CLINTON — The River Cities Tennis and Pickleball Association hosted yet another successful pickleball tournament on Sunday, aiding the growing sport and getting some athletes active despite brisk temperatures.
The Schmitt Family Dental Fun Pickleball Tournament was a simple bracket, capped at 32 participants. Each round, the tournament organizers drew names to decide who played with who.
It was sponsored by Schmitt Family Dental, with Randy Schmitt included as one of the 32 players.
“I enjoy playing it so much,” Schmitt said. “I figured it would be something fun to do on a cold afternoon.”
Schmitt was a lifelong racquetball player until he had knee replacement surgery. After that, he had trouble when it came to running and said he went a few years without having an activity to replace his racquetball.
Then, he had a patient come in an introduce him to a new game.
“He came back from Arizona and said you have to try this game called pickleball. You get to hit something but you don’t have to run,” Schmitt recalled. “I came down here and played, really liked it, and just picked up on it.”
Now he’s playing regularly and sponsoring tournaments. He’s part of a new movement, with pickleball being one of the fastest growing sports in the nation. Clinton certainly is one of the cities with growing pickleball interest.
“It’s very easy to learn but kind of hard to get good at,” Schmitt said. “I can have anybody playing in ten minutes but it’s a matter of strategy, where to hit it.”
Some of the 32 were local players, while other traveled from the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids to attend the event on Sunday. The youngest players were local high school freshmen.
The winners of the event were Scott Golden and Ted Crissman, who played Brody Manneman and Laura Downing to win. Also making the ‘Final Four’ were Lori Holst and Phillip Freeman and the duo of Randy Schmitt and Macy Healy.
RCTPA wants to encourage the community to learn the game. They have open court times at the downtown complex throughout the week where you can learn the game and get three hours of playing time. The City of Clinton is also working on building brand new pickleball courts on the riverfront that are expected to be completed later this summer.
The RCTPA just got done with two successful tournaments in March and a trivia night fundraiser, and has housed events and practices for the Clinton High School tennis squad as well. Now they look to more spring and summer events. They host a Pickleball Davis Cup on April 14 at the indoor complex. On May 19, the indoor complex will host a 55+ open individual tournament.