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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reflections from Beech Mountain

The 2nd Battle on Beech Pickleball Tournament was played August 18 - August 20 at Beech Mountain Club, NC. I played in the Men's Doubles matches on Friday. As usual, I will post my thoughts on the tournament. I will include some photos from the Beech Mountain Club website since the weather on Friday was not conducive to great photography.

The Beech Mountain Club is a fantastic facility with tennis courts, swimming pool, dining, workout rooms, and, of course, pickleball.  There are currently only 3 courts but Elizabeth Higginbottom, the tournament director, told me they may be at 5 or 6 next year.

The first issues I noted as I warmed up were related to elevation. The club is located at 5,000+ feet and the temperature was 10-15 degrees cooler than home. That was not a problem, though, as I prefer cooler temperatures. The more important issue was breathing. After a couple of quick movements, I was a little out of breath. Luckily, I adapted quickly and it never bothered me again.

With only 3 courts, the tournament line-up was smaller than many other tournaments. Games were shorter. My bracket had 6 teams and was played in a round-robin format. Each game was to 11, win by one, and change ends of the court when a team reached 6 points. It was important to get off to good starts as comebacks would be hard. Each of the first 2 games we got early leads which we proceeded to lose when we changed ends. For example, we led 8-0 in game 2 only to allow the opponents to get back to 8-7. We won both games more easily than the scores indicated. We finally rolled in game 3, winning 11-0. Game 4 was tougher but we won after again allowing our opponents to hang around. Finally, game 5 was a battle of uneaten teams. We had a lead of 8-7 and had at least 11 opportunities to score more points but we failed to do so and lost 11-8.

Allowing opponents to come back can only be attributed to a lack of focus. There was no disadvantage on either end of the court. There was no sun, no wind, and significant difference in ball visibility. The lesson learned is that no game with players at comparable skill levels allows an easing of focus without paying a price.

My final thought is about the tournament itself.  It was an enjoyable experience to play in a great facility and with good folks. The hosts were friendly and the lunch was good. It is a tournament I would look to play again, especially if it grows with additional courts. One good aspect of the tournament is that it had an indoor backup. Our game was delayed about 10 minutes after the courts got wet from a light rain. Some of the other medal presentation photos were taken indoors so there was apparently harder rain for those events.

Below are some random photos from the club facebook page. 

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