Six new courts welcomed 96 players, family members and friends to Hathaway Park for the first Washougal Pickleball Mixer Saturday and Sunday.
As the 48 teams in this double elimination tournament paddled a plastic ball back and forth, Columbia River Pickleball President Mike Wolfe stood in the background and watched his dream come to life. It was impossible to wipe the smile off his face.
“The courts came out beautiful, even better than we imagined. And the amount of play they are getting already is amazing,” Wolfe said. “I see new people out here every time. I hear comments that these are the best courts players have seen, including many who play in Arizona where there are hundreds of pickleball courts. Players also commented about what a great setting Hathaway Park is for family and friends.”
This event featured three brackets filled by 16 teams and a total of 90 matches. Jeanne Eten and Stewart Diltz won the Purple Group against Lia Halter and Bobby Duncan. Trish Garrison and Chuck Lacy won the Blue Group against Mark Lee and Dan Krebbs. Hunter Duvall and Steve Paranto won the Green Group against RD Fisher and Paul Porch.
People played with a different partner during each round. Players who had been eliminated or didn’t have a match were willing to jump in and fill an empty slot to keep the tournament going.
“This kind encompasses the spirit of the pickleball community,” said Michelle Annett, of Vancouver. “It’s all about meeting new people and getting good exercise. Having a different partner each time kind of encourages that.”
Annett and her husband, Travis Rood, picked up pickleball during a vacation last year. They didn’t know how to keep score and weren’t sure if they were following the rules. Just finding various ways to hit the ball over the net became addicting.
“You can smash it or you can dink it,” Annett said.
“That transition of finesse versus power is like a chess match,” Rood said. “It’s much more calculating and subtle, which is more fun.”
The Washougal Pickleball Mixer included groups from Carson, Stevenson, Beaverton, Hillsdale, Wilsonville, Club Green Meadows in Vancouver, Lakeshore Athletic Club in Vancouver and the Columbia River Pickleball Club in Camas and Washougal. Wolfe said the players and people who came to watch are already talking about the next event at Hathaway Park.
“I hope they made new friends and acquaintances, and I hope they come out again and continue to bring new people,” he said. “I promised the city that these courts would be filled with people, and that’s what we’re seeing so far.”