Pickleball players bring home medals from Nationals

Andrea Molberg

In early November, 1400 plus of the best Pickleball players from around the globe participated in the largest ever National Pickleball Tournament in Casa Grande. Mixed Doubles, Women’s and Men’s Doubles and Singles, along with highly entertaining Junior players as young as 10 years old made for an exciting nine days.

The event was so large it was held at two locations, the 32 courts at Palm Creek RV Park and 20 courts at Robson Ranch in Eloy. Pickleball has been around for over 50 years and to see one of the original inventors of the game was special. Another highlight was the ceremony for the very first inductees to the Pickleball Hall of Fame.

Five SaddleBrooke Pickleball club players won medals, the most ever.

Karol Jackson and Gary Stithem won a Silver Medal in the Mixed Doubles 3.0 Level 70+ Age Group.

Peggy Cobb and her partner, Steve Walsh from California, won Bronze in the Mixed Doubles, 3.0 Level, 60 plus Age Group.

Ed Szympruch won a Silver Medal with his partner Bill Reynolds from SaddleBrooke Ranch in the Men’s Doubles, 4.0 Level, 60 plus Age Group.

Pete Giljohann and his partner Rick Schworck from Madison, Wisconsin won the Bronze medal in the Men’s Doubles, 4.5 Level, 65 plus Age Group.

A number of other SaddleBrooke club members participated as well: Nancy Carlson, Randy Olson, Diana Giljohann, Julie Wagner, Lou Powers, Bill Stickney, Paul Frederickson, Bob Koerner, Joan and Mark Van Matre.

Over many days of play, the atmosphere at the event was highly charged and electric. Amazing athleticism and skill were on display and a 13-year-old teenager matched skills with the top ranked players in the world. With merchandise and food tents lining the walkways, it was like a mini 4th St. Fair in Tucson.

There’s a rumor that next year the Robson Community of PebbleCreek in Phoenix may host the National event. The taped finals of this year’s tournament will be shown on the CBS Sports network in early December.

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the world and over 760 SaddleBrooke residents have joined the SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association. In the near future SaddleBrooke will have more courts to handle the increased demand in our community.