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Fall 2021 Mixed Leagues

Posted on November 10, 2021 by under Hobbies.    

I had the privilege of playing in two really awesome mixed leagues this past session. I got to play in the Tuesday night mixed competitive league at Chicken N Pickle with my friend Jamie Lynch and also the Monday night 4.0+ mixed league at Nahola with my friend Ian Carr.

My new friend Tony Mathews was supposed to play in the Chicken N Pickle league with me but his work schedule shifted before the league began. The most disappointing part of this was that we were really looking forward to playing together. I even invested in a couple of team shirts.

Tony is the first partner I’ve ever invited to play with me who’s been completely engaged from the beginning. He picked our team name — Wonton Typhoon — and helped design the shirt graphic, and yet he didn’t even get to play. None of my other partners have ever cared what we called our team or cared what the shirts looked like. I basically just gave them a shirt to wear and that was that.

I came up with a draft design of our shirts based on the team name that he came up with and, much to my surprise, he was like, “Do I get to see the design?”

It was fine with me but unexpected because no one has ever cared before. After seeing the shirt graphic he wanted to add some Chinese to-go boxes with our names underneath them. Then he wanted the graphic on the back instead of the front. And he didn’t really want the to-go boxes as part of the graphic. So we took it out but left the one on the front left chest. He also wanted to use a specific font that was more like an Asian font instead of just a basic, regular font. There was a lot of back and forth and reworking of the design before he approved it.

Wonton Typhoon

This is the first draft of our team t-shirt design collaboration based on the feedback he provided.

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This is the final result of our design collaboration.

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Here’s a close up of the to-go box and name on the front. Mine says “Ching-a-Ling” and his says “Daniel-San” (his middle name).

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But it didn’t end there. For the first version of the shirt, I forgot to confirm the size of the main image on the back so it ended up being too small. Tony wanted it as big as possible so then I asked Nicole to make another version with the design as big as she could possibly make it on the back.

So now I had two versions of this shirt which didn’t even work out because the shirts turned out to be too big. I ordered shirts based on the size he told me to get but the shirts run big so then I ordered a smaller shirt and got another made. While I’m waiting for the third shirt, I find out that his schedule has changed and he can’t even play. So now I had three extra men’s shirts that I couldn’t use.

As the league session is about to begin, I am now without a mixed partner but, as luck would have it, my friend Jamie agreed to play with me. Jamie is an amazing pickleball player and an excellent mixed doubles partner so this actually worked out great. I could not have gotten a better last minute mixed doubles partner.

The only downside is that Jamie has an aversion for matching outfits so I really didn’t know what to do with the shirts. I gave the correctly sized one to Tony and then I just had these other two shirts hanging around. I was still hopeful that one day I would get to play with someone who would not only fit in the shirts but also be willing to wear them.

I still wore my shirts every week that we played, even though my partner didn’t want to wear his. Anyway, I wasn’t too concerned about not having matching outfits because Jamie was an excellent mixed doubles partner in every sense which totally made up him not wanting to wear the shirts.

Jamie is so good that, for the first time in a long time, I was part of the #1 seed team going into league tournament night. We played two matches each week for six weeks and the league tournament was held on the seventh and final week. We only had two losses during the entire session — against Dropping L’s (Tiffany and Donnie Lesperance) and against Steve and Jen (Jen Tiano and Steve Vetter) — which was the best record of all the teams. The #2 seed team — Volley Llamas (Jen Reifschneider and Ian Carr) — had three losses. However, Jamie and I really only lost one match together that league session because the loss to Steve and Jen happened the week that Darren Snyder subbed for him.

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Here are the team standings for our league leading up to tournament night.

#1 – Wonton Typhoon (my team)
#2 – Volley Llamas (Jen Reifschneider and Ian Carr)
#3 – Steve and Jen (Jen Tiano and Steve Vetter)
#4 – J & S (Jenny Cole and Scott Wolford)
#5 – Conmans (Kim Blackmon and Matt Conrad)
#5 – Dropping L’s (Tiffany and Donnie Lesperance)
#6 – K & M (Kim Knotts and Michael Harris)
#7 – Chudley Cannons (Rachel McMahon and Kyle Long)
#8 – Watch Out (Erica Lopez and Zach Nguyen)
#9 – Shake and Bake (Amy Poynter and Ryan Kellenbarger)
#10 – Pickle Busters (Dawn Hazelwood and Caesar Naftzger)

I felt like Jamie and I had a really good shot at winning the league tournament this session but he was out of town on league tournament night. I got Matthew Rochat to sub for him. He was an excellent sub and as an added bonus the two shirts I had lying around actually fit him.

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I wish there was a prize for best dressed team because we looked so legit in our matching outfits! Besides our dope team uniforms, we actually played really well together despite it being our first time ever playing together in a competitive setting. Maybe the matching outfits helped?

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We didn’t win but Wonton Typhoon did pretty well.

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Being the #1 seed, our team had a first round bye. We on our first match comfortably against Watch Out who defeated Chudley Cannons. Our next match was against Steve and Jen. They are one of the toughest teams in the league because Steve is probably hands down the best male player in the group but we Jamie and I can usually beat them. Even though Jamie isn’t the best male player, I think he understands how to play mixed better than any of the other guys in our league with the exception of Donnie. I really needed Jamie that night.

Matthew is a great player but mixed doubles is not his forte. I had to keep encouraging him to poach and also complimenting him on good poaches all night long so that he would continue to do it because he doesn’t like to poach and feels bad whenever he does. And, to win at mixed, it’s all about the poaching and put-aways. My super awesome setups are often wasted when I play with a partner who can’t capitalize on them.

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That loss put us in the consolation bracket where we had to face off against Volley Llamas who had an amazing win against Conmans so they were still riding high from that. Jen and Ian are also a super tough team because they’ve been playing together a lot and have actually won some tournaments together but they’re also beatable when I am playing with Jamie. Perhaps he is really that good but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he knows what balls to give me and what balls to take. Not having as much experience playing with Matthew definitely put us at a disadvantage. We ended up losing that match which ended our tournament run.

Here’s a link to the tournament livestream. We didn’t get all of the matches because we could only stream one court but we did get five hours of tournament footage.

Not making the finals when you are the #1 seed is disappointing but I was very happy with how we played overall. I think Matthew and I gelled pretty well as a team. We had good communication and, although he could have been more aggressive with the poaching, I was satisfied with how much he took vs. how much he let me play. I told him not to feel bad about our losses because these teams have been playing together for a very long time. We actually performed quite well for not practicing and not having played together at all. If we had a little bit of practice together, I have no doubt that we could beat all of those teams without even breaking a sweat. I’m not one to exaggerate so you know I truly believe this. With a little bit of time investment, I think we could be a serious contender in the mixed competitive leagues.

The other mixed league I got to play in this session was the Monday night 4.0+ mixed league at Nahola. I signed up for that league not knowing that I needed a partner. Thankfully, I ran into Ian during Friday night open play two days before the start of league and he happened to be available. It was great playing with Ian because he is an excellent mixed partner but the downside of this is that he got be really familiar with my game (more specifically my weaknesses) which he then could turn around and use against me on the Tuesday night league when he is playing with his normal partner, Jen.

That league was also full of talented pickleball players. There were seven teams, listed below in no particular order.

Kayla Keuter and Gary Miller
Kim Knotts and Daniel Nguyen
Greta Siemens and Bryant Hart
Colby Fugit and Ben Meyer
Heather Griffin and Chris Wilson
Melissa and Brent Youngers
and then me and Ian Carr

The league at Nahola is fun but, since there are only two courts there, you only play one game to 11 instead of playing full matches. You do get to play several games in one night though but, if you lose the game, you don’t get a crack at them again until the following week. It is also only one game to 11 on tournament night so you don’t really have time to make adjustments. If you can’t adjust mid-game, you’re pretty much hosed. That’s typically me because I play like a cruise ship — slow and steady and unable to make a quick 180. It takes me several points and sometimes an entire game to course-correct.

Tournament night on Monday was a bit disappointing because two of the seven teams were missing. Melissa/Brent and Colby/Ben weren’t there. We basically just did a round robin followed by a single elimination bracket. It was kind of anti-climactic. I would have much rather skipped the round robin and did a best 2 out of 3 games to 11 single elimination (or double elimination, if time allowed). I couldn’t really get in the mood for it because it didn’t feel like a real tournament. It felt like just another day playing rec ball. Anyway, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

The next round of Monday night mixed league at Nahola is for 4.5+ so I’m not sure if I can get in it but we did start another session at Chicken N Pickle. Jamie is playing in men’s competitive on Wednesday night this session which left me without a partner for Tuesday night mixed. However, Colby reached out to me a few days ago about taking her spot and playing with Dustin. She will probably return next session when she’s feeling better.

This session at Chicken N Pickle is only five weeks long. Last night was our first night and Dustin and I, playing as Designated Dinkers, are off to a great start. We beat Ian and Jen (Volley Llamas) in 2 straight games and we also beat Steve and Jen in 2 straight games. It was a great league night overall.

I still have several things I need to work on but I have killer defense and, when my third shot drops are on, they’re good for some free points. We did get some free points on my serve too, which is unusual because there is absolutely nothing special about my serve. I think the other teams were probably having an off night. Off night or not, it’s good to get those matches out of the way and come out unscathed. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this pickleball thing!

Until next time. GNG.

Related Stories

  • Chicken N Pickle Mixed Competitive Leagues on March 5, 2021
  • New League Session is Here on November 9, 2020
  • League Finals on September 21, 2020
  • Chicken N Pickle League Recap on June 18, 2021
  • League Update on August 18, 2020

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