Sunday, September 23, 2018

Pickleball Booms in Southwest Florida


J.J. and Alice Poehlstra compete in Mixed Doubles 3.0 and ultimately win gold.

J.J. and Alice Poehlstra compete in Mixed Doubles 3.0 and ultimately win gold.

The Southern Tropics Tournament Series kicked off in December with the Florida State Pickleball Championships. The Winter Classic represents the second leg of the series.

Five hundred ninety-two pickleball players competed in the East Naples Winter Classic held January 26th-28th at East Naples Community Park. Players of all ages and skill levels ranging from 3.0-5.0 participated. The organized event, well-staffed with volunteers, ran smoothly and on time as all 44 pickleball courts were busy with action. Although the blustery days proved to be a bit of a challenge, the players persevered…and those who persevered the most came away with a medal.

Carol McCann and Diane Shagott cover the middle. Photos by Jodi Pree

Carol McCann and Diane Shagott cover the middle. Photos by Jodi Pree

“We have exceeded last year’s numbers by more than 250 players. It really says something about the expansion of this sport,” explains Southern Tropics Tournament Director Jim Ludwig. “We couldn’t hold an event like this without our players and volunteers. We have between 100-125 volunteers who help put the event together. They are here from 5 AM-9 PM helping with setup, running the tournament, and teardown. They have such a love for the sport. It’s a great tribute to pickleball.”

Marco volunteers Martha Giles and Joanie Belair

Marco volunteers Martha Giles and Joanie Belair

Tournament action resumes with the Southern Tropics Pickleball Tournament held March 9, 10, & 11. The finale is the US Open Pickleball Championships April 21-29, 2018.

For more information about upcoming tournaments or tournament results visit www.pickleballtournaments.com. For more information about official pickleball rules, rating system, and how to play, visit www.usapa.org.

Marco’s Carol McCann drives a forehand in the Women’s 3.0 Doubles.

Marco’s Carol McCann drives a forehand in the Women’s 3.0 Doubles.

5.0 Women’s gold medalist, Abbie David, swings thru a two-handed backhand.

5.0 Women’s gold medalist, Abbie David, swings thru a two-handed backhand.

5.0 Bronze medalist, Lee-Anna Camper in action.

5.0 Bronze medalist, Lee-Anna Camper in action.

Diane Shagott and Carol McCann sporting some new bronze bling after winning the Women’s 3.0 55+.

Diane Shagott and Carol McCann sporting some new bronze bling after winning the Women’s 3.0 55+.

Women’s Doubles 1977 Wimbledon Champion, JoAnne Russell celebrates a great point with her 5.0 partner, Katie Dyer.

Women’s Doubles 1977 Wimbledon Champion, JoAnne Russell celebrates a great point with her 5.0 partner, Katie Dyer.

Women’s Bronze medalist Bobbie Phoumy competing in her medal match at the East Naples Winter Classic.

Women’s Bronze medalist Bobbie Phoumy competing in her medal match at the East Naples Winter Classic.

Marco’s Teresa Wuerdeman and Margie Flannigan celebrate their victory. The ladies won silver in Women’s Doubles 3.0 60+.

Marco’s Teresa Wuerdeman and Margie Flannigan celebrate their victory. The ladies won silver in Women’s Doubles 3.0 60+.

Hundreds of spectators, players, and those curious about pickleball came out to watch the East Naples Winter Classic.

Hundreds of spectators, players, and those curious about pickleball came out to watch the East Naples Winter Classic.

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