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Archive for "Hobbies"

League Recap

Posted on November 6, 2019 by under Hobbies.    

I normally would have pickleball league tonight but the season is, unfortunately, over. I am so sad. It went by so quickly. Anyway, I had such a great time playing with my partner Renee (pictured below) in my first league experience ever that we decided to play together again next season.

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I wasn’t too sure about being in the Intermediate level at first but it was the one that Renee had signed up for already and I was simply joining to be her partner. I thought, even though I’d never been in a pickleball league before, I can pretty much hold my own with my pickleball friends who have been playing longer than me and I wanted to be challenged so I didn’t really mind being in Intermediate. This season proved to me that I’m in the correct level of competition.

Renee and I actually had a pretty good track record going into the tournament on the final night of our league. Our team, Heavy Dinkers, played against 12 different teams and only had 3 losses. Two of those losses were when I had a sub fill in for Renee so in all actuality we really only had 1 loss while playing together.

I felt really good about our chances until she told me that she had to be out of town for work during the week of our tournament night. You can’t get a sub who is better than your partner and we’d been playing really well together so I was super bummed. However, I did find someone to fill in who I felt complemented my style and would have a good chance with. We were all set for Wednesday when a work emergency cut Renee’s trip short. She would be back in time for the tournament after all. I felt bad about canceling on my sub but I was happy to have Renee back. I really wanted to see how well we could do together.

So, what happened last week? Well, we didn’t win it but I was happy with the way we played over all. We won our first match but were in the same pool as my friends Becci and Bev (BeBe Picklers) who are both very good. I think we had a good chance against them but we made some mistakes and ended up getting eliminated from the main bracket early. We didn’t do too bad in the consolation bracket. We won our first few matches and were steadily clawing our way back up until we ran into team Haylo. Both players were leaps and bounds more competitive than the rest of the field and Renee and I struggled to get it together. We lost that match and that was the end of our tournament journey.

I think Haylo ended up winning the tournament so I don’t feel too shabby about being eliminated by them. I feel like we had a really strong team and lost to the only two teams better than us (by my extremely biased calculation, anyway).

I improve each time I play so I’m really looking forward to this next season coming up. Now that we’ve had some games together, I think my partnership with Renee is only going to get stronger. They better be ready for us next season because we will be in it to win it! Until then, GNG.

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Bob Jackson Friendship Tournament

Posted on November 3, 2019 by under Hobbies.    

Bob Jackson passed away in August 2017, long before I discovered pickleball. I kind of wish I would have had an opportunity to meet him. He seemed like an amazing man. I still hear people talk about him today.

Not having met him, all I know is that he loved pickleball. He taught pickleball for the Wichita Parks & Rec department and was a great ambassador for the sport. Those who knew him continue to honor his legacy by hosting an annual Bob Jackson Friendship Tournament. We had the third one this year and I was honored to participate in it for the first time.

I hadn’t been participating in tournaments because I personally didn’t think I was ready. I’m a bit competitive and I wanted to hone my pickleball skills and improve some more before actually playing in one. However, my friend Michael invited me to be his parter for this one which honors a great man and it isn’t sanctioned so it seemed like a good place to start to get my feet wet. (BTW, I’m not counting the pickleball event during the Wichita Corporate Challenge because I was doing that for work and it was just kind of a free for all. You didn’t compete according to your skill level and it was just a fun thing for local corporations to do.)

In the Bob Jackson Friendship Tournament, they had 3.5 and below and 4.0 and above. I’ve considered myself a 3.0 for a long time since I started playing regularly so I didn’t mind Michael signing us up for 3.5 and below. It was actually spot on.

The weather did not cooperate that day. It rained on and off which really threw off the schedule but we got to play some games (some we won, some we lost) and had a lot of fun. And, we honored a great man while raising money for a good cause — lights for the pickleball courts at Edgemoor Park. Oh, and Michael and I looked legit in our team outfits.

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I had recently bought a paddle similar to his so we had matching shirts and paddles! The shirts were Michael’s idea. He got a “Cobra Kai” shirt (it’s the name of the dojo in the Karate Kid movie) from Target a while back and he said they still had some so if I got one then we could wear matching shirts for the tournament. I thought the motto “Strike Hard, Strike Fast, No Mercy” kind of applied to our pickleball strategy and I was just nerdy enough to go along with it. LOL.

I’m not sure how much Michael paid for his shirt but Brian got our shirts for $10 (Brian got one for himself too – he’s like our team manager – LOL). I just looked on the Target website and the shirts are on sale for $8 right now.

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The tournament had a great turnout, despite the weather. This actually isn’t everyone. This is maybe a third (or half at best) of the people who were there. I don’t know that there’s one thing we can attribute to the level of participation for this event. I think part of it is that Bob Jackson is loved and respected by those who knew him and they continue to honor his memory to this day. Part of it is, for those of us who didn’t know him, we just love pickleball so much that we want the sports exponential growth in our area to continue. And, finally, we really want to raise money for lights at the park.

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Here are a few more photos from that day.

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This is my friend Matt. He organized a cookout during the tournament and just helped support the tournament altogether to keep things going.

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I don’t know if I ever told the story of Matt. I met him a couple of years ago through a YMCA staff ping pong tournament. I credit him for my pickleball addiction. When I discovered pickleball last year, I didn’t really know where to play. I didn’t have any friends who played pickleball so I didn’t really know where to begin. He invited me to play pickleball at West YMCA. It’s where I learned the basics of the game and things haven’t been the same ever since. The struggle I had finding places to play and people to play with is actually why we started the pickleball group on Facebook earlier this year (Wichita Pickleball Connection). Selfishly, I wanted an easy way to find people to play with and places to play but the group is actually beneficial to all those new to the sport. Those who want to try the game but don’t have anyone in their friendship circle who plays pickleball can just post on the group and are immediately invited to games. Our pickleball community is amazing!

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BTW, Michael and I weren’t the only ones to sport matching outfits at the tournament. Huyen and Crystal wore matching shirts too.

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As did Bill and Trixie. It’s because great minds think alike!

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Here are a few more pics from the event.

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A couple more matching outfits…

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It was a great day overall and a wonderful first tournament experience. I can’t wait to sign up for the next one!

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The Franklin Pickleball Masters

Posted on October 18, 2019 by under Events, Hobbies.    

It’s been too long since I posted an update. Sorry about that. So much has happened. I can’t believe I haven’t even posted about the Franklin Pickleball Masters Tournament last month at Chicken N Pickle. It’s only the biggest thing to happen in the Wichita pickleball community.

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As if seeing all the best pickleball pros and watching them play in the flesh wasn’t exciting enough, I actually got to host one of them. I saw a post in the one of my pickleball groups on Facebook from pickleball pro Regina Franco. She and her friend Belinda’s housing arrangements fell through and they needed a place to stay. I offered our place. After exchanging a few messages on Tuesday night, they arrived at our house the following day.

She and Belinda were super nice and they were excellent house guests. Brian and I were both busy with work so, regrettably, we couldn’t spend more time with them or show them around. Regina was focused on the tournament so she spent most of her time at CNP practicing. They didn’t really need much from us. We pretty much left them alone to do their thing.

The first night they arrived was my league night. They arrived about the same time Brian and I got home from work. I had to change clothes and skedaddle to pickleball so I didn’t get to spend that much time with them at the house. We pretty much just showed them to their rooms and let them get settled.

She and Belinda showed up at CNP after they were refreshed. I stayed and played some games after league. Regina was so nice. She event played with us “scrubs.” It was great. She even gave me some pointers. I couldn’t stay too late because I had to go to work the next day but she and Michael and the others stayed and played all night, pretty much until CNP closed.

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It was pretty much the same thing on Thursday night, except I had my Aqua Zumba class at Genesis West Central. I went to CNP to check on them after class. We got to play together a bit. It was fun!

Matt had a pre-tournament cookout at Seneca Park on Friday night. I invited Regina and Belinda and they actually came! That was amazing! Everyone was thrilled to meet her. Debbie even got her autograph and took a selfie with her.

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We had an awesome turnout at the cookout. We had to take a group pic. I can’t believe I got everyone to stop playing for the photo. LOL.

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Here are a few more pics from the cookout.

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I ended up leaving the park to attend a work event at CNP that same night but after having introduced Regina to Matt and the others (she had already played with Karen and Michael and a few other people at CNP) I felt pretty comfortable leaving our guests there. I found out later that they actually got her to play.

There were some funny videos floating around in our Pickleball Connection group on Facebook. 😉

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Here are a couple of pics of me and Brian with my coworkers at our Wichita Corporate Challenge wrap up party at CNP, which just happened to be the night before the big tournament.

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It was quite fortuitous!

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At CNP I met up with my friend Jeanie. She knew the Franklin people and was there for the official pre-tournament party. I was there for a work thing but after my work thing we got together and walked around a bit to check out the tournament setup.

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I met Colin and Ben Johns (they were the big winners of the dramatic men’s division final on Saturday night, which we ended up missing because of Haus of Brews). It was really embarrassing because I mistook Colin for Kyle. Anyway they were both very sweet and had a good laugh about it.

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Some people actually came from out of town to watch the tournament so Jeanie and I made some new friends.

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Here we are with the Franklin guys.

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These are the teams for the men’s and women’s doubles events that happened on Saturday. The mixed event was on Sunday.

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The Franklin Pickleball Masters is the biggest thing to happen to the Wichita pickleball scene – EVER – so I was super excited. I actually subbed out all of my classes on Saturday and Sunday just so I could hang out at Chicken N Pickle and watch as many matches as I could. Of course, we had to leave early to attend Haus of Brews but we stayed as long as we could. Brian even went home to grab my Rotary polo so I could just change at CNP and go straight to Haus of Brews from there. I was that committed. LOL.

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Here are some pictures from Saturday. This is my friend Debbie. She was totally fan-girling with me all weekend long, getting pics with the pros, asking them to sign our paddles, everything. I was really grateful to have someone there to completely “geek out” with.

Debbie is the reason we got court-side VIP tickets. I originally purchased the $40 tickets but then they opened up some additional $60 tickets and Debbie tipped me off so I could return my $40 ones and buy the better tickets.

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Above are two fun ladies in our local pickleball group. We are in the same league at CNP on Wednesday nights.

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Next is a pic of me and my friend Debbie with Sarah Ansboury (left) and Regina. Regina’s partner Sarah actually stayed with Brian’s old coworker Will, who knows Sarah from her tennis days.

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I got a selfie with Joey Farias and Adam Stone who were partners in the men’s doubles tournament. Joey arrived in town early so I actually met him for the first time on Thursday night when I stopped by CNP to check on Regina and Belinda.

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These are the two best women pickleball players and they dominated their field. That’s Lucy Kovalova on the left and Simone Jardim on the right. Lucy in a tennis instructor at the Wichita Country Club so all of Wichita was definitely rooting for her in the women’s doubles and her boyfriend Matt Wright in men’s doubles. They’re our local pickleball celebrities who we are very proud to claim because they are two of the best in the nation (and quite possibly the world).

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That’s Matt Wright in the red shirt below.

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I took a pic as they gathered everyone for a group photo before the tournament officially started. It was exciting to see all these amazing pickleball pros in Wichita. I was completely awestruck.

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Here’s a pic of me with two pickleball friends, Patrick and Michael.

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This cute 12-year-old is pickleball pro Anna Leigh Waters.

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Another friend from pickleball, Sheryl.

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These were some big checks for the winners. Literally.

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Pickleball is not as established as tennis so this is probably the most prestigious tournament to date. It was invite only and had the biggest prize money of any pickleball tournament.

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Another pic with Anna Leigh. This time with Becky and Debbie. Becky Middleton is known in our community as the “godmother of pickleball” because she was instrumental to getting our six courts at Edgemoor Park.

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I wish I could have stayed for the dramatic men’s doubles championship match between Matt Wright and Kyle Yates vs. Ben Johns and Colin Johns. They went three games and, in the third game, the Johns brothers came back from being down 2 to 10 to win the gold. Brian and I were at Haus of Brews at the time.

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Since we missed that much, the highlight of the men’s tournament for me was Adam Stone’s Christmas outfit. LOL.

Jokes aside, I missed the women’s doubles final also but later that evening I got to hold Regina’s second place trophy.

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We went to CNP bright and early on Sunday morning because I didn’t want to miss a moment more. My friend Jeanie was already there.

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This is another friend from pickleball, Laurie. She is in the same Wednesday night league as me, which baffles me because she is really good.

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Michael, Mary, and me with ref Ron Ponder.

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I had to take a pic of these ladies and their awesome “I Love Lucy” shirts.

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We had fabulous court-side VIP seats.

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These are Leigh Waters and Anna Leigh Waters. Leigh played with Dave Weinback and Anna Leigh played with Kyle Yates. I really wish I could have watched this mother and daughter duo play together. At least I got to watch them play against each other. It was an exciting match!

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Anna Leigh and Kyle ended up winning and took third.

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Wichita’s golden pickleball couple — Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright.

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Lucy and Matt took second with the big winners being Simone and Ben who both got golds in the women’s and men’s doubles events as well.

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Here’s me with the Asian pickleball crew (Jimmy, Michael, and Patrick) with our honorary white dude, Bruce. LOL.

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Some more pickleball friends — Becci, Jeanie, and Kim.

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Me and Jeanie with Anna Leigh and Kyle.

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They are so cute!

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These are all the mixed doubles winners.

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It was a great payday for these two especially.

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Franklin really went all out, complete with Franklin-branded yard games. It’s a shame it rained part of the time. We still had a great time, though.

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I hope this is only the first of many more exciting pickleball events to come!

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Pickleball League at Chicken N Pickle

Posted on October 5, 2019 by under Hobbies, Things to Do.    

While at competing in the pickleball event at the Wichita Corporate Challenge, I made a new friend and signed up for my first ever pickleball league. I met Renee at the WCC and she told me how she joined the women’s doubles pickleball league on Wednesday nights but she didn’t have a partner. We got to talking and I found out that the first night of play was September 11 and it just so happened that I wouldn’t have my Wednesday night Aqua Zumba class at South YMCA anymore after Labor Day so I had Wednesday nights free. I ended up signing up for the league and officially becoming her pickleball league partner for the season that same afternoon. It was quite spontaneous but I’m really glad I did it.

We are now four weeks in to the league — though we’ve only played three times because Koch decided to shut down CNP on one of our league nights so league play was canceled — and I’m really enjoying it. I think the universe brought us together for a reason. If it weren’t for her needing a partner, I probably wouldn’t have joined a league ever because I was pretty indifferent about it. Now I realize how much I’ve been missing out. It’s so much fun!

Here are some pictures from our first night of league…

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My teammate/partner Renee is on the left. The other two women are one of the opponents we had that first night, Laurie and Haley (team Haylo). Our team name is Heavy Dinkers. Renee’s coworker Mason suggested it when we were at the WCC that same afternoon at that I signed up.

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Here’s another pic of me with Laurie. She is very good.

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Brian came out the first night for moral support and took some action shots.

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Next time I think I will try to talk him into getting some video because I really want to be able to see what I’m doing.

This league has been super fun. The only downside is Renee has missed a couple of sessions. One was due to a Carrie Underwood concert and the other due to travel. So I’ve had different partners the last couple of times due to subs. I’m really looking forward to this Wednesday because she’s back and we will finally have another opportunity to play together. I’m so excited!

Until then, have a fabulous week. GNG.

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Pickleball Events

Posted on September 11, 2019 by under Hobbies.    

Our little pickleball Facebook group has grown so much in the last few months. We started it in January of this year with just a handful of people and now we have over 500 members. It’s actually grown much bigger than the Wichita Zumba Facebook group that has been around for over four years. It’s pretty amazing.

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Over Labor Day weekend, a bunch of pickleball peeps decided to have an impromptu cookout at Seneca Park. I was surprised by the awesome turnout.

I actually hadn’t planned on going. I had a full day of teaching Zumba classes that Sunday and then afterwards helped move exercise equipment at South YMCA for an hour. The park is on my way home so I told Brian I would just swing by to play a couple of games and see what was up.

Well, everyone came and even brought kids and spouses. It turned into a real party. I called Brian and begged him to come out. He went to the store and grabbed some hotdogs and buns and some condiments from our fridge (which we didn’t really need to bring because there were plenty of condiments there). I ended up going home to drop of my car and we rode back together (that way we only had one car and also so I could drink and not have to worry about driving home after).

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There are several fun pickleball events coming up but there are two in particular that I’ve been looking forward to: the Franklin Pickleball Masters Tournament at Chicken N Pickle and the Bob Jackson Friendship Tournament at Edgemoor Park. I’ll be a spectator at the former and I’ll be a participant in the latter.

I’m so excited about the Franklin Pickleball Masters that I actually purchased a weekend VIP pass for me and Brian, complete with court-side championship seats. I also subbed out all of my Zumba classes for the weekend so that we can spend as much time as we can watching the games all weekend long.

The Franklin Pickleball Masters is an invite-only event so there will be some heavy hitters participating. I am looking forward to meeting them all and, hopefully, getting their signatures on my pickleball paddle.

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Here are the match-ups for mixed doubles. There are some really amazing teams but I have to cheer for the home team: Matt and Lucy. They live in Wichita but are nationally acclaimed.

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As for the women’s doubles, Simone and Lucy (two of the best in the nation, perhaps even the world) are playing together so that’s going to be really fun to watch. The Kyle and Matt team up in men’s doubles is another one that will be fun to watch as well. I am so excited for next weekend!

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Then I will play in the Bob Jackson Friendship Tournament the following weekend. It’s part of a series of tournaments the group is hosting to raise money for lights at the Edgemoor Park pickleball courts. Kathy, Gregg, and the rest of the gang have been selling t-shirts like crazy (I have bought several myself, actually) to raise money for lights. We are hoping to meet this goal next year. It will be nice to finally have lights out there. It will extend our play times considerably.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I joined a pickleball league at Chicken N Pickle (my first ever) and tonight is our first night of play. Until next time. GNG.

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