Players and fans have taken over the Battle Point Park pickleball courts for the Bainbridge Island Founders Tournament.
The tournament hosts several divisions, including mixed doubles, seniors, a wooden paddle division and more.
Before the tournament, professional pickleball player Rob Davidson held the RISE Pickleball Camp. The clinic was designed to help the 3.0 to 3.5+ players improve their games by focusing on fundamental strategies, working on mechanics and reducing unforced errors.
40 adults participated, learning from some of the best pickleball players in the country.
Theresa Collier was one of the campers. She began playing pickleball a year ago when her older sister forced her to try it. She went to the camp and loved every second of it.
“I really liked this clinic because they focused on the 3.0-3.5 levels; it wasn’t a broad spectrum,” Collier said. “It was 80 percent drills and 20 percent games. It’s something that you really have to work on if you want to improve.”
One of her pickleball partners, Tim Phillips, began playing a year ago, too. Before participating in the camp, Phillips never truly practiced to get better.
“You never have an opportunity to practice or you just try things in games and lose points and feel bad for your partner,” Phillips said. “I’ve taken a couple of small clinics where you learn a couple of drills, and that’s it. This is the first time where someone was showing us stuff, and we repetitively try things. It will be a big improvement to my game.”
Collier and her other partner, Marty Collier, worked on separate aspects of the game.
“They are going to help us focus on strategy,” Theresa said. “We are not just trying to hit it back; we have a strategy and feel more confident.”
Marty added he has learned how to channel his eagerness to smash the ball. “At the beginning, I would have been characterized as a banger because there is the tendency to hit the ball hard,” he said. “I am a much better dinker now.”
Besides boosting confidence and patience in players, the camp taught dinks, volleys, third shots, court positioning, court awareness, partner movement and communication, and more.
Professional pickleball player and clinic coach Tonja Major said she saw every adult at the clinic grow exponentially.
“It’s rewarding to see someone improve from one day to the next and grasp it,” Major said. “For them to be so thankful and pick my brains, I love it very much. I enjoy every aspect from the newest players to the really experienced still asking questions.”
As the clinic came down to the end, the three campers looked back at their highlights.
“Everything we went through, it almost put us in a zen mode,” Theresa said.
Marty added, “The two highlights are being able to play with other players who are good and learning patience.”