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Thursday, March 23, 2023
A social and competitive time: NOTL pickleballers enjoy tourney success
Newcomer Kris Guerrieri and his partner Mario Grenier won gold in the men's doubles, at the North York Cup tournament on July 16. Supplied

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Pickleball Club did not disappoint in two recent tournaments.

Players from NOTL competed in the five-day national championship tourney in Kingston  and at the North York Cup. 

NOTL players brought home six medals from the national competition, which featured 950 players from across Canada. 

Elaine Somerville and partner Linda Kawamoto, both members of the NOTL club, won bronze in women’s doubles for ages 60 to 69.  

Somerville said she enjoyed the social aspect of the tournament and getting to meet people from all over the country and thrived on the challenging competition. 

“For the nationals, you have to be a Canadian citizen to play in this tournament, so you’re getting people from the East Coast and from the West Coast,” she said.

“Any type of tournament when you go in, you know you’re going to be challenged and there’s going to be good competition.”

She also played a mixed doubles match with Dwayne Yeager in the 4.0 level, creating a memorable moment for the players. 

The NOTLers were down 1-10 and made a huge come-back, tying the game 10-10. The team lost the match but had a very exciting game.

“It was very intense to come back from a 1-10 deficit,” Somerville said. “We were on fire. We were determined to win but we just couldn’t close it out.” 

Jerry Eitze won gold in men’s singles for ages 65 and above, at the national tourney.

He also won two silver medals in men’s mixed doubles alongside his partner Oriana Oszip in the 65 and up division.

Eitze has played pickleball for five years now and loves the social interaction.

“I have to say since playing pickleball we’ve just met so many nice people. They’re just very friendly, it’s a very social game. There haven’t been any really bad experiences at all.” 

At the national tourney was the courts were busy as players in various categories competed.

“It was at the Invista Centre where they had 28 courts there and they had seven courts at the Kingston pickleball club. So all together they have 35 courts available. The games were going steady all day long.”

Newcomer Kris Guerrieri, who wasn’t able to practise on the NOTL courts before the Kingston tournament, and his partner Mario Grenier won a bronze medal in men’s doubles ages 19 to 49.

And in the the North York tournament, he and Grenier took gold in men’s doubles, all ages.

“I had fun. My club, they’re supportive and they always came and cheered,” Guerrieri said.

With two successful tournaments, the club members showed a great sense of support and Eitze said, “When you’re playing, you’re playing hard, but afterwards, you’ve made some new friends.

“So we are appreciative of that and really just thank God every day that I’m just able, to be able to play.”

Eitze also credits the NOTL club for helping players be able to compete at a more advanced level. 

“it’s a great club to be in and very accommodating. They’ve definitely been partially responsible for being able to move up in the different levels of pickleball,” he said.

“I really appreciate all the hard work that the board does there and it’s just a great club to join.”

Somerville is excited about the number of players that are joining the club.

“Once they start playing, they become addicts and they just love it. Some people are playing up to five to seven days a week.”

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