Relishing Pickleball

David Zapatka

I’m writing this article while at the 2019 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships. Our sport’s premiere event was at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells, CA, Nov. 2-10.

I hope you made it to the event to play and watch. The level of play continues to increase. What we’ve seen so far this year has been out of this world! The 2,215 players in the event set a record. Those participants came from 46 states, three provinces, and eight countries. There are 4,250 matches scheduled. Over 50 hours of live streaming is planned. There are 49 courts. The $80,000 in prize money is the biggest purse ever.

You meet the most wonderful people playing pickleball. While driving to the tournament the day before my first event, my men’s doubles partner, who I have practiced and played with for the past year preparing to compete in the national tournament, called and told me he can’t play due to injury. Seriously, the day before our event! We had such high hopes playing together. After pulling into a highway rest stop, I immediately sent emails to all the players on the waitlist. My event was for 5.0-rated men, 65+ years of age. Unfortunately, there were no 5.0 men in my age category available, but several 4.5 men responded to my request. I was so lucky to find Dale Charlton from Kelowna, BC. I had never heard of Dale before. We agreed to meet later that evening and hit a few balls together. After about 20 minutes, we deemed ourselves ready for the event.

We competed over six hours the following day, and much to our delight, we won a bronze medal, beating a number of very tough 5.0 teams along the way. Dale turned out to be such a nice guy and a fantastic partner. His wife Riyoko and Dianne Zimmerman were so supportive and had a great time together cheering us on. Our story circulated, and a number of spectators from Sun Lakes and other communities familiar with Dale or me came out to throw their support our way as the day continued.

Did you know pickleballs travel about one-third the speed of tennis balls?

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected]