Out of Order in Nottingham, UK
Don't worry, everything is working fine. It's not that kind of "out of order". This blog title refers to the fact that I've had to skip a couple of blog posts (which I hope to go back and fill in - sorry Wales) to catch up to near current day.
Ky and I were thrilled to learn that there would be an inaugural English Open Pickleball tournament around the time that we had been invited to come pet sit for Zoe in Teddington, England. We planned our entire trip around this event.
The tournament in Nottingham, UK was such a colossal success that I couldn't wait to write this post. I want to say thank you to all of the organizers, volunteers and participants in the event. Before The English Open, Nottingham was probably best known for its legendary figure, Robin Hood. Now, however, it will forever be the place where England stepped in to the international limelight by hosting a tournament for the best sport in the world ;-)
The event was held at Nottingham University at the David Ross Sports Village which only recently opened in May of 2017. The new facilities were the perfect venue for the Open.
There were 305 players registered to attend, representing 17 different countries. Approximately 250 of the players were from the United Kingdom. Over 100 of those players were playing in their first pickleball tournament. Ky and I have only been involved in a couple of tournaments in the past, but this one spoiled us for future competitions with its extremely well organized and well run schedule.
The 2019 English OPEN Tournament Committee consisted of Karen Mitchell and Sam Basford as Tournament Directors, Frank Arico and Chris Mitchell. The UK has now been divided in to six regions and new Regional Directors have been named. We can expect really big things from England in the world of pickleball.
Frank designed and showcased a new software program that kept the entire tournament running smoothly and efficiently, with only a couple of very small bugs that were quickly resolved. Players were able to see up to the minute scores and standings as well as court assignments and expected times for their next matches to begin. To view this information they could use their smart phones or large screens placed strategically at the venue. It is easy to believe that Frank's software will become the preferred solution for future events.
Every detail for the event was well planned. There were informative, helpful clinics by Jon Moore, Steve Paranto and Seymour "Rif" Rifkind. There were well stocked goody bags with great looking shirts and hats, detailed printed schedules and more. In the players lounge there were fruits and healthy snacks, games and even a charging station. Checking in was a breeze with QR codes. In addition, there were QR codes on each game score sheet to enable quick and accurate entry of scores which allowed real time updates and scheduling of follow-on games. The confetti celebration was just the icing on the cake!
The venue is absolutely gorgeous and well laid out so that it was very easy to get to your events. There are 20 indoor courts with wood floors, and numerous bathrooms and showers to handle all the people and their sweat! There are quite a number of lines on the court signaling that this venue is used for many different sports. The kitchen line had to be added on to badminton court lines. After discussion of some difficulty in seeing the tape, additional bright green tape was laid on top to make the lines a bit more visible.
Many hands make light work, and the number of people that pitched in to get everything done was quite remarkable. I heard tales of other tournament directors having to do everything for their inaugural tournaments with a team of only three or four people. Hopefully that will change for them as more people overall get involved.
The main sponsor of the English Open was the World Pickleball Federation (WPF) which is working diligently to see pickleball advance world wide. Seymour Rifkind provided instruction to become IPTPA certified to rate players levels, as well as a "Teach the Teachers" event. Both certifications will help to ensure growth of the sport in England. Ky and I had fun and enjoyed involvement by being guinea pigs for one of the courses.
July 2 - 5, 2020, there will be not just one, but two major events in Nottingham. First there will be the Bainbridge Cup. This is a team competition featuring “Team North America” versus “Team Europe”. The teams are formed by all the players who register for this event.
Secondly there will be the English Open Tournament.
The inaugural Bainbridge Cup took place in Madrid, Spain in 2017. In 2018, the 2nd Cup was held in Montesilvano, Italy and recently In 2019, it was held in Essen, Germany. Team North America has won all three Cups and must defend the Cup once again in Nottingham in 2020.
God willing, we'll be there to participate. Will you join us?
P.S. No medals for us this year - that's just one of the reasons we have to return. It was truly a joy to play doubles with Ky. We had a hard fought Bronze medal match that lasted over 30 minutes which ended in a loss and 4th place for us. We both had so much fun playing with two wonderful new friends - my partner, Lynda Gorwill from Wales and Ky's partner, Chris Taylor from England.
As usual, the camaraderie with everyone we met on previous trips, and all of the new friends we made added up to a special event that we will always remember! The first of many successful English Opens!