Pickleball Points: The talented Mr. and Mrs. Pickleball

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and I, for one, salute every current and past service member, and express devout appreciation to those who gave their lives. I thank them for allowing us to live in a society where we can freely follow our dreams and express ourselves.

Unfortunately, the game is stacked against many of the world’s citizens in other countries. Perhaps when you find yourself looking over your own shoulder for shadowy surveillance at every street corner when working abroad, your sense of appreciation is heightened.

This past week, I witnessed the kind of talent that a free society sprouts when citizens don’t have survival fears.

When readers of my column in Coastal Point kept suggesting they were looking for an alternative venue to expand their pickleball enjoyment, I mentioned it to some of the stalwarts of pickleball in several of our communities. Within three weeks they had organized and started a fun community pickleball league among eight communities.

I drove around a few days ago and witnessed several dozen people at each host community running around, laughing, like we once did on our neighborhood playgrounds. It would have taken a major corporation a year or more, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars, to replicate their efforts.

I would like to highlight the efforts of Steve and Colleen Costa at Fairway Village, Stan Piesla and Steve DeLuise of Millville-By-the-Sea, Michael Siegert and Art Fitch of Sea Grass and Tom Borleis and Karen Karwacki of Bishops Landing, because I saw the fruits of their labor firsthand. Joanne Timchalk and the ever-smiling Lee Metzger of Bethany West hosted Nancy Feeley and Trice Guella and players from Forest Landing.

Of course, there are no scores to report because some 60 to 80 folks played various pickleball formats together, rather than against one another. Besides a chuckle or two, they strengthened community bonds, while getting an abundance of healthy morning exercise.

Coastal Communities Pickleball League maintains their schedule and updates at PickkeballCoast.com.

Last week, Delawareans — all from Sussex County — Judy Redard, Randy Redard, Pearl Morris, Delia Wan and Rick Bell qualified for the nationals while playing in a quality-player-packed tournament in Henrico, Va. Bob O’Malley from Ocean Pines, Md., will join them.

Meanwhile, the warriors of the Ocean View Crew continue to improve, and expand. Mike Smith of Fairway Village, practices captain, now has two squads scrimmaging weekly, and much of these improvements come from this winter’s training camp at Sea Colony led by Dom Travaglini of Fairway Village, with the support of the Crew’s Chic Stearrett and Jeff Marshall.

I did get a chance to see the results of their labor when I visited the first day of the Beach Blast at the Kent County Recreational Center in Dover. It is the third year that Kathy Casey and Artie Holgerson, officers of First State Pickleball Club, have run that event, and they get better each year.

An observer cannot but be impressed by the quantum leaps made each year in the quality of play by so many players from Delaware. I remember one of the better pickleballers at the Beach Blast four years ago telling me he was then impressed by all the inventive new shots and strategies being introduced into pickleball by incoming athletes from other sports, such as table tennis, tennis, badminton, volleyball, etc.

Readers would have certainly been impressed by the match play of several of the Ocean View Crew. Crew member Brett Stonesifer, with partner Kevin Reading, took gold in their category, beating out Crew members Chic Stearrett and Jeff Marshall, who took silver. They beat a very impressive field.

Meanwhile, Bob Zimmer and Stephen Melofchik took silver in their category, also with impressive play against strong competition.

Finally, Al Haley took silver in his category, playing with his brother Ken. A third of the male medalists were members of the Delmarva Team Pickleball League, which started last year to help players compete better.

The same with the Ocean View Crew women: Courtney Vaughn and Lynn Casey (with Beth O’Malley) each took a silver with their partners in the respective divisions, and Carol Miller and B.J. Ferguson took a bronze in theirs.

Ditto the mixed doubles, where the Ocean View Crew once again distinguished themselves. B.J. Ferguson and Bob Zimmer took gold; my Realtor, Charlie Biddle, with Lynn Casey took silver, as did Bruce Smart, with Kathy Casey, in their category. Courtney Vaughan and Chic Stearrett had to settle for bronze, but seven medals for the Crew was impressive.

Well done, everyone, especially the Ocean View Crew, because many found themselves on the winner’s platform — something totally new.

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