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No Medals but Had a Ton of Fun

Posted on November 18, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies, Travel.    

Some people bring back medals from their out of town tournaments. I bring back new friends which, in a way, is even cooler than medals. One of my favorite things about going to pickleball tournaments is making new friends and reconnecting with friends I’ve made from past tournaments. It’s a lot like ZINCON in that way.

Brian and I originally planned to drive down to Oklahoma on Thursday night because I wasn’t sure what time I was playing on Friday but, when I found out that our division wasn’t starting until 11:45 am, we decided to cancel our Thursday night stay and only spend one night at the hotel to save money. We were originally going to take Saki with us but then realized we wouldn’t be able to take her inside the tennis facility so she ended up getting boarded which ended up using the money we saved on our hotel stay.

This tournament was set up differently in that tournaments are typically held on Saturday and Sunday. This one held events on Friday and Saturday. Gender doubles was on Friday and then mixed was on Saturday.

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I played with Jen Reifschneider in women’s doubles. I’m glad she agreed to play because I originally only had mixed lined up. This was only our second time playing together. We played together for the first time in ICT Fall-out back in September. We did pretty well (getting further than any of the other local women’s doubles teams in our division) and I had a lot of fun playing with her. I had high hopes for this tournament but also knew that it would be challenging because it was a sanctioned tournament and typically players play their actual level (or sometimes lower) instead of playing up.

We had the misfortune of playing against the gold medal team in our first round and then just had a rough go during our second match. I felt like we really should have medaled because even the gold medal team felt like we were their main competition (we were the only team to take them to 3 games, until the championship match) so I think we were just unlucky.

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Anyway, once we were out, I took advantage of the time to catch up with friends like Michael McLemore who I only ever see at pickleball tournaments. I also enjoyed watching everyone play and taking a few pics.

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We had dinner at Industry that evening. Our group consisted of over 20 people. Most of us were from Wichita but some were from Hays. We also made some new friends. I invited the two girls who won gold in our division to dinner because (a) I had no bitter feelings at all, and (b) they were super nice. I ran into Jenna earlier that day in the restroom and she was super complementary about how Jen and I played. She didn’t gloat and wasn’t a jerk so I invited her and Danae and Danae’s husband Barrett to join our group for dinner. Incidentally, she lives close to the restaurant and Danae and Barrett were both staying with her so it worked out perfectly. We did have to add another table and a couple more chairs but we made it work and everyone seemed to have a great time visiting with one another over dinner. Pickleball peeps are the best!

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We just keep adopting people into the Wichita Pickleball family. LOL.

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Here are some pictures of our food.

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I tried to get as many food pics as I could but it was just too difficult because everyone was so far away from me.

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Brian and I got a couple of the charcuterie plates to share with everyone as we waited for everyone to arrive to order dinner. As is what typically happens, we ordered way too much food. Brian and I only ate half of our pizza and we couldn’t do anything with the rest of it because we were staying at a hotel (Avid) and going home the next day.

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Speaking of our hotel, I got to meet Alvaro Terron Gonzalez aka the Spanish Sensation or Jay 2.0 at breakfast the next morning because he just happened to be staying at the same hotel. He is super nice and graciously agreed to take a photo with me. I think he is still getting use to the idea of being famous.

Brian says he think I am more famous than Alvaro. This never would have occurred to me had this guy not asked to take a photo with me when I was at Riverside Tennis Center last week. He said “his mom is a huge fan” – his words not mine. Maybe Brian is on to something and maybe I am really more famous than I realize?

I am usually the one fan-girling so to have someone ask to get a pic with me kind of made me feel special. We’ve come full circle, friends.

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And speaking of full circle, my friend Justin (one of our friends from Hays) recently posted this on Facebook. Naturally, I got a kick out of it. Alvaro is super nice. I found out that he is good friends with Michael Douglas, my mixed partner for that tournament. Any time that he wasn’t playing he came to watch us play.

He was watching when we played against Kali Wilson and Kyle VonAhn and saw our heartbreaking 15-13 consolation bracket loss which ended our tournament run. I thanked him for coming to watch us and he said it was fun to watch and then also added, “Too bad Michael didn’t show up today!” to mess with Michael – LOL – who was standing right there. Alvaro is not only nice and handsome but he also has a great sense of humor, and he is climbing the ranks of my list of favorite people.

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Speaking of Michael, here’s a picture of him in the awesome team shirt that I had made for us. I had to make a different shirt (rather than a Wichita Pickleball one like mine and Jen’s) because Michael is from Tulsa, OK area.

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I think I did great on the shirt design because the tournament director Gene Click totally got a kick out of it. #NailedIt — I wish there was a prize for best dressed because Michael and I looked amazing in our team uniforms.

You are probably wondering how I got teamed up with Michael for the SMASH 2021 tournament. That is a really cool story actually. We met through the ICT Classic pickleball tournament back in June. He and his partner Deana Holman sent me and my partner Mason McCanless into the consolation bracket on their way to taking bronze.

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Even though we lost that match it was quite memorable. He said he was amazed how Mason and I managed to win the first game 14-12. I’m pretty sure we were down 0-8 or some insanely huge deficit like that. Michael said was super impressed at the significant amount of mental fortitude it took for Mason and I to turn that game around and actually win it. As you can see from the screen shot above, we lost games 2 and 3 pretty decisively (11-5, 11-5) probably because it took all of strength and focus to win that first game. LOL.

I think Mason and I would have made a deeper tournament run had we not encountered the silver and bronze medal teams so early in the tournament. That was unfortunate. But, anyway, those were the circumstances with which I met Michael. I guess I must have made quite an impression because he invited me to team up for a future tournament.

Being a lower level player, I was naturally super excited to have someone of Michael’s caliber invite me to play. I was like, “Wow. Seriously?” I didn’t even care what the tournament was or when it was. I was all in.

I had my mixed partner lined up months in advance but didn’t have a women’s doubles partner but, as luck would have it, Jen Reifschneider just happened to be available so I managed to snag an amazing women’s doubles partner too. If I was going to podium at a sanctioned event, this was the one. This is the first tournament ever that I’ve ever had teammates who are much higher level than me.

I didn’t come home with any medals but it was such a huge honor playing with both Michael and Jen. And, I also got some compliments on my game. I mean, I could have played 3.0 and 3.5 (because my ratings in women’s and mixed are actually low enough that I could have) and medaled rather than playing 4.0 in both events but how much fun would that have been? Plus, Michael says I belong in 4.0 so I guess I’m going to continue playing 4.0 for a while until I make some podiums.

Progress is slow as molasses but I’m still truckin’… until the next tournament. GNG.

Related Stories

  • ICT Classic Pickleball Tournament on June 22, 2021
  • 80/100 Tournament on August 22, 2020
  • Picklemania in Oklahoma City on September 13, 2021
  • Pro Doubles Day on March 1, 2021
  • Doubles and Bubbles at CNP on February 23, 2021

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