2019 Margaritaville USA National Pickleball Championships

Glen and Mary Jo George, Bonnie Johnson, and JB and Linda Bailey at Nationals.

Glen and Mary Jo George, Bonnie Johnson, and JB and Linda Bailey at Nationals.

Nancy Dowell

SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association was well represented at this year’s National Pickleball Championships, held Nov. 2-10 in Indian Wells, California. Some SPA members played in the highly competitive tournament. Others went to see the action which, by all accounts, was a spectacular display of pickleball prowess. The level of play was extremely high and the games exciting and inspiring. The venue was perfect and the execution of the tournament was world-class. For those that missed seeing the games in person, many matches could be watched on a live stream produced by Pickleball National’s Facebook feed and Live@nationals. Select matches may still be enjoyed “on-demand” at

https://usapickleballnationalchampionships.com/live/ linking to YouTube.

SPA’s president JB, his wife, Linda, and six others took their RVs down and stayed at The Indian Waters RV Park in Indio, CA (about 360 miles from SaddleBrooke).

In addition to watching the best players in the country show how it is done, during their week-long stay, the SaddleBrooke group played pickleball at the RV Park, sometimes under the evening lights. The very hospitable park provided a complimentary dinner for those producing evidence of attendance at a pickleball match final. JB recommends considering a stay at the park if you find yourself heading that way.

Historically, according to usapickleballnationalchampionships.com, in 2007 the Board of Directors voted to establish its first National Tournament. The purpose was “to showcase the best pickleball talent in both open division categories and age groups.” The first tournament debuted in 2009 and, did you know that Arizona garnered the most medals of the 400 participants? Of the 205 medals awarded, players from Arizona won 75 of them. Clearly, people in Arizona love their pickleball.

Competition has exploded since then and the level of play is getting better every year. Prior to moving the tournament to Indian Wells, CA in 2018, the tournament was held for two years at Palm Creek in Casa Grande, Arizona. In 2017, registration surged to 750 players within the first hour and was quickly capped due to court limitations. Moving to Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California with a five-year contract, the 45 championship-level courts provide enough room for this Tier 1 sanctioned tournament. This year’s tournament had 2,333 registered players and over 4,300 matches. The venue is the second largest outdoor tennis facility in the world. Indian Wells Tennis Garden temporarily converts all of the tennis courts to pickleball courts for the premier pickleball tournament in the country. Divisions include “Pros”, “Juniors” and “Under 35” up to “80+” at skill levels of 3.0-5.0 in .05 increments.

A complete list how to qualify may be found at https://www.usapa.org/2019-participation-requirements-and-pre-reg-opportunities/. Expect similar qualifying requirements for next year’s tournament, so make your plans now to register for those tournaments that will qualify you for entry. There is a cap on the number of players per division, so registering early is encouraged.

Information on the venue, FAQs and other information may be found at https://usapickleballnationalchampionships.com/visitor-info/faq/.

Brent’s pickleball tip:

Starting the point well is just as important as anything that follows. Once the ball is served, server and partner should not be standing at the baseline, but behind it (about two ft., the server might have to step back after serving). The reason for this court position is so that, if the return is hit deep to the baseline, the player can hit the third shot in front of them, not to the side or at the feet or having to step back. The team receiving the serve should do the same in case a serve is deep near the baseline. This is necessary, of course, because both the serve and return must be allowed to bounce before hitting them. In general, on most shots, try to move your body so that when the ball is hit, it is in front of your body not to the side or at your feet. Happy pickling!”

See you on the courts!