Throughout the pickleball calendar year there are so many great tournaments to enter and play in. Many PICKLEBALL fanatics often discuss which tournaments are their favorites and there are always many reasons given for each person's choices. Out of all of the tournaments I have played in and enjoyed over my five year pickelball journey, USAPA Nationals is still my favorite. So, during my 5th nationals I'm participating in, I'm going to tell you my top 5 reasons why this tournament is my favorite to play in. Hopefully this will inspire some of you to take part in this great event.
5. Sunshine - for many of us that live in non-warm weather locations, the rain and snow has begun for us already. Nationals is the refuge from the cold and precipitation for many of us. There's nothing better than playing pickleball in November in sunny, beautiful Arizona
4. Great vendors and products - the amount of companies and products that appear each year at nationals amazes me. So many great new companies spring up every year and add an element of excitement to pickleball. I enjoy walking around and talking to vendors at each nationals and checking out the cool new paddles, balls, clothing and other gear each company is selling. This is definitely a key reason why many people enjoy nationals - to see the innovation of pickleball.
3. Exceptional facility - every nationals I've played at has been held at an exceptional facility. The Sun City Festival venue in Buckeye was always a great layout of courts, but Palm Creek is comprised entirely of permanent courts. These 32 are well designed and laid out. In addition I love the four sunken-in courts that highlight key matches. As a player at nationals, there's nothing more thrilling than playing in the "pit" while feeling the energy of hundreds of fans cheering you on from up above. I've talked to many players about this situation, and they love the energy and atmosphere created by this unique court set-up.
2. Outstanding pickleball - so far this nationals has continued the trend of the exceptional rise of the sport of pickleball. Every year I've come to the national tournament the skill level of the players has greatly increased. The drives, dinks, blocks, slices and overall speed of play increases every year and challenges us as tournament players to continually improve our craft before taking part in nationals each year. This is a challenge that I really enjoy, and it's been a fantastic week so far this year of this great display of skill. Overall, watching videos of great pickleball matches usually doesn't nearly stand up to watching these incredible matches live, and by attending USAPA nationals, you are guaranteed to see a variety of stellar pickleball matches each day.
1. Stellar fellowship - my favorite part of playing pickleball is the great people you meet and play with. This sport provides an incredible cross section of ages, playing styles, and geography which all come together at this great tournament each November. As in every year I've come to nationals, I have met so many great people this year of all skill levels and athletic backgrounds. The outstanding attitude and selflessness of pickleball players are truly what make the sport great. It's likely that you will find plenty of recreational games to play each day at nationals, and I guarantee you that at some point you will likely be on a court with three other players all from different states. I always enjoy hearing people's pickleball stories and then playing with them at nationals.
The bottom line here is this - get to NATIONALS if you haven't had the chance. You will love everything about it, and it will be an experience you will never forget.