A group of eight local pickleball players from the Del Norte Tennis Association hit the road over the weekend to compete in the Seven Feathers Umpqua Valley Pickleball Championships in Roseburg, Oregon Feb. 8-10.
Although the small contingent from Crescent City was just a fraction of the 180-plus participants in the USA Pickleball Association sanctioned tournament, they fared quite well with five different players returning to Del Norte with gold medals won in their various brackets, with another silver medal for a second place finish.
“There were quite a few people there, and there were players that actually play at the national level,” said DNTA member Dawn Langston, who competed in a couple different divisions in Roseburg. “The Seven Feathers Casino sponsored it, so there was some money to be won. So it drew in a lot of players from a national level. Of course we didn’t compete at that level of play, but it was quite interesting to be able to watch the professionals and how they play.”
The popularity of pickleball has been on the rise locally over the last couple years. The Del Norte Tennis Association expanded to include pickleball players in 2016 and the number of pickleball players who joined quickly exlipsed the number of tennis players in the organization.
Although some of the local clubs members have attended various pickleball tournaments in the past, last weekend was the first time that the DNTA has had a group travel to a USAPA sanctioned event.
“The USAPA ranks players based on how well they perform in tournaments,” Langston said. “So as you advance in pickleball you kind of want to be ranked because at tournaments of this level there are different classes. It helps you to stay within your skills, so that you are playing against players of like skill and ability.”
Several of the local members may see their rankings tick up a bit after a successful weekend in Roseburg. Danra Bottroff and Heather Langston took first place in the Women’s Doubles 3.5, Dawn Langston and Paul Langston won the Mixed Doubles 3.0, and Dawn Langston teammed up with Leigh Freneau to win the Women’s Doubles 3.0 bracket. Tou Vue also won a medal in Roseburg, finishing second in the Men’s Singles 3.5.
At each sanctioned tournament, players are broken up by skill level ranging from beginners at 2.0 up to professionals at 5.0. Although the skill level of the players varies, Langston said everyone’s outlook seemed to be similar.
“From those of us who are just getting into the sport, to the players competing for money, everybody is so freindly,” Langston said. “There is just great comraderie between the players there. It is a lot of fun.”
The Del Norte Tennis Associattion is also working on hosting second annual Get Ready for a Rumble in the Redwoods Pickleball Tournament, scheduled for April 13-14 at the indoor courts at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds. Last year’s tournament drew 30 teams, mostly from Del Norte and Brookings, but this year the Del Norte Tennis Association is hoping to bring in a few more competitors from down south.
“Last year was our first year, and it was kind of a local one,” Langston said. “This year we are extending the invitation to Humboldt County, because there were about 30 players from Humboldt that were up in Roseburg as well. We have already gotten some great feedback from players in Humboldt. They are excited to come because for us up here on the coast it is hard to go to a tournament without hours of driving. So they are all excited that we are just up the road.”
Locals interested in trying out the sport have a couple options for where to play with four indoor courts now at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds, and four outdoor courts at Peterson Park.
“There are lots of different places to play locally,” Langston said.
For more information about the Del Norte Tennis Association, or to sign up for the Get Ready to Rumble in the Redwoods Pickleball Tournament visit www.dntennis.net.
Reach Michael Zogg at email@example.com .