On Saturday, April 26, 2019, the inaugural season of the Arizona Pickleball Players League (APPL) 4.5+ Salad Division ended in a tightly-contested, season-ending Salad Bowl matchup between the top two teams in the six-team division.
Teams Up To No Gouda and The Unbeanables had split their two regular-season matches, so it was clearly a bragging rights finale. Up To No Gouda’s captain, Greg Mather, fielded a formidable six-man lineup with Mike Toolson/Doug Kelton, Dan Geenan/Mark Chomko and Todd Williams/Carl Tietze. The Unbeanables’ captain, Kevin Burgener, lined up an equally-daunting team with Jeff Stevenson/Jeff Elliot, Tommy Roberts/George Cicalese and David Haynie/Kevin Burgener.
The format of the Salad Bowl season-ending event was the same as the regular season. Each team’s partner pair played each of the opposing team’s partner pairs two games to eleven. Two points were awarded for each game won. The losing team of a game would be awarded one point if they scored six or more points during that game.
The Unbeanables got off to a quick start winning two out of three first games. It would have been a clean sweep, but the Up To No Gouda pair of Todd Williams and Carl Tietze, down 0-8 in their first game, dug in to win 11-9. That effort was the catalyst for a huge momentum swing for team Up To No Gouda. Todd and Carl’s compatriots Mike and Doug took notice and won their second game of the round 11-1. The Gouda pair of Dan and Mark did likewise, winning their second game 11-4. At the end of a thrilling first round, the score was 9-6 in favor of Up To No Gouda.
Round 2 brought more exciting pickleball as expected. Riding on their momentum swing in the first round, team Up To No Gouda won the second round 10-5, making it 19-11 Gouda going into the final Round 3.
Although The Unbeanables were down by 8 going into the third round, they knew a strong round could give them the championship. Up To No Gouda’s team knew, as they entered the heat of the day, it would get even hotter facing their determined opponents. Round 3 presented some of the best pickleball of the day. Both teams went toe to toe and split the round 7-7, resulting in a 26-18 win for team Up To No Gouda.
Throughout the day, the spectators were awed and treated to an outstanding demonstration of competitive pickleball – unbelievable shots, tremendous rallies and great sportsmanship.
The champions were awarded the exquisitely-crafted Salad Bowl Trophy by the creator himself (Bob Ham) with awards also going to the top scoring pairs on both teams.
Captains Burgener and Mather both commented that it was a terrific and fun season of organized competitive pickleball. They especially enjoyed the team comradery throughout the season and are looking forward to it again next year. If you are interested in learning more about the Arizona Pickleball Players League (APPL), contact Greg Mather at firstname.lastname@example.org.