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Tampa Pickleball Crew hosts fourth tournament

The Tampa Pickleball Crew Fall Classic marked the fourth tournament hosted by a group formed last spring to promote the sport. It took place at Cuscaden Park, not far from where the Tampa Pickleball Crew is converting an old warehouse in Ybor City into pickleball courts.


The recent tourney drew 64 competitors, fewer than the 105 who played in for Boom by the Bay, a July tourney at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park along the Hillsborough River. Co-founders Kayla Goldman, Dene Williamson, Jennifer Plummer and Susan Forsyth welcomed players to the classic.

Danielle Shumacker and Tara Eckoff play in a women's doubles match on the pickleball court.
Danielle Shumacker and Tara Eckoff won in women’s doubles 3.0-3.5.

“We like to keep an intimate setting,” Goldman said. “We like to keep it fun. We want to focus on the experience,” Williamson said.


“We heard such positive feedback from the way our tournaments have been run,” Williamson said. “The participants have reached out and asked us to host more.”


While no date has been set yet, the Crew plans to host the next tourney sometime after the New Year. As for the Ybor City project, progress is being made and eventually it will feature eight covered courts in an open-air facility. It is part of Darryl Shaw’s Gas Worx project.

Tien Ryan gets low for a return as Fern Rabil keeps a close eye on her partner as they play a match on the pickleball court.
Tien Ryan gets low for a return as Fern Rabil keeps a close eye on her partner.

“We’ve really embraced him as one of our partners,” Williamson said. “He really believes in what we’re doing.”


As for the recent classic, that round-robin format featured five divisions with the competition geared more toward higher ranked players and no levels for beginners. The winning pairs were as follows:


Women’s doubles 3.0-3.5 — Danielle Shumacker and Tara Eckhoff; men’s doubles 3.0-3.5 — Senthil Kumar Ravi and Vairavel Rangasamy; men’s doubles 3.5 + -- Blair Johnson and Matthew Michels; mixed doubles 3.0-3.5 — Rachel Chiang and Andy Chiang; mixed doubles 3.5+ -- Danielle Sacchinelli and Alessandro Matar.

Melissa Henderson watches partner Jen Schepp hit a return shot.
Melissa Henderson watches partner Jen Schepp hit a return shot.

While Melissa Henderson and partner Jen Schepp, both of Tampa, did not win, they spoke highly of the tourney and organizers.


“The owners of Tampa Pickleball Crew are super supportive and very much about the community,” said Henderson, adding that she “can’t wait” for the Ybor City courts to open. “I don’t even care if it has air conditioning. It has shade.”

Katie Dierks and Shea Miller take on Dara Bradley and Tracy Vanderlip on the pickleball court.
Katie Dierks and Shea Miller take on Dara Bradley and Tracy Vanderlip.

Aside from being part of a winning team, Eckhoff liked the social aspect of playing in the tourney as well.


“We saw some old friends out here and we made some new friends,” she said.


While most of the players were from the Tampa Bay area, two new partners — Ana Maria Coltan of Venice and Port Charlotte’s Lannie Longley — came from further south.


By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos by Steve Lee

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