Mt. Shasta residents Gloria and Greg Hahn each won a gold medal in their respective mixed doubles pickleball divisions Friday in the Towerpoint RV Resort annual pickleball tournament in the southwest desert.
In case you haven’t heard of pickleball, it is a racquet (in this case paddle) sport that is often described as a combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. The ball used is a whiffle ball and the paddles are solid, but lightweight, similar to a table tennis paddle “on steroids.” The court is about one third the size of a tennis court, and is mostly played in teams of two players (doubles).
It’s an easy game to learn and become good at rather quickly. Though, as with all sports, it can take years to master. However, it’s a social sport, and fun is had by all no matter your skill level.
As snowbirds, Gloria and Greg have wintered in Mesa, Ariz., the last couple of years. Many years prior, in Mt. Shasta, they discovered pickleball, which is played in the spring, summer, and fall months on lined tennis courts at the Mount Shasta Resort and at McCloud High School in the winter and during foul weather.
Pickleball tournaments are played generally as double elimination tournaments, which means a team isn’t out of the competition until they have lost two matches. In a pickleball double elimination tournament, teams drop down into the losers’ bracket after their first loss, but can still come back to win a gold or silver medal.
The last team standing in the losers’ bracket takes on the last remaining team in the winners’ bracket to determine the gold and silver medalists. They play a best 2 out of 3 game match, each game to 11 points, and you have to win by 2. If the team from the losers’ bracket wins the first match, they play a final match to 15 points.
Gloria and her mixed doubles partner came through the losers’ bracket to work their way back up to the gold/silver match. They won the first match in two games, which was the first loss for the team in the winners’ bracket. Gloria and her partner fought for every point in the final match and finally won it, 16-14.
At one point Gloria informed her opponents that they were playing a team with a combined age of 147! She asked whether that made them feel bad. The opponents said “No way.” Their combined age was likely around 130-something.
Greg and his mixed doubles partner made their way through the winners bracket and waited in the gold/silver slot to see who their opponents would be. Finally, after much of the day waiting, they played their match. In the first game, they had a 9-3 lead, but lost it, 11-9. Greg and his partner won the next game, so now there was a tiebreaker.
If Greg’s team had won that game, the match would have been over and he and his partner would have won the gold medal. But their opponents squeaked out a win, sending the match to one more game to 15 points.
By then, the sun had set, darkness overtook the courts, the overhead lights were fired up, and the final match was played. Greg and his partner held tough against their opponents and prevailed to win a hotly contested game and claim the gold medal.
Pickleball was created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. It has become exponentially more popular in the last two decades, with growth attributed to the popularity among the 55-plus crowd.
Now the sport has expanded even more widely with the infusion of young athletes, many with tennis backgrounds, who take to this sport easily.
If you are interested in learning more about pickleball, you can Google it, watch it on YouTube or visit the official governing body of pickleball at usapa.org.
To find out where and when pickleball is played locally, contact, call Sooz Waller at 530-859-3294.