The Laurn Grove pickleball courts in Hancock, Michigan, will be abuzz with excitement this Saturday, thanks to the local Copper Country Pickleball Club.
A Tournament With A Twist
The club is orchestrating a tournament commencing at 10 a.m., and, according to Rick Freeman, a dedicated pickleball ambassador representing the Copper Country, this event has an intriguing twist.
“We’re going to have everybody play with a different player each game,” Freeman revealed to the Mining Gazette. “We found that that’s better than a team coming in and just taking the whole thing. We want it to be friendly and get everybody involved.”
Register At City Hall Or City Website
Interested players are encouraged to reach out to the city of Hancock to register for this tournament. This can be done through City Hall or the city website. Alternatively, those who prefer to call can do so at 906-482-2720.
The registration fees collected will contribute to maintaining the club’s essential equipment, such as balls, ensuring regular play thrice a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Freeman was equally excited about the prizes: “We have trophies ready for the top three placements. We hope the tournament format isn’t daunting to potential participants, so we’re considering adjustments for the future.”
For a modest fee of $10, individuals will receive a designated number during check-in at 9:30 a.m., followed by a warm-up before hitting the courts.
Pickleball’s International Appeal
Freeman’s passion for the game is palpable, and he brings it to every court appearance. His dedication to pickleball extends beyond playing, as he also coaches the sport.
“I started playing in Mexico when I was visiting my son down there, and I was horrible, but I loved it,” he recounted. “I just loved it, and some people aren’t nice on a pickleball court. I was getting, not ridiculed, but ‘do this, do that.’ They were, in their own way, trying to be helpful. I understand that. Then, I just kept with it and brought it back here.”
Freeman wasn’t the only resident of Laurn Grove to encounter pickleball, as he soon discovered.
“Jerry Parker brought it back from Florida, just happened to be on the same year,” said Freeman.
A Different Feel To Any Other Game
As Freeman emphasizes, one of the beauties of pickleball is that beginners don’t need prior paddle experience: “You can practice that at home just to get the feel because it feels different than any other game you’ve played.
Freeman openly admits he’s continually learning about the game, which adds to its appeal.
“As you watch the games being played here, there’s just a variety of skill levels,” he said. “What’s fascinating about it is you can get better every game. You can learn something every game, even.
“I’ve been playing six years, and there’s things I learn every game, mistakes I make every game, (the) same mistakes. Then you go, ‘Whoops, I feel like a rookie now.’ Then you switch, and you learn.”
The Social Dimension
Another factor contributing to pickleball’s popularity is its social dimension.
“That’s one of the best things about it, is it’s an opportunity to get some exercise,” Freeman says. “It’s an opportunity to do something that looks a little bit like table tennis, a little bit like tennis, but it has its own thing. People seem to really enjoy it, and it’s social.
“The people waiting to play are chatting about all kinds of things, (like) where they live. There’s a lot of people from out of the area that are visiting here. We have a website that we’re on, places2play.com.
“I keep that up with changes and whatnot. I get calls almost every day. I get text messages every day from people that are traveling through, that are camping, that are visiting, and they want to come and play.”
Its Own Unique Charm
“It’s a great way to stay active. It resembles aspects of table tennis and tennis but has its unique charm. People genuinely enjoy it, and it’s a social activity.”
He continued, “When there’s downtime between games, players engage in friendly chatter, discussing various topics like their residences. We have visitors from outside the area who join in. We’re listed on places2play.com, and I update it regularly. I receive calls and texts daily from travelers passing through or camping, eager to join in.”
Freeman particularly appreciates how the local pickleball community is eager to help newer players learn and improve.
“When you witness a pause in the game, and two players huddle to discuss strategies, it’s all about supporting one another,” he said. “It’s about offering positive suggestions to enhance gameplay. It’s a wonderful dynamic.”
Freeman also thanked Hancock for his full support of the pickleball club.
The resurfacing of the old tennis courts at Laurn Grove for pickleball, along with assistance in court painting and fencing, demonstrates the city’s commitment.
With the city’s support and contributions from various contractors, the courts are in prime condition as the club readies itself for the upcoming tournament.
Hancock is on the Keweenaw Peninsula’s south coast on the shores of Lake Superior, about 425 northwest of Detroit.
The Laurn Grove Pickleball courts are at 1221 Roberts Street, Hancock, MI 49930. Go to pickleheads.com for further information.
Click here to read more about pickleball in the state of Michigan. We also feature regular articles about the smaller tournaments happening across our nation.
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