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Four teams compete in inaugural all-women’s league


The all-women's team Dink-Hers pose for a photo.
Above: Dink-Hers

Since its inception in 2019, play in U.S. Team Pickleball-Tampa Bay has been mixed teams of men and women.


Now, the ladies have a league of their own.


The inaugural all-women’s division features the Drop Shot Divas, Dinking Buddies, Side Out Sistas and Dink-Hers. They play on Monday mornings at Hillsborough Community College as well as at the Ardea Country Club (formerly East Lake Woodlands) in Oldsmar.


Organizer Maggie McClintock, the league’s development director, set up a nine-game schedule for the inaugural season with plans to expand for the fall season. The current season began in January and runs through early April. The winning team will be based on a points system.


Dinking Buddies pose for a group shot.
Above: Dinking Buddies

Like many pickleball players, Leslie Vann, the Drop Shot Divas’ captain, is a convert from tennis.


“Pickleball is just joyful,” she said, adding, “We’re hoping this league will keep growing.”

“Pickleball leagues are (relatively) new, so being able to include women is great,” said McClintock, adding that Vann “really pushed for this.”


McClintock, who captains three teams, is doing her part to do just that. Co-captains of the other squads are: Laurie Kleiner, Dink-Hers; Jill Kwiatkowski, Dinking Buddies; and Katie Bates, Side Out Sistas.


“I can do the office side of captaining and they can create the very important energy and vibe with their teams,” McClintock said.


The all-women's team Drop Shot Divas pose for a photo.
 Above: Drop Shot Divas

This is the first time Bates joined a league, although she has played in tournaments and open-play at HCC.


“It’s nice to have a women’s division,” said Bates, a former college volleyball player. “It levels the playing field. Tournaments are fun but it’s nice to have something that’s competitive and consistent.”


Kleiner had never played in a league either: “It’s a stress-free league and it’s a good way to get some other women to play.”


Kwiatkowski, who plays in the mixed league, relishes the idea of a women’s division.


The Side Out Sistas pose for a photo.
Above: Side Out Sistas

“I love it,” she said. “It’s women empowering women.”


Team rosters consist of :


Dinking Buddies — Jill Kwiatkowski, Ashley Roberts, Cynthia Mayzell, Debbie Ferri, Julie Samartin, Karen Davidson, Marilyn Collins, Mary Beth Carastro and Michelle Nelson.


Dink-Hers — Laurie Kleiner, Maggie McClintock, Cate White, Dora Ober, Gina Bailey, Kristina McGonnigal, Mari Barroso, Michelle Shimberg, Pamela Blustein and Sandra Slayton.


Drop Shot Divas — Patti Ryan, Karen Maex, Rena Khawan, Jillene Panella, Ann Petracco, Leslie Vann, Kathy Hendrickson, Chris Otterbine, Angelina Anderson, Kari Matheny and Sherry Knitter.


Side Out Sistas — Katie Bates, Gina Broughton, Janice Fisher, Lynn Trujillo, Michelle Lamont, Rachelle Bauer, Robin Howe and Sarah DiMonaco.


By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Maggie McClintock

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