Pickleball Points: Last call for Ocean City pickleball tournament entrants

The Ocean City indoor pickleball tournament is quickly approaching at Northside Park in Ocean City, Md. It will be Sept. 15, following on the heels of the Delaware Senior Olympics near Dover this weekend.

Ocean City event details are at the end of this article. The last I heard from the administrative center at Recreation & Parks is that entries were coming in slowly, and I hope the pickleball community will support this event, just like Ocean City has supported our pickleball community with flexible indoor sessions the last three years.

Because Coastal Point doesn’t come onto the newsstand with this article until Friday, Sept. 7, Ocean City has extended the deadline for last-minute entries to Monday, Sept. 10.

If you don’t play, but pickleball is something you want to learn, there is plenty of seating where you can watch the region’s best pickleballers, and admission is free. This might be the opportunity to see if pickleball is in your future. Ocean City is one of the best pickleball facilities in the region, and you don’t have to be quiet and sedate, like some other racket sports, but can join the rest of us as we jump up and down with excitement like kids on Christmas morning.

Meanwhile, for those of you who want to play in your first tournament, you are welcome. You will never know unless you first try. As Stan Piesla wrote in pickleballcoast.com, “’Tis better to have played in a tournament and lost, then not to have played in one at all!”

The talent that will play in Ocean City is awesome, and you will be making the coin toss with the best of them. Let me tell you about some of the Delaware players who will be competing in this year’s event in Ocean City.

Competing will be players recently returned from Baltimore and the Maryland Senior Olympics for pickleball where, like Vikings rampaging through the villages of Merry Old England, the Delaware brigade took most of their precious medals. (Well, that list includes Bob O’Malley from Ocean Pines, Md., because he is like family.)

In the 55-59 Women’s division, Pearl Morris and Diane Milam took gold. What is all the more remarkable about this gold medal is that both ladies underwent full knee-replacement surgery within the last year. For someone recovering from dual knee surgery, I am encouraged by their performance.

In the Men’s division, our own Rick Bell and cousin Bob O’Malley tore gold from the hands of the judges. Tony Hernandez and Michael Jump grabbed the silver, and our local celebrity chef and Golden Gloves boxer Kevin Reading and Bob Gaudreau cooked up a special “Bronze Delight.”

As if one medal wasn’t enough, Diane Milam and Bob Gaudreau pocketed gold in the Mixed Doubles; Princess Pearl Morris and cousin Bob O’Malley were not to be outdone by snagging a silver; and yelling and screaming all the way, Delia Wan and Rick Bell followed with a bronze.

In the 60-64 Women’s Doubles, Ann Reed and Judy Redard grabbed gold, Mel Milar and Virginia McGovern snatched silver, and Robin Murray and Barbara Markelz pocketed bronze. Barb Markelz and Mike Jump were chasing them taking fourth place in Mixed Doubles.

Never to be forgotten, the Grand Dame of Pickleball, Marion Lisehora, took gold in Mixed Doubles in the 85-89 category. There were other Delaware victories, but these are all I can report with any certainty. Now I suppose you can understand why there was a buzz in the Maryland crowd: “Wow, those Delaware players...”

Ocean City has once again asked me to provide fair and impartial referee services, which provides the best seat in the facility. Because there is ample free parking, I won’t have to make any announcements like, “Would the owner of the beat up pickup with tag number Delaware XYZ please move it before it is towed away...”

Event details and tournament dates: Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15-16, at Ocean City Recreation & Parks, 200 225th Street, Ocean City, Md. The entry is $35 for the first event and $10 for additional events. Make checks payable to Town of Ocean City. The three categories are Open-Age 54, Age 55-64, Age 65 & Over. There will be Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. You can pick up registration forms at Northside Park, or go to oceancitymd.gov and then drill down to Recreation & Parks/SportsTournaments to download the registration form. Contact Kim Allison at kallison@oceancitymd.gov or call (410) 250-0125 for more information.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.

By Vaughn Baker
Special to the Coastal Point