Anne Reynolds has been playing pickleball for six years and is in her third year of tournament directing. Although there were some challenges along the way, her love for the sport and the help of her fellow pickleball fanatics got her through the rough patches. Here are some tips she wanted to share so you can avoid some of the bumps in the road.
What is the name of your tournament?
I run two tournaments. The Grand Canyon State Games in El Mirage Arizona and the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament in Bend, Oregon.
Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?
The Grand Canyon State Games are hosted by Pueblo El Mirage Pickleball Club. The Regional tournament is hosted by the Bend Pickleball Club.
When was your tournament?
The Grand Canyon State Games' tournament was February 22-26th, 2017. The Pacific Northwest Regional was August 12-14th, 2016. I'm going on my 3rd year as Tournament Director for the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament and 2 years with the Grand Canyon State Games.
Where was your tournament?
The Grand Canyon State Games are held at Pueblo El Mirage RV Golf Resort in El Mirage, Arizona. The Pacific Northwest Regional is held at Pine Nursery Park in Bend, Oregon.
How many players registered for the tournament?
Grand Canyon State Games had 598 players. The Pacific Northwest Regional had 343. This year we have over 400 so far.
How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?
Both facilities have 16 outdoor courts with permanent nets.
What events/brackets did you offer?
For the Grand Canyon State Games we offered:
Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles by Age 19+, 35+, 50+, 60+, 70+, 80+.
Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles by Skill groups 3.0-5.0 within age group 10-49, 50+.
Next year at Grand Canyon State Games, I will have the same age event as previous years, but will change the skill event to a skill/age. Skill level 3.0-5.0 (19+, 35+, 50+, 60+, 70+, 80+).
For the Pacific Northwest Regional we offered: Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles and both Men's & Women's Singles. Skill only 3.0-5.0.
This year (2017) it will be a skill/age Event. Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles, and Singles. Skill level 3.0-4.5, (19+, 35+, 50+, 60+, 70+, 80+).
We are also hosting the Professional Pickleball Federation (PPF) in conduction with our tournament. All 5.0 players will be playing either a Senior Pro event (50+) or the pro event, and playing for prize money.
Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?
At the Grand Canyon State Games, I handle all registrations and sponsors/vendors. At both venues, we have leads for the various functions at the tournament. All leads are responsible for finding their volunteers, scheduling, and training. Lead duties include:
- Registration (Their job is to greet players, check them in, and give them player bags. It is very important to have the most friendly people at that position as they are the first impression of a tournament).
- Event Desk (Their duties are to print score sheets, enter scores, and keep the tournament running, and players on courts).
- First Aid (We have persons with a medical background at the station).
- Operations (They set up pop-ups, chairs, tables, banners, PA system, and tear it down. They also clean the courts, check heights of nets, place new balls each day, keep water containers full, and empty the trash).
- Players' Snacks (They purchase the players' snacks. They cut fruits, and provide goodies).
- Referees (Leaders of referees get commitments from players who agree to ref, and schedule them. Ref leaders check completed score sheets for accuracy, turns them into the Event Desk for posting, and handle rule questions).
- Line Judges (They are in charge of training and scheduling line judge teams. Having line judge teams already in place is a real plus, saving you about an hour in the day's schedule. We no longer have to beg spectators to line judge).
At the Pacific Northwest Regional, I have another person helping me with Registrations. I design and order medals & shirts (or whatever we have as a player's give away) and get commitments from sponsors/vendors. We have the same set up as far as leads as the Training and scheduling of line judge teams. Having line judge teams already in place is a real plus, saving you about an hour in the days schedule. No more begging of spectators to line judge.
Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?
Yes, I contact all potential sponsors.
For Grand Canyon State Games:
- PickleballCentral - Donated balls and player bags
- Onix Sports - Donated $750 cash
- Pickleball Bling - Donated paddles
- Selkirk Sport- Donated paddles and $350 cash
For Pacific Northwest Regional:
- Big Country RV (Last year's title sponsor. They donated $5,000).
- Pickleball Zone-Bend (This year's title sponsor. They are donating $5,000).
Was the tournament a fund-raising event? For what charity or cause? How much did you raise?
Grand Canyon State Games (Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission) uses all the proceeds to fund sponsored youth sports here in Arizona. Specifically, these sports include Native American track and field and Native American cross country, baton twirling, dodge ball, 2 diving events and golf. We raised approximately $25,000.
Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?
Yes. In addition to having water, we also have an electrolyte product (Sqwincher) in one of our 5 gallon water containers. It has really cut down on cramping and dehydration. At both venues we have cut bananas, oranges, power bars (bars are donated), and pretzels. Both tournaments have food vendors with lunch for sale.
Did you charge a registration fee? How much?
Grand Canyon State Games charges $50 registration fee plus $10 per event. Pacific Northwest Regional charges $50 registration fee plus $5 per event.
Anything special or unique about your tournament?
Grand Canyon State Games is one of the largest tournaments in the country and draws the best of the best!
Pacific Northwest Regional is located within a 159 acre sports park. There are 3 mountain ranges in full view when you are on the courts. The town of Bend is a popular destination spot and is known for its river running through town, numerous lakes, top rated golf courses and a plethora of breweries.
What is your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?
- Get your volunteers early. They are the ones who make a tournament a success!
- During the tournament walk around, talk to the players and make them feel welcome.
- Make sure your event is tidy, picking up trash as needed. Check bathrooms and thank your volunteers throughout the day.
- Have training for your referees and line judges.
- When you have hiccups, don't panic - relax and smile, because most times no one knows there's a problem, only you.