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                           MID-SOUTH NEWSLETTER


                                  October, 2017



We have two new ambassador appointees this month…Ron Ponder of Norman, OK and Martin (Marty) Herman of Tupelo, MS.


I first met Ron at the Spanish Open in Madrid a little over a month ago.  He has not been playing a long time, but is completely absorbed with PB.  This outgoing gentleman has a passion to get more youth involved in our sport.  And he really wants to be able to encourage physical education teachers in public education to introduce the game to their students.  Ron travels quite a bit and with his personality, he is well positioned to promote PB everywhere he goes.


Just before I planned on sending this letter out, I received notice that Ron was approved to receive a USAPA Grant to be used to purchase nets for the Y, which does not yet have a PB program, but wants one.



Marty has been busy as a bee.  He has been playing PB about three years.  After moving to Tupelo almost two years ago and after inquiring about the availability of PB, no one knew what he was talking about.  Eventually, he recruited a co-worker to hit the ball.  The co-worker was smitten with PB.  A couple months later, two more began playing regularly and there are now 20 plus having fun.  Marty has started a Facebook page which includes times of play, tips, links to the USAPA website, Starkville PB, Columbus PB, Olive Branch PB and YMCA PB.  He has had a banner made and made fliers announcing PB games and distributed these to all the sports equipment retailers and athletic shoes retailers along with The North MS Health Services Wellness Center, a golf pro shop and the local bowling alley.  Marty has taught some beginners and did a promotional video with the Tupelo Convention Center folks.  Oh yes, he went back to the Police Athletic League and the director helped tape a court.  After hitting, the director got hooked.  The police, fire department, and kids use this facility and the potential for growth is off the charts.  (FANTASTIC JOB, MARTY).


Pat Heurtin (St Francisville, LA) shares a picture of area players who gathered to prepare for a tournament.  (see photo below).


Pam & Toby Boyd (Austin, TX) sent the following…Greater Austin Pickleball Club (GAP) recently held a J&A Tournament (Junior & Adult) at Austin Tennis & Pickleball Center. There were 8 teams registered for this fun event. Teams consisted of one junior (17 years and under) and one adult (18 years and older). GAP held this event in hopes of building a juniors program complete with training, leagues and juniors tournaments. Congratulations to Benjamin Marzani and his partner, Matt Lazarine, for winning gold! (photo below).



Vicky Noakes (OK City, OK) notes…


Oklahoma City Pickleball members Brad and Cindy Merritt hosted a home court pickleball fundraiser October 13 and 14 to benefit the Edmond, Oklahoma Wings Special Needs Community.  With contributions from both competing, non-competing members, and the support of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, $5,770 was raised for this great organization.  


Each of the ten teams selected fun names to reflect their unique style of play.  Enthusiasm was evident when teams arrived in homemade team shirts and costumes.  After a two day round robin, the tallied scores were extremely close with the top three teams within 2 points.  First place was taken by the "Dynamic Duo," Mary Burns and Tom Hicks, who arrived in full garb to include capes and masks.  Regretfully, Gotham City rules required they remove their paddle labels, “Bam” and “Pow” prior to the first match.  After a tiebreaker with "Pickle Dinkers," Mary Williams and Mike Colella, the “Terminetters” Betsy Nielsen and Pat Nichols accepted second place but promised they’ll “be baaack” next year to take first.   After a vote of the players, the prestigious Pickleball Spirit Award was presented to Sherry Prince and Preston Wight of “Dink or Die” and the fun Anchor Award was enthusiastically accepted by Donna Rogge and Jim Myers of “Shut Up & Dill.”


Brad and Cindy stressed the tremendous success of the tournament would not have been possible without the additional support of many non-competing Oklahoma City Pickleball Club members:  Rocky Arrington, Gail and Ron Carr, Reta Clopton, Cinda Cook, Timmie Neale, Vicky Noakes, Brenda Peddycoart, and Robert and Christie Sherrill. 


A wonderful time was had by all the participants and a great organization was supported.  Wings enhances the lives of adults with developmental disabilities by providing job training and post-high school educational opportunities.  They are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for each participant and helping them reach his/her potential by providing opportunities to participate in experiences that help them grow physically, spiritually, cognitively, socially and emotionally.  More information about Wings can be found at http://wingsok.org/.  (photo below) (WOW…GREAT JOB)




Cindy and Tex Morris (Baton Rouge, LA) were the major drivers of the Hallowheel Charity PB tournament, supporting Rock N Roll Pickleball, which was held this past weekend.  Registration was limited to 30 Mixed Doubles teams. Each team was guaranteed four matches.  There was a demo match the evening before the tournament that featured the founder of Rock N Roll Pickleball, Adrienne Bower (Seattle, WA), and Cezar Olivas (Dallas, TX), both wheelchair players, each partnering with Tex and Cindy, respectfully, for a Mixed Doubles demo match. (Photo below).



There have been several e-mails/calls regarding the USAPA Mid-South Regional Tournament in Grapevine, TX.  Registration opens December 1 on pickleballtournaments.com.  Open practice and the dinner social will be March 1, while the playing dates will be March 2-4.  (Fri-WD & MS, Sat-MX, Sun-MD & WS).  This will be a skill within age event.  (ex…50-54 age group 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, etc.).  Juniors (18 and under) through seniors (80+) are eligible to participate.  There will be registration limits.  Registration includes lunch every day you play, t-shirt, and dinner social.  This will also be a SSIPA event.  Fliers will be available soon.  This event is also listed on the USAPA website.  This very well may be the largest Mid-South Regional ever.  PLEASE SHARE WITH THOSE IN YOUR AREA.


I recently participated in the USAPA Atlantic South Regional and the Super Senior (SSIPA) World Pickleball Championships, both held at the Spalding County Pickleball Complex, in Griffin, GA.  What a fantastic venue.  There are 18 dedicated courts, four of them under cover with lights.  Each court was fenced individually.  Although the complex was just completed a short few months ago, I understand that there are already plans to expand this venue.  If you ever have a chance to visit the Atlanta area, think about playing in Griffin, which is about 30 miles south.


This past weekend, I helped in setting up, conducting, and playing in the above -mentioned Hallowheel tournament.  Nothing like playing outside in the sunny south with strong winds and 37 degree temps.  What a blast.


Have a great November.


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2017 Pionner Award Winner Michael Morgan

Mike Morgan being presented award from Tom Burkhart


Michael Morgan

Mike has been an ambassador for approximately ten years principally serving the Memphis/Shelby County Metropolitan Area. During this time he has made significant contributions to the advancement of Pickleball not only in Memphis but also in Tennessee and elsewhere.

When he became an ambassador, there was only one place to play in the Memphis area. Today, there are currently twenty listed on the USAPA web site and two additional locations have requested not to be listed. This has been accomplished through demos and on site meetings with venue staff, all of which Mike has coordinated.

Mike led a small group of approximately 20 players to Nashville eight years ago and gave a pickleball demo for the State Sr. Olympics staff and participants in other sports. This demo resulted in pickleball being added to the Sports played in the TN Sr. Olympics. Almost every year since, the number of participants at the State level has increased about fifty percent each year and over 160 played in 2016 using three venues. He has been the sports chair/rule advisor for pickleball in the Memphis District and at the State level since the introduction of pickleball in the TN Sr. Olympics. He runs the District tournament preparing the brackets and coordinating the daily schedule.

He has also supported and assisted with the league play and tournaments held at the Bartlett Rec Center and Racquet Club.

Mike is the USAPA District Ambassador for TN and recently became a TN Sr. Olympics Board Member representing all athletes in all sports from the Memphis Sr. Olympics District which encompasses three counties.

Mike has worked with USAPA officials developing the relationship with St Jude Research Hospital. He along with five other players recently performed a demo on the St Jude campus introducing pickleball to the St Jude/ALSAC team. He has helped introduce pickleball in the Olive Branch Mississippi, Dyersberg and Covington Tennessee areas through clinics.

Mike contributions have been extraordinary. He brings to the table not only playing ability but strong administrative, organizational and communication skills. His interactions with others have definitely led to the development of pickleball in TN as well as other locales.