As a Pickleball Player in Arizona, I think of my season starting in September and going through April. I consider the off season to be May through August when only mad-dogs and hard core pickleball players brave the heat. Early in 2020, I had plans a plenty. I had PB lessons, tournaments, and goals laid out for the rest of the year. Little did I know that the Covid was lurking around the corner and that it would upend my plans.
As the Covid bloomed into a full pandemic, Pickleball play came to an ugly halt. Courts were locked up and players sheltered in place. I hastily purchased a 10 foot practice net, and the wife and I found a secluded place in a neighborhood park to practice. In those days I did not know if I would get to play again in 2020. I saw the Covid peak in the coming months. I saw tournaments cancel and I saw my Pickleball life dwindle. Then, in the middle of this, I saw and signed up for the Las Vegas Open Tournament. Thinking it was more folly than an actual possibility, I clacked away on the Pickleball Tournaments sign up page.
As time passed by, I slowly saw play start to come back. First a few brave souls that started to show up as our community unlocked the courts. Later I found a group of die hards that played at the Dave White Park in Casa Grande. Some players I knew, many more became new friends. Still no clear sign that the Las Vegas Open would actually take place. Late in August a 16 court complex opened up in Gilbert Arizona. There, a glimpse of Pickleball past began to emerge. Just in time as the Las Vegas Open seemed to creep closer into reality. As it got closer, I dared to believe that it would actually happen. Finally with some late Covid related restrictions, the tournament became a reality.
Next week, the week of September 21, the Las Vegas Open will take place. After a long wait, seeing other tournaments cancel, and having my fingers crossed on both hands, it looks like I will get to play in a tournament! I will get to see friends/foes and will get the excitement and challenges that come with tournament play. This weekend I am laying out my lucky gear. I am staging my tournament bag with all the possible accoutrements that I may or may not need. Compression sleeves, tennis elbow and knee braces, and my game day play list…all have come out of the moth ball rack, dusted off, and ready for play.
Monday morning I will be heading out to Las Vegas, with Lesly Gore’s – Sunshine and Lollipops song loaded on the Spotify and playing loudly as I head out of the Phoenix Valley westward on the US 60 towards Las Vegas. Happiness will reign on this day. However, if you see me with my ear buds at the tournament, beware Sunshine and Lollipops will not be playing. For this day, I reserve the likes of Iron Maiden’s – Trooper and System of a Down’s – Disorder. So don’t expect a sunny disposition on tournament day. If I don’t’ see you, I hope you get your play on wherever you be be…see you on the courts real soon.