Our sport is young, vibrant, and not yet over commercialized. As a pb blogger it makes for an inspiring experience to hear the stories of the interesting characters that play (primarily) for the love of the game. I would like to share with you, in the next two editions, the story of a pickleball tournament–the history of it’s creation and input from some of the participants….Here is:
The LeMaster-Davison Classic Part One
The first interview is with tournament director and co-founder Dee Davison:
1. How long have you played pickleball Dee, and who was your main pb coach or mentor.
DD – I’ve played pickleball since September 2011…one week into semi-retirement the sport found me and I was hooked immediately…I was lucky in the fact my club (Sun City Festival) hosted the USAPA National Pickleball Tournament so I was able to watch the best players for one week…I was amazed by their technique and patience. I entered my first tournament in February 2012, the Grand Canyon Games, and won two bronze medals…the competitive spirit within me was re-ignited. In my early years, I practiced with Steve Wong, Tommy Wong, Gigi LeMaster, Cookie Drake and Troy Horton. Many hours on the pickleball court, taking my lessons and determined to improve. In 14 months I went from a 3.5 player to a 5.0…not a path of determination I would recommend, but it has served me well.
2. You’re a well known business woman in Surprise, Arizona. Would you tell me a bit of info about your company?
DD – I’m an entrepreneur by nature and currently own a few businesses.
LeMaster-Davison LLC was formed, as a partnership with Gigi LeMaster, as a way to merge all aspects of pickleball. Gigi and I learned pickleball management by working on the Surprise Pickleball Association board and managing the 2012 USAPA National Pickleball Tournament with Steve Wong. We combine our talents as players, tournament directors and instructors in a manner to provide a Top Notch tournament atmosphere for players, spectators, and sponsors. We are the first tournament in Arizona to pay cash prizes to all skill levels (3.0 thru 5.0) and all medal winners (gold, silver & bronze). This is our way of giving back to a sport that gives so much to us!…The brackets are tough this year with players arriving from 20 states & 1 Canadian province.
Pickleball Dee, LLC is a pickleball consulting business that uses my experience to assist individuals, communities or clubs. I’m proud to play a prominent part in organizing and strengthening the Sun City Festival Pickleball Club to what we are today. Check out our club website: www.scfpickleballclub.com
I specialize in player development programs for individuals, small groups or large clubs. Arizona may be my home base, but I’ve helped strengthen clubs in Kansas, Missouri, Idaho, & Oregon; as well as prepare players for tournaments. Growing Pickleball One Community at a Time…Come Share Dee’s Love & Addiction of Pickleball!
3. This is the second year for the LeMaster-Davison Classic. I noticed that a lot of famous players are registered to attend this year–Matt Staub, Jennifer Lucore, Wes Gabrielsen, Cookie Drake, Kyle Yates, etc…How does it feel to know that Gigi and you have created an event that is attracting such high caliber talent?
DD – We’ve worked very hard to push the envelope for the sport–provide something that is cutting edge for all players. It is rewarding to have top level players in large numbers participating in our tournament. The LeMaster-Davison Classic provides tough competition and a chance to get some reward money. Will this be a sign of the future for the sport? Only time will tell! More exciting things planned for 2017…stand by!
4. I noticed that in mixed play that you are partnering with that skilled young player Kurtis Campbell. Have you two played together in other tournaments?
DD – I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Kurtis from his first tournament and watching him develop into a top player. This will be our first tournament together. We are good friends and it will be fun to compete with Kurtis next to me on the court.
5. Thanks Dee…Feel free to add any comments you would like to say to the PBers who are interested in coming to the LeMaster-Davison Classic.
DD – The 2016 LeMaster-Davison Classic is slated to be a premier tournament for the year with some of the Best Talent in the Country competing for $8,000 in prize money. Registation for the tournament closed in February. So if you missed out this year…save the following dates for 2017…April 7-9, 2017…we will soon be announcing some new and exciting changes for 2017. Make the LeMaster-Davison Classic a Must Do for 2017!
Thanks Doug for the opportunity to participate in your newsletter!
Here is a tournament video from Jan 4, 2015: Dee Davison is in the blue tee, Andy Gensh in white, Rich Geenen is in the red tee, and Jennifer Lincoln in the sleeveless top:
In this next video you can get a look at Dee’s friend and partner in mixed doubles–Kurtis Campbell. Kurtis is wearing the black tee shirt….One of the other players–is a surprise guest for my readers in the next edition. He will be interviewed in the second part on the LMD.
Battle Of The Mini Paddles – Kurtis Campbell, Rob Davidson vs Kyle Yates, Rob Elliott
* I think we should have one in Victoria, sometime during the summer, at a ”pickler-nic” outdoor get- together….”Mini-Paddle” Battles look like a lot of fun!
* Rich Geenen is a favourite player of mine. I’m a fan of the way he plays, and of his up-beat attitude on the court. I sent him a few questions about him coming to the LeMaster-Davison:
1. Hi Rich, I see you are registered to play men’s doubles with your brother Dan Geenen at the LMD…I saw something in one of the matches you played in with Dan. What’s the synergy feel like for you when you play with your twin brother?
RG – In terms of playing with Dan, it’s a joy and I wish I could do it more often. We played tennis together growing up, including high school doubles, so we have a good sense of each other’s play and movement around the court–even though we only get to play pickleball together a couple of times each year. I visit him for Nationals and he usually comes out to Missouri for our State Games. We have a ways to go before we can be more competitive for major tournaments but we enjoy the experience and both of us are dedicated to improving our games.
2. Jennifer Lincoln is going to be your mixed doubles partner. You two have been playing together for quite awhile…haven’t you?
RG – I will be playing with Jennifer Lincoln as my mixed partner. She and I are both from Columbia, Missouri and we play and train together consistently. She is a wonderful partner who is positive, supportive and balances a competitive spirit with joy for the game.
3. Will you be bringing your video camera to record any matches?
RG – I will be bringing my camera, and I hope to tape as many matches as I can–though I also try to play as many pick-up games between official matches as my body allows. Even so, I learn a lot from watching videos of the top players since I’m not able to attend many national-level tournaments. I’m indebted to people like Victor Jehovskiy–who puts a lot of work into recording and disseminating recordings of top-level play. Personally, I wish there were many more video-postings of these great matches since pickleball has passionate fans (myself included) who would love to see more of the top-level action…I’ll do my best to get some good matches recorded and posted on YouTube as soon as I’m back.
* I’m a subscriber to Rich’s youtube channel, so I’m looking forward to see what he posts about the LMD Classic. Rich made some commentary on tournament preparation that you can check out in the Feb 29th edition of CC…. Below is the repeat of the video of the twins that I included in the November 29th edition of CC on the pb stacking strategy:
2015 Missouri Show Me State Games – Pickleball Geenen, Geenen v Carlson, Chimino
* Although the event happens in Sun City, many of the players attending the LeMaster-Davison will be from that great pickleball city of Surprise, AZ. I wanted to check in with my Facebook friend John Grasso who lives there to see what it’s like to be there.
1. Hi John, how long have you played pickleball and what is the pb experience like in Surprise, AZ?
JG – I have played pickleball since February 2008….Surprise area has some great play. It is an area with quite a few seniors but also a lot of young people taking up the game. Gigi LeMaster, Mark Friedenberg, the Hackenbergs and Mona Burnett are a few of the top players we have the pleasure of getting to compete with.
2. What is the excitement level like in the local community for the start of the LeMaster-Davison Classic?
JG – Gigi and Dee put on a great tournament. Even though the US Open looks like it is going to be the biggest tournament ever, the LeMaster-Davison is still drawing some of the top players in the game.
* Thanks John for your input.
* Speaking of tournaments–Please send me an email if you would like to volunteer to help at the Pearkes PB tournament on May 13, 14, and 15th. They will need score keepers, kitchen help, and referees….There is info on the tournament on this site: www.victoriapickleball.org
* Please send me an email if you would like to play outdoors at McMinn Park. I have a list from last year that I would like to update….It’s getting to be great weather to be an ”outsider”!
* Speaking of McMinn Park–Bob Williams contacted Saanich about the ”icky” stuff on the courts there. The municipal maintenance staff will be cleaning the algae off the courts over the next few weeks….Thanks Bob for being a crotchety crab:)
* In the next edition of Challenge Court we will get to hear from Gigi LeMaster…She has some interesting stories to tell about the history of the LMD….There is also an interview with one of pickleball’s top young stars….It’s all coming soon–don’t miss part two on the LeMaster-Davison Classic!
‘Till then, thanks for the game,