BRUNSWICK — In agreement with Foreside Management, and utilizing the hard work of pickleball volunteers, an underused tennis court at the Brunswick Landing was transformed this past year into six outdoor pickleball courts. 

On Sept. 13, pickleball enthusiasts gathered earlier than usual at the outdoor courts to kick-off the fifth annual Midcoast Pickleball Tournament with a singles competition.

Unique to Picklefest 2019, the tournament morphed this year into a four-day event. In addition to the first ever outdoor pickleball competition, two full days of men’s, women’s, and mixed double matches were held indoors at the Maine Pines Racquet & Fitness Center. 

A professional clinic rounded out the weekend on the final day, with Clare Grabher, current U.S. National pickleball gold medalist and Certified Level II IPTPA teaching professional, and Yvonne Ting, 2017 and 2018 USA Open Pickleball Champion, offering instruction to 28 students.

Pickleball, notably not a new game, having been created over 50 years ago, remains a particular attraction for all ages. 

Nearly 200 players took part in Picklefest 2019, and participant ages ranged from 13-80. Although mostly residents of Maine and New England, players traveled from as far away as Nashville, Tennessee, and parts of Canada to compete. 

Much of the success of Picklefest 2019 is awarded to directors Ruthie Wentzel and Eleanor Wilson. According to Wilson, “Ruthie is the face of Midcoast Maine Pickleball. She offers a unique vision for the big picture and applies her many years of event planning to the design and implementation of each Picklefest event.” 

Both women were notable fixtures at Picklefest 2019, showing up each day and greeting every person with a welcoming smile.

This year there were 38 men and women assumed responsibilities that included fundraising, securing food donations, preparing courts, score keeping and checking players in each day. Many volunteers also participated Picklefest 2019 this year. 

Gail Frederico, a well-seasoned pickleball player, decided to volunteer and not compete over the weekend. She said, “I could thoroughly enjoy an atmosphere of enthusiasm and celebration without having to experience the groundswell of nerves that comes with the territory when I compete.”   

Sandy Bagwell, a Topsham resident, said it best, “I now feel part of a pickleball family.”

Tournament proceeds this year benefitted the Bath/Brunswick YMCA summer lunch program for children.

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