By Briley Gargis
BREMEN – The Mint City Open pickleball tournament had a huge turnout Saturday, June 27.
Bremen Pickleball Club hosted their first inaugural pickleball scramble and tournament with the scramble on Friday, June 26, and a proper tournament Saturday, on 16 lighted courts. With over 200 players from 13 states in attendance, this represented one of the first pickleball tournaments in the area and was an attraction for those who play the sport.
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. It is played on a regulation badminton-sized court, but with paddles as opposed to rackets. Players in teams of two, and two teams per court hit a ball similar to a wiffle ball, in a game very similar to tennis, and even table tennis.
“Pickleball is for all ages. We have people playing here today that range from 14 all the way to 82,” said Tami Hudson, president of the Bremen Pickleball Club, which organized the event, along with Jeff Cederna, who was hired to be the director of the tournament.
“Sederna is a pickleball instructor and tournament director, so we hired him in to help make sure everything runs smoothly,” Hudson said.
The Bremen Pickleball Club was responsible for organizing everything else about the event.
Play started at 8 a.m. with competitive play for mixed doubles as well as women’s and men’s doubles. Teams played with a wide variety of skill levels ranging from beginner to expert. The skill level is broken down by a number system, 1.0 being beginner, to 5.0 being expert. Games were played within the team’s skill level, so a 3.5 skill team would only play 3.5 teams and so on.
A lot of work went into getting an event of this scale set up, but Hudson said the town and the park board supported it and helped out along the way.
The club also had to submit various COVID-19 plans and other plans to the town board.
“Each player had to sign a COVID waiver on top of the normal waiver as well,” Jeff Cederna said.
All ages play together as opposed to there being age-specific categories.
At the tournament there “was a 14-year-old paired with a 72-year-old who played together,” Hudson said. “It isn’t as hard on the knees as tennis can be and is set in a smaller sized court which makes it easy and fun to learn.”
Learn more about the Bremen Pickleball Club on their Facebook page.