One might be forgiven for assuming pickleball is a game of doubles; doubles after all is what one generally sees on the courts. But beware the old adage: assume and you’ll make an ass of you and me. Singles is very much a part of the pickleball program at The Landings Club and some of the best players had the opportunity to strut their stuff last weekend during the pickleball singles championships. While champions were chosen in both the men’s and women’s divisions, this article will highlight the women’s matches. The men will have to wait until next week for their well-deserved accolades.
Among the most highly skilled pickleball players at the Landings, Claudia Gaughf, Kristen Berger, Courtney Neely and Betsey Andersen put on a terrific show of strategy, finesse and power. While the number of entrants might seem low, it was proportionate to the number of women who actually play singles. In any event, everyone watching the women play was treated to outstanding matches.
Most will agree that a strong tennis background is an asset when playing singles, and it must be noted that all four women have played tennis most of their lives. Claudia played at Florida State, and Kristen at NC State, where she was coached by The Landings own Jim Elwing. Jim is superintendent of court maintenance, and was director of tennis at a number of clubs around the country. Courtney played at Tennessee. Coincidentally, both Claudia and Kristen were once the number one junior players in Georgia. Betsey is the only one of the four who did not play in college, but watching her skill and tenacity on the court, she would have been a imposing competitor.
The women played a round robin format, which ultimately resulted in Claudia and Kristen vying for the gold. By virtue of defeating Betsey in the round robin, Courtney took Bronze. The battle for the gold was highlighted by terrific baseline play as each player looked for opportunities to get to the net. In the end, Claudia’s powerful groundstrokes and passing shots proved the difference in the match and she was awarded the gold medal, while Kristen took the silver. It should be noted that while Claudia is one of the premier players in the area, Kristen has only played pickleball for two months. We can assume – there’s that word again – that their matches will only get more competitive in the future.
Special kudos to Betsey Andersen. Betsey was registered to play as an “A” level contestant as opposed to Claudia, Courtney and Kristen who were in the Championship Division. As there were only four entrants Betsey played up a level. She fought hard, but came up short. Courtney took the bronze for the championship division while Betsey was awarded the gold medal as the only contestant at the “A” level.
Be sure to look for a recap of the men’s tournament next week.