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Paddle Battle: Memorial Day Classic at Tampa Bay Pickleball in Oldsmar

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Pickleball
The top four players in the Seniors High Intermediate division were Jimmy Ren, Kevin Wang, John Stewart and Wilbur DuPont.

Tampa Bay Pickleball has capitalized on holidays since its inception, scheduling competitive tournaments for players to challenge themselves and celebrate the sport.

Paddle Battle: Memorial Day Classic is the latest example of that trend set by the air conditioned indoor facility at the Oldsmar Flea Market. It came one month after Tampa Bay Pickleball celebrated its one-year anniversary with — you guessed it — a tournament.

“We didn’t do one last year because we had just opened,” said Eric Klaus, who founded the business with his sons Ben and Kennedy. “It’s very important to make an impact in your community.”

Photo courtesy of Kathy McCausey
Ladies Low Intermediate winners Elena Wiener and Tiffany Amesbury celebrate their medals with runners-up Danjiela Aslanovic and Mai Nguyen.

More than 120 players turned out for the two-day series to compete in five divisions. Tampa Bay Pickleball has had youth divisions in some previous tourneys and since December has hosted monthly high school series. This time, however, there were no youth brackets.

“We plan to have more in the future,” said co-owner Andrew Giancola, adding that high school tourneys have stopped but will resume when students return to school.

The Memorial Day tourney was the second run by Anthony Capri, a 4.0 player who became the company’s general manager earlier this spring.

“He runs all our tournaments now,” Klaus said.

Courtesy of Tampa Bay Pickleball
Taking thirds in Seniors High Intermediate were Christie DeNovellis and Kathy Skanieczny.

“I like watching the players get competitive,” said Capri, a former baseball standout at Countryside High and Warner University.

Like many pickleball players, Capri happened upon the sport and now is solely focused on it. He was introduced to pickleball by baseball teammate Noah Harsch at Warner’s Lake Wales campus.

“Every Wednesday at school they offered pickleball,” Capri recalled. “I finally went and it was the most fun I ever had. Oldsmar really wasn’t in my plans at all.”

Capri, 22, began playing pickleball at Oldsmar before taking on a part-time role when the Klaus family sought to add to the staff.

“It escalated very quickly,” Capri said. “All the people are great. It’s like a big family.”

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Pickleball
Aaron Guiang and C.M. Nafi were gold medalists at High Intermediate

Capri has helped by working with beginners on occasion in addition to running the past two tourneys. A primary goal, he noted, is “How can I make players have the most amount of fun.”

As for the doubles winners in the Memorial Day Classic’s five divisions, they were:

Ladies Low Intermediate — Elena Wiener and Tiffany Amesbury.

Seniors High Intermediate — Jimmy Ren and Kevin Wang.

Seniors Low Intermediate — James Fee and Simon Amesbury.

High Intermediate — Aaron Guiang and C.M. Nafi.

Low Intermediate — Greg Oreste and Laz Gonzalez.


Times Total Media Correspondent Photos courtesy of Tampa Bay Pickleball

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