Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Pickleball Tournament Comes To Wagon Wheel Park [VIDEO]

Coppell — Competitors flocked to the 2019 Texas Open Pickleball Championship held in the Wagon Wheel Tennis Center in Coppell, Sept. 12-15. People of all ages cheered on their favorite players from the sidelines.

“It’s a tournament for all people,” tournament director, Jeanne Stasny said. “We have world class pickleball and amateur pickleball. We have pickleball for seniors and pickleball for juniors. The idea behind it is to promote community, health, and world class pickleball access for all.

“Pickleball is a great way to exercise. It’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. It’s a great way to exercise for those who don’t like to do typical workouts.

“I’m diabetic, and we’ve helped people with diabetes and cardiovascular issues. This type of health and fitness helps us get out and use our bodies.

“It’s also a competitive sport. We have professional athletes that are earning money, and they are battling it out. It is really exciting to watch. We’ve had a lot of spectators here this week, and they were amazed at the action.”

“Usually, in a game of pickleball, there are doubles and singles, and you score points one at a time if you serve. You have to be serving to score a point,” Stasny said. “If it’s doubles, you get two serves per side before it is a side out to the other side. As far as playing, you serve underhanded, and then the ball can be hit in any manner after that. There is a no-volley zone, seven feet on either side of the net, which means if the ball comes into that area, it has to bounce before you can hit it. You can’t run all the way up to the net and just smash it.

“For me, the most exciting thing about the tournament is to see 12-year-olds playing in the Open against the adults. I also shook hands with some people here who were in their late 80s. At what other sporting event can you find people from such wide age-ranges, all at the same place, same time, having a great time competing?

“This tournament has become one of the most popular in the world,” Stasny said. “We have five foreign countries and 41 states attending this year, and everybody says they will be back next year and will bring more of their friends.”

Brian Poynter, an experienced pickleball player, played in the tournament.

“During my last game, I fell short a couple points,” Poynter said. “I had a tough overrule, and there were changes in the momentum at the end of the game. Our opponents got a break, and we had a couple balls that just didn’t go in. That’s the way pickleball is. You might get up, but sometimes you can’t score.

“I also played yesterday in the Men’s Senior Open, but me and my teammate, Chris Miller, lost to the teams that came in first and second. We had a decent run considering it was our first time playing together.

“I’m from the tennis world, and pickleball is very similar. When my friend and I found out about it, we started going to a lot of these bigger tournaments. We’ve really gotten into it,” Poynter said. “It’s nice coming back to Texas even though it’s hot. This is a great event, and pickleball is a great sport. Pickleball is a lot quicker in real life than it looks on video.

“Nationwide, pickleball is an inclusive sport. At events like this, everyone feels like they are a part of it at all levels. There are beginner’s matches and pro events, and because there are so many different levels out here, everyone can have a good time.

“The advantage of pickleball over tennis is that if you have somebody who has never played a racket sport before, a group of them can go out and play at the same level and have a very good time. Tennis takes a lot of lessons to get to the point where one can enjoy it. Once you get into the higher levels of pickleball, you can play someone who is a little better than you, and in pickleball, it is easier to be close to their skill-level.”

Jennifer Lucore, author of ‘History of Pickleball: More Than 50 Years of Fun,’ played as a professional in the event.

“I’m competing as one of the senior pros, and I got a bronze yesterday in the Women’s Doubles tournament,” Lucore said. “I’m from Oceanside, California, and I’ve been playing pickleball for about nine to ten years.

“My mom and I wrote the book. It’s the only book out there, or at least the only history book, on this super cool sport, which was invented in 1965 near Seattle. Ever since, the sport has been growing, and now pickleball is all over the world, and all ages can play. Everyone should try it.

“My mom was actually one of the first U.S.A.  P.A. Ambassadors, so they are a governing body of the sport, and pickleball basically started with seniors. People would spread the word, volunteering and getting it started where they lived,” Lucore said. “My parents have been playing since 2000, and I started in 2010. It’s a wonderful thing, and we should be very honored to have this Texas Open on the map for all the professional pickleball players of the world.

“My favorite part of any pickleball event is the competition and all of the friends you have. You can compete against these players whatever level you are during the day, and then at night, you meet up, get something to drink, and then you become best buddies. Then, the next day, you become competitors again. Pickleball is a very unique sport in that way. It is awesome Texas is embracing pickleball, because it’s becoming popular all around the world, and you don’t want to miss out on all the fun.”

You can check out video from the championship below:

Video by Caton Berry