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Frenchy’s Pickled Grouper Classic at Bardmoor is a tasty hit

Pickleball is now part of the community fundraising list for Frenchy’s restaurants. The inaugural Pickled Grouper Classic recently took place at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in Seminole, with all indications favoring an ongoing annual series.

“We think we have a winner,” said Jay Cabral, a graphic designer/marketer for Frenchy’s. “We’re going to do it again.”

Players engaged in a doubles match.
Above: Groups of doubles teams competed in the tournament, which served as a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. Photo courtesy of Frenchy's

The local restaurant chain has organized tourneys that featured tennis, golf and clay shooting for more than three decades. The pickleball idea was initiated by Pamela Ball, Frenchy’s CEO, with input from Michael “Frenchy” Preston and Cabral.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay has been the prime beneficiary of Frenchy’s fundraisers.

Dawn Kuhn, vice president of development for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the recent pickleball tourney grossed more than $30,000. In all, Frenchy’s charitable events have raised more than $10 million.

Michael “Frenchy” Preston and Doug Templeton show their silver medals.
Above: Michael “Frenchy” Preston and Doug Templeton teamed up to win silver medals in 3.5 men’s doubles. Photo courtesy of Frenchy's

“I never tell Frenchy no,” Kuhn said. “He decided this year he wanted to get into the pickleball craze. When Frenchy wants to do something, we pretty much make it happen.”

The classic was a collective endeavor between Frenchy’s, Big Brothers Big Sisters and All Florida Pickleball, the last of which was established last year to promote the sport throughout the state.

Cabral, a former tennis standout at Gibbs High (Class of 1986), is not unlike many converts from that sport to pickleball.

Fans watch a pickleball match.
Above: Pickleball fans watch the action on the courts at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in Seminole.

“A lot of folks who were competitive tennis players find their way to pickleball sooner or later,” he said.

The classic drew 221 players, with prizes doled out in 13 divisions.

Among those earning top awards were Frenchy and Doug Templeton, who were silver medalists in 3.5 men’s doubles. Cabral played as well, teaming up with Joel Gonzalez to earn gold in 3.0 men’s doubles.

Linda Chesebro and Janet Crawford show off their medals.
Above: Linda Chesebro and Janet Crawford were medalists in women’s doubles at the Frenchy’s Pickled Grouper Classic.

In keeping with Frenchy’s innovative ideas for the various tourneys, there was a special division centered around 1981, the year Frenchy’s launched. That division, played on the first of the three-day series, required one player to be born before 1981 and another after 1981.

“(That division) turned out to (have) some of our most competitive matches,” Cabral said. “We had a pretty good vibe going on that Friday night.”

Noting that this year’s classic was scheduled on the same weekend as Gasparilla in Tampa, Cabral said next year’s pickleball tourney would be planned for a different weekend so as not to conflict with that popular annual festival and parade.

By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos by Steve Lee and courtesy of Frenchy's

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