• Tim Pitts

Summer League Championship Matches

Rich Wholey & Chris Phillips (Photo: Tim Pitts)

Chas Ferrelle & Johnny Moran (Photo: Tim Pitts)

Not long ago an acquaintance derisively shared that pickleball is nothing more than Mahjong for aging ex-athletes. One imagines an assemblage of decaying Boomers slinking into dotage, one small step away from bingo, basket weaving and soft food. Clearly, he’d never seen or played pickleball. Nor faced the wrath of Mahjong raconteuse, Robin Rackoff! Last Thursday’s semifinal and final league matches were proof positive that pickleball is for everyone. Neither age nor gender is a determinate of success.

Each team in league play consists of four lines of players at various skill levels. A wide range of abilities are on display, pitting same level players against each other. Ratings range from an Open level (4.0+) through 3.5, 3.0 and 2.5. The minimum requirements for play state that you must have completed a Pickleball 101 course, know the rules and can play at a competitive level.

The teams captained by Chas Ferrelle, Benny Eicholtz, Claire O’Donnell (standing in for Andrew Nash) and Frank Slotin took to the courts for the semi-finals in front of an estimated two dozen rapturous fans. The Ferrelle team squared off against the Eichholtz gang, while the Slotin team played team O’Donnell. When the dust settled it was Ferrelle against Slotin in the final.

Krista Poppell & Scott Kirkpatrick (Photo: Tim Pitts)

For those who watched each line play, it was clear that the decisive battle was on court five where the Open match was played. Chas Ferrelle and Johnny Moran squared off against Chris Phillips and Rich Wholey. From the start, the match was a classic display of patience and power, dinking and driving. Chris and Rich took an early lead and were up 10 – 7, one point away from victory, when Chas and Johnny regrouped and stole the momentum. Scoring in pickleball often comes in streaks. Chas and Johnny turned things around and won the first game of the best of three match 12-10. (For those uninitiated to the ways of scoring, winners must score 11 points and win by two.) The second, and in this case final, game ended with Chas and Johnny winning 11-3. Appearances aside the game was not a rout. Points were long, featuring terrific displays of talent and athleticism.

In the end the teams split, with each winning two matches, resulting in a tie. In case of a tie the Open line match determines the overall winner. Because Chas and Johnny won their Open match their team earned a coveted spot in The Landings pickleball record book.

Anyone interested in league play in the future should watch for an announcement in the Top 5 in mid/late August. The fall league starts on September 6th and is scheduled to end November 15th, with a week off for Yom Kipper.