Tournament participants introduce themselves to the group and learn the offical rules of pickleball before the first game. | Photo by Christian Park-Gastelum

ASI hosts second doubles pickleball tournament of the academic year

By Christian Park-Gastelum, April 30, 2024

The second pickleball tournament of the academic school year took place at Cal Poly Pomona’s tennis courts April 19.

Engineering student Isabella Lazaro and business administration Bryan Sullins, or team Pickles, earned $25 Bronco Bucks for winning the tournament.

The single-elimination tournament began with ten teams. Each game was played to 15 points, but the team needed a two-point advantage to secure the win.

CPP students, alumni, and staff can participate in Associated Students Inc.-run tournaments.

The tournament skillset varied from experienced to new players, freshmen to seniors and even University Police Department staff.

New pickleball players were unfamiliar with the rules, but their opponents were keen to take time throughout each serve and explain the rules to them.

“I actually don’t play pickleball, I usually play tennis,” said computer engineering student Cindy Chu.  “But the new thing is pickleball and it’s a lot more accessible, in terms of, you don’t have to run as much. There’s a lot of things in tennis you think you can get away with here, but then the ball doesn’t even go over the net.”

The dimensions of a pickleball court are about the size of a badminton court, and the net is two inches lower than the regulated tennis court. Players use a paddle that is double the size of a table tennis paddle but smaller than a tennis racket, and the pickleball has a stronger plastic exterior than a normal wiffleball to give it durability.

Each team serves twice before switching possession of the ball and only the serving team can earn points upon winning the rally.

According to USA Pickleball, the games are best two out of three, each match is played to 11 points, win by two. However, CPP’s tournament format had teams play a single game elimination to 15 points, must win by two.

Though the format may differ, the game speed is the same.

“If the ball goes high up you still have a lot of reaction time to actually get to the ball,” Chu said. “In pickleball you’re in a much shorter distance, so you have to be more intentional with where you’re hitting it, because if you hit it too hard, your courts so small, it’s going to go out.”

Kevin Metry, a landscape architecture student and part of team KE, compared his conditioning from his playing days in soccer and tennis to pickleball.

“Until you play singles, you can see how tiring it would be, running back and forth in the short space,” Metry said. “Pickleball is tough when you play singles and play against someone that’s good, and when someone could play against someone that’s good, it can be fun.”

Under team name “PD”, Officer Don Nyeholt and dispatcher Natalie Dominguez were two competitors representing CPP’s University Police Department.

“I’ve been playing for a couple years now, right before COVID,” Dominguez said. “My mom started playing at the Claremont Club, because they have a nice program for living well after cancer. They offer a free program, and my mom was recovering from breast cancer, and when you work through the club, they take you through all the different activities they have, and we tried pickleball and it’s been a blast.”

PD controlled the semi-final game early on, taking a commanding 11-4 lead. However, Team Pickles closed the gap, scoring six straight points to make it 11-10. PD defended well, winning their rallies on defense, but only scored one more point on their serves.

Team Pickles completed their comeback with a 15-12 victory knocking PD out of the tournament.

Despite the loss, PD was in great spirits after their match. Nyholt and Dominguez expressed that their involvement in the tournament was to get to know the students, make the department more approachable, and encourage CPP students to come to school to have fun without doing crazy things.

Team Pickles and team KE squared off in the championship game.

KE scored the first three points to open the match 3-0, before Pickles went on a six-point run to take a 6-3 lead. KE scored three more points to tie the game 6-6. Possession went to Pickles and KE stopped their opponent from adding to the score with their defense but failed to convert their own serves into points.

Pickles went on another six-point run to take a controlling lead over KE, 12-6. KE attempted a comeback with five consecutive points, but it was not enough. Pickles scored their final point, 15-11, which reigned them as tournament champions.

ASI will follow up its pickleball tournament by hosting a Battleship tournament on May 3 and a Track and Field tournament May 10. Students, faculty and alumni can sign up on the ASI website.

Feature image by Christian Park-Gastelum

Verified by MonsterInsights