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Tampa Pickleball Crew draws 105 players for third tournament

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

On a sweltering day in the shade of a concert and fireworks show along the Hillsborough River, 105 men and women braved the heat to play pickleball. They showed up at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park for Boom by the Bay, a round-robin tournament organized by the Tampa Pickleball Crew.

Getting into the holiday spirit, sisters Deanna Morrow and Becky Black played in stars and stripes tutus.

“It’s a little too hot, otherwise it’s fun,” said Cate White of Lutz.

The crew is behind a collaborative effort to convert an Ybor City warehouse into an indoor pickleball facility expected to open soon. The fledgling organization formed in the spring and so far has hosted three tourneys.

“Boom by the Bay is such a fun family-friendly activity for the city and we loved adding pickleball to the mix,” said Kayla Goldman, a Tampa Pickleball Crew co-founder along with Susan Forsyth, Jennifer Plummer and Dene Williamson.

As is the case for area pickleball tourneys, there were top-notch players interspersed with newcomers and plenty in between.

Riverview’s Frank Gonzalez and several family members entered their first competition and lauded fellow competitors for their encouragement.

Instructor Kathy McCausey recently worked with student John Dardano.

“We just bought these paddles this week,” said Gonzalez, who teamed up with son-in-law David Galindo. “Everybody’s treated us well. They welcome us and understand our level of skill.”

White and Tampa’s Crystal Nedik ranked among the in-between stages. Both have played for a few months and were randomly paired.

“Crystal tries to get to everything, and I appreciate that because I’m 65-plus,” White said.

Regardless of skill level, bonds shared by pickleball players appear to be the simple joy of taking the court. Some lined the fence or sat in temporary stands to watch others in between their games.

Brittany Ellis and Bonnie Brown, both from Tampa, were teammates in the tournament.

“Where’s our cheering section?” asked Brittany Ellis while she and Bonnie Brown took on Barbara Chrimes and B.J. Diligo.

“We’re pickleball-holics,” said Diligo, who earlier this summer won gold with Chrimes in a tourney at the Sarah Vande Berg Center in Zephyrhills. “Our friends think we have a problem.”

“The fun thing is you don’t have to have played sports to play pickleball,” Chrimes added. “You have to love it and want to get better at it.”

Crystal Nedik and Cate White said they had good chemistry as first-time partners.

Hands-down, the outfits of the day belonged to sisters Deanna Morrow of Lutz and Land O’Lakes’ Becky Black. They donned retro rocket Popsicle T-shirts t-shirts with stars and stripes tutus. Both have played for nearly two years.

Barbara Chrimes serves while partner B.J. Diligo gets ready for play.

“It’s an avenue for people who are older, just to get out to play a competitive sport and play for fun,” Morrow said.

By Steve Lee Times Total Media Correspondent Photos courtesy of Steve Lee

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