Pickleball tournament celebrates milestone birthday

ARCADIA — As thunderstorms were looming overhead at Pleasant Valley Community Center, it was a question if the festivities planned for their celebratory pickleball tournament would be able to go on.

The weekend thunderstorms let up just in time for the morning sessions of pickleball.

The weekend thunderstorms let up just in time for the morning sessions of pickleball.

Sure enough, the gray skies parted just in time for the morning sessions of pickleball to begin.

“We really lucked out with the weather, and we were able to keep everything going,” said Cyndi Kadzban, who helped with the events on Saturday.

The tournament was held in celebration of Onekama resident Tom Workman’s 80th birthday, who is an avid pickleball player in the community. The party included two sessions of round-robin style pickleball tournaments, in addition to a mid-day potluck lunch.

“The sessions are played round-robin style, so everybody gets to play each person,” said Kadzban. “They are matched pretty well in terms of skill level, and the participants are divided into groups of eight.”

Kadzban said that most of the 56 players came from Arcadia, although participants travelled from all over Manistee County.

Workman said that pickleball is continuing to grow in popularity, especially in the northern Michigan area.

“Bear Lake was one of the first places around here to have it, and from there it really took off,” he said. “Now there are active players all over Manistee Township, and tournaments can be found anywhere in Michigan.”

Workman said he took to the sport well, with a strong background in a variety of sports including racquetball.

“I played racquetball for several years, but after a hip replacement someone recommended that I give pickleball a try since it’s a bit less strenuous.”

From there, he never looked back.

“I liked it so much that I never went back to racquetball,” he said with a laugh. “The racquet is still packed away in the basement, and I continue to enjoy pickleball.”

Party organizer Sandy Wilcox said that one of the most important aspects of the celebration tournament is recognizing the efforts of many volunteers who have helped bring pickleball to the community center.

“Everything from the pickleball courts to the new wooden benches and groundskeeping is the result of volunteers,” she said. “There are a lot of wonderful people that help run this place.”

Workman was quick to point out that the party also celebrated other milestone birthdays.

“When we started to plan this celebration, we realized that we had several people who were celebrating the next decade of their life, right around the same time,” he said. “Sandy’s birthday is the day after mine, and we have another birthday coming up as well. Each one is starting a new decade of their lives.”

Wilcox said it is a great tribute to the variety of ages that the sport appeals to.

“It’s a pretty unique thing, and it really represents the generations that come together to play pickleball,” she said. “There are several kids who have started it up, all the way through in each age group to one player we have at the tournament who is 82.”

The morning session concluded with a group photo and potluck lunch, where the winners of the first groups were announced.

The winners of the morning session groups were Mark Bolthouse, Tad Duemler, a stand-in player for Willie Adams and Cyndi Kadzban. There were four groups in the afternoon session, although some of the games were rained out.

Workman spoke to the crowd that gathered for the lunch ceremony, surrounded by friends, family and fellow competitors.

“It’s great to be surrounded by the community in celebration,” he said. “I had no idea that being 80 would be this fun.”

 

Leave a Reply