For Ann Purvis, pickleball is a community affair. Seven years ago, her husband bought her a paddle and they embarked on their pickleball journey together. The two of them began taking lessons together. As they honed their skills, Ann and her husband began teaching the rest of their family the joys of the sport. Now, Ann enjoys playing with her children and grandchildren when they all get together.
Ann became fully immersed in Buckeye, Arizona's Sun City Festival Pickleball Club. Four years after she first picked up a paddle, Ann found herself with a unique opportunity. The President of the Club needed volunteers to learn how to put on a tournament. Six members volunteered. One of them was Ann. With three years of experience under her belt, she was kind enough to share some advice with PickleballCentral.
What is the name of your tournament?
The Sun City Festival In House Pickleball Tournament.
Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?
The Sun City Festival Pickleball Club. Our club currently has a little over 500 members.
When was your tournament?
It was this past year. March 20 through 23, with a scheduled rain day on March 24.
Where was your tournament?
Sun City Festival Pickleball Courts located in Buckeye, Arizona.
How many players registered for the tournament?
We had 162 registrants.
How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?
Eight outdoor courts. Hence the need for a rain day!
What events/brackets did you offer?
Since we are a retirement community, we broke the brackets into skill levels. We wanted new members to have the tournament experience and created round robin brackets just for them. They were able to have a tournament experience while playing with people they play with every day.
Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?
Absolutely! The more people who are involved, the better the tournament and the learning experience. We had lots of committees so people did not have to spend their entire lives on the tournament. Committees were:
Set Up and Clean Up
We also did a lot of cross-training and mentoring.
Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?
We did have sponsors. Most of them run small businesses in the community and people who participated in the tournament knew them. We charged $25 and a banner. We displayed the banners prominently.
We also had vendors who set up tables and sold their wares. Some of these were from the community and some were national. We offered them a choice of days since there was another tournament going on at the same time. Most came for two days. The fee was $25. We provided the tables.
Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?
We did have a Food/Snacks/Hydration table where we offered players and volunteers oranges, bananas, cookies, pretzels, water and Gatorade. That was to support the players. We also had a food vendor who sold breakfast, lunch and drinks at the event.
Did you charge a registration fee? How much?
This was an in-house tournament fee of $20.
Anything special or unique about your tournament?
Our club hosted the USAPA Nationals for the first six years the tournament was held. It is important to know that this tournament was started in order to teach our members how to put on a tournament and how to participate in a real tournament.
What are your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?
Choose your team carefully. Everyone on the team must be a self-starter and must be willing to take on other jobs to make sure the tournament works. The goal is to have the players enjoy their play and to make sure only the team knows when things go wrong.
Having mentors on the team was very helpful. They knew several tournament jobs and were able to help others learn and fill in when there was a problem. Also, having people on the team and in the community who knew how to operate pickleballtournaments.com was a great help.
Develop a checklist and a budget for your tournament.
Most importantly, having a supportive community and club are keys to success.