The 2017 USAPA National Pickleball Championships were held in Casa Grande, Arizona at the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande and Robson Ranch in nearby Eloy, Arizona from November 4 through 12.
PebbleCreek Pickleball Club had 16 participants in the tournament. There were 10 medal winners from the group, meaning that they finished first, second or third in the category where they played.
In 2016 there were about 800 participants in the National Championships, with 36 states and two Canadian Provinces represented. This year there were over 1400 participants at the Palm Creek Resort in Casa Grande, where they have 32 dedicated courts to host the action. Eight more courts from Robson Ranch in Eloy were also called into play to handle the crowd.
The game of Pickleball was created in 1965 but has been gaining a national explosion of popularity in recent years. Between 2010 and 2016 the membership of the USA Pickleball Association grew 64%. Today there are over 2.5 million participants across the U.S.A. More information about the sport can be found on USAPA.org on the internet.
There were five levels of skill that participants could enter in the National Tournament, from 3.0 to 5.0, with 5.0 being the top skill level. The other factor in the categories is age, where players normally compete in five year increments.
There were three medal winners in the 5.0 skill level: Marylou Furaus and her partner Don Simmons from Colorado won the Gold Medal in Mixed Age/Skill Doubles 70+:5.0. Justin Rodgers and his partner Scott Clayson won the Silver Medal in the Men’s Age/Skills Doubles 50+:5.0. Dalonna Cooper and her partner Marsha Freso from Sun City, Arizona won the Bronze Medal in the Women’s Age/Skills Doubles 60+:5.0.
There were two medal winners in the 4.5 skill level: Michael Luevano and Joyce May won the Gold Medal in Mixed Age/Skills Doubles 65+:4.5. Dan Schuler and Tom Karas won the Silver Medal in Men’s Age/Skills Doubles 65+4.5.
In the 3.5 skill level, PebbleCreek had two medal winners: Virginia Troester and Jim Kotowski won a Gold Medal in Mixed Age/Skill Doubles 75+:3.5. Believe it or not, Virginia had to “drop down” from the 80 plus group to play with her much younger partner. (Does that mean she might be a Cougar?) She should have to show her birth certificate to prove that she is at least 60 years old. She is an amazing and beautiful woman and PebbleCreek is proud and happy for her! Steve Urbin and Rex Hottell won the Gold Medal in Men’s Age/Skills Doubles 60+3.5.
In the 3.0 skill level, the husband/wife team of Roberta Diles and John Donovan won the Gold Medal in the Mixed Age/Skills Doubles 70+3.0.
Congratulations to all the medal winners and also to the rest of the PebbleCreek Pickleball participants including Jim Barbe, Paula Handrup, Kerry Krueger, Lynn Lionhardt, Pat Murphy and Alex Potapoff. They are all very high quality players and they all relished in the idea of competing at the highest levels in the sport in the USAPA National Championships.