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Making New Friends

Posted on July 23, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies.    

My morning pickleball play group recently hit an all time high. We broke records this morning when we had enough players for all six courts at Edgemoor. Actually, there were 24 confirmed players and, at one point, we had two more in the waiting list.

When I started my early morning play last year, I never imagined that there would be this many people wanting to get up super early to play. I thought I would be lucky to get three others to play with me. Last year we often did get eight players but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could fill up all six courts at the park.

Morning play has not been without its challenges…


Play last year at Seneca Park went relatively smoothly but this year our group grew to an average of 8-12 players and some of the players at the park didn’t understand. Because we would often run past the 7 AM hour, even though there were empty courts, they felt like they should be able to rotate in. The challenge with that is because we play a ladder or king of court format, we need an even group of players so we can’t just have random people joining and leaving. There has to be a set number of players for a specific period of time.

First, people complained that I was hosting “private” play at our public parks but, honestly, the only reason that it was private was I was mainly only inviting the people who I knew were open to playing that early in the morning. Since people complained about the games being “private,” I decided to open them up to everyone on Playtime Scheduler. But even that wasn’t sufficient. Please were still unhappy that we were playing at the park. Probably because we were having such a good time and they weren’t because they had to wait for games to finish because they didn’t have an even number of people? Who knows?

Anyway, making the play public is when things really exploded. We ended up with an average of 12 players and sometimes 16. This morning, we hit a record-high of 24 (although I did have three no-shows so we really could only fill five of the courts — which worked out because there was a group of ladies that showed up and they needed the remaining court and, had everyone who wanted to play shown up, there would not have been an empty court for these ladies to use).

Since making the games public, I have met so many new people who I have never met or played with before. Y’all know how much I love meeting new people so I’ve just been eating it up. And then sometimes you meet someone so amazing that you just want to be part of their growth.


EXHIBIT A: Tony Mathews (left) with me and Cameron Tucker and Tyler Smith (in the matching shirts)

This picture was taken at the Wichita Metro Crime Commission benefit tournament at Chicken N Pickle last Sunday, July 18. I had only met Tony a couple of days before but the morning that we met was the same day that I found out from Erica that she couldn’t play with me in the tournament. Tony just happened to be at the right place at the right time and I had a lot of fun playing with him that morning, so I invited him to play in Erica’s place and, as luck would have it, he just happened to be available. It turned out to be a good thing too because he raise way more money for our team than I did.

Anyway, Tony is going to be amazing. He’s only been playing pickleball for two months and he is already really good. It won’t take much to get him to the highest level. I expect his progress to be a lot like Meredith’s, where she basically learned to play the game and within months was competing with highly skilled players.

I’m going to get on Tony’s good side now so that, when he hits the big time, I can say I knew him when. LOL.


On Monday morning, I had the opportunity to meet and play with a young man from Hutchinson, Kansas named Bo Tolbert. This guy is amazing and so much fun to play with. He was looking at getting some pickleball instructor certifications but most of the programs require you to be 21 or over so he can’t do it until next year.

This kid is going to be on his way up, too. He’s a great player now and I can tell that he’s still growing and has the potential to get even better.

Now that I’ve been playing pickleball for a couple of years, I’ve met all sorts of people — all ages, genders, race, people from various backgrounds. I’ve been people who have been playing a long time and others who have only recently picked up the game. I’ve met a lot of players who started playing and immediately got really good (Cody and Meredith) and others who have taken some time to develop their game and others who are still at the same skill level as when I met them a couple of years ago (and there’s nothing wrong with that — some people are content to play with their same play groups and don’t desire to play in tournaments so once they get to a certain level there is no longer that same need or drive to improve).

I am particularly enviously of people who pick up the sport and are instantly amazing at it (ex-tennis players and other really athletic people whose previous sports backgrounds translate well to pickleball) because my progress has been long and arduous and slow as molasses. However, I try to remind myself that it’s not a race. Some people will get there first and some people get there later but, if the desire is there, they do get there eventually. I think the key is to continue to make progress and I feel like that’s what I’m doing. Every day that I play I feel like I am better than the time before. I may not be exponentially better but even the slightest bit of improvement is progress.

So anyway, I’m just going to keep on truckin’ and eventually maybe I’ll wake up and all of a sudden I’m awesome. Ha! Not likely to happen but that won’t stop me from trying. Until next time, GNG.

Related Stories

  • If You Build It, They Will Come on August 4, 2021
  • Meeting Pickleball Friends In Person on September 6, 2020
  • Saturday Morning Pickleball Group on November 28, 2020
  • World Pickleball Day 2020 on October 10, 2020
  • New Pickleball Stuff on August 4, 2020

  • Replies to "Making New Friends"


    If You Build It, They Will Come  on August 4, 2021

    […] us to grow from an average of twelve players to an average of sixteen and there was one day that we peaked at 26 sign ups! We could potentially fill all six courts. Who knew that there would be that many people wanting to […]

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