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Weekend Recap

Posted on July 28, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies.    

Besides the Jonny Pickleball Show at Chicken N Pickle on Friday, there was lots of pickleball that happened over the weekend. We had our Saturday morning Queen of Court play from 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM and then we had another weekend of “pool pickleball” at Brooke’s house.

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I debuted a new outfit from Sofibella’s “Love at First Serve” line. I mostly got it because I saw that my friend Regina got it and I always try to get the same stuff so we can twin in the off chance that we happen to be at the same place at the same time… One of these days.

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Our Fil-Am Pickleball Association (FAPA) shirts finally arrived (after months of waiting – stinking COVID) and so I got those delivered to mom and dad (on Saturday morning) and my friend Tom (on Sunday afternoon).

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I delivered the shirt this weekend to everyone this weekend.

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I normally play mixed at Edgemoor Park on Sundays but I decided to skip it weekend because my friend Steve wanted to play. I hadn’t played with him in forever so I chose him over early morning mixed play. We decided that we would go check out the noon open play at Nahola and just see who would be there. Nahola made sense because after almost a month of no lessons with Chris because he’s been super busy, I was supposed to have a lesson (finally) with him on Sunday at ten o’clock. Anyway, Steve asked Chris if he could stay and play with us after my lesson so we could start at eleven. Karen agreed to come to Nahola at eleven also, so that we would have exactly four players. But then Chris had the brilliant idea to just play for a couple of hours if I was okay with skipping my lesson again. I love my lesson time with Chris but it’s not everyday that you get to play with him so it was a no-brainer. So then the four of us agreed to meet at Nahola at 10 AM for two hours of play before the noon open play on Sunday.

It was a great plan until Chris was invited to play with the out of town pros on Sunday morning at Chicken N Pickle so then Chris was like, “Could we play at Chicken N Pickle from 11 AM to 1 PM instead?” I had no problem relocating our game to CNP. It was actually more convenient because it’s closer to my house. Steve lives on the East side too and then Karen was coming from Edgemoor so it was actually better all the way around. Anyway, it was super nice of Chris to accommodate our group instead of canceling since he was already playing for a couple of hours this morning. If people wonder why he is my absolute favorite (above the handsome Patrick Smith), this is why. He is just super nice.

It is such a treat to play with Chris. He is so fun and at the same time so amazing. I’m always left in awe. The only downside about playing with him is that I often find myself just spectating and admiring his awesome shots so, instead of playing well, I end up playing terrible.

I went to Seneca Park later that day to deliver Tom’s FAPA shirt. I wasn’t going to stay originally because I don’t really go to open play at the park these days but I think I wanted to make myself feel better. I mean, I’m pretty decent at pickleball. It’s just that I’ve been playing with some really great players lately so I suck by comparison. I’m pretty good against regular players. And I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. I have actually gotten a lot better.

Anyway, besides Tom, Paul, Becci, Bruce, Roger, Greg, and Bob (McAuley) were there so, even though there were several newbies, we still had some decent games. I had quit going to the park because of the disparate beginner to intermediate player ratio. But Paul, who I haven’t played with in what seems like forever because of his knee surgery, was there so it made it totally worth it. I had fun playing. So much fun that I completely forgot all about my folding chair when I left. I went back to the park last night to see if it was still there. No such luck.

However, I did meet some new pickleball players. Bob happened to be there so I got a game in before my Zumba class. The best part is I hit an ATP (around the post shot) for game point thanks to an assist from Bob. It was really cool. I’ve hit a few ATPs now and that was the most comfortable and natural one I’ve ever hit. I think it helps when I’m playing with newer players because the pace of the game is so much slower. I am so used to playing with people better than me now that when I play with newer players the ball seems to go in slow motion.

Bob has been playing a long time (longer than me even) so his shots aren’t slow. They’re actually pretty good but Jason, the player directly across from me at the time is a beginner, so I think that’s why I wasn’t super stressed about hitting that ATP. It was like, Bam! No biggie. LOL. The fact that it was the game winning point was icing on the cake. What a way to finish!

Anyway, that’s pretty much your weekend (plus Monday) recap. Until next time. GNG.

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Sunday Mixed at the Park

Posted on July 17, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies, Things to Do.    

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Seneca Park is hands down my most favorite public park. I’m not really much of a park goer. Except, twenty years ago visiting Sedgwick County Parks to have a nice picnic and feed the ducks was one of our favorite cheap date activities. I can honestly say, I haven’t been to Sedgwick County Park in forever. For one, we have ducks out back that I can feed any time I get the hankering for it. Secondly, it’s clear out West.

Seneca Park is probably the only park (besides Edgemoor Park) that I visit regularly (and mostly only because of pickleball). I like playing at both public parks (primarily because it doesn’t cost a dime to play) but Seneca Park is my ultimate favorite because of the shade provided by the trees and street access. You can basically park right next to the pickleball courts. Also, it’s easy to do a quick drive-by, see who is playing, and decided whether or not you want to stay and play.

At Edgemoor Park, there’s a little skate park between the pickleball courts and the parking lot. There are also windscreens that prevent you from seeing who is playing. You can’t tell who’s playing just by driving by. You actually have to get out of your car and walk over to the courts. LOL.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to figure out who’s playing when people post their play times on Playtime Scheduler, but people don’t always do that. Sometimes people just want to play privately with their own crew. When you post on Playtime Scheduler (or on the Wichita Pickleball Facebook group, for that matter), it’s an open invitation for everyone to come and play.

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I don’t really do open plays as much anymore because I’m always already playing with specific people. My favorite thing right now is Jimmy’s mixed doubles events on Sunday. Our start time is so early but totally worth it. At first we started with only 9 mixed teams and now we are up to a solid 12 teams on our roster.

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The first weekend that I played, I played with my friend Michael Cheung and we revived our Cobra Kai team shirts. The following weekend, I played with my friend Tom Pham (one of my favorite leftys). The funny thing about this is I actually asked my friend Chris Wilson first (also a lefty) but Kim Knotts had already asked him to play and they usually play together because the have an upcoming tournaments so he had already said yes to her. So anyway, I told him I found another lefty to play with. He immediately thought I was referring to Cody Courter, another lefty who is super amazing and well-known in our circle. I didn’t reply to his text because I just wanted him to mull it over because Cody is probably the best lefty pickleball player in all of Wichita. LOL.

The other hilarious thing is when Jimmy sends a group text to the ladies to tell him who their partners will be, and all of these texts come in, I’m usually texting some random made up thing like “Ching and Chris Heck” or “Ching and Patrick Smith” just to see people’s reactions. They know I’m totally joking because those guys wouldn’t play in our little Sunday thing, but I think it’s the funniest thing ever.

This last Sunday however, I did get Patrick Smith’s men’s league partner Jamie Lynch to play. So I had three different partners over the last three weeks. Since Brian doesn’t play pickleball and I don’t have a “pickleball husband” (like my friend Karen does — she’s gone through two already), I’m not locked in to a specific partner. I’m kind of enjoying the flexibility that I have to play with various people. Sometimes it sucks because I don’t have someone I can count on to play with me for various events and play times but the positive side of it is if there’s a different person I want to play with for a specific thing then I don’t feel like I have to “check” with my normal partner to give them first rights of refusal.

Anyway, we first started our Sunday games at Seneca Park but quickly outgrew it. Patti has a large group that plays there on Sundays and the most we can get is usually three courts. We relocated our mixed doubles games to Edgemoor Park where we know we can get all six courts as long as we start at 6 AM. It’s worked well for us the last couple of weeks. We will be playing with a full group of 24 players again this weekend. This time were doing full-on King of Court. Normally, the mixed pairs stay together as they move up or down the court ladder. This weekend Jimmy is going to have the pairs split up. It should be interesting.

I’ll let you know how it goes this weekend. Until next time. GNG.

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Chicken N Pickle Festivities This Week

Posted on July 11, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies.    

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Michael Harris, head pickleball guy at Chicken N Pickle, turned 27 on Wednesday so I brought chocolate cake in his honor. It was delicious!

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His wife Naomi came to hang out so we finally got to meet her.

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I just happened to be there on Wednesday for mixed doubles with Kyle, Ryan, and Ryan’s wife Renae. I didn’t know that it was Michael’s birthday until that same day but thankfully Costco always comes through.

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Then this morning, my friend Karen and I played in the Doubles and Bubbles tournament at Chicken N Pickle. She had signed us up for it a few weeks ago.

We decided to wear our matching Sofibella skorts with white tanks. Karen made us these patches to make our team uniforms look more legit. She is so creative!

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I didn’t really know what to expect because it had been a while since I played in one of these events but I had so much fun! Karen and I actually won the tournament today. We won some Chicken N Pickle swag (it was a green tank that I already had two of but you can’t really have too many – now I can wear as a sort of uniform, which is only fitting because I’m there so much practically live at Chicken N Pickle) and Karen got to take home the big bracket poster.

Next week it’s the guys’ turn! Until next time. GNG.

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Ching is Now a USAPA Ambassador

Posted on July 8, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies.    

I did a thing last month. My friend Jeanie encouraged me to apply to become a USAPA ambassador for our area. They must have been in dire need because it happened very quickly. Less than a week after I submitted my application, I was approved. My friend and co-ambasssador for Wichita Gregg Smith actually found out about my becoming a USAPA ambassador before I did.

The move made perfect sense because I’d already been playing pickleball for over a year and I was completely hooked. I even got Brian to gift me with a lifetime membership to USAPA for Christmas last year. I am fully committed to supporting the organization that represents and promotes the sport. I was already sharing my love for pickleball with everyone, welcome or not. I was already an evangelist even before being anointed with an ambassadorship.

The only surprise really was why I took so long to apply. It’s a great fit from the start and, I suppose the USAPA organization saw it too, because they approved my application super quickly.

The current ambassadors for our area are:
Wichita – Gregg Smith
Mulvane – Cameron Tucker
El Dorado – Jeanie Ferguson
Topeka – Eldonna Coats

Eldonna is also our district ambassador, so basically she is the leader of all the ambassadors in our district. I had the opportunity to meet her for the first when she came to visit Wichita a couple of weeks ago.

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Group photo (from left): Cameron, Eldonna, Jeanie, and Ching.

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I already knew Cameron and Jeanie but it was nice to get together with fellow ambassadors. I had a blast playing with them. The only person we missed was Gregg, who was golfing in Manhattan that day couldn’t make it — but I’m hoping this won’t be the last time we all get together.

That’s all for now. Until next time. GNG.

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First Time Back at CNP

Posted on May 13, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies.    

Chicken N Pickle reopened last week, which was just in time for our top contributor reward. A couple of months ago I decided to start giving prizes to recognize top contributors to our Wichita Pickleball Facebook group to encourage more engagement and activity within the group. We had planned a trip to Hilton Head Island and so I was thinking I would bring some Head swag back from Ansboury Academy which I could use as a prize.

Alas, that trip didn’t happen so I ended up just giving a $25 Amazon gift certificate to the winner who turned out to be Cameron. He immediately used it to buy some pickleballs, which makes sense because we are constantly breaking them.

For the month of April, rather than giving away another Amazon gift certificate, I decided the prize would be a one-hour court reservation at Chicken N Pickle. The condition was that, since I’m paying for the reservation, I would get to play but the winner would get to invite two others to play with us.

My friend Mark Smith ended up winning. When I reached out to him about the date and time that he would like to claim his reward, and agreed on Thursday, May 7, I found out that it was his birthday the very next day. So I ended up reserving an extra hour as his birthday present and he got two invite two additional people.

Here are some of our pictures from that evening…

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Our group consisted of (from left) Mark’s siblings Kim Shea and Gregg Smith, Kim Knotts (Mark’s usual mixed doubles partner), Brooke Ayala (Kim Knotts’ doubles partner), and me. We probably could have invited more people to play with us but we were limited by Chicken N Pickle to six people per court based on the current social distancing rules. Everyone in the Wichita pickleball community is just so lovely and so much fun.

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Kim Knotts even brought these delicious cupcakes for everyone.

Anyway, it was great to be back at Chicken N Pickle after being away for so long. I just love playing there because it’s an outside court surface but indoors. I’ve missed playing with these guys so much too so it was great to be together again.

It’s been super rainy this week so I’ve actually been hanging out at CNP quite a bit. Since making the court reservations for Mark’s top contributor reward last week, I’ve made a few more reservations.

Last night I was there to play with Jimmy Cho, Michael Cheung, and Ryan DeSantis. It was so much fun! Jimmy even complimented me on the progress I’ve made since the last time he’d seen me play. It made me feel good.

While we were playing, he gave me a couple of lobs that were unsuccessful for him and winners for me. I hit the first one in the air backwards as I was running to get it and ended up lobbing it right back. It landed in and neither Michael nor Jimmy could get to it. I ended up smashing the second lob for a winner. I think he was utterly surprised. I used to not know how to hit overheads but Chris Heck has been helping me and I can actually hit them now. I still flub them once in a while but I feel pretty good about hitting them now for the most part.

I’m playing at Chicken N Pickle again tonight. This time with my friends Tiffany Lesperance, Donnie Lesperance, and Steve Vetter. On Thursday I’m playing with Mark’s group. I’d be back again on Friday but I have a group lesson with my friends Karen Fox and Jenny Cole at Nahola.

I have some court reservations in queue for next week but I’m think I might reserve something for Saturday too because it’s supposed to be rainy that day. I need to figure out who’s available to play, though. Coordinating everyone’s schedules is usually the biggest challenge. Anyway, I’m super grateful to be playing again finally. Time to run off to Chicken N Pickle. Until next time. GNG.

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