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Local pickleball instructors compete atNational Senior Games in Pittsburgh

Kathy McCausey and Val Thomopalos are welcomed to the National Senior Games

Two local pickleball instructors took their tips and skill to heart when they competed in the National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. Kathy McCausey and Val Thomopalos, who run Pickleball Fanatics in Land O’Lakes, tested their mettle in a 50-and-older tournament and got in some sightseeing as well.

While they competed in the highly skilled 4.0/4.5 bracket for ages 64-69, no medals were won. Nonetheless, their debut in the Senior Games proved quite memorable.

“The competition was extraordinary; the best we’ve seen in any tournament we’ve competed to date,” McCausey said. “Even when we lost, we learned, and appreciated the experience. We asked our competitors about our game and theirs to help us in our next tournament.”

“It was a true thrill to play against the amazing female teams,” Thomopalos added. “Not only were they highly skilled competitors, but they were friendly and supportive.

“Kathy and I always go into a competition with the mindset of winning. We fared well, considering we competed against some MLPs (Major League Players) and other very strong teams. We are motivated to compete again. It was a valuable learning experience, which we both appreciated.”

Pittsburgh, which hosted nationals for the first time since 2005, featured nearly 27,000 athletes competing in 26 sports at this year’s event. Among them were about 1,600 pickleball players.

The city also proved to be quite the tourist spot for the local pair.

McCausey, Thomopalos and Val Fucci got in some sightseeing in Pittsburgh.

“We loved walking around and taking a boat tour on Three Rivers, learning of the city’s history, enjoying the local bars and restaurants and visiting with fellow competitors,” McCausey said.

“Pittsburgh has so much history,” Thomopalos said. “Kathy and I walked the city, enjoyed the Duquesne Incline, the ferry boat ride and scenic dining. It was so much fun.”

McCausey and Thomopalos have competed in local, regional and state games for the past three years, winning their share of gold and silver medals. It was their first out-of-state tournament, but they plan to compete in the 2025 Senior Games in Des Moines, Iowa.

They also plan to share their experience with local players.

McCausey and Thomopalos took a selfie while touring the city.

“We will share the positive experience with our fellow pickleball friends and encourage others to participate in the local competitions,” Thomopalos said.

The Duquesne Incline is a popular tourist spot in Pittsburgh.

Two pickleball players from the Tampa Bay area who did well at the Senior Games were Tampa’s Jim Monroe and C.J. Dore, who earned bronze medals in 4.5 men’s doubles. Others included Alan and Kathie Williams, Marty Fleischman, Val Fucci, Danny Harris and Holly Hancock.

By Steve Lee Times Total Media Correspondent Photos courtesy of Hillsborough Community College

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