It’s been a crazy summer filled with travel in the US, Europe and Japan. I’m finally back home, where I have a few moments to catch my breath and reflect on everything that happened this summer.
I started in Japan, from where I flew august 6th to Redmond, Oregon for an advanced pickleball boot camp. From there I flew to a still intact Houston, where I did clinics, lessons and played some of the most fun (and drunk) pickleball ever in Victor and Natalie’s backyard. I also ate entirely too much Vietnamese food and survived Chinese torture – I mean massage – with Joe and Agatha. From there it was off to Vail, Colorado for more camps and clinics. Jerry Stevens and the Vail pickleball club put me up in an awesome condo and hosted me so well. Back in Colorado Springs, my Japanese friends Makoto Sato and Tomoko Takami visited for a few days, before competing in the Tournament of Champions, helping at another bootcamp in Colorado Springs, and going onto Europe.
My first stop in Europe was London, but it took me two days to get there because of a cancelled Aer Lingus flight (this is going to be a reocurring theme). So after nights in Chicago and Dublin Airport, I arrived in London, beleaguered but grateful to Louise Stephens for picking me up. An afternoon of sightseeing, evening pickleball session with the Slappers (South London Area Pickleball) and fun pub party later, I was off the Nice, France the following morning. Southern France, where it never rains, had an epic downpour so heavy that our flight diverted from Nice to Marseille. Eventually we arrived though and were treated to two great days with Pierre and Cyril of Pickleball France. A big thank you to my sponsor Paddletek for sending us over to London and Nice. From there it was off to Madrid (after another delayed flight) for the first ever Spain Pickleball Trip and third annual Spanish Open Pickleball Championships.
The tour to Spain was not without its hiccups but everyone was accommodating and we had a great time. The tournament too was not without its scheduling issues, but the multinational participants created great energy nonetheless. I met players from the US, Canada, Mexico, England, Italy, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland and Finland. There were probably even more countries represented. The Bainbridge Cup featuring North America VS. Europe proved a huge success and I was fortunate enough to win the men’s open doubles with Marci Rozpedski. After the tournament, it was off the beautiful Toledo and Barcelona for touring around the country and learning Spanish history. A demonstration outside our hotel in Barcelona for Catalonian independence provided some added unexpected excitement. I should say at this point that we are planning the next Spain Pickleball Trip for September 2018 and would love to see you on the trip!
The Spain Pickleball Tour ended in Barcelona where we went our separate ways, myself to Japan via Singapore. After of course another delayed flight that caused me to miss my connection, I arrived in Tokyo, traveled home to Nagano, and back to Tokyo the next morning to start the 3rd annual Japan Pickleball Trip. We traveled around Nagano, Tokyo and Osaka visiting pickleball clubs, being hosted at wild karaoke parties, playing pickleball with local players, staying in traditional Japanese inns and eating too much food, among other activities. I was happy how the trip came together and am looking forward to the next edition in May, 2018. It’s so cool to see how pickleball has grown in the 3 years we have been doing this trip and how it has contributed to the development of the sport in Japan. There is excitement for pickleball around the world and Japanese players are starting to talk about traveling to the US to compete. It is an exciting time and I’m lucky to be at the cusp.
From now, I have a month in Japan where I do a couple of walking tours, planning for next year, and time off before heading to nationals at the end of October, followed by our Pickleball Trip to St. Croix. There is a possibility of me going to Shenzhen, China at the end of October to help a local club there first so we will see. It’s been crazy and I’m glad for a break this month but please stay tuned for more information about upcoming trips and events at pickleballtrips.com!