Travelling by car to the Scottish Open tournament last month afforded me the opportunity to visit the David Ross Sports Village, Nottingham where we will be hosting the English OPEN tournament 23-25th August. I came away from that visit certain that it is a venue that has everything we need (20 courts, coffee shop, space for players lounge, viewing balcony with almost 200 seats). After leaving Nottingham, I was thinking how lucky I was to be going to the Scottish Open so that I could check that I had everything that needed to be done on our to do list!
We knew the Scottish team were professionals and had a lot of sporting event experience so our expectations were high. They did not disappoint. We arrived Wednesday night and checked into the official hotel. We knew it was the official hotel because there were Pickleball Scotland and Scottish Open banners in reception. Waiting in our room was a lovely box of handmade chocolates in a box with a Scottish Open wrapper. Lovely chocolates, lovely touch! We went down to dinner that evening and met some other early arrivals in the bar. That is one of the nicest aspects of a tournament – the people. A diverse group of individuals from different places and with different backgrounds, bound by a common love of the game.
Thursday was practice day. In all honesty, sometimes our favourite day of a tournament. Why? Because you can get some excellent pick up games playing with people you might not ordinarily get a chance to play with. My first match of the day was with Jon Moore – a professional player that is also co-owner of Pickleball Trips. I want to give a special shout out to Jon, he is travelling around Europe this summer attending the Irish Open, the Scottish Open, the Bainbridge Cup & German Open and the English OPEN. We all really support this support, especially when it is your first major tournament. My favourite pick up game was a fantastic ladies doubles with Elaine Shallcross – a legend on the courts and for her tireless work promoting pickleball.
We played for too long on Thursday, rushing for a shower to get to dinner with some pickleball friends all staying at the same hotel. I say too long because in hindsight, we have learned that my husband, Chris doesn’t sleep very well when he has played a lot of pickleball. He played consistently for about 6 hours. He doesn’t feel tired but clearly that amount of play does something to his body which makes it difficult to get to sleep. If anyone has any suggestions on what to do to help him get to sleep, we would love to hear from you. The reality is I won’t be able to persuade him to play less on practise day, so I am better off trying to find a solution to help him sleep.
Friday was men’s Singles Day and Ladies Doubles Day. This is when I realised how organised the Scottish team were. They had court organisers with timetables and players details and they managed those courts really effectively. Everything ran like clockwork. The tournament committee were walking around interacting with players checking everyone was having a good time or answering questions. The army of helpers all helped to make a fabulous atmosphere. There was a viewing balcony that you could get a great view of the courts from. (I wish there had been seating after standing for several hours but that is more venue related.)
The Men’s final between Louis Laville and Ed Hares was fabulous and had lots of twists and turns so you really didn’t know who was going to win. There was a live stream of the match and Chris had his first attempt at commentating the match – thoroughly enjoying the experience. The Ladies Doubles finals was also live streamed and equally thrilling. If you missed the matches – you can view both matches by clicking on the video below.
When all the matches for the day had been completed, the organising team managed the best medal ceremony I have ever seen. Mhairi led the winners of each event, in carnival fashion with stirring music (example Proclaimers 500 miles), to the podium to receive their medals. The podium was a bit small for doubles teams but everyone managed to squeeze on! When all the medals had been presented a group photo opportunity was created and mega party poppers with gold paper were popped! You can see the pictures of all the medalists below together with the final results.
Saturday was Ladies Singles and Mens Doubles and went off without a hitch. That evening the Tournament party was hosted at the official hotel. Again the party atmosphere was created brilliantly by the organising committee and their helpers. There was a brilliant skit by some of the Scottish girls who demonstrated their synchronised swimming skills without the help of water – I laughed so hard my sides hurt. Mhairi did a brilliant speech and the travelling Finnish Paddle was presented. Then there was a fabulous disco that managed to get everyone dancing all night.
Amazingly, players seemed to get up the next morning to arrive on time for the mixed doubles day. Everything went well except that it seemed like play over-ran slightly delaying the medal ceremony when there were a number of people booked to get flights home. I think that that was probably the only perceived hitch all weekend. Congratulations Mhairi, Sharon, Adriana and everyone else that made the first Scottish Open such as success. I seriously recommend that folk plan to attend the next Scottish Open which will take place in 2021 – it’s definitely going to be on my calendar.
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