LEXINGTON – Pickleball players traveled from hundreds of miles away in early April to compete in the Orthman Community YMCA’s Spring Smash pickleball tournament.
The April 2 tournament attracted 54 teams who drove from as far away as Grand Island, Omaha, North Platte, Alliance and Elkhorn to compete.
YMCA Sports Director Daniel Holbrook said teams ranged in age from their mid-20s to people in their 60s.
“Pickleball has become increasingly popular for people in their 40s and 50s and older, and it has physical exercise value but also a social aspect of playing with friends,” Holbrook said. “Tournaments like ours offer the opportunity for multiple groups from different communities to come together to play and socialize.”
Holbrook said pickleball is becoming more popular partly because once the rules and technique are learned, it is a ‘simple’ game, but can still be competitive!
The Spring Smash featured the local food truck, Las Palmas, which was very popular among competitors.
More than 170 total pickleball games were played throughout the day from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
“We received a lot of compliments and positive feedback about the tournament as well as our facility,” Holbrook said.
The tournament featured two levels of competition (4.0 and 3.5) and offered three options for partners (two men, two women or coed).
Winners for each division were:
• Men’s 4.0 and Up: Alex Lantz and Dawson Adams
• Men’s 3.5 and Below: Dennis Lewis and Gary Goodwin
• Women’s 4.0 and Up: Shawn Anderson and Jill Swenson
• Women’s 3.5 and Below: Sondie Smith and Natasha Manahan
• Mixed 4.0 and Up: Lean Pobanz and Joel Poland
• Mixed 3.5 and Below: Carol Roberts and Dale Hall
“A lot of the games were very close and competitive,” Holbrook said. Before the actual tournament, everyone played seeding games to determine rankings in the standings for their respective division. As the tournament went on, the level of competition increased.
The Orthman Community YMCA will host a fall pickleball tournament in October called the Halloween Smash.
“As of right now, we plan to have two tournaments a year, one in the fall and one in the spring,” Holbrook said. “We are definitely planning on doing the Spring Smash again next year!”
Beyond the YMCA, Holbrook said the tournaments are good for the community.
“Many of the teams came early before the tournament and stayed in hotels/motels the night before,” he said. “They bought food and gas here in town. We were even able to promote local organizations and businesses with our tournament prize of steaks donated by Tyson Inc. and sliced by Plum Creek Market Place.”