Our teacher, David Anderson, was great, explaining the rules, the funky scoring system, when to and when not to enter the “kitchen”, how to properly hold the racket, serve the whiffle ball, and so forth. We mostly played with other people in our class and learned as we went along.
Since the class ended in late June, we’ve been trying to hone our skills, practicing and playing with friends who have been kind enough to bat the ball around with us, despite our limited abilities.
Like any activity worth pursuing and perfecting – whether it be art, music or sports – practice makes perfect. What can really inspire you in any activity is watching someone who is well practiced in, say, painting a picture, playing an instrument, singing, or hitting a pickleball, just perform their craft.
You know when you’re watching these folks that there have been lots of hours put in perfecting those skills, but seeing it play out in seemingly effortless motion is wonderful to observe. That’s the sort of awe a few friends and we took away from watching a host of expert players do battle in this past weekend’s Founders Tournament at Battle Point Park.
The tourney – a major fundraiser for the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (BIHM) – drew nearly 400 players from all over our region, as well as a number of different states, and seven countries.
Watching these players – men and women alike – playing with such grace and aplomb literally sent shivers down our spines. Could I ever make a shot like that? Hmm. Probably not, but watching the efforts and athleticism of these players – pretty much all of whom are regular citizens with jobs – was very cool.
The fast-pace of the game played at such a high level is akin to watching a tennis match on TV, or your favorite golfer knocking in a chip shot from 90 yards out. These folks are playing “another game” but it’s the same game we’re hacking away at, only played with much more style and accuracy.
The serves, the ground-strokes, the returns, the strategy, the placement of players by teammates in these doubles matches makes diehard duffers like us want to get on the court and emulate some of those moves. Only time will tell if that ever happens!
Meanwhile, the multi-day tournament – held from Aug 8- Aug. 14 – was a certified success, according to Bill Covert, a board member of BIHM and the event’s chief organizer. “We had more players than we’ve ever had before,” he said Sunday afternoon as the tourney was winding down.
Besides hardcore play between highly ranked mixed doubles teams and men’s and women’s doubles, the event included a Wooden Paddle contest, and doubles matches featuring players 65 and over, along with tours of the first court located at the home of Scott and Carol Stover.
Adding to the fun was a benefit dinner on Saturday night. Half the proceeds of each $25 ticket supported BIHM. Besides fixings stirred up by popular West Sound caterer, Sauced, the evening included the music of noted keyboardist Steve Crampton and his Sockeye band. Crampton is not only a musician, but an avid Pickleball player as well, and his band included a female singer who was in the bronze round of the mixed doubles finals. She sprinted up to the stage right after setting down her racket following her last game – unfortunately a loss. But a win for those who stuck around to hear her sultry voice.
Added Covert: “A big thank you to all of you who stepped up to help make this year’s Founders Tournament a success. We couldn’t have pulled it off without you! For you medalists who enjoy seeing your name in black and white, (the) results are posted on the Pickleball Tournament site.
“You’ll also find some fun photos posted on the Pickleball is Great Facebook page.”
While our hometown sport has definitely gone national (with ESPN Sports and CBS Sunday Morning recently doing segments), it’s nice to see that Pickleball’s roots remain firmly in place on Bainbridge Island. Way to go Pickleball community!
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