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Archive for "Hobbies"

Pickleball-Filled Holiday Break

Posted on December 31, 2019 by under Hobbies.    

I feel like a girl juggling two boyfriends. My spare time is currently split between pickleball and Zumba. I’ve had a pretty good balance the last few months but, from time to time, one will have more of my attention than the other.

Over the summer when I first developed tennis elbow and had to stop playing pickleball (pickleball and I were basically “on the outs” so to speak), I ended up picking up additional Zumba classes. Zumba became “my shoulder to cry on” of sorts. Zumba is like the boyfriend who loves you unconditionally. The dependable one that you can always count on. You break up with him many times and then when things don’t work out with the other guy, he takes you back with open arms like nothing ever happened.

Pickleball is like the new guy you just met. The mysterious, elusive one that you want to learn more about. The one that you look forward to spending time with and will rearrange your schedule for. Even when he breaks your heart (like when you had to take a break because of tennis elbow), you still can’t wait to see him again.

So after I came back from my tennis elbow hiatus, I started playing once a week and then twice a week — but not on consecutive days. Then I started playing more frequently. Then over Thanksgiving break, I put my tennis elbow through its paces by playing consecutive days. Somehow my tennis elbow hasn’t bothered me too bad. I just always wear my arm brace when playing and I seem to do fine so now I’m back to playing pickleball as much as my schedule allows which is really tricky.

I joined a women’s doubles pickleball league at Chicken N Pickle last fall (when my Wednesday night Aqua Zumba class ended at South YMCA) and had such a blast so I wanted to keep going. After the fall league ended, I did the holiday women’s doubles league with my friend Kimberly. We played as Jingle Ballers. The team name was her idea and she even made us awesome team shirts.

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Anyway, I just couldn’t get enough of pickleball so I decide give up my Sunday morning 10:30 AM Aqua Zumba class at South YMCA so I could start playing the Sunday morning open play at Chicken N Pickle. A bunch of my pickleball friends were going and I felt like I was missing out.

I guess you could say in this juggling of Zumba and pickleball that I’ve been doing, ever since my tennis elbow started to get more manageable, Zumba has taken a back seat. I still enjoy it but not as much as I enjoy pickleball. I am obsessed with pickleball right now. In my free time, when I’m not playing pickleball, I’m watching pickleball videos, and when I’m not playing or watching videos, I’m thinking about when I can play next and how I can get better at it.

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I was so excited when Becca wanted to celebrate her birthday at Chicken N Pickle. She and Jay and Tina and Justin all signed up for the Flannel Pickleball Tournament. I hadn’t originally signed up for the tournament but, as luck would have it, someone on Wichita Pickleball Connection was looking for a partner because their partner fell through. Not only did I get to celebrate with Becca on her birthday, I also got to play pickleball. Other friends and family came to hang out. Whether you played in the tournament or not, everyone seemed to have a blast.

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I met Jeanie’s girls from El Dorado that night.

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The next day was Thanksgiving Day. I had originally signed up to play in the Top Turkey Tournament at West YMCA but the gym flooded because of a problem with their swimming pool so the tournament was canceled. I ended up going to the special Thanksgiving pickleball event at the Andover YMCA instead. It was actually the best of both worlds because I got to do Zumba with Charis and Amanda and pickleball on the same day. We had a great turnout. The best part was I got to see my friend Betty (pictured below).

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The next big pickleball event was the Ugly Sweater Tournament at Chicken N Pickle. It was supposed to be mixed but Aaron made an exception so Kimberly and I could play together.

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Kimberly and I decided to wear our holiday league uniforms one last time for the tournament because, frankly, I didn’t want to play in a sweater. I figured it would be too hot and I wanted to be comfortable.

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Kimberly and I had such a blast.

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This next pickleball picture was taken at Seneca Park. You would think that our days of playing outside were over but those afflicted with pickleball addiction will do anything to play. Debbie got us together and we posed for a group holiday photo.

Each year I usually take vacation over the holidays just to get a break. In years past, I filled my time off with various Zumba classes. Last year, it was a little bit of Zumba and a little bit of pickleball. This year, with the exception of the classes I was teaching, I pretty much just played pickleball. Thus is the extent of my pickleball addition. I would say it’s sad but not really because I’m enjoying every minute of it.

I’m not sure what 2020 holds. I’m hoping I get to play more pickleball. It’s so hard with my current Zumba schedule. I’m so torn. I’ve thought about giving up some more Zumba classes to make more time for pickleball but I love Zumba too. I guess I’ll just continue to ride this love triangle I have with pickleball and Zumba and see where it goes. Until next time. GNG.

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Post Pickleball Chow Down

Posted on November 29, 2019 by under Hobbies.    

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A few weeks ago, before we left for vacation, my friend Amy and I decided we wanted to check out the open plan at Nahola. Nahola is where all of the really good pickleball players play and Friday night is 3.5 and above night. I know some of the better players might not like playing with less skilled players so I had the brilliant idea to invite a bunch of pickleball friends so, even if we did get snubbed, we for sure would have people to play with. LOL.

The players, those who stayed (some people left and went to the single court inside) and played with us, were actually pretty nice. The drop in fee of $7 is a bit steep (compared to the $2 and $3 that we normally pay at the rec centers and local churches) but I wouldn’t mind playing over there again. At the time, Immanuel Baptist Church Family Life Center (FLC) had 4.0 and above listed for Friday night so if you’re under 4.0 you really didn’t have any options. FLC has since opened up Friday nights to lower rated players. It is cheaper ($3 drop in) and actually closer to our house. Nahola is all the way out West. I’ve yet to play on Friday night since returning from vacation because we’ve always had stuff going on and FLC isn’t playing tonight due to the Thanksgiving holiday but I’m super glad that we now have a couple of really good options for Friday night play.

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We worked up an appetite playing pickleball that night so afterwards a bunch of us went to Old Chicago for dinner. It (clockwise from left in the below pic) was Cody, Matt, Michael, Eric, Kimberly, me and Brian. I invited Brian because I figured he would want to eat dinner too. Except that was an expensive night because his Lyft ride cost $30 (going from almost Andover to the West side of town during prime time on Friday night). The price you pay for convenience.

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Oh, well. I think at some point I’m going to have to get over the not wanting to drive two cars thing because this aversion is costing us money. Speaking of money, we’re actually saving quite a bit by opting out of the whole Black Friday insanity. LOL.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the weekend!

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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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