Pickleball Points: It’s Tournament Day, Let’s Play

I thought some of you folks might like to learn a little more about pickleball tournaments.  The weather is finally cooperating along the Delaware and Maryland beaches, and the winds have subsided somewhat.  Pickleball is in the air.  

Many of the active pickleballers in our area were participating last week in an indoor tournament in Easton, Maryland. Easton was just one of fifty tournaments in the nation the same week.

There are three more important tournaments in this immediate region over the next few months. Ocean City once again presents their Springfest (May 4-5), followed by First State Pickleball Club’s Beach Blast in Dover (May 18-19), and then Ocean Pines has their Summer Classic (June 8-9). All of those events offer free admission for folks interested in watching and learning about pickleball.

Depending on the number of participants, the organizers will put players of similar skill and age together in different events.  An example might be all players with a 3.5 skill rating, and 65 years of age plus.  But if there are not enough of that type category, they might lump them with younger players.  As they ascend the ratings pyramid, some of our higher rated players, like Rick Bell and Bob O’Malley, are now playing twenty and thirty year old opponents, but you never hear them complain.  I was an official last year at Ocean City and two women told me it was unfair they had to play the two top women in the tournament. First I congratulated them for playing their first tournament, and then pointed out they should have enjoyed playing the two top female players in the tournament to better understand where they need to improve. 

Below I have listed all the categories played in the Easton tournament, and names of players from our communities coastal communities. As you can see, our local players continue to do well when participating in tournaments. Well done Delaware!

After these three local tournaments, many of the serious competitors who have qualified will be off to the eleven day National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico from June 14-25 where they, our sea level warriors, will most certainly discover that high altitude is not for sissies. 

Are they nervous?  You bet they are. The best senior players from around the world are participating.  First, these nervous feelings in the stomach, if you can learn to deal with them, are what help you to reach exciting performance levels. You might have heard the expression, “I played out of my mind!” This is how your body responds to stress.  The reason you are here is no doubt that an ancestor’s nervous system spiked the body with chemicals and they ran out of harm’s way when some hundred ton sauropod stepped on their camp fire. 

The question is how your nerves interact with your positive attitude?  It is easily possible to psyche yourself out of the competition long before you arrive, and this confidence rests on some shelf within your head.  Repetition in practice is how most players deal with it. Those players you frequently see doing drills for hour after hour on a court at your pickleball center are preparing for a future tournament.  Under the worse conditions, they know they can always revert to what we call practiced muscle memory. 

The word competition gets a bum rap. There is a great deal of mutual respect among competitors.  There were 180 pleasant pickleballers of like mind playing the two day tournament in Easton, and most of them showed up hoping their training would pay off so they simply win two more points than their competition.     

Perhaps you played what you consider a top notch game with your friends last week at the local pickleball venue, and you are feeling good, and are strutting around like a peacock.  It all “goes south” when you arrive at the tournament and hit your first ball!  It might have gone south before that when you got the yips and completely missed the ball.  What happened to your peacock feathers?  There can be a thousand reasons.  It might just be the energy depleting physical stress of high altitude, or the background color of the facility, the PA system, breakfast, etc. It might just have been the unrelenting pressure of extremely talented players hitting what you thought were impossible shots.  

The court umpire says First Game: 11-3 for your opponents before you even break a sweat.  At this point, you and your partner must focus only on one point at a time, and trust that those long hours of repetitive practice kicks in.  You have to have the confidence that when you bring it all together, you still have a chance to win the next two games and match, as you focus all your energy and practiced skill into doing just that.  Why not give up? Because your opponents are also sucking for air at high altitude, hear the same irritating PA system you do, have never seen your behind the back volley, and have the same internal doubts as you might.  

This is tournament day, and why so many of us like to play!


Easton Tournament

Category, Rating, Age group

Category Name Type
Dbls Men, 3.0, 18-49, 50-64

Dbls Men, 3.0, 65+ Joesph Neudeck, Michael Siegert Gold
Dbls Men, 3.5, 18-49

Dbls Men, 3.5, 50-64 

Dbls Men, 3.5, 65+ Bob Adams, Kevin Lawrence Ron Kurtz, Peter Felix Gold Bronze
Dbls Men, 4.0, 50-64, 65+ Paul Turner, Chic Stearrett
Dbls Men, 4.5, 18-49, 50-64, 65+ Ben O’Malley, Kevin O’Malley Rick Bell, Hamid Rayman Gold Bronze
Dbls Mixed 4.5, 5.0, 18-49, 50-64, 65+ Pearl Morris, Kevin Reading Diane Milam, Rick Bell Gold Bronze
Dbls Mixed, 3.0, 50-64

Dbls Mixed, 3.0, 65+ Sue & Joseph Neudeck Gold
Dbls Mixed, 3.5, 18-49

Dbls Mixed, 3.5, 50-64 Kathy Casey, Bruce Smart Bronze
Dbls Mixed, 3.5, 65-69, 70+ Claire Walker, Geoff Goodson Silver
Dbls Mixed, 4.0, 50-64, 65+ Georgia Billger, Bob Adams Wendy Sparrow, Don Tomb Gold Silver
Dbls Wom, 3.0, 18-49

Dbls Wom, 3.0, 50-64, 65+

Dbls Wom, 3.5, 18-49, 50-64 BJ Ferguson, Carol Miller Sherry King, Becky Moody Gold Silver
Dbls Wom, 3.5, 4.0, 70+ Georgia Billger, Sue Brooker Gold
Dbls Wom, 3.5, 65-69 Kathy Casey, Carol Gustafson Bronze
Dbls Wom, 4.0, 4.5, 18 -49, 50-64 Pearl Mortis, Diane Milam Lynn Casey, Courtney Vaughn Silver Bronze