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Fromuth Pickleball Classic Showcases Competition, Spirited Fun of Pickleball

June 21, 2022

Even though the tension is thick for players in tough matchups, the constant casual air of pickleball remains dominant.

The first day of the 2022 Fromuth Pickleball Classic tournament featured overcast jacket weather, just like last year's Riverfest event. Camping chairs line up the sides of the courts, some emptied out as players of all skill levels pursued their fated matchup. Even though the tension is thick for players in tough matchups, the constant casual air of pickleball remains dominant. It’s fierce when you want it to be and like a social call every other time. People chat away on the sidelines, laughing and sharing the details of their lives. After all, most of the locals are friends with each other and have been for a while. Many are happy to make small talk with players from out of town.

West Reading Pickleball Courts

The competitive fire lives on throughout the entire time I watched the tournament. An absolute dedication to the sport is seen in many of the competitors: they spike the ball down the middle past their opponents, curve the trajectory with a well-practiced swing, and place the ball far and deep, giving their opponents pause as they can’t decide whether it’ll hit out of bounds or inside the court. Both inaction and action are risky in those moments. There is a noticeable level of skill when it comes to these tournaments, one that is earned through consistent practice and an adherence to good habits— proper form, proper placement, and dialing in the power of their swings. 

West Reading Pickleball

But some people have their focus on more humble aspects of the event. With a quick word from competitor Douglas Zapf, he reigned back in the focus where it belonged— the sense of comradery and community that comes with pickleball. The thing he loves the most about it is the accessibility. “It’s a mini version of tennis, it’s not as hard. I used to play tennis, but with pickleball, I can get together with the family and have a good time.”

Pickleball remains inclusive, even with the massive influx of players every year. With people like Douglas and his father playing in the tournament, you get a sense of cooperation that a lot of other sports miss out on. 

Coming in Sunday was a change in the team dynamic. With Mixed Doubles now on the table, I got to witness another interesting team — meet Danielle and Maurice Oldham, a couple that came to love the sport and with some connections to Fromuth’s hard workers. When asked about their tough matchup, they responded with optimism. “Although the first one was rough,” Danielle said, “we’re ready for the next one.” Maurice chimed in, “There were some moments of miscommunication, but we got it out of our system. We’re ready.”

The part of the sport that Danielle loves the most is how easy it is to pick up, and progress is transparent. You know when you’re getting better. For Maurice, he loves the opportunity to get competitive again since high school.

Fromuth Pickleball

After plenty of time watching games up close and personal, I decided to take a seat on the hill outside the court, catching a conversation or two with spectators Zac Jackson and Diana Snyder — both pickleball enthusiasts that have really gotten into the sport with friends and family during the summer. When asked about their favorite part of the sport, Zac was adamant: the best part was slamming the ball down the middle of the court after a good dink. The personal satisfaction that comes from it is too good for him to pass up. For Diana, she really loved how easy it was to get started, and finding people to play with at the West Reading pickleball courts isn’t too hard. People will earnestly help you improve, and you’ll find a sport with a great blend of competition and lightheartedness. “People just wanna have fun,” she says. 

Fromuth Pickleball Classic

Before departing from the tournament, I got a final word in from a recurring tournament participant: Josh Geiger, an employee at Fromuth Racquet Sports, has been to plenty of competitions and very clearly loves the sport. He thought about my question for a little bit, but not long. “It's the friends you make, but the friendly rivalries you develop too.” 

Coming to the Fromuth Pickleball Classic, even only as a spectator, is well worth anyone’s time— and if you’re unfamiliar with the game but the idea of friendly competition intrigues you, then you can stop by the Fromuth retail store in West Lawn to demo a pickleball paddle and take it to the courts, all in the same day. Without a doubt, there’ll be someone who is willing to show you the ropes, and you’ll have a blast with it too.

Click here to view photos of our 2022 Fromuth Pickleball Classic medalists. Congratulations to all of the winners. Proceeds from the tournament benefitted the West Reading Pickleball Association and its mission to grow the game of pickleball in Berks County and beyond. Thank you for your support of West Reading Pickleball.

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