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Northlakes hosts Spring Slam Championships

Former adult softball standout Nick Valdez combined his affinity for that sport as well as a newfound fondness for pickleball to come up with a unique format for tournament and league play in the latter sport.


The Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation series takes place at the North Lakes Sports Complex in Tampa.


Apparently, the concept has gone over well. The initial league that concludes with tournament play began last September with 30 teams for a fall series. In April, the Spring Slam Championships capped the recent season that included 85 teams.


Courtesy of Nick Valdez
Josh Allen and John Day were the 4.0 open champions.

“They love it,” said tournament director Valdez, who oversees recreational programs at Northlakes. “I told them, ‘I’m going to make it different’ and it took a few months to catch on.”


Seasons consist of four matches followed by a tourney.


The overall league champions were Tim Peters and Lya Kushnirovich, who as the Court Jesters racked up enough points during the spring season.


Courtesy of Nick Valdez
David Rosales and Carlos Zambrano were gold medalists in 4.5 open play.

“They didn’t even place (in the Spring Slam), but they had the most points,” Valdez said.


As for the most competitive division in the Spring Slam Championships, David Rosales and Carlos Zambrano were gold medalists in 4.5 open play. Division runners-up were Derek Godshall and Dan Couzens, with Ariel Alvarez and Angelo Petricone placing third.


“I think it’s a great format,” said Rosales, who conducts highperformance training classes at Tampa Bay Pickleball in Oldsmar and whose catering truck helped feed the competitors.


“Having the opportunity to play four to five matches before you have singleelimination games gives you a lot of (play).”


Courtesy of Nick Valdez
The top 3.0 mixed duos were Bob and Jen Atkins, along with Rebecca and Tom Starkweather.

The championships also marked the first time that Rosales teamed up with Zambrano, head coach at the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg.


The top three finishers in the Spring Slam’s other divisions were: 3.0 Mixed — Gold, Bob Atkins and Jen Atkins; Silver, Tom Starkweather and Rebecca Starkweather;

Bronze, William Yuan and Stephanie Del Rio.


3.5 Mixed — Gold, Ismael Alvarado and Leticia Acosta; Silver, Jack Houghton and Jo Campbell; Bronze, Marco Moulinneuf and Val Thomopalos.


Courtesy of Nick Valdez
The top three teams in 3.5 mixed doubles gathered on the court for a group photo.

3.5 Open — Gold, Andrew Giancola and Connor Donovan; Silver, C.M. Nafi and Aaron Guiang; Bronze, Tim Broderick and Mike Kaplan.


4.0 Open — Gold, John Day and Josh Allen; Silver, Brandon LaMacchio and Kenny Scribner; Bronze, Andi Baez and Jamie Rogers.


The next series begins in mid-May but will be relocated to Tampa Bay Pickleball due to Northlakes’ six new courts getting roofs. Those courts, built in 2023, give the Northlakes facility 14 courts in all.


BY STEVE LEE

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Nick Valdez

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