KALAHEO — The flavor of a tournament was present, Friday when the Kaua‘i Pickleball Association opened the first day of its three-day tournament at the Kalawai Park tennis courts.
The “plok” of pickleball racquets contacting the pickle ball replaced the traditional sounds of baseball bats and cheering fans after the COVID-19 shut down the traditional Memorial Day weekend baseball tournament for Mustang and Bronco division players that would overflow the popular park in Kalaheo.
“The Kaua‘i Pickleball Association members would help at other tournaments,” said the court announcer for the three-day tournament. “But this is the first time PAK is presenting its own tournament, The PAK Open Tournament.”
Play on the first day of the tournament included Senior Men’s and Women’s Doubles, and Men’s and Women’s Singles with play starting at 8 a.m. and continuing until the divisions were complete.
Saturday’s play starts at 8 a.m. with Men’s &Women’s Doubles, and Sunday’s play, also starting at 8 a.m. is the Mixed Doubles, described by the announcer as the most popular play in pickleball.
In addition to play taking place on the tennis courts and overflowing into a “warm up” area, spectators are provided ample seating and viewing on the natural hillside that protects the courts from the winds that can get blustery in Kalawai. With activity on the baseball fields limited to the riding mowers being manned by the county workers, parking is also readily available.
“Registration was online at www.pakauai.org,” said Laurie Yoshida, one of the tournament competitors. “People 55 years and up could register for the Senior division play. But they could also register for the other divisions as well, including the Mixed Doubles.”
Yoshida was collecting donations from players while waiting for the Women division to start play.
These premiums and others provided by the numerous community sponsors, including various pickleball equipment and custom Kaua‘i Made pickleball accessories were set up for bidding in a silent auction format.
There is also a food booth available to whet appetites between rounds and games.
Pickleball on Kaua‘i started when a local boy living on the mainland for his career as a college professor came home to retire in 2015, states a PAK fact sheet. Partnering with the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the sport grew to where there are an estimated 400 people that play the game actively. This does not include the hundreds of visitors seeking places and people to play with.
This rapid growth of the sport has created a shortage of places to play, and the PAK was formed in 2021 to build courts on Kaua‘i.
Source: The Garden Island