HARWICH – When the first Pickleball Funfest was held in 2014 it was a small but successful event that focused on the fun of the game. Five years later the Funfest has more than doubled the number of participants, but still holds at its heart how much fun it is to play the game.
Pickleball has been dubbed by many one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, with clubs popping up across the nation. Cape Cod is no exception, and the Harwich contingency is proof, boasting a strong number of dedicated players that take to the courts at Brooks Park when the weather is nice and heads indoors to the gym at the Harwich Cultural Center when the snow flies.
On Sept. 22, the local group played host to more than 150 players in the fifth annual Pickleball Funfest. While many players hailed from all over the Cape, some made the trek from locales over the bridge, the most stalwart among them a group from Braintree that has been competing since the first Funfest.
Beginning bright and early Saturday morning, players donned their favorite playing attire, took up their best rackets and enjoyed spirited matches in men's intermediate and advanced, women's intermediate and advanced, and mixed intermediate and advanced. Although strong breezes made match play interesting, players persevered and enjoyed the day.
Winners included Jim Merriam of Harwich and Jeffrey Clopeck of Falmouth in the men's intermediate, Tracy Kok of Easton and Susan Courcy of Harwich in the women's intermediate, and Tom and Mary Kenyon of Weymouth in the mixed intermediate. David Delcegno of Harwich Port and Jim Alarie took first in the men's advanced, with Denise McClung of Harwich and Sue Glidden of Wellfleet taking the top spot in women's advanced. Glidden also placed first, along with Tom Quimby, also of Wellfleet, in the mixed advanced.
“We had a well-balanced group with an equal number of men and women,” said tournament director Frank Crowley. “There also well balanced between intermediate and advanced.”
Crowley said the success of the event can be attributed to its committed volunteers.
“I have received many, many emails on how well a tournament of this size was run. We had lots of volunteers,” Crowley said. “The evening before we had about 20 volunteers show up to mark courts, put up nets, signs and a whole host of other things. During the tournament we had about 20 other volunteers manning check-in, scoring table, posting scores, handling parking, etc. The man in the wizard tent was Dave Rapp. He enters all the scores, sorts them and then prints who you play in the final round. He was assisted by Diane Treiber. And of course, we had a great BBQ team.”
Crowley was referring to the sizable spread the Harwich crew puts on at lunchtime that featured fresh-off-the-grill burgers and dogs and a wealth of home-baked goodies for dessert. But it's the camaraderie that keeps players coming back. Longtime Harwich pickleball player Dorothy Hurford said the connections between players is what makes the sport so popular and the Funfest such a great day.
“Personally, I think it is because of the enthusiasm of the local players,” Hurford said. “Over the past five years, we have become a family of friends in a sport we all love. I also think the sense of volunteerism is so strong among these folks. It's amazing. We would not be able to put on such a huge event without the numbers of dedicated, hard-working people.”
A list of winners is below.
Men's Intermediate: First: Jim Merriam (Harwich) and Jeffrey Clopeck (Falmouth); Second: Joel Lubin (Falmouth) and David Space (North Falmouth); Third: Dennis Gaber (Eastham) and Peter Bramucci (Brewster). Women's Intermediate: First: Tracy Kok (Easton) and Susan Courcy (Harwich); Second: Gael Gilmore (Centerville) and Beth Deneen (South Yarmouth); Third: Donna Bloom (Taunton) and Charlene Steurer (Westborough). Mixed Intermediate: First: Tom and Mary Kenyon (Wemouth); Second: Paul Lambert (Eastham) and Kymberly Wilkinson (Provincetown); Third: Robert and Karen Kear (South Salem, N.Y.). Men's Advanced: First: David Delcegno (Harwich Port) and Jim Alarie (Franklin); Second: Carl Moore (Sterling) and Tom Donahue (Yarmouthport); Third: Rick Dunn (Parkersburg, W.V.) and Ken Davidson (Needham). Women's Advanced: First: Denise McClung (Harwich) and Sue Glidden (Wellfleet); Second: Sharon Malmquist (Harwich) and Theresa Dolloff (Chatham); Third: Mary Imbruglia (Braintree) and Nancy Moore (Sterling). Mixed Advanced: First: Tom Quimby (Wellfleet) and Sue Glidden (Wellfleet); Second: Peter and Nancy Tache (Bristol, R.I.); Third: Rick and Cheryl Dunn (Parkersburg, W.V.).