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!

Pickleball Rocks Helping Raise Money for Parkinson Foundation

Stephanie and Abby and LeEllen and Josh
NEED YOUR HELP

Hey Pickleball Nation,

It never ceases to amaze us, the generosity of the pickleball community.

Hopefully you have not been to battle with Parkinson’s.  Hopefully you don’t know anyone who has had to battle this insidious disease.  Unfortunately, you probably have.

The good news is that progress is being made and thanks to the upcoming Gamma Pickleball Classic in Pittsburgh, money is being raised to help speed up the research and eventually cure this horrible disease.

And with your help the Pickleball Rocks Team is going to help with this great cause.

We’ll have four team members at the Gamma Pickleball Classic and you can help any or all of them as we raise funds to battle Parkinson’s disease.

We’ll be using the new USAPA Every Point Counts program to take pledges and raise money.

Josh Grubbs and Stephanie Lane will be teaming up in mixed doubles and would love to have you make a pledge for every point they score during their event.
To pledge and sponsor Josh and Abby, CLICK HERE.

Next we have Abby Grubbs teaming up with our youngest team member LeEllen Lane in ladies doubles.  To support Abby and LeEllen with a pledge, CLICK HERE.

 

YES, WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!

So the bottom line is, we’re asking you to make a pledge where we will multiply it times every point your chosen team scores.
Or you can make a flat fee pledge too by CLICKING HERE.
And trust me, our Pickleball Rocks team members will all be doing their very best.

TO MAKE A SPONSORSHIP PLEDGE FOR TEAM Josh and Stephanie or TEAM Abby and LeEllen, CLICK ON THE SPONSORSHIP SHEET BELOW.  It will take you to a page where you can make your pledge.  You do not pay anything until after the tournament, when we will contact you with our team’s results.

Cannot thank you enough for helping us help fight Parkinson’s.
God Bless You.   -The Pickleball Rocks Team

Pickleball Rocks Helps St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

One of the most fun pickleball events of the year is coming this next week.  The St. Jude National Indoor Classic tournament is coming to LakePoint Champions Center in Cartersville, Georgia from May 22nd through May 24th.

And this tournament is special.  The USAPA has put together this great event with one and only one thought in mind.  LET’S RAISE MONEY FOR ST. JUDE.
They’ve even gone so far as to give every penny of the entry fees to St. Jude. And you got to decide how much to pay for your entry fee when you registered to play.  Just awesome.  Can’t wait to play this one.

BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!

Fortunately I’ve landed a great partner to play with in this one.  The one and only Jack Thomas will be there to carry our team and we’ve come up with an idea to help us raise some additional funds for St. Jude.

Jack named it EVERY POINT COUNTS, and  I am humbly asking you to sponsor me or my partner Jack with a donation for every point we score during our Men’s Doubles 50+ 5.0 Event.  Currently there are 5 teams entered in our division so I don’t know if we’ll play a round robin or 2 and out.

Also, Pickleball Rocks Team member Stephanie Lane will be playing this weekend in the first ever tournament in Atlanta.  If you don’t like Jack or me, PLEASE support Stephanie with a pledge for every point she scores in her Open Pro Mixed event.  Be careful as you choose your per point amount since she is REALLY good. 🙂

So the bottom line is, we’re asking you to make a pledge where we will multiply it times every point we score.
And trust me, we will all be doing our very best.

TO MAKE A SPONSORSHIP PLEDGE FOR JACK OR STEPHANIE OR ROCKET, CLICK ON THE SPONSORSHIP SHEET.  It will take you to a page where you can make your pledge.  You do not pay anything until after the tournament, when we will contact you with our results.

Cannot thank you enough for helping us help St. Jude’s.  God Bless You.   -Rocket

Match and Video Highlights from the US Open Pickleball Championships

We enjoyed being at the 2017 US Open Pickleball Championships and we certainly enjoyed sending out daily updates from the blog.  While we did our best to give you a feel for what it is like to attend this wonderful event, nobody captures pickleball like Pickleball Channel.  Hopefully you are already subscribed to their Pickleball Channel YouTube Channel since they will be releasing a ton of great coverage from the US Open and other top level tournaments throughout the year.

Here are a few of Pickleball Channel’s recent releases from Naples.  Enjoy!

Awesome Doubles Highlights From The US Open – Click Here

More Highlights from the US Open – CLICK HERE

Marcus Luke and Stephanie Lane teaming at the 2017 US Open Pickleball Championships

Be sure to follow the Pickleball Channel at www.PickleballChannel.com

-Rocket
The Pickleball Rocks Team

Pickleball Rocks at the US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 8

We’ve waited for this day all week and it did not disappoint.  All three pro brackets ended up with great matchups and super high level pickleball.

But, before the final gold medal pro matches, there was plenty of action from the 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 mixed divisions as they navigated some really big bracket on their way to US Open medals and the Mixed Pro players battled for their spot in tonight’s CBS Sports Network’s recorded upcoming broadcast, May 19th and 26th.

   

Little did I know I was photographing both teams (Simone and Oliver plus Matt and Lucy) who would be competing for Gold tonight.

Equally fun to watch was the Junior Boys competition, where I saw the future of pickleball growing right before my eyes.  Our sport is going to be just fine.
 

Spent a little time on the Championship Court watching what may have been the most entertaining match of the day as Daniel Moore and Sarah Ansboury had an epic three game bronze medal battle with a couple of relatively new faces on the pro scene in Joey Farias and Catherine Paranteau.  Wow, great point after great point until Daniel and Sarah walked away the winners, 11-9, 8-11, 13-11.

An interesting observation as this foursome warmed up for the match was the fact that all four players were representing different paddle companies.  In the picture below, you’ll see Catherine with a Pro-Lite Supernova, Joey with an Engage Encore, Daniel with a Paddletek Tempest Wave and Sarah with one of Head’s new paddle offerings, the XTREME.  Interesting time to be in the paddle business.

SUNDAY POST TOURNAMENT UPDATE:
Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Match: Simone Jardim and Oliver Strecker 11-4, 11-8
Women’s Doubles Gold Medal Match: Simone Jardim and Corrine Carr-Siebenschein  11-5, 11-2
Men’s Doubles Gold Medal Match: Dave Weinbach and Kyle Yates  11-5, 11-9

So, it has been a great experience.  The US Open team did a great job of pulling together a first class event.
It will be interesting to see what type of feedback they get when they send out their post tournament survey.  There were certainly things that players did not care for in the tournament part of the event, such as many matches not having referees, when most players outside of Florida are accustomed to having a referee for each match.  Also, I asked players all week, and I found ONE, yes ONE player who actually liked the format of play where if you lose in the winners bracket, you now cannot come back and win Silver or Gold.  Most people claimed it just didn’t feel like pickleball because we are so accustomed to 40% of Gold medal winners coming back to force the dramatic final game to 15 to win gold.

Overall the US Open is an event that everyone should put on their pickleball bucket list at least once.  Lot’s of fun and lots of friends all together for a week.  What could be greater.

We certainly want to thank everyone who stopped by the Pickleball Rocks booth this week. You were the reason we came and we are grateful. Now it’s off to Yonah, Georgia and Philadelphia tournaments to play and teach some clinics next.  Look forward to seeing all of you on the pickleball trail again soon.

Pickleball Rocks!
-Rocket