The Cottonwood Pickleball club played host to its Ninth Annual Norris Invitational Tournament (N.I.T.) at the Cottonwood courts. The tournament is named after the founders of pickleball in Cottonwood, Maureen and Dick Norris, who created the first pickleball courts on the parking lot at Sisk Park in 2008.
The club has come a long way since then. “We’ll welcome our 500th member this month,” said Club President Mary Roper, “and we are still growing.”
The three-day tournament attracted nearly 200 players from each of the Sun Lakes communities, not to mention the droves of fans who came out to support their neighbors and friends.
The highlight of this year’s tournament was the addition of the 75 and over age group category.
Eighteen players battled in this double-elimination format, with Steve Hansen and Tim Terrell taking home the Men’s Gold Medal in a tightly contested match against John Rolfs and Bill Rethke. “Bill is 80 years old and flies around the court like a 79-year-old,” quipped his partner John.
Hank and Bev Bryce won the 75+ Gold Medal in the Mixed Doubles category. Their match against Dick and Nancy Lathrop was the game of the day. The final went into overtime, with team Bryce winning 18 to 16.
The N.I.T. offers players from every skill level to play in a tournament format. “This is such a great event,” said Peggy Scales, who won the Silver Medal with her partner Betsy Hallberg in the 2.5 category. “I’ve never played in front of so many people. It was so much fun!” she continued.
In addition to outstanding play, the tournament is also a fundraiser for local charities. “Our club hosts several social events throughout the year to raise money for charity, and the N.I.T. is our crown jewel,” said Tournament Director Judy Zeman.
This year’s tournament raised $2,500 for Neighbors Who Care, a nonprofit organization that responds to the ever-changing needs of our aging community by assisting with transportation, shopping, visitations, and caregiver relief.
Medal winners for this year’s tournament are as follows:
2.5: Gold: Diane Lingenfelter and Cathy Salata, Silver: Betsy Hallberg and Peggy Scales, Bronze: Jeanne Burtzel and Susan Roth
3.0: Gold: Vickie Matthews and Lindi Thom, Silver: Jill Brinkley and George Johnson, Bronze: Diane Bricco and Margie Guinan
3.5: Gold: Mary Kay Hobby and Lois Marik, Silver: Mary Braton and Wanda Siedlecki, Bronze: Joyce Rolnik and Glenna Wooderson
2.0/2.5: Gold: Carl Chandler and Bill Sheldon, Silver: Steve Harrington and Brooks Hoffman, Bronze: Ken Burbick and Robert Reed
3.0: Gold: Randy Burtzel and Tom Robertson, Silver: Rick Chase and Keith Thompson, Bronze: Pat Duncan and Richard Wagner
3.5: Gold: Sid Porter and Bernie Siryk, Silver: Bud Johnson and Stan Kopp, Bronze: Bob Layher and Ike Eucker
4.0: Gold: Jim Carlson and Jack Hill, Silver: Bob Borrengasser and Doug and Speager, Bronze: Troy Amdahl and Manny Faridnia
75+ Round Robin
Gold: Steve Hansen and Tim Tyrrell, Silver: John Rolfs and Neal Broidy, Bronze: Hand Bryce and Dick Lathrop
2.0: Gold: Diane Burbick and Ken Burbick, Silver: Barb Byczko and Bill Swift, Bronze: Richard Meizner and Cyndie Cassel
2.5: Gold: Jeanne Burtzel and Kip Kaler, Silver: Tom Rainville and Leanne Lohela, Bronze: Margie Parrish and Scott Parrish
3.0: Gold: Brenda Ladene and Randy Burtzel, Silver: Judy Rolfs and Tom Robertson
3.5: Gold: Mary Kay Hobby and Bud Johnson, Silver: Betty Durben and Bill Rethke, Bronze: Janie Blake-Zunino and Paul Nichol
Gold: Bev Bryce and Hank Bryce, Silver: Nancy Lathrop and Dick Lathrop, Bronze: Ann Thomas and Bob Thomas
So, if you are a player or a fan, be sure to mark your calendars for February of next year and join us for three fun-filled days of pickleball and camaraderie.