Actually, the real winner of the World Cup Festival was the SaddleBrooke Ranch Pickleball Club community.
With a new format that ensured inclusiveness, 211 games were refereed in the three days (March 28-30) of World Cup tournament play. One hundred one SaddleBrooke Ranch Pickleball members from all rankings participated; many playing in a pickleball tournament for the first time.
From the decorated walkway to the peanut butter and trail mix available each day to the hungry, from the team coaching and strategy to the referees (how cool was it not to have to remember the score?) to the stellar organization of all the matches, it was clearly a festival for everyone.
Referees were on the courts and ensured games adhered to the USPAA rules. Spectators sat in chairs lined up along the courts and cheers were constantly heard for Jamaica or Trinidad.
And that was where the new format shined. Not only were there the normal rankings (2.0-4.5) but there were also two country teams – Jamaica and Trinidad. So even if a team lost, their points counted toward the country team.
With this format, teams fought hard even if they were losing, because they knew their points would count. For instance, the women’s 2.0-2.5 Jamaica team won by one point after 25 games!
The awards banquet was equally well attended and it was a lot of fun to see who was awarded the gold, silver and bronze medals for all the divisions. It was also fun to try to recognize people out of the hats, sunglasses and team colors they had worn for three days!
Thank you to all of the players, spectators and especially to Director of Events Cindy Sundquist and Competitive Events chairperson Gary Wilson and their teams. Larry Burchfield and Alastair Stone ensured the referees were trained and called them as they saw them. As SBRPA President Ron Green said, “The teams worked for months to make this event the success it was.”
Next year promises to be another exciting tournament. The date will be posted soon so you can plan to play!
Thanks to Alan Ness and J. Denis Heck for all the photographs!