready and will allow the players a few
minutes of practice before the first game.
1) Ellen serves the ball to Donna. 2) Geri tries to "put the ball
away" against Robin. By the end of three games, sadly Robin and
Donna won two to stay in the winner's bracket.
Ellen and Geri continued in the loser's bracket playing one game to
15 against Boomer and Jo. Jo is 77 years old and has won over 100
medals in Pickleball. Last week Ellen had the privilege to play
with Jo. This week Ellen played against Jo in the last game of her
decades-long PB career as Jo is retiring from the tournaments.
A tournament requires a lot of planning and preparation; it is not
just a bunch of people hitting the ball. 1) A dozen Pickleball
vendors came to Fun in the Sun to sell PB paddles and other related
items. 2) The host PB club also set up a First Aid tent. Remember,
these are senior (50+) tournaments and this day was 85+ degrees.
More that one senior spent some time in the First Aid tent
recovering from heat exhaustion. In addition the Sun City West Fire
Department had personnel on site.
1) Oranges, bananas and sometimes other healthy snacks are made
available to the players and refs. 2) Cold water is plentiful and
the announcer constantly reminds the players to hydrate.
So how long will you play? Most games take 15 to 20 minutes. If
you lose every game, you still will play for an hour. If you
continue to win all day, you might start at 8:00am and end up
playing under the lights in the evening. Event brackets can have as
few as three teams and we have seen one bracket with 38 teams.
Ellen's bracket had 16 teams. Win every game and still have to play
10 games to win Gold. Take 3 games to win 2 and you play 15 games.
Drop to the loser's bracket and you might play as many as 20 games
to win Gold. 20 games at 15 minutes is 5 hours of playing and
perhaps a few more hours of waiting for your next match. Long day.
Do that on a sunny day at 85+ degrees and you are one hot and tired
1) Bring your umbrella; even watching can be hot. 2) A water
misting fan was a nice touch. This is becoming more common.
1) Most tournaments have a food vendor providing burgers, chicken
and at Fun in the Sun, BBQ ribs. 2) Ice Cream bars were a nice treat
So you're doing well winning or you lost two matches and you are
out. Either way you have time to watch other teams playing matches
and perhaps seeing the Gold Medal battle for other skill levels.
Speaking of puppies, Mandy is a little less than thrilled with
While at Palm Creek Pete's sister, Donnalee, visited twice and we
had fun playing PB, dinner on Donnalee and fellowship. It was a
real treat to have our oldest son John fly down for a visit. John
also got into Pickleball and did quite well for having played so
Okay, for us winter is over and we will get back to traveling. While
we will be in areas that we have covered before, hopefully we can
bring you something a little more interesting than Pickleball.
With love, Pete, Ellen and Mandy
Photos from Mar 2013