Indian Wells Tennis Garden To Host USAPA National Pickleball Championships

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) has hit a home run for pickleball.  And Indian Wells Tennis Garden has positioned themselves as the host of pickleball’s premier sanctioned tournament event.

I am certainly not the keeper of all the details of this new pickleball marriage, but here is what we know so far.  It’s ALL GOOD.

This agreement is to host the USAPA National Pickleball Championships for the next FIVE years. Key word “FIVE”.

As soon as the word came out from the recently completed USAPA Ambassador’s retreat/conference, anyone who has ever visited, or Googled and looked at pictures of, the Indian Wells complex, began to scream and moan and groan about how the Tennis Garden has no “real” permanent pickleball courts.

Shame, shame, shame on those short sighted party poopers for trying to rain on the parade of the best deal the USAPA has ever made to promote and grow our sport to major status.  Now before you start penning your blasting emails or comments, let’s think a little bit about what just happened.

The governing body of our sport just created a FIVE YEAR agreement with a $77 million dollar tennis/pickleball complex. The Indian Wells Tennis Garden has themselves listed on the USAPA Places to Play and this is how they list it:
The INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN is an international professional tennis and Pickleball venue owned by Mr. Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle Corporation. This 77 Million Dollar sports complex includes 29 world class courts and two tennis stadiums. Stadium One is the second largest tennis stadium in the world at 16,100 seats. Enjoy Pickleball under the lights each Wednesday night, 5:00pm to 8:00pm. Enter Gate 7 on Miles Avenue and check in at the pro shop.

Now, yes they have only been playing pickleball there for a short period of time and yes it has only been on temporary courts so far.  But thinking that what the Tennis Garden looks like now, is what the Tennis Garden will look like in November is truly missing the point of why Indian Wells signed this agreement.

As you may have noticed in the Places To Play listing, Larry Ellison is the owner of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.  Coming from my personal background in Information Technology, I have known of, and been a fan of Larry Ellison for a long time.  He is always listed in the top ten wealthiest Americans and yes he plays and enjoys the sport of pickleball.

So let’s talk about what really happened in this FIVE YEAR deal between USAPA and Indian Wells.

First, Larry Ellison purchased the Indian Wells Tennis Center and has paid ten’s of millions of dollars to make it into the world class tennis facility it is today.  Each year it hosts the fifth largest tennis tournament in the world, the BNP Paribas tournament.  But besides the Tennis Garden, Mr. Ellison also purchased $30 million dollars worth of land next to the Tennis Garden.  This land is a grass parking lot at this point.  Keep that in the back of your mind for the future.  To read more about the transformation of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden from the time Larry Ellison purchased it, here is a great article.

So Larry Ellison is not known for doing things on a small scale.

Don’t think that associating his tennis complex with the USAPA Pickleball Nationals for the next five years will be any different than any other project he has tackled. Indian Wells would NOT be bringing in a pickleball event if it didn’t believe in making it first class.

So what will it take to transform Indian Wells Tennis Garden into a world class pickleball facility?????
The real answer is NOT MUCH.

Think for a moment how hard it is to transform a tennis court into 4 brand new pickleball courts.
IT IS EASY, EASY, EASY.

I and a couple of friends can finds a church parking lot, and in about 72 hours can dump 50 gallon of asphalt sealer on it, paint it, stripe it and bring in 6 commercial grade roller pickleball nets and have you playing on real courts.  Am I exaggerating?  Only a little because “I DON’T LIKE TO PAINT”. 🙂

The big point that I’m trying to make is that the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is a $77 million dollar complex with loads of resources at their disposal.  Big tennis complexes resurface, repaint and rearrange courts as easily as you and I change shoes.  They could have as many permanently striped pickleball courts ready to go as they want within weeks.  I know they can convert a stadium court into a stunning Gold Medal Match court in very little time and at a mere drop in their operating expense bucket.

So remember, the Indian Wells facility and organization has five years to work with the USAPA.
I believe the only question is, will they choose to do all the 40+ pickleball courts needed to host a nationals this first year or do they do the permanent courts in in a graduated fashion.  Those are details that we don’t have yet.

But I also believe that if some courts have tempy nets, they would be something like the heavy duty outdoor nets that are quickly becoming popular with larger outdoor tennis facilities around the country.  The Douglas pickleball nets are very heavy duty, outdoor, tennis quality portable nets.  They play just like a permanent net.

So I am extremely confident that year one will be a great show for pickleball.

Yes, I believe the USAPA has hit an absolute home run for the sport of pickleball.  And yes, I believe the Indian Wells Tennis Garden has hit one too.

The 2018 USAPA Pickleball Nationals is set for November 2-12, 2018
Indian Wells Tennis Garden at
78-200 Miles Ave, Indian Wells, CA 92210

Hope to see you there in November,

Rocket
The Pickleball Rocks Team

What Makes A Good Pickleball Tournament Great

Some people love to play pickleball with their local neighborhood friends.  We commonly call this social pickleball.  It is what over 90% of pickleball players do on a regular basis for fun, for exercise and for the social aspect too.  That is why they enjoy pickleball.  They can show up at the local court, grab a partner and play games to eleven points until it’s time to go home.  Win or lose, everyone gets to play as much as they want as long as the courts remain open for play.

Then there is the “other” people. Yes, they have fun playing the game, but they want more.  Their competitive juices just flow a little faster and a little hotter than your average social player.  These are the tournament players.

They love it when they arrive at the courts and there is a swag bag of goodies waiting for them at Check In. They love to hear their names called on the loud speaker system.  They love it when there is a special place set aside just for them.  We call this the free hospitality tent and it is generally loaded with fruit and snacks and drinks to help the players stay hydrated and nourished for the duration of their playing time.  These things all go into any good pickleball tournament.  Take these things away and you essentially have social pickleball, only you got to pay for it this time.

Yes, all of these things make for a good pickleball tournament, but what makes a good tournament great???

 

 

A REFEREE!!!!! 
Yes, tournament players love it when they walk on the court and are greeted by a referee.  It is the single biggest thing that separates social pickleball, where players often forgo calling foot faults, and play a let when they can’t remember how to apply a rule, to tournament pickleball where you always have the correct score and players are always serving and receiving from the correct side and people are not stepping all over the kitchen with no consequence.

A referee makes your pickleball playing experience feel special. And better yet????

 

A certified referee helps transform any good tournament into a great tournament.

We are about to wrap up this year’s USAPA Southwest Regional with over 600 registered players.  And just like every other USAPA regional tournament throughout the United States, it has a referee on the court for every single match.  And better yet, it has a fully certified referee officiating every single bronze and gold medal match.

What a wonderful sight to see the team of certified referees stepping up to make this regional a truly special experience for the players.

Yep, they’ve got the free hospitality tent and yep they’ve got some cool stuff in the player’s goody stash.  But this tournament, like all USAPA sanctioned tournaments has the one thing that makes a tournament great. REFEREES. Lots of them, and many of them USAPA Certified.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO STEPS UP TO REFEREE!!!!!  Our sport is a much better place with you on the court.

And a special Pickleball Rocks shout out to the great and growing team of Certified Referees.  You truly do make our sport great.

You truly rock!

2017 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

During the year, people throughout Pickleball Nation email us or use our NominateAPlayer.com website to tell us about their favorite players. They tell us about players who have dominated in tournament play but many times they also tell us about players who have had tremendous impacts on their communities or towns or even the game of pickleball overall.  (We really like those.)

Throughout the year we may recognize a player, club or community of the month, or we may give a simple Facebook shout out. They are all deserving.  But once a year, we pull together all the nominations and feedback, to finally determine who is most deserving to be called the Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year.     It’s certainly not an easy task.

Past winners include:
Enrique Ruiz, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg, Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, Daniel Moore and Scott Moore, and Kyle Yates.
You’ll notice all our past winners are definitely great players, but you will also immediately recognize they all are very giving of their time and talents to “help pickleball grow”, which of course is the foundation of our Pickleball Rocks mission.

This year we had two players who were nominated so many times and turned up in the news so many times, we simply had to recognize both.  Our heartfelt congratulations and thanks for all they do for pickleball.
Pickleball Rocks because of our
2017 Pickleball Players of the Year:

SIMONE JARDIM and ASPEN KERN

By a landslide, Simone was our most nominated player for 2017 and here’s why:

In 2017 Simone played in 28 total events and medaled in 28 total events, bringing home 24 Gold medals and 4 Silvers. This included an impressive 5 golds in 5 US Open events and 2 golds and a silver at our pickleball’s National Championships in Casa Grande.

Pretty much the perfect pickleball playing year.

But on top of the tremendous year on the courts, Simone also demonstrated what a great ambassador should be.  By all accounts, she is a great mom and many people saw her in action after Hurricane Irma blasted through Southwest Florida. She even took up the paddle for lady players everywhere and did them and our sport proud in the fun Battle of the Sexes event. The smaller unselfish acts are simply too numerous to mention.

Simone is a true champion in every sense of the word.

Congratulations to 2017 Pickleball Player of the Year: Simone Jardim

Once again, a guy stood out in all the nominations. Few people rivaled Aspen’s playing record in 2017. 23 events, 19 medals of which 14 were gold. He had a great year on the courts indeed, but from all the feedback received at our offices, Aspen was truly special off the courts in 2017.

Aspen touched pickleball with two great feel-good projects in 2017.

First, the sport of pickleball has needed an online home where pickleball players both young and old, good players and bad could talk and discuss pickleball issues.  It had been tried numerous times before with little to no success. But Aspen, using a great sense of humor and determination to get people involved in the discussions, launched the Facebook Pickleball Forum.  Now, with over 14,000 members, anyone can ask almost anything and have an answer or discussion almost instantly.  What a great addition to help grow our sport.


Project number 2 was another big success for the sport of pickleball.

 

Aspen threw an event, which many people do.  But this event was unique in that it was not a tournament, yet people showed up in droves.  TSAC (Third Shot’s A Charm) was held in Kansas City Missouri and was billed as a three day party where you register online, then just show up for open play.  No tournament, no pressure.  Just three days of play till you drop with players of every age, every level, on any court you want to play on.  Add in a big dose of food and fun stuff and you have TSAC. It sold out in short order and from our understanding, the 2018 event is already sold out too.  What a great way to bring pickleball players together and of course “help pickleball grow”.

We love what you are doing Aspen.  Keep up the great work.
Congratulations to our 2017 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year:  Aspen Kern

Pickleball Rocks Team Releases Secret Black Friday Discount Codes

Pickleball Nation, you have gone above and beyond to support our team and make Pickleball Rocks the best selling pickleball apparel brand in the world.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  Yes, we are thankful.  In order to give back, we have set up the next 26 hours with some special savings for all our friends and fans.

Beginning at 10:00pm tonight (Thursday Novebember 23rd) and running until midnight tomorrow night, you have the opportunity to grab Pickleball Rocks apparel at our best prices ever.

Simply use the codes shown here during their appointed time frames to receive up to 50% OFF.

All times shown are Eastern Standard Time.  And these codes are good for Pickleball Rocks branded stuff.  So they are not good for paddles, balls or Simon.

So have fun, and again, our heartfelt thanks for all you do for us.

-Rocket, Stephanie, Josh, Abby, Zack and LeEllen,
The Pickleball Rocks Team

 

 

How Many Referees Does It Take to Run a Pickleball Tournament?

So how many referees does it take to run a sanctioned tournament or any pickleball tournament for that matter?

The answer is 1.   If you have 300 matches to play during your tournament, and your one referee agrees to do all of them, then he or she will be one tired referee. But in theory you could do it.

But the real answer is, it depends on the number of courts you have available for your tournament. If you have 6 courts, then you minimally need 6 referees who are willing to referee all the matches that occur on their court that day. If you have 8 courts, then you need a minimum of 8 referees. If you have 12 courts, 12 refs and so on.

That is, of course, the minimum number needed to have a referee on every match and thus pass that sanctioning requirement.

Now, do we think that is a realistic number? Of course not.

If you have six courts and can find people willing to referee a half day, then you can get by with 12 people. 8 courts would need 16 refs and so on.

But the bottom line is, you need a referee on each court all day long.

So how do you do that? Well, it still goes back to the number of courts you have. It is important that you have enough referees lined up and one assigned to each court at the beginning of each day. That allows you to get off to a good start. The keyword here was “assigned” ahead of time. So referees are already on their courts and ready to go when the players arrived courtside to warm up for that first match. Don’t wait until 15 minutes before the start of your tournament to see who shows up to ref and then assign them.

Schedule and assign them at the beginning of each day.

Likewise it is crucial to schedule your referees for the end of each day. Again, you will need as many refs as you will have courts running in that final two to three hours of the day. This allows you to end each day on a good note.

So where do you get your referees for the rest of each day? That is where your players will always help fill in.

When players register for a tournament, you should always ask, during registration, if they would be willing to help out with a little refereeing. Many will signup when offered the option during registration.

Now the key, very important part: Contact those volunteer players two weeks in advance and ask them to signup for a shift to referee. Let them pick what day and time they want to offer their services. Then follow up with them to confirm you have them scheduled for that day and time. This allows the players to choose the day and time that is most convenient for them and also is the most likely to cause them to follow through on their commitment.

Make a spreadsheet with days and timeslots available and fill it in as people and players commit.   Then it is easy to see the times where you will need some additional help.   But knowing that challenge days ahead of time, rather than the day of the tournament, makes it easy to address.

You will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to get the necessary referees to allow your tournament to be a USAPA sanctioned event. It takes some planning, but it is well worth having that USAPA seal of approval on your tournament. It shows your commitment to growing the tournament side of the sport the right way and is always appreciated by the players who play it.

Having a pickleball tournament without a referee is no different than having a basketball game without a ref or a baseball game without an umpire or any other sport without any officials. It simply becomes no different than playing for fun at your local courts.

The gold standard when it comes to very well run sanctioned tournaments is of course the USAPA National tournament in Casa Grande. The 2016 Nationals had over 2,000 matches played on 32 courts and every single match was refereed by only 157 people.
It’s really not as tough as people make it out to be.

I love it when I walk onto the court at a tournament and there is a referee standing there. It doesn’t have to be a USAPA certified ref.  It simply needs to be someone who can keep score for us and watch the kitchen violations.  When I see that referee on my court, I know someone is working hard behind the scenes to give me a good tournament playing feel.

Thank you to those tournament directors that go that extra mile.

It certainly is noticed and appreciated. Pickleball Rocks because of you.

-Rocket