January 2012  - All About Nationals 
USAPA Pickleball - Monthly Newsletter

In this issue... 





 

From the Editors...
A New Beginning 


Pickleball isn’t new and neither is USAPA, having been officially formed in 2005. But what is new is the ever-increasing number of outstanding players, the expanding number of places to play, the number of tournaments and the level of talent that is ever increasing. To echo the sentiments of Brookville, Indiana’s Rodney Grubbs, “Pickleball Rocks!”
This issue represents change and a new beginning for the newsletter as well. Irene Fraties, who for the past two years has done a more-than-outstanding job at producing the e-newsletter, has passed the reins to the next generation of newsletter volunteers. Her shoes are so difficult to fill that it is taking three people – publisher Jennifer Lucore, who handles design, layout and production, and the two of us, who are responsible for content and editing. So please send your newsletter submissions to us at newsletter@usapa.org.
Irene has been so punctual in publishing the newsletter that USAPA members didn’t need calendars – when the newsletter appeared in your inbox you knew that it was the first of the month. Thanks Irene for a job well done.
This issue is all about the third annual USAPA National Tournament – an overview feature, personal insights from participants and volunteers and some interesting facts that illustrate the magnitude of the event – plus Barb Wintroub’s Fitness column and more. Enjoy and stay out of that kitchen…
   Your Editors, Lynn & Linda Laymon


Pickleball's Greatest Show on Earth
USAPA Nationals


The best of the best, and many of the rest. That was the 2011 USAPA National tournament where 419 of North America’s most talented pickleball players converged on Buckeye, Arizona for seven days of intense competition, camaraderie and courtside fun.
Held November 7 – 13, 2011 at the stunning Sun City Festival active adult community, this year’s National Tournament was a memorable event for participants and spectators alike. For the third year straight the tournament was an overwhelming success.
The annual USAPA National Tournament began in 2009 and has been hosted by Sun City Festival from the start. According to Fran Myer, co-director of the first National Tournament with her husband Barney and current USAPA Vice-president, “Sun City Festival has been such a gracious host and the facilities have served us well.”  Continued below...







USAPA Nationals In Their Own Words...
 

Jim Wright

For the second time my wife Janice and I made the trip west to Arizona. The long flight, travel, rental car, hotel... but all the work was worth it. The USAPA Nationals tournament is simply the best there is. Despite a day of rain and some wind, it ran perfectly. The level of play was just outstanding. When I was not playing, I had so many great matches to watch. I only wish I had 10 sets of eyes to watch them all. I really enjoy the feeling of comradeship that develops over the week we spend in that beautiful desert setting. People that I had not met on Monday were friends by Friday. And getting to watch those young kids (19 to 49) run and jump and hit and yell was a real treat. To sum it up, the USAPA National Pickleball Tournament just cannot be beat.
Jim, from The Villages in central Florida, played Men’s Doubles 65+ (Gold medal) and Mixed Doubles 60+.
 
Tarek Zaheer
My father, Ozzy Zaheer, and I participated in the 2011 USAPA National Tournament both as a doubles team and in singles. It was an incredible experience and we are both so happy that we played. I was deeply impressed with the USAPA for putting together such a wonderful event. The matches ran on time, the referees were excellent and the players were genuinely nice people. The competition was fierce, but what was even stronger was the collective sportsmanship and friendliness of the participants.
I was thrilled to see that our sport is rapidly growing. It brings more joy to more people. Of course, I am also very grateful to have this sport as an outlet to play with and against my father, too – even if he does dink me until I can't walk straight!
I applaud the USAPA, the players, the sponsors, the referees, and everyone else who made the tournament possible. We will surely be back in 2012.
Tarek, from Anacortes, Wash., played Men’s Singles 19+, Open Men’s Doubles and Open Men’s Singles.
 
Billy Jacobsen
I really enjoyed my time at Nationals. Playing outside in dry heat is just plain awesome compared to shivering in a cold gym back in Washington. I was impressed with the 60 and over men’s – some of these guys can really move well (which gives hope for me some 30 years from now). I enjoyed watching the different strategies going on in mixed doubles and was fascinated by the numerous dink-a-thons in men’s doubles; women’s doubles was short and furious.
I also enjoyed meeting new people and visiting with people I don’t see often. I’m still amazed that after the tournament day was over so many people came back out to play for fun later in the evening (isn’t 8 hours of tournament play enough? I was already half dead in bed). I guess that just shows the love that people have for the game and the friendly camaraderie among everyone – no other sport has something like this. I hope pickleball continues to grow and we have more tournaments like the Nationals.
Billy Jacobsen, from Lake Tapps, Wash., played Men’s Doubles 35+ (Gold medal), Opens Men’s Doubles (Gold medal), Open Mixed Doubles and Open Men’s Singles (Gold medal).

Cornelia “Corny” Dereemer
In March 2011 my partner and I met as pickleball opponents and were soon friends and regular partners. We are both competitive people by nature and enjoy many of the same activities. We played in our first tournament last June in Colorado, got a Silver medal and have been going non-stop since. I never dreamed I would enter Nationals, but there we were! The atmosphere is exhilarating and the level of play amazing. We won our first match in three games and eight hours and six matches later, we were on the podium with a Bronze. The Nationals medal felt great, but the people I met and the friends I made are what really matters.
Corny, from Horse Creek, Wyo., and Surprise, Ariz., played Women’s Doubles 60+ (Bronze medal), Open Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles 60+. 

Nikki Greene
We've often heard the phrase, “It takes a village,” but when it comes to working the USAPA National tournament, it simply takes teamwork, a love of the game and a smile for the competitors. Bob & Jettye Lanius’s tournament management software does the rest – registration, check-in, score computing, bracket setting and match results; it is easy to learn and fun to use. Much praise has to go to the folks at the events desk for keeping the courts full of competitors and the referees straight. Our team has fun. We laugh and work hard, and at the end of the day we not only have helped our sport, we have spent the day with people who share a common interest and love of pickleball. You don't have to compete to have a great day at the USAPA National tournament.
Nikki, from Sun City Grand in Surprise, Ariz., worked as an events desk volunteer at Nationals.

Rodney “Rocket” Grubbs
Wow, wow and yes, WOW! I can’t think of a more appropriate way to describe the experience at my first USAPA National Pickleball Tournament. What a great week of fun, friendship and pickleball competition. My partner and I got our eyes opened immediately by dropping our first match. Apparently starting slow and continuing slow doesn’t get you far in a tournament like this. We did manage to come back and win our second match before bowing out much earlier than planned. In singles, I managed a bit better. It was all fun, but I believe the highlight of the week was the incredible bunch of new friends made along the way. I promise I will be back because PICKLEBALL ROCKS!!!
Rodney, from Brookville, Ind., played Men’s Doubles 55+, Men’s Singles 55+ and Open Men’s Doubles.

 
If you twitter, spread the joy of pickleball :)

Fun Facts...

Numbers often help you realize the full magnitude of an event. Here are some:

Players:  419
(451 registered) up from 392 in 2009

Age Group:
Doubles teams: 108 men’s, 56 women’s and 125 mixed
Singles: 94 men, including four in 80+, 37 women
 
Open:
Doubles teams: 56 men’s, 35 women’s and 57 mixed
Singles: 40 men and 17 women







Matches Played          
1,055 Total
Open: 313
Age:
Men’s Singles: 162
Men’s Doubles: 191
Women’s Singles: 56
Women’s Doubles: 100
Mixed Doubles: 227
Junior: 6         



 



20 bunches of bananas
175 gallons of water
334 Pickleballs used


States Represented
    
32
Players By State
198 from Arizona
62 from California
48 from Washington State
17 from Texas
13 from Florida
8 from Canada
105 from elsewhere




 
Save Yourself some $
Member Discounts

Your USAPA membership is about more than just pickleball!
 
Referee Statistics
71 players refereed at least one game.
14 people refereed who did not play in the tournament.
25 people each refereed over 30 matches.
13 people each refereed more than 40 matches for 26-plus hours of referee time each.
3 people ran the referee table for a total of 168 man hours worked.













Both Billy Jacobsen and Jennifer Lucore won Gold in Open Singles and Open Doubles.

Volunteers
More than 300, including the USAPA board, registration and event desk staff, referees, first-aid crew, parking crew, goody-bag stuffers and court tapers. Plus, a squad of Festival employees to prepare the play area, resupply water, service the restrooms and collect garbage.











Have a Question? We Have the Answer…
There is no such thing as a dumb question. If there is something you want to know about pickleball or the USAPA there is a good chance others are having similar thoughts. Starting with the February issue we will be answering one question each month in a column titled No Dumb QuestionsSend your questions to newsletter@usapa.org and place “Question” in the subject line. Look for the answer in an upcoming issue.





Watch some of the top Nationals matches - keywords: 2011 usapa nationals.


Check out all 
the names of the past Nationals
medal winners:


2011      


2010     


2009

  
 


Gigi LeMaster
One evening while practicing for Nationals a player from another state pulled a practical joke on me. Afterwards, we all had a great laugh. That’s pretty much how Nationals week went, joking with newly made friends, getting together to practice, eat, drink and have fun. The fierce competition on the courts was put aside once the competition was over. And that’s how it goes in pickleball. The losses forgotten as soon as we see our friends’ sympathetic faces off the courts; wins are a nice bonus. There is always a next time, an opportunity to match newly acquired skills.
Gigi, from Peoria, Ariz., played Women’s Doubles 35+ (Bronze medal), Open Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles 19+ and Open Mixed Doubles.

Jim Hackenberg
This was the third consecutive year Yvonne and I played in the USAPA Nationals. It's a highlight of the year for us, reuniting with many wonderful friends and experiencing the excellent competition. However, 2011 was quite different in one respect – the weather! In 2009 we came to Buckeye straight from Michigan, unprepared for the 90+ degree heat. Even though this year the temperatures weren't as hot as 2009, it was still a warm one by Michigan standards, so we came early to acclimate.
We spent October in St. George, Utah, playing pickleball, so we were ready for the Arizona heat; "bring it on - we are prepared." Turns out, we weren't so prepared after all – we forgot to pack our thermal underwear! The high winds and cool weather were a stark contrast to the previous two years, but everything else was the same; another well-organized tournament, great volunteers, great venue, great people and outstanding play. We'll be back in 2012 and ready for anything, including the weather!
Jim, from Kalamazoo, Mich., played Men’s Doubles 60+ (Silver medal), Mixed Doubles 60+ (Gold medal), Men’s Singles 60+ (Silver medal), Open Men’s Doubles and Open Mixed Doubles.

Joyce Jones
I completely lost my serve in the Huntsman World Senior Games in October and then again at Nationals. I was so discouraged that I decided this would be my swan song, the last outdoor pickleball tournament that I would play. But another player was kind enough to tell me of her similar problem two years ago; she went home and developed a backhand serve and hasn't had any trouble since. I decided to try it in my first mixed doubles match as I couldn't do any worse. I had four practice serves before we started the match, and it worked. I didn't miss one serve! I had been dreading playing singles, but now I was looking forward to it and ended up winning! I want to encourage everyone not to ever give up on a problem, but to keep working for a solution. I had a great time at the tournament and want to compliment all of the volunteers for their hard work in making it a success.
Joyce, from Bothell, Wash., played Women’s Singles 75+ (Gold medal), Women’s Doubles 75+ (Gold medal) and Mixed Doubles 75+ (Bronze medal).

Drew Gates
The part of the National Pickleball tournament that stood out to me most was the fact that even though this tournament is the highest level in the sport, it doesn’t get cutthroat. Every time I play pickleball there is a friendly and humorous air about the court and at the end of the match the players leave the courts together talking in a friendly and excited manner. This is different from the competitive levels of most other sports where the higher the level the more winning takes center stage. Since I am only fifteen, it has also really blessed me that even the best players notice and encourage me. Pickleball is more exciting and fun to me than most of the sports I have played.
Drew, from Escondido Calif., played Open Men’s Doubles and Open Mixed Doubles; his Junior events were cancelled due to rain.

Jeff Shank
2011 was my third Nationals and it just keeps getting better each year. I am always amazed that more players don't make this event a priority. What other sport can you go and watch and play against the best players in the world? Every year my game has improved just by watching and talking with these top players. These cream-of-the-crop players are so diehard that most evenings after already playing for 8 hours, they go play at other local venues.
The highlight of this year’s Nationals for me was not the winning a medal, but getting invited to go and play with/against these top players after hours.
Jeff, from The Villages in central Florida., played Men’s Doubles 55+ (Bronze medal), Men’s Singles 65+, Mixed Doubles 55+, Open Men’s Doubles and Open Mixed Doubles.







Laura Patterson
This was my third year at Nationals and I think this was the best one yet. We stayed in the Del Webb Vacation Villas and that was a real treat; it was good to be so close to the courts. I only made it through two rounds in mixed doubles, but missed the medal round by one match in women's doubles. In addition to playing, the highlight of the tournament for me was being able to help out by serving as a line judge for several matches. It's a great way to see and learn from some of the best players in the game! I enjoyed my experience again this year and am very much looking forward to playing in next year's National tournament.
Laura, USAPA Board Secretary from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, played Women’s Doubles 55+ and Mixed Doubles 55+.

 
Steve Wong
I played in six events in the Nationals and what an experience it was. It was great to see my friends and fellow pickleballers enjoy their court time at the premier pickleball event of the year! The competition was fierce and so many players have improved their games.  Indeed, everyone practiced and trained all year long in order to medal in the Nationals! I played my heart out and had a blast! Let's keep growing this sport and have thousands of players participate in the future.
Steve, from Surprise, Ariz., played Men’s Doubles 19+ (Silver medal), Men’s Singles 19+ (Silver medal), Mixed Doubles 19+ (Silver medal), Open Men’s Doubles, Open Mixed Doubles (Silver medal) and Open Men’s Singles. As Tournament Director for the 2012 USAPA Nationals Steve asks that comments and suggestions be sent to:  wong0107@hotmail.com.

LeRoy Schmidt
What I enjoyed most about the USAPA National tournament was the opportunity to meet and play against players from all over. I love the idea of trying to recognize a different style and figuring out how to play well against it. I also like watching all the great players (men and women) on the courts and analyzing their strategies. The National tournament is a great spotlight for our sport.
LeRoy, from Casa Grande, Ariz., and Cheyenne, Wyo., played Men’s Doubles 60+, Men’s Singles 60+, Mixed Doubles 60+ and Open Men’s Doubles.


Why Do They Come?

Pickleball enthusiasts from all over the U.S. and Canada travel to Arizona each fall to participate in or simply watch the annual USAPA National tournament. But why do they come?
The Nationals is the only place in the world where the most talented players in the sport gather for a week of intense competition and off-court camaraderie. In age competition players have the opportunity to gauge their skill level relative to same-aged players from other parts of the country. As confessed in the In Their Own Words section, Nationals can be very “eye opening” regarding how individuals stack up against players from other areas. Players often find they are rated higher or lower than they should be, but at least in the age categories the opponents are from the same generation.
Open play is totally different and often even more eye opening! Facing players who have the physical attributes of one’s grandchildren or the experience and knowledge of one’s father or grandfather can be daunting. Realistically, few senior players win medals and prize money in Open competition.ad - Pickleball Central
So why would someone who knows that they have no chance of winning a medal, or even a match, play in the Open category?
For some, the thrill of victory may mean going to a third game or even scoring six points against overwhelmingly superior opponents. Playing above your skill level can be a rewarding learning experience. Just being on the court with the top players in the country can prompt improvements to a player’s game.
Being a spectator is different. There is no thrill of victory or agony of defeat; it’s all pure excitement. Watching the best players compete is awe-inspiring – the strategy, the dinks from the baseline, the slams, the absorbed returns, the kitchen dinks, the lobs, the slams, the deflections, the dinks… it goes on and on. No one gets bored watching the best doing what they do best!
Another way to get involved at Nationals is line judging or refereeing. You can learn a lot about how pickleball is played at the highest level from these up-close-and-personal vantage points.
If you are interested in testing how you match up against the best in the game, or simply want to observe pickleball at its finest, don’t miss the USAPA 2012 National Tournament. 

 

Membership Update... Changes for 2012
By: David Jordan, Marketing & Sales Chair

 
As the USAPA Board looks toward the New Year and how we can better serve our growing membership and make us a more effective organization, we have decided to make some necessary changes.
 
Some of our goals for the coming year are:
1.  To provide leadership that will continue to grow the sport of pickleball.
2.  To look for National Sponsors that can help us promote and develop pickleball to the next level, both with marketing expertise and financial support.
3.  To provide additional benefits to our members.
4.  To increase our efficiency by hiring an office manager that will oversee and perform duties that provide our members a more efficient line of services. (Completed)
5.  To introduce a new expanded e-newsletter format that will provide additional tips and knowledge about the game we all love.
6.  To review the National Tournament for possible changes in site and organization.
7.  To review our governing structure to better serve our members.
8.  To commit to improving communication between the board and our members.

The one thing that most of you have already been notified of is the membership dues increase. The board realizes that this was a quick turn-around from announcement to implementation, thus we are delaying the increase until February 1st, 2012, rather than making it effective January 1st. This will allow you time to renew under the current rates before the increase takes effect. See www.usapa.org/memberships for rate chart. We still have the lowest membership rates of any of the other racquet sports and this partial increase (some categories are unchanged) is the first since our inception on July 1, 2005. Please contact the regional ambassadors, ambassadors, or board members with any concerns or suggestions you may have that will help us move forward in a positive and productive manner. We all want pickleball to continue to be a growing, healthy and meaningful game that brings pleasure to all who participate.   


Fitness: How’s your Stamina? Preparing for a Long Day on the Pickleball Court
By: Barbara Wintroub

Stamina/endurance: The ability to sustain prolonged physical effort.

This past weekend I played in yet another pickleball tournament. While playing singles against 70- year-old Lola, I was extremely impressed with her endurance. Lola's fitness routine includes jumping on a mini trampoline, called rebounding. She is in great shape, moves well and has unbelievable stamina. You can tell she puts forth effort to stay in shape. The mini tramp is a great way to elevate your heart rate and is easy on your joints.
*Warning: talk to your medical professional before elevating your heart rate.
 

Here are a few other suggestions:
If you have access to equipment, the elliptical machine and the stationary bike are safe and effective. Start on either piece of equipment using a low gear or resistance level. Pedal or push quickly until your heart rate elevates, then try to maintain the elevated heart rate for 10 to 15 minutes. Depending on your fitness level you might only be able to do 2 to 5 minutes. If you are fit try 15-20 minutes or more.
What if you have no equipment? Jump on one leg 5 times, then the other leg 5 times, then 4 times, 3 times and 2 times, alternating legs. Try doing this to music; pick a long song or several short songs. Do twist jumps: twist right then twist left. Or you can do all these exercises in the pool, which is easier on your joints. Walk up and down stairs; go for a hike. The whole idea is to elevate your heart rate and keep it there for a period of time. When it becomes easy, work harder for longer by doing more.
At the USAPA National Pickleball Tournament you have to play tons of games. Everyone goes home pooped. This tournament is true survival of the fittest. Players who can persevere to the bitter end will hit those winning shots late in the day.
So, increase your stamina for a winning game. 


Continued from Pickleball's Greatest Show on Earth:
In addition to allowing use of the courts, parking and restrooms, Festival donates medals and awards, provides chairs, bleachers and tables, and the labor of their facility support personnel.
The venue has eight permanent lighted pickleball courts and during the Nationals event six adjacent tennis courts are lined for pickleball and equipped with USAPA portable nets to create a total of 20 courts that are well suited for tournament play. Myer adds, “This has been an ideal facility for this prestigious event.”
Top players from all over North America converge on what becomes a pickleball oasis during the first couple of weeks in November. Sun City Festival is located just 11 miles west of Surprise. That and surrounding communities are the winter home of many of the top senior players in the country, and the area is considered by many to be the Pickleball Capitol of the southwest. Visiting players often arrive a week or two early and stay a few days after the event. This year early arrivals had an advance opportunity to test their skills at the first annual Surprise Pickleball Association Fundraiser tournament, which was held a week prior to Nationals.
Participation in the National Tournament, which currently is the only event sanctioned as Tier One (the highest sanction rating) is open to any USAPA member in good standing, regardless of age. The seven-day tournament actually is two separate events rolled into one. The week consists of four days of age category play followed by three days of open competition.
Adult age competition is divided into nine age categories: ages 19+, 35+ and 50+ and older in five-year increments through age 80+. A player cannot participate in a group older than his age, but in most events players are permitted to play down to a younger age group, if desired.
Nationals competition doesn’t leave out anyone. Junior categories begin as young as 8 years old and include up to age 18. In both adult and junior events Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded by age group category.
The Open category is just that: open to anyone regardless of age. It isn’t unusual to watch a team of 19-year-old speedsters battling a couple of 65-year-old veterans, or a 23-year-old mixed doubles player with a 50-year-old partner. Open play gets pretty intense and exciting. Top ranked players from the Pacific Northwest, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Utah and other up-and-coming pickleball venues make the annual pilgrimage to Arizona to vie for a year’s worth of bragging rights, awards and cash; and a fair number of these visiting players head home with all three.
The top three finishers in each open event are presented with the appropriate medal (Gold, Silver or Bronze) and they also receive glistening sterling platters/trophies and a check -- $500 to each first-place player, $250 to each second-place player and $125 to each third-place finisher. A total of $7,000 in prize money was awarded.
The events in both age and Open categories include men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Most players participate in their gender’s doubles event and mixed category. Even though 188 players participated in this year’s singles events, the physical demands of singles play are not for everyone.
Fran Myer expresses her appreciation to the volunteers. “An event of this magnitude does not come off by itself. This year’s tournament was the work of over 300 dedicated volunteers.” From parking directors to daily registration desk to first-aid to referees, there were nearly as many support personnel donating their time and talent each day as there were participants playing (see Fun Facts sidebar).
That’s another plus for the Buckeye venue. Although additional volunteers are always needed, having so many pickleball enthusiasts in the local communities gives the tournament a solid volunteer base from which to draw. To spread the work around, each day’s registration tasks were performed by volunteers from a different local pickleball club. And the Sun City Festival pickleball club kept the coffee brewing for players and volunteers alike.
Myer provides insight into the massive chore of managing play, “We couldn’t do the scheduling and keep track of courts, matches and results without a state-of-the-art computer system.” Bob and Jetty Lanius have been on board every year and are continually refining and expanding their unique Pickleball Management System.
Exact dates for the 2012 National Tournament have not yet been finalized, but there is no doubt that it will again be worth the travel. Whether you are a budding novice player or untested and at the top of your game the USAPA National Tournament is the place to be. It provides the ultimate challenge for participants, courtside fun for everyone and is guaranteed to be an exhilarating spectacle to watch. 
Copyright © 2012  USA Pickleball Association, All rights reserved.
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