I recently spoke to Kathy Casey, president of First State Pickleball Club, about the upcoming Beach Blast to be held near Dover at the Kent County Recreation Center on May 18 and 19. Kathy, as she looked over the field of contestants, said she couldn’t help telling me the good news, and then the bad news.
The good news was how many players have improved their games and lifted their skill levels. The bad news is that she could not accommodate all the players. The Beach Blast filled very quickly with contestants because we don’t have adequate facilities in the area for larger events. Dover has the largest facility, and even it is limited.
A few miles below us on the Maryland/Delaware border, Frank Creamer. the president of Ocean Pines Pickleball Club, updated me on their tournament scheduled for June 8 and 9. Frank and Julie Woulfe formed the Ocean Pines Pickleball Club five years ago, and they were very helpful in assisting First State Pickleball Club when it was formed.
The Ocean Pines pickleball courts are sandwiched between the tennis courts and the platform tennis courts in the Manklin Meadows Racquet Sports Complex at Ocean Pines. They have eight courts dedicated to the exclusive use of pickleball and expand to 12 courts by taping out four temporary courts during their June tournament.
I told you last year that I thought the Ocean Pines tournament would become one of the premier tournaments along the Atlantic seaboard, and it already looks as if I might have a future in being a fortune teller.
When they opened registration on Jan. 1, their event, just like the Beach Blast, sold out in less than two weeks. Again, they ran into a problem of limited facilities. Because they only have 12 courts, they limited the entries to skill level 3.5 and above. No doubt they would have had 300 or more entries if they hadn’t been proactive in this regard. Their registrations come from 11 states, even including one from California.
Non-residents of Ocean Pines can join the Ocean Pines Pickleball Club for $220 (or $360 per family), and that entitles them to pickleball at the club, use of their two indoor courts, and involvement in their many activities, clinics, etc.
Just one of their activities is the team they fielded in the Coastal Communities Pickleball League captained by Faye and Kathi. Julie Woulfe maintains a newsletter at oppickleball.shutterfly.com, where she religiously keeps their Ocean Pines membership updated of all the various events, pickleball and social they organize.
Frank Creamer invited the general public to visit Ocean Pines and witness top-quality pickleball play. There are multiple restaurants in walking distance of the courts for folks who want to make it a day. Drop-in pickleball at Ocean Pines is available to the general public for $5 per day, which has to be one of the best deals in all of pickleball.
I was encouraged that 17 sponsors came forward to support the tournament at Ocean Pines. It was Rodney Dangerfield who did the “Get no respect” jokes, and I feel that pickleball along the Delaware and Maryland beaches has not gotten respect up to this point. After all, we buy your houses, your home services, your refrigerators, we buy your cars, we (too) frequently consume your medical services, we eat in your restaurants (frequently), and we pay taxes and support your charities.
Maybe we in the pickleball community are not doing a good enough job letting folks know we are here. Let’s make sure we go out of our way to thank those sponsors supporting the Beach Blast and Ocean Pines. I come from the business world, and it is always a two-way street. Business — especially small regional businesses — are typically in a daily battle to stay profitable. When you see a good business, support them. Maybe one less dink, and one more thank-you, will make the difference between red and black, as well as make the businesses think.
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