On a pleasant evening in Tucson, the Robson Tennis Center at the University of Arizona is the backdrop for a competitive session of pickleball.
“Win And Split”
“Tonight, we are going to be doing something a little different,” states Michael McDonald, President of the University of Arizona’s pickleball club.
“We’re going to be doing something called win and split. People are honestly pretty impressive out here,” observes sophomore Erica Dewey. “I think the competition is going to be tough.”
Dewey, who lived down the hall from Michael last year during their freshman year, shares her perspective.
“They were like, you should come out to pickleball,” Dewey recalls. “It’s open to everybody.”
“She’s really nice,” McDonald comments. “She’s always out here. She’s really engaged with the sport, and (I) love to see her energy out here.”
The Club’s Inception
McDonald established the inception of the University of Arizona pickleball club last year. He meticulously gauged interest, secured courts, and introduced a board to confirm to campus recreation.
“He’s so organized,” Dewey adds, acknowledging McDonald’s dedication.
This year, Arizona is set to compete against other universities. Only a select 16 to 24 individuals will secure spots on the Wildcats’ competitive team, with an even smaller group traveling. Nonetheless, participation in the track team is open to all, convening weekly.
Tuesday Night Is Practice Night
“Even if I don’t make the competitive team, Tuesdays are just really fun to come out and practice,” Dewey remarks, highlighting the enjoyment she derives.
“What I like best about pickleball is that it is really a social game, and with all the people I’ve met here, I started hanging out with them outside of pickleball,” McDonald reflects on the camaraderie fostered.
The competition presses on. McDonald isn’t only on the lookout for the most skillful players but also searching for a donor to achieve his goal of securing a permanent facility.
“It Makes Me Feel Really Proud”
“I knew there was this much demand for the age group, but it makes me feel really proud about what I’ve done and what the club has done,” McDonald expresses, reflecting on the club’s progress.
As for Erica Dewey, she successfully earned a spot on the competitive squad. In the future, she can proudly say she was a part of the inaugural pickleball team at the University of Arizona.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty big community out here,” Dewey says optimistically.
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