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Dink-in the New Year

Posted on January 12, 2022 by under Pickleball.    

The Dink-in the New Year pickleball tournament at Vetta Racquet Sports Sunset was a great experience overall. I wanted to push myself so I signed up for 3.5 singles, 3.5 women’s doubles, and 4.0 mixed doubles.

I found out a couple of days before the tournament that they combined 3.5 singles with 4.0 singles because there was only two of us (me and my friend Tiffany Lesperance) who signed up for 3.5 division. It made me wish I had signed up for 3.0 singles instead but I didn’t email the tournament director to switch divisions. I figured I wanted to challenge myself so I might as well just tough it out.

I wasn’t as concerned about my doubles because, even though I’m only a 3.2 in women’s doubles, I’m pretty comfortable playing at the 3.5 level and Tiffany has been playing 3.5 and 4.0 so she had a lot of experience at these levels. In mixed, I got a great partner with Devon Fuller. He has medaled in 4.0 mixed multiple times and he actually has experience playing in the higher levels. It was really just singles I was worried about because I would be playing against higher level ladies and I wouldn’t have a partner to bail me out.

We started with singles on Friday. This tournament is bigger than the ICT tournaments but still kind of on the small side (less than 300 players) so there weren’t any age groups, only skill groups. For women’s singles, they had a 2.5 division, 3.0 division, and then 3.5/4.0 division.

Besides being in the highest division, Tiffany and I ended up on the same side of the bracket so even though we didn’t have to play each other in the first round, we would end up facing off in the second round if we both lost or if we both won. The only way for us to not meet up so soon would be for one of us to win and one of us to lose. We ended up both losing and playing each other for our second match.

My first match was against an older but super experienced pickleball player, Janice Bolton. She’s a teaching pro at one of the Vetta Racquest Sports locations so it was really tough. I actually ran into her in the restroom earlier that morning and told her that had I known they were combining 3.5 with 4.0, I would have signed up for 3.0 singles instead — not knowing she would be my first round match. Our match went 3 games and lasted an hour and ten minutes. I really wish I could have gotten it on video because we had some amazing rallies, which doesn’t generally happen in singles. She was chasing shots down that I thought were winners and sending them back extremely well each time.

I lost that match but, at the end of it, Janice told me that I should not be playing in 3.0 singles, which I took as a compliment. I’m not good enough for 4.0 but I’m better than 3.0 so maybe 3.5 singles is where I’m supposed to be.

Tiffany was a bit cranky about them combining 3.5 with 4.0 and also how we were positioned in the bracket so she didn’t even try in our consolation bracket match. My next match was against Rachel Mossman who ended up winning the gold not just in our singles division but also in 5.0 women’s doubles and 5.0 mixed doubles.

I knew I probably wouldn’t medal in singles considering I was playing against higher skilled ladies but I kind of wished I didn’t have to play against Rachel so soon because I wanted more match experience and more singles games under my belt. Playing her (and losing to her) so soon in the bracket meant I was out.

Anyway, since Tiffany and I were both out, we ended up watching and cheering for her husband Donnie who was schooling guys who are more than half his age in his bracket. Watching him was hilarious because, not only was the oldest player in his division (by a significant stretch) but, after each match, he would put his old man glasses to fill out the score sheet. I got such a kick out of it. When he won the championship match, I told him he should walk up to the podium with a cane and really make the young guys feel bad. LOL.

Here are some videos of Donnie’s singles matches.

This is a video of Donnie’s championship match against Bobby Song.

The next day was gender doubles day. Tiffany and I went from playing against each other to playing together. Donnie played with his friend from Missouri, Mark Steiner. Tiffany and I missed making the podium but Donnie and Mark won silver in 4.0 men’s doubles.

Tiffany and I missed the winner bracket final by 2 points when we lost 10-12 in game three against the gold medal team. Then in the consolation bracket we lost to a team we beat pretty comfortably in the first round. That match was brutal. We could not get in a groove and we were down 2-12. I think we didn’t have any points at all during the side switch. Anyway, we started coming back and ended up losing 13-15. We just needed one more hold. Ultimately, it was too big a deficit to overcome. Anyway, the girls were super nice and they went on to win the bronze.

Sunday was mixed doubles day. Devon and I were in the same division as Tiffany and Donnie. Again, we were on the same side of the bracket so if we both won and we both lost then we would have had to play each other. We never ended up facing off because Tiffany and Donnie lost their second match. They were making their way back and winning their matches in the consolation bracket. I was kind of hopeful for an all Kansas championship and also because if we were all playing in the championship then Tiffany, Donnie, and I would all finish at the same time and no one would be waiting on anyone.

Tiffany and Donnie ended up losing to the team that won silver and finished in fourth place. Devon and I went undefeated in our bracket and finished in first place. Here’s the video of our winner bracket final against AJ Thum and Cully Higgins. AJ and Cully finished in third.

Here’s the video from our championship match against Dustin Imgarten and Monika Ray. I think everyone was just ready to be finished and go home. LOL.

Brian took a short video of the medal presentation. I’ve played 4.0 mixed a few times (mostly in our local ICT tournaments and once in the Oklahoma PC Smash) but this was my first ever 4.0 level gold medal. I am super grateful to Devon for taking a chance on me and being my partner for this tournament.

Here’s our official podium picture.

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Devon was really funny. I asked to get a picture of the two of us while we were still playing in our bracket and he said, with a lot of confidence, “Don’t worry. You will get your picture.” I had to wait until the very end but it was totally worth it.

I had such a great time playing the tournament and hanging out with Tiffany and Donnie that weekend. I also made a bunch of new friends and even got an offer for free open play at Vetta from Janice. So much fun! I can’t wait until the next tournament! GNG.

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  • Replies to "Dink-in the New Year"

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    New Year’s Eve  on January 15, 2022

    […] one and I still won! That was definitely one of the weekend’s highlights for me. Of course, winning gold in mixed 4.0 with Devon was nice […]

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