Pickleball Rocks @ The US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 7

Not much happened today.   JUST KIDDING.

Lots of great mixed skill level matches, plus today brought together some of the best Men’s and Women’s Pro doubles teams in the world.  Wow what a a day for watching great pickleball.

Since Zack and I have been incredibly busy at the Pickleball Rocks booth (thanks to many of you) all week, today was a great day for me to catch up with a lot of friends.
I was fortunate to catch many of them in action, starting with Indiana friends, Tom Sparks, Mary Kojak and Matt Kelsch battling it out in a mid round 4.0 match.

Next I stopped by the ZING ZANG center court only to find some more Midwest players, Ryan Goodwin and Sharon Hall, playing their first ever match on center court.  I’m sure that will be something they will never forget.

Then as the day started heating up (made it to around 95 degrees again today and oh my gosh, it’s not a dry heat.), I wandered into the bank of courts where lots of our Pro friends were playing some amazing pickleball and crowds were building quickly.  Everywhere you turned there were people like Brian Staub and Bonnie Williams taking on Tyler Sheffield and Mona Burnett.
   
Oh, and the American flag on Brian Staub’s arm just reminded me of a question that I’ve had all week, but forgot to ask.  I’ve never been to a pickleball tournament of any size or importance that didn’t start out the day with our National anthem.  Can anyone tell me why the “United States” Open Pickleball tournament doesn’t play the anthem???? #alittledisappointed

Also caught a little of Dave and Kyle cruising through one of their early round matches right across the aisle from Christine McGrath and Sarah Ansboury.  The play just got better and better as the day wore on.
 

Stopped at the misting tent several times today as did many players and fans.
That thing is a life saver and it stayed busy.

Finally, we did something that we had meant to do all week, but just didn’t take the time.  We made the short walk to see the Thank You Across America semi tractor trailer truck and helped fill their money jar with a donation from our Pickleball Rocks family.
If you haven’t taken the time yet, please, please, please take just a short few minutes to stop by their truck and display and thank a war veteran with a donation in their jar.  It’s as easy as that.

Then we packed up for the day, returned to our host home and started the preparation for the long drive home beginning Saturday night.  Caught Zack saying goodbye to his new friend, Labradoodle Gracie.  She became his nightly running buddy while he was here.  I’m sure he is going to miss her.

Good night everyone,
-Rocket

Pickleball Rocks at the US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 6

Day 6 was all about the ladies.  Today was Skill Level Ladies Doubles day and we saw some amazing play.


 

And of course we saw a lot of ladies teams beating each other senseless on the court, only to finish with a hug.
That is what makes pickleball special.  Hope we never lose that.

Took some time to visit the place the players call Tent City today.  Everyone brings a tent and creates a magical place for players to hang out throughout the week.  Great place to catch up with old friend and make new ones.
Even got to catch a glimpse of the elusive Bruce Dillon today.  A special moment indeed. 🙂

Noontime brought a unique event to the ZING ZANG Championship Court.  We stopped in to watch our favorite pickleballer, Stephanie Lane, holding court with Dave Weinbach and some of the top USAPA Junior Pickleball players in the country as they entertained a 5th grade class from nearby Avalon Elementary School.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.

As the afternoon wore on, it was fun to watch as some of the top pros, including Irene Tereschenko, Lucy Kovalova and Jack Oxler, began to practice for what should be a memorable weekend.

As I headed to the outer parking lot to bring the Pickleball Rocks mobile in to load up for the night, I happened across newly arrived Aspen Kern.  Upon asking Aspen how he was doing, the first thing he said was, “it’s hot”.

Aspen is a man of few words, but with projected temps in the mid 90’s for both Friday and Saturday, I’d have to agree.  Things are going to be hot both on and off the courts.  Next to the USAPA National tournament, this is the greatest get together of the top players in the country.  Should be really fun to watch.

Have a great evening everybody.
-Rocket

 

Pickleball Rocks at the US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 5

Yay, play day for Rocket.  Played the Men’s Senior 5.0 today. Got 4th.  Some people call it the aluminum medal.  I just say it stinks.  So close, yet so far thanks to two losses to future Nationals partner Darryl Noble. Looking forward with playing with Darryl rather than against him.

Today started off great.  I happened to be walking past the Zing Zang Championship Court around 7:30 am this morning and I hear the familar ping of someone practicing on center court.  I took a look, and low and behold there was Indianapolis friend Don Nixon practicing with partner Michael O’Leary for their initial 3.0 match of the day. Just had to stop and say hi and grab a quick picture of them proudly wearing their Rock N Roll Pickleball shirts. Quite a good looking team.

  

Luckily their court assignment for their first match was the great center court, so they had a nice crowd watch them put up a great battle, but alas a loss.  Their next match, their opponents weren’t so fortunate.  A win for Don and Mike at the US Open.  Awesome to watch.  After their match 2 win, I took good friend and current US Open Men’s Pro Gold Medalist, Dave Weinbach to the meet this dynamic duo. Just another set of great friendships formed in our great sport.

After watching Don and Mike play, I headed over to the Avalon bank of courts to see what all the commotion has been about all week. Lot’s of unhappy players and now I know why.  Sadly, players who paid a lot of money to enter and travel to the US Open are being asked to play on courts that are downright dangerous.

I was only there for about 30 minutes, but saw two people get caught up in the very close side fences and one player go down.  I imagine the post tournament survey will be heavily laden with complaints about the Avalon courts. I’m sure the US Open will correct this one before next year’s event.

On a very positive side, the misting tent came on around 2:45 today and provided some great relief for those of us still on the courts this afternoon.  Hadn’t seen it operational since Sunday.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, US Open.  It will be great for the players in the coming days, since it sounds like some serious heat is coming.

Had another great day at the PB Rocks booth.  Thanks again to everyone who stopped by to say hi.  We appreciate each and every one of you.

  

Topped off the day with a stop at the Thank You Across America truck to meet President, Mark Michael. Mark patiently told me all about this great organization.  100% volunteer run and 100% of every donation goes straight to helping US veterans. 

   Thank You Across America

Chapters are popping up everywhere so if you know a vet in need of help of just about any kind, put them in contact with Mark and his team at www.ThankYourAcrossAmerica.com .
Please take a minute or two to visit their beautiful semi tractor trailer truck.  And donate if you can.
God bless their work.

Reminder for those playing tomorrow, Friday and Saturday.  It’s going to get hot!!!!!
So hydrate, hydrate and certainly hydrate some more.  It’s vital for your play, but more importantly vital for your health.

Have a great evening everyone.
-Rocket

Pickleball Rocks at the US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 4

Just want to start today’s update by saying how thankful Zack and I are that you are sharing our daily updates with your friends and families, either through email or Facebook.

But more importantly, how grateful we are for all the people who have stopped by the Pickleball Rocks booth in the last three days, to either pick up their FREE Pickleball Rocks Car Magnet or to just say hi.  We love seeing each and every one of you.   Pickleball Rocks would not be the best selling pickleball apparel brand in America without you and your fanatical support.       Thank You!

Today was a day off from playing for me, so I took some time to hit a few spots around this massive venue and yes, watch a little US Open pickleball.   Lots of great Age Mixed Doubles matches to choose from.

I stopped by the home of the first ever IPTPA World Congress gathering. The International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association is growing like gangbusters and the Congress was the first anniversary meeting to review the triumphs of year one and to get the all important continuing education points needed to maintain our IPTPA certification.

Next I stopped by to see if I could schedule a sports massage with ATP Massage Therapist Brian Horner, but alas, he is booked up for about the next 100 years. 🙂   Yes, he’s that good.

Finally, after spending a little time helping Zack sell a few shirts and hats, I topped off a great day, watching our amazing Pickleball Rocks Teammate, Stephanie Lane play her way to a US Open Bronze medal in the loaded 45+ Mixed Age division.  Very proud of our gal Steph.

    

Both she and partner Marcus Luke played great. 

Oh, and FYI, Stephanie Lane heads up our Pickleball Rocks: Pickleball Club Wear division, helping pickleball clubs around the country get their custom pickleball club shirts.  If your club ever thinks about getting club shirts, I hope you will think of Stephanie.   She can always be reached at stephanie@AllAboutPickleball.com
She’s the best.

So, I polished off a big plate of pasta at Olive Garden tonight as the carb loaded begins for tomorrow’s Men’s 5.0 Doubles event.  Should be great fun with many old friends.  Can’t wait.

Good night everybody.   As my mom used to say each night, “sleep tight”.  Never really knew what that meant, but I still say it to my kids, grandkids and friends each night, so I’m guessing it’s good.

Have a great day tomorrow,
-Rocket

 

Pickleball Rocks at the US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 3

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday was rain, rain, rain and today was sun, sun and more sun….and some pretty stiff winds in the afternoon.

Today was my first event to play.  Mens Age Doubles 60+ with 58 (29 teams) of my closest pickleball friends. And what a day it was.  Ran off two wins in a row only to drop our third match by a 11-9, 15-13 score and drop into the dreaded survivors bracket, where in this particular tournament, the best you can do is capture a bronze medal.

Must say, I am not a fan of the newly made up format.  As a 5.0 player, we travel to 35 tournaments a year and I play 15-20 of those, and this one loss and you’re out of contention for the gold medal is not played anywhere else.  It just seems to neglect the heritage of pickleball, where about 60% of gold medal winning teams do so by navigating through the hard fought losers bracket to triumph in an exciting Gold Medal match.  It is what fans want to see and players want.  It will be interesting to see if the US Open organizers pay attention to the player’s wishes.

Anyhow, back to the day.  After dropping down, we ran off two more hard fought wins before falling to Bronze medalists and friend Charlie Einsiedler and his partner Rob Rowse.

Two things popped out bigtime in today’s matches.  When it’s warm and humid as it was today, water stations are never close enough.  Unfortunately, the US Open facility is a big, spread out venue. Between games if you needed a water refill, you had to stop your match and hit a water station.  Unfortunately, they were located at the Match Coordinators table which was a long trip from many courts.  Great for between and before matches. Would be great as the temperatures rise and the week moves on, if they come up with some additional water stations located nearer the action.  Players would certainly appreciate it, says the voice of experience today. 🙂

The second thing that I noticed as I gasped for air and tried to recover quickly between matches, was that the large misting station was never turned on.  Don’t know if it was broke or just not turned on.  But it was a tremendous idea that wasn’t used today.  Would have loved to have it between our matches.  Someone said it was because of the wind, but the morning winds were not bad at all, so I’m not sure the reason.  Hope they can make it available for the players the remainder of the week as it doesn’t sound like it’s going to get any cooler.

Did get a chance to catch Indianapolis friend Rick Witsken in action today.  Congratulations to Rick and his partner on a well deserved Gold as well as the many other medal winners of the this fun day three.

Also, had a chance to stop by the Thank You Across America truck.  What a magnificent rig, but more importantly what a great cause.  I hope everyone takes a few minutes out of this fun week and visits them.  Thank a Vet today!

So after a very long day on the courts for me and for Zack at the Pickleball Rocks booth (by the way, thank you for the huge crowd of people who stopped by the booth today. It means the world to us.), we stopped by a cool little Italian restaurant, Bruninos, and had some great lasagna, then headed to the house to do what we generally do after every day at a tournament…..work.   Most people don’t know that our work day does not end at the courts.  Here’s Zack getting his post tournament day’s work done next to his host family companion Gracie.

We usually put in another 2-3 hours filling orders, creating videos, blogging, updating  you all on social media and the many other things that go into making the Pickleball Rocks business run smoothly.

No complaints though.  Wouldn’t have it any other way, because…..You and Pickleball Rocks!!!!!

Calling it a night.
-Rocket

 

Pickleball Rocks @ The US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 2

Rain, rain, and more rain.

Today (Sunday) was singles day at the US Open.  Many of the world’s best singles player checked in early to get a crack at a US Open medal.  But today was not what the tournament directors wanted it and it certainly is not what the Florida Tourism department promised us when we come to “The Sunshine State”.  The forecast predicted a long day of hit and miss showers and the moving radar on my weather app confirmed it.

We arrived at the courts about 7:15 and quickly made a management decision to only put a few Pickleball Rocks items out for sale. If the weather cooperated, we would bring more items out of their boxes. We kept most of our inventory in the Suburban and boy are we glad we did.

As 8:00am (tournament start time) approached, the skies darkened and the rain began.

Fortunately for us, we travel to about 35 tournaments a year so we are always prepared for situations like this.
But unfortunately, some were not so fortunate.

So, we packed up and headed back to our host family for some lunch and a very, very nice nap.

Move ahead fours hours and the rain finally let up, the sunshine broke through, and a throng of volunteers went to work on the courts.  What an amazing bunch of dedicated friends of pickleball.  If you are a player who played singles today, I hope you stop and thank a volunteer sometime this week because if it weren’t for them, you’d be playing singles next Sunday or not at all.

We are literally going to thank every single volunteer with the same gift we provided for every player’s tournament swag bag.  A tournament cannot operate without volunteers.  So if you volunteered today to help get this Sunday singles day completed and in the books, please stop by the Pickleball Rocks booth anytime this week for a free $5 OFF shirt or hat coupon and a FREE Pickleball Rocks, Let’s Play car magnet.  We think you’ll love it and we want you to have it as a token of our gratitude.  You volunteers ROCK!

Next we spent some time tidying up the booth and readying for what promises to be a great day tomorrow.
Hope you’ll stop by and say hi.

Got to finish up the day hanging courtside with some of our favorite people on the pickleball planet, pickleball royalty Alex Hamner and Jennifer Lucore) and watched some amazing gold medal matches.

 

WHAT A DAY!

So it’s coming up on 10:30pm and after a long 15 1/2 hour day, I’m ready to do a little carb loading and get ready for my first day on the courts tomorrow.

Have a great week everyone,
-Rocket