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Vallejos, Gail, Koga, Grady win first Pickle Ball Tournament

LIHU‘E — The team of Brandon Vallejos and Jenn Gali may have had a tie-breaker to take the 3.0 Mixed Doubles Division over Aaron Tokuda and Macy Tamura, and Chad Koga partnered with Jenn Grady to take the 3.5-Plus Mixed Doubles Division, Sunday at the first-ever Pickle Ball Tournament staged at Kalena Park to wrap up a week-long Fitness in the Park campaign.

But the winners were not limited to the Pickle Ball Tournament as everyone who took part in the program — from the participants of Lihu‘e Loop to the pickle ball play — were winners.

“Every player went home with a prize,” said Lori Koga, the tournament coordinator, and credited with being one of the forces in the improvement of Kalena Park. “Fitness Week started with a very successful pickle ball ‘clinic,’ and ended with a successful pickle ball tournament. Prizes were donated by Get Fit Kaua‘i, Brant Fuchigami, the Head representative, Jules Cannon, the ProKennex representative, Kamanu Composite, and Nancy McMahon. The Grand Prize, a Yeti cooler, went to the 23rd lucky number representing May 23rd — Kyle Napoleon.”

Larry Feinstein of neighboring Kaua‘i Beer Company said his main job was to coordinate the appearance of the food trucks, and he was concerned about their success at taking care of the flow of people that collected in socially-distanced “pods,” staying within the confines of the Tier 3 (the Mayor announced Kaua‘i being in Tier 4, effective Monday).

“Lori is not about to tell you how hard she worked on putting the entire pickle ball event together,” Feinstein said. “Actually, everything that has gone on in relation to Kalena Park could never have happened without her. She is without doubt the Queen of Kalena.”

The Pickle Ball Tournament was open to all ages and contested in a Mixed Doubles format with the final field of 14 teams in the 3.0 Division and 10 teams in the 3.5-Plus Division.

“Sign ups were fast and furious, and unfortunately, we had to close registration early,” Koga said. “We turned away many players that were trying to sign up, but due to just three courts, no lights, and just one day for games, we couldn’t accommodate everyone. This is for Kalena Park.”

In addition to the pickle ball action, participants could get started on Lihu‘e Loop that ran the entire Fitness in the Park Week.

“Lori and Craig Koga did an amazing job organizing this tournament,” said Bev Brody, the Get Fit Kaua‘i coordinator. “We had such an overwhelming response, we had to close registration more than a week ago. It just goes to show how much these types of activities are a must!”

From the onset of Fitness in the Park that was preceded by a community work day, Kalena Park gained support from everywhere.

“I’ve been thinking about life after Fitness Week for the park,” Feinstein said. “Amongst other things, I want to create the Kalena Korps, or volunteers to take care of the park. We will improve the website to make it more user friendly for people interested in using the park. We’ll see about scheduling events there as well. The pickle ball tournament is a huge success, and we will certainly highlight that going forward — I want Kalena Park to be known as the Pickle Ball Capital of Kaua‘i! If I had to pick a next project — after the comfort station and pavilions are re-roofed, that support coming in the midst of Fitness in the Park, I would replace the surface of the keiki play area. We have to find funds to do that.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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