A love for Pickleball and Travel – Betsy Kenniston

amsterdam mixed double

Leo Gonzales and Betsy Kenniston

I love to travel and I love to play pickleball.  Since I started playing four years ago, I have played in numerous states. Sometimes when I’m on vacation I find a local club to play at, and sometime I travel specifically to play in a pickleball tournament.  In September 2014, I had a trip planned to visit a friend in England.  Before going, I searched online for any clubs in the UK.  I found one in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, about forty miles from her home.  They welcomed me and  it was apparent that they loved the game as much as I do.  This is where I met Leo Gonzales, who a year later would become my “international” mixed doubles partner.

In September 2015, I traveled to Madrid, Spain with Liz Sepeda to play in the 1st International Pickleball Tournament-Spain.  What a wonderful reason to visit Madrid!  This was the first tournament that Leo and I played in together, and we won a gold medal in the mixed doubles.  Liz and I didn’t medal in Madrid, but we played some tough matches and learned a lot from clinics given by teaching professional, Bob Youngren from Arizona and playing and teaching pro, Jennifer Lucore from California.  David Jordan, president of USAPA was there as well, and gave a referee training session.  We met pickleball players from other countries, many of whom I am still in touch with today.

On May 25, 2016, Liz Sepeda and I flew to Amsterdam to participate in the 2nd Amsterdam International Pickleball Tournament (the first one was in 2014).    After an overnight flight, we arrived Thursday morning, met up with my mixed partner Leo, and spent the rest of the day together, walking, talking, eating, and getting to know the area called De Pijp, where we would spend most of our time over the next few days.

Amsterdam is a busy city where bicycles are the main mode of transportation.  There are special bicycle lanes along every street which are called “red roads” because of the pavement color.  Bicycle riders seem to have the right of way.  You had better look left and right before crossing a red road, or you risk causing an accident with a cyclist.  There is also a very well laid out tram system throughout Amsterdam, which can take you almost anywhere you need to go leaving only a few blocks to walk from the tram to your destination.  We used the tram system every day to get to the sport center, or for sightseeing or shopping trips.

Amsterdam is a city of canals.  A canal boat tour is one of the best ways to see Amsterdam.  Houseboats line the canal walls.  These boats are private homes, and the owners also own the space where they are tied up, just as you own the real estate your home is built on.  Another distinctive thing about Amsterdam are the houses and buildings themselves.  They are usually three to four stories tall and deep, but very narrow in width.  None of them have elevators, and the stair cases are very steep, becoming almost like a ladder as you get up to the top floor.  Because of this, each house/building has a furniture hook at the roof peak which is used to hoist furniture to the upper floors through large front windows.  A common garden or courtyard is often shared behind a group of homes.  We were fortunate to have been able to take a “secret courtyard” tour and to see some of these gardens.  Our tour guide was the husband of one of the Amsterdam pickleball players.  I should add that in Holland, students are required to learn English from a very young age so language is never a problem.

Later in the afternoon, we made our way to the venue where the tournament would be held. The DePijp Sporthal has two large gymnasiums, each with six lined pickleball courts.  We weren’t able to play that evening since there were other scheduled activities, but we ran into a pickleball player who was American but living in the Czech Republic and invited her to join us at a nearby pub as we waited for friends from the UK to arrive for dinner.  It was interesting to hear her talk about her passion for the game and how she had brought equipment from the USA back to the Czech Republic and started a small club. She was looking forward to a higher level of competition than what was currently being played at home. (Unfortunately, she tore her calf muscle in a practice game later that night and had to withdraw from the tournament.)

The evening before the tournament, we participated in a clinic held by US Open Pro medal winners, Kyle Yates, Jennifer Lucore, and Gigi LeMaster.  After instruction and drills, Liz and I played a practice game against Jennifer and Gigi.   Early in the game we were actually ahead 2-1, but were ultimately beat 11-3.  Despite the loss, never once did I feel intimidated, or beaten up on by these two extremely skilled, yet gracious players.  At the end of the game, Jennifer and Gigi took time to talk with us, answer some questions, and made suggestions of how we could have handled certain situations differently, as well as some practice ideas to help us.  I’m sure they could have beaten us easily and quickly, but they allowed us to learn from playing some longer rallies.  That was an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.

The tournament started on Saturday.  We met Atul Edwards from Mumbai, India, a player we had met at the Madrid, Spain tournament in September 2015 on the way to the gym.  Since we were a bit early, we stopped for a quick breakfast with Atul at a small café near the tournament venue.  It was a beautiful morning and we sat on the sidewalk in the sun getting to know each other.  Atul spoke of his life in India, and of the family class system that is so prevalent, and also of the poverty of some areas.  He also spoke of his beautiful wife, and of the splendor of India as a country.   Getting to know about people via conversations like this is so rewarding and ultimately what makes traveling to tournaments so special.

The tournament boasted players from 13 countries including England, Wales, Scotland, France, Spain, Belgium, Finland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Belgium, India, USA and The Netherlands.  Many of the European players have no idea how their skill level translates to our familiar USAPA rating system, therefore based on a description of their skills players were sorted into three groups that were labeled 3.0 for the lower skills and newer players, 4.0 for the intermediate players and 5.0 for the more advanced skilled players.  Anyone with a USAPA rating of 3.5 and above were put into the 5.0 group.  Liz and I played in the advanced or 5.0 group.

Play began with a round robin within the skill groups.  Then, based on wins in the round robin (total points for any tie breakers) the tournament matches were seeded.  The twelve teams in the advanced women’s bracket were split into two six team groups, so we played each of the five teams in our group (one game to 15 each) in the round robin.  We were the winners of our group.  Then we played another 8 games to finally win the women’s doubles advanced gold medal!  Our final game was against Gigi and Jennifer, and they beat us handily!  To be fair, the pros were awarded separate medals since their skills are far above even the best of any other players there!   They just don’t make mistakes! Amsterdam womens doubles

DePijp Sporthal has a pub upstairs and this was where the tournament dinner was held on Saturday night after the women’s and men’s doubles play ended.  Aside from the meal, it was a great opportunity to talk with fellow players, especially those in other skill groups whom we hadn’t met on the court.

On Sunday, I played in the advanced mixed doubles tournament with Leo.  In a similar format, we played five games in the round robin, then another six tournament games, losing a hard fought game to our friends from Spain, Danny and Gema, but going on to beat Mike from Spain and Sheena from Scotland for the silver.

The Amsterdam tournament was well planned and meticulously organized by tournament directors Bernadette Snijders Blok and Carine Thesingh.  Bernadette’s two sisters, along with a group of student volunteers from a local college worked long hours setting up the venue prior to the tournament, handling registration, creating a very detailed and precise schedule, calling all the games, and making sure every need was met until the last medal was awarded.  Simply put, their work allowed the players to worry about nothing but playing pickleball, which makes for a successful experience for everyone.  Their smiles made losses easier to tolerate, and wins seem even more thrilling.

It was difficult saying goodbye to my international pickleball friends, some who I have known for over a year now and some I just met, but I know I will see them at another international tournament in the near future.   We’ve all heard it said, “pickleball is a social game.”  For me, there isn’t a truer statement.  I have made so many friends at home and around the world through pickleball.  The game brings us together and friendships are built.  Say what you will about Facebook.  For me, it is the perfect communication channel which allows friends to remain connected, even across oceans.

* USAPA has a great resource for finding places to play in the US and even in other countries.  Pickleball clubs are popping up all over the world.

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BCSN Broadcast Schedule – Toledo Pickleball Wednesday Night Ladder Play

In case you missed earlier broadcasts of the BCSN coverage of our Pickleball ladder league last night, here are the times and dates below of some of the upcoming broadcasts. There are additional early morning times and more times next week, please see link below for the entire list.

Pickleball @ Rossford Pickleball Complex
Channel 609: 10:00am 8/15
Channel 608: 2:00pm 8/15
Channel 609: 6:30pm 8/15
Channel 608: 10:30pm 8/16

BCSN TV Schedules

Another big thanks to the great crew at BCSN!!!!
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Toledo Pickleball Featured on BCSN HD

Tonight was a special night for Toledo Pickleball!  The entire live crew from BCSN HD came out to film our Wednesday night ladder league.  BCSN’s Brad Woznicki was the play-by-play broadcaster and our very own Connie Mierzejewski was the “color commentator” filling in all of the “fine points” of the game.

The broadcast will air tonight at 11:30pm on HD channel 609.  If you miss the broadcast this evening it will re-run throughout the week and next week!

A big thank you to Brad and the entire crew for coming out and covering our sport.  They will be back to cover our tournament on August 24th!

Here are a few photos from this evening! Before we started taping, Connie was able to get the entire crew to give Pickleball a try!

BCSN 4 BCSN 3

BCSN 2

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2014 Super Bowl – Pickleball Commercial!!

A PICKLEBALL SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL!!!! As some of you may already know, there is a contest taking place right now for a small business to have a spot for a commercial during the 2014 Super Bowl-all it takes is a LOT of votes. Pickleball Central is in the running. Pickleball Central is family owned and operated. They are very generous to local tournaments, many of you that competed at the Royal Oak tournament received a nice orange back pack from them. Please read the message from Anna Copley from PC and vote for them. You can vote everyday and to win they will need us to do that! How cool would it be to have a Pickleball commercial during the Super Bowl!!!!

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Thank you for your support in the SmallBusinessBigGame.com contest.

In order to succeed we need lots of Pickleball People to vote daily. We are confident we’ll make it to Round Two. Making it to Round Three will be a challenge but we think, with our passionate Pickleball community, we can win this. The winner gets featured in a professional commercial during the Super Bowl. 111 MILLION people watched the Super Bowl last year. Winning this contest puts pickleball in front of the world. We think this kind of exposure would take a big step forward in putting Pickleball courts in every town and every nation and eventually winning this contest will help out Pickleball in the Olympics.

Here’s a link to our entry in the contest https://www.smallbusinessbiggame.com/wa/PickleballCentralcom/383529

Please encourage people to sign up for the Daily Email Reminder email. After the contest people will not receive a daily email from us! It’s only while we’re still in the running that the daily email will go out. To sign up for the reminders, they just need to email me or call us and ask to be on the contact list.

Thank you again! This is so exciting!

Anna

Anna G. Copley
Co Founder and President
PickleballCentral.com
6918 S. 220th Street
Kent, WA 98032
(253) 854-0163
(888) 854-0163

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“Follow” Toledo Pickleball on Twitter

Now you can follow all the events and fun of  Toledo Pickleball on Twitter @TolPickleball.  Take time to “follow” us today 🙂

For the next open play think about someone you can invite to come and join the fun!

See you on the courts!

Marsha

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Toledo Pickleball Media Coverage Post-Court Conversion

In the approximately five weeks since our Rossford court dedication, we have received much media attention.  Apparently our story was interesting to more than just us!  Thanks to all who attempted to contact media representatives to share our story.  Once again, when we pool our resources and work together as a group, much is accomplished.
Following are a list of links to the coverage in case you missed some of it.

WTOL Channel 11 –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EPxNG5s90o&feature=youtu.be

ABC Channel 13 – http://www.13abc.com/video?clipId=7468379&autostart=true

Rossford Record – (page 2) http://www.rossford.com/rrjweb/RRJ_0626_01.pdf

Toledo Blade – http://www.toledoblade.com/South/2012/06/05/Pickleball-group-finds-a-home.html

Proclamation from the City of Rossford – Rossford City Council Proclamation – Rossford Pickleball Complex 2012

Thanks to Tim Hacker for a couple of great shots of the courts with his wide-angle camera!

It’s been an exciting month for Toledo Pickleball:  some great new players have joined our group, we’ve worked with more than 60 kids for their summer PE credits, and we’ve enjoyed playing on our new courts and in some tournaments.  AND the weather looks good for p-ball this week–see you on the courts!

Marsha

Toledo Pickleball Logo Apparel – Now Available

Many of you expressed interest in ordering a shirt with the Toledo Pickleball logo.  To accommodate everyone’s desires for the type, size, and color, we are working with a company that will embroider our logo onto the item of your choice–including but not limited to shirts.  Embroidery–rather than screen printing–allows for more flexibility in color and weight of the item you select.  The logo will be available in navy and green or black and green.
The price to have the logo applied will be $10.00 per item.  For those interested, all you need to do is get your item to me no later than July 8.  Please pin to the item  your name and your color and location requests (for example, a logo could appear on the chest or sleeve of a shirt).
There is a 12-item minimum per order to keep the price at $10.00.  Some of the proceeds will go to maintaining our courts and building our hoped-for pavilion.  We can do another run in the future, but are trying to put together a good-sized order for this first one.  Please email me if you have any questions.

See you on the courts!  This is beautiful pickleball weather!!

Marsha