The big guns were all out in force at the 2023 U.S. Pickleball National Championships over the last few days: familiar names like Anna Leigh Waters, Ben Johns, and Tyra Black.
However, there were also a whole host of relatively unknown players taking part, winning, losing, but all with their own story to tell. Here, we take a look at two great success stories that may have flown a little under the radar.
Grayson County, Texas
Grayson County, Texas, was proud to hear it was the home of two silver medal winners at the USA Pickleball National Championships.
Just A Hobby
Diane Petta was just thrilled, telling Kayla Holt at kxii.com, “We won the women’s doubles at the 4.0 skill level!”
Diane and her playing partner Karen Walker used to see pickleball as just a hobby until they started taking it a little more seriously. Diane takes up the story, “We started playing rec play together and decided we wanted to try a little tournament.”
Fast forward five years and the dynamic duo have been dominating courts nationwide.
Walker explained the significance of winning specific tournaments: “You have to win a certain tournament to be able to go and play in that tournament. Playing in nationals is like for people to play in Wimbledon in tennis.”
Key To Their Success
The key to their success, Petta reveals, is a relatively straightforward strategy: “We’re always trying to mix it up, make the players move, move, move them away out, and then hit it down the middle,”
Their on- and off-court bond combines a deep friendship and a synergy that complements their playing styles; as Walker says, “We’re great friends, and we do a lot of things together, and we enjoy each other’s company, and our games really complement each other,”
Pickleball started off as just a hobby for Karen Walker and Diane Petta, until they started winning tournaments. https://t.co/z3wMdNx6Sz— KXII News 12 (@KXIITV) November 11, 2023
However, the two ladies remain grounded as they reflect on their win, stating that each game is an opportunity for them to learn a new technique.
Despite their remarkable victory, Walker and Petta remain grounded, emphasizing that each game serves as an opportunity for them to acquire new techniques and insights. In their reflection on the win, humility prevails, underscoring their commitment to continuous improvement in the sport they hold dear.
Linda Arnold’s journey at the Pickleball National Championships took an unexpected turn after losing her first-round matchup in amateur women’s doubles at Brookhaven Country Club.
Remarkably, despite meeting her playing partner, Diane Benford, for the first time on the court, luck favored them due to the guarantee of two matches for every team.
This rule sent Arnold and Benford to the losers’ bracket, where they rallied and advanced to the championship game against the winners from both brackets.
Recalling their marathon day, Arnold told Bryce Kelly at the Durango Reporter, “We started at 11 o’clock in the morning and made it to the gold medal match at right about 11:15 that night.”
Arnold and Benford showed resilience and determination throughout their 10-match marathon, including a crucial victory against the winners’ bracket team,
Arnold’s outstanding performance placed her first among 24 teams in women’s doubles and fifth in mixed doubles among 48 teams.
Reflecting on the broader pickleball landscape, Arnold highlighted the availability of sanctioned tournaments across the United States, with her qualification stemming from winning one such tournament in women’s doubles.
An Integral Part
A resident of Bayfield, Colorado, for over a decade, Arnold has been an integral part of the local pickleball scene.
Despite the challenge of limited courts in the Durango area, her commitment to the sport led to the construction of a private pickleball court on her ranch, generously built by her husband for community use.
Arnold’s dedication extended to serving on the board of the Southwest Colorado Pickleball Association, where she actively fundraised to address the shortage of courts in Durango.
Her efforts bore fruit with the commencement of construction on six pickleball courts in Schneider Park a few months ago. Following this achievement, Arnold gracefully resigned from her position on the board.
“Just A Whim”
Anticipating the completion of the courts in the spring after the snow melts, Arnold emphasized the inclusivity of pickleball, stating, “The main thing is anybody can do this. If they have just a whim, they don’t have to have any tennis background; it does help.”
Sharing an inspiring example, she mentioned a 60-year-old woman who, despite no tennis experience, won two gold medals after just a year of playing pickleball.
Arnold concluded, “It’s an everybody sport. It’s all in the family. It’s guys, it’s women, it’s mixed, it’s just good, healthy, fun.”
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?