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Seminole chamber teams with two groups for inaugural pickleball tourney

Carrie Bulinsky, Danielle Lower and Randi Nash-Ortiz smile for a photo at the chamber's tent.
At the chamber’s tent were Carrie Bulinsky, Danielle Lower and Randi Nash-Ortiz.

Chambers of commerce often organize golf tournaments as typical fundraisers. The Greater

Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce recently opted for something different — the increasingly popular sport of pickleball.

The chamber teamed up with Bardmoor BetterBall and All Florida Pickleball for its inaugural three-day tournament at the Bardmoor Golf & Tennis Club. That marked the first sanctioned pickleball series at that facility’s 12 courts, all of which have been built since 2017.

“It was just changing it up,” said Randi Nash-Ortiz, the chamber’s executive director. “Pickleball is hot and we wanted to jump on that.”

“We made a huge leap by stopping our (annual) golf tournament,” noted chamber president Danielle Lower. “Pickleball being a super popular sport recently, we figured why

not do it. It’s obviously keeping up with the times and giving our members more exposure and new ways of marketing.”

Doubles play ran for three days with the women taking the courts on a Friday, followed by the men on a Saturday and mixed doubles closing out the competition on a Sunday. In all, more than 150 competitors played in the fundraiser with the amount raised undisclosed at press time.

As is becoming quite common throughout the Tampa Bay area, there were many familiar players in the tourney at Bardmoor. Some play primarily in leagues while others focus more on weekend tourneys.

Pickleball players enjoy fierce competition on the court.
Play got fierce at the net at times.

There were plenty of players who do both as well. Count Bob Goodman, who plays in two local leagues along with the occasional weekend series, among that group. The 72-year-old

teamed with his 28-year-old son Andrew Goodman to place second in the round-robin format for men’s doubles 3.0-3.5.

“It looks like it’s very challenging,” said Goodman, who plays in a Saturday league and a

60-and-over league on Wednesdays.

Among the better players were Tampa’s Rafe Mosetick and Paul Piccolo of St. Petersburg. Playing together in their third tournament, they finished third in men’s doubles 4.5 and above.

“We’re both competitive,”said Piccolo, who also has played tennis and soccer. Added Mosetick, who also plays tennis, “It’s a lot of the same players in this tournament.”

On the women’s side, Belleair’s Parker Webster and Brenda Wiser of Largo teamed up for the first time.

“It’s a really good tournament because you get all age groups with lots of unique skills,” Wiser noted.

Having played pickleball for just three months, Webster said, “I didn’t realize I would like it as much. Just the social aspect and the competition; both of those things combined.”

By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos by Steve Lee

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