—By Katherine Chen & Michelle Xu—
“I felt a rush of adrenaline. I felt an energy like a thousand raging volts,” sophomore Jeremy Bedient said. No, this wasn’t an execution. It was the annual pickleball tournament.
Every year, either the school executive board or a class council hosts a competition to bring together teams from all four grade levels. This time, the 2016 class council decided to take on the task in order to raise money for the junior class.
On the second Saturday of January, 20 teams gathered in the main gym to start the tournament. The tournament began with a set of round-robin games to “give players as many games as possible, but still be fair,” according to junior Alan Xu, the student treasurer of the class of 2016. The results of the round-robin games seeded the different teams for the final bracket according to the skill level of each team.
Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines tennis, ping pong, and badminton. It is taught in junior and senior gym classes. Despite this, many teams composed of freshmen and sophomores participated, not at all discouraged that they had received little to no instruction in the sport. “Once you know the rules, then anyone can really play,” Xu said. “It’s a really simple game that anyone can pick up. It doesn’t require a lot of skills or a lot of practice, so it’s a really fun way for guys to be able to come in and enjoy themselves.” Regardless of skill or experience, all of the teams were highly enthusiastic and spirited during the games.
Players bobbed their heads to the beat of the music being blasted through the gymnasium speakers. Many teams even coordinated outfits for the event, ranging from bright pink t-shirts with sweatbands to superhero capes and war paint. “Our strength is always having fun,” seniors Christina Hayduchok and Naomi Shah declared. “Our weakness is when we have to start playing.”
The rounds were conducted quickly and effectively. Water breaks were given in between every few rounds, during which people bought snacks from a concession stand out in the hallway. Spectators watched from the sidelines, cheering the players on and laughing good-naturedly when their friends messed up. The 20 teams that the tournament started with was eventually narrowed down to just two for the final round. After an intense smash-off, juniors Anoop Patel and Sriram Bapatla emerged victorious to claim their prize of two $15 Taco Bell gift cards.
Overall, the pickleball tournament was very successful, bringing students together in a fun and enjoyable event. “We had a lot of support from the other classes, so I want to thank everyone else from the other grades,” junior class president Dillon Sumanthiran said. “The 2016 class council definitely came together; we’re already cleaned up at 9:30[pm], so I think this was a success.”
And the winners? “It was good. We feel proud of ourselves,” Bapatla said. “Gonna use this $15 wisely. I’m a vegetarian, so we’ll see.”