In 2011 Byron and I moved to an active adult community in central Florida. One of the first things our new neighbors said to us was, “You’ve got to learn how to play pickleball.” A couple in their 70’s showed us the basics and we were hooked from inception. I played at the courts every day and Byron can vouch that I even played pickleball in my sleep most nights. I had played league tennis for many years but after being introduced to pickleball, I didn’t play tennis for a whole year!
Nancy Kraus made an impression on me as a referee at the Royal Oak (Michigan) tournament in 2012. Nancy clearly explained her duties in a strong voice and pointed out the 10-second rule, which I hadn’t heard before. After playing in the tournament, I was motivated to review the pickleball rules for the first time and realized that I had never heard of many of them. At the 2012 Nationals, I took the opportunity to attend a rules/referee meeting and at that point I knew I wanted to become a referee
and master the rules.
I prefer to play but reffing is almost as much fun for me. As for most referees, I love catching player faults.
Although I prefer refereeing doubles matches, the most memorable match that I recently reffed is the men’s open singles at Nationals VIII last November. Ty McGuffin was new to the Nationals scene and had beaten two of the top singles players—Kyle Yates and Daniel Moore. Ty faced off against defending champion Marcin Rozpedski in the gold medal match. Although it was just a 2-game match, it was very close—full of thrilling and truly incredible points—and ending in a 14-12, 11-9 victory for Marcin.
What have you noticed most about the changes in pickleball over the years?
Although still unheard of by the vast majority of people, pickleball enthusiasts are everywhere across this country. Over the past three years, Byron and I have traveled to all 48 lower states in our motor home and we have found pickleball nearby most of the places we have visited. Pickleball tournaments have become very popular and many are now filling up in record time. I have also noticed the style of play has become more aggressive as more high-level players are transitioning into pickleball from tennis and
other racquet sports.
Marsha and Byron have an amazing motorhome they travel in. And Byron has helped us problem solve issues when we were starting out our rv experience. I asked Marsha, “Where is your favorite place to play in the country?”
I have three favorite places to play:
– Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande, AZ has a beautiful complex of 32 permanent, individually-fenced courts.
– Little Valley in St. George, UT has a colorful complex of 24 permanent courts.
– Surprise, AZ city courts has become a gathering place for high-level players from all over the country during the winter. We recently had a play date there and 24 – 5.0 women players showed up! (This is probably a record outside of a major tournament.) There are only eight permanent courts there but the city plans to build more (sorely-needed) courts in the near future.