Thursday, April 21, 2016

End of the Winter Pickleball Season

Posted from Lajitas, TX

(Click on pics to enlarge)



This post is all about Pickleball.  For those who don't care anything about this subject please feel free to move on to something else (truly, I won't be offended!)   If you would like to learn a bit more about the fastest growing sport in America please keep reading. Questions about the sport are certainly welcomed.

We arrived at Palm Creek Resort, Casa Grande, AZ on October 15, 2015.  This is our winter home and this year we had the added bonus of co-hosting the USAPA National VII Pickleball Tournament with Robson Ranch Resort. For any pickleball player, this is the mecca of tournament play. (Just as a side note, Palm Creek Resort will be solely hosting the 2016 and 2017 National Tournaments.)

For those not familiar with the USAPA (United States Pickleball Association) rating system, a beginner is rated at 2.0.  Currently, the level of play increases by .5 steps (i.e. 2.0, 2.5,3.0 etc.) and the top level is 5.0.

The National tournament is divided into "Open" play in which you must be a 4.5 or 5.0 player to register to play, or register in an "Age Group" such as 18-35, 35-50, etc. When playing as partners, the team always has to play in the skill level of the highest rated player, or in an age-based tournament, the age of the youngest player on the team is used.

I state the "ground rules" so that it will be a bit easier to follow the rest of this post.

This season I played all but one tournament with Bill Pitzl.  It really is a lot easier to play together for an extended period of time versus picking up new partners for each tournament.  We entered the National Tournament in the 55-60 age group category with the goal of winning one match. Seems like an easy goal to accomplish until you consider that each age group can be comprised of any skill level from a 2.0 up to a 5.0. At this point in the season, both Bill and I were rated 3.5.

Prior to Nationals VII
I am very happy to say that we accomplished our goal by winning our second match of this tournament before losing the third match (in a double elimination format).

Our next tournament entered was the Voyager Open Skill Tournament near Tucson on 12/4/15.  We finished one round short of the medals, but we were generally happy with our play.

On 1/30/16 we competed in the 5th Annual Mission Royale Tournament in Casa Grande.  Again, we finished one round short of the medals.  Not as impressed with our play in this one, though.

In-House Tournament
Level 4.0, Age 50+
In early February, our Palm Creek Pickleball Club has an "in house" tournament in which only members can participate.  Because our play earlier in the season had been pretty good, the tournament director moved us up into the "4.0" level.  (Just for this tournament, as the member tournament is NOT a USAPA sanctioned tournament.) I played again with Bill in the 4.0 Skill Level division, but we failed to medal.  I also participated in the "Age Group" 4.0 Level with a different partner named Rick Deweerd.  Rick is definitely an up and coming player and we were able to take a Bronze Medal in the 4.0 Level, Age 50-65.

Duel in Desert
Level 3.5
Our first large tournament of the season was the 13th Duel in the Desert held at Palm Creek. We played on March 4, 2016 and I again partnered with Bill in the 3.5 Level.  We were able to win a Silver Medal in this tournament.  Our first-ever win as a team.

Here's a short video clip of just one point in the Gold-Silver match for the Duel in the Desert.

(Best viewed in 1080p resolution)

Fun in Sun Tournament
(Level 3.5, Age 50-64)
Bronze Medalists not pictured
We must have been on a hot streak as we also took a Silver Medal in the 6th Fun in the Sun Tournament up in Sun City West, AZ.  We lost to a very tough team in this one.

Robson Ranch Tournament
(Level 3.5)
Our final medal of the season came in the 4th Robson Ranch Tournament held on March 18, 2016. We again took the Silver Medal and were probably the happiest with our play in any tournament of the season in this one.  There were 31 teams in our division alone for this tournament.

Encanterra Country Club Tournament
"The Agony of Defeat"
The final tournament of the season was at an inaugural tournament at the Encanterra Country Club up in San Tan Valley, AZ.  We got off to a bad start by losing our first match, but managed to fall just one match short of getting into the medal rounds from the "losers bracket" in this one.

Bill and I were very pleased with our play for the season. We started the year wanting to medal in some of the larger tournaments for our skill level. We missed the medal round by one match in 3 tournaments, and won the Silver Medal in 3 additional matches.  We felt that our level of play progressed as the year moved along.  Apparently, the USAPA ratings committee agreed as we were both moved up to the 4.0 Level as of June 1, 2016.  (Good, and bad.)  Now we'll be playing against tougher competition in every tournament next season!

Medals won during the 2015-2016 winter season.

Prior to the Robson
Ranch Tournament
We weren't the only ones playing pickleball here this season.  I have to mention Karen and her partner Debi Pitzl (Bill's wife) who competed in their first tournament together at the Robson Ranch Tournament on March 16th.  Although they were both admittedly pretty nervous, they did fine together and hopefully will be playing together in future tournaments next season.  They both agreed that they had a good time together.  In the end, that's what playing pickleball is all about.


Thanks for stopping by to take a look at this lengthy post.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. Wow Steve, that was a great pickle ball recap. Good job!

  2. Just amazing that you found a sport that you love so much. Bet you never thought you'd be so addicted to something before you hit the road. Now just be careful not to overload the MH with all those medals! :cD

    1. I doubt that overloading the MH will happen, but you did "jog" my memory and I edited the post to show a pic of the medals. LOL

  3. Nice update with great info. Congrats on your play this year, moving up to a 4 is all the win you need.

    Dave & Diane