Vermont Senior Games athletes just concluded three full days of pickleball over the July 12 – 14 weekend at the Robert Miller Center in Burlington’s north end. VSG Event Coordinator Joanne Winter, who did an extraordinary job in making the tournament run so smoothly, opted to relocate the games to the indoor site early in the week. Her decision proved to be prescient as torrential rains on Friday afternoon yielded to extreme heat Saturday. Without Joanne’s foresight, the VSG-record 84 participants would have faced an event wash-out or drastic reduction in court-time.
The full list of medal winners can be found below, but there are many highlights to focus upon.
The pickleball tourney opened with the Mixed Doubles brackets on Friday. Two especially dominant performances emerged out of the early rounds. In the 70-74-year-old age group, the duo of Barb Maltby and Rick Hawkins won their 6-team pool by a combined score of 55 – 4, a very impressive effort. Tree Bertram and Todd Keller likewise displayed outstanding form in winning the gold medal for the 50-54-year-olds by a 44 – 3 total margin.
Finally, the Friday matches concluded with a super-competitive 8 team pool among the 60-64-year-old entrants. When the dust had settled, Scott and Lisa Hadley emerged victorious in a feisty gold-medal match-up against Steve Wing and Linda Norris by an 11 – 8 score. Michele O’Brien teamed with Howard Malevany to seize the bronze medal against the brother and sister team of Rick Zeller and Annie Bessette by the same 11 – 8 count.
However, in the Women’s Doubles on Saturday morning, Annie Bessette came back to win gold in the 55-59-year-old age group with her partner Annie Campbell, going undefeated in the ages 50-59-year-old pool. They were the only undefeated women’s team among the different age pools. In addition, Bessette’s mother, Sue Zeller celebrated her 86th birthday (and was serenaded with “happy birthday” singing!) by winning the silver medal in the 70-74-year-old group, against players a decade younger. Zeller was the oldest competitor to take the court over the weekend.
Conversely, the Men’s Doubles featured a trio of stand-out results. Scott Hadley proved that his Friday efforts were not a fluke by joining forces with Thomas Lucas to win the 55-59-year-old bracket with an undefeated 44 -2 combined scorecard. Rick Hawkins similarly matched his Mixed Doubles performance with new partner Roger Rees, going 6-0 in the extremely tight 70-79-year-old bracket to earn a 2nd gold medal. The 60-somethings bracket was dominated by the Rob Allen / Gary Griffin duo, who chalked up a perfect 6-0 match record as well.
Pickleball singles is an entirely different game, and Sunday’s matches provided new winners and peak performers. Mike Keene opened the day by going unbeaten in the aged 55-64-year-old pool, earning gold for ages 55-59. Rula Morati, in his first competition in many years, hopefully will find his gold medal in the age 70-74 category motivation to continue as he lost a mere one game over his matches. Among the women, Cindy Lindemann delivered a stellar, undefeated performance in the ages 55-64-year-old pool.
Special thanks again go out to Event Coordinator Joanne Winter for her tremendous organization and logistical expertise in making the complex brackets yield great pickleball. Kudos as well to her husband, Rick Codling, for manning the clock, shagging balls, and making announcements; VSG President Marti Powers for working the registration table and facilitating the numerous medal ceremonies; and, last by not least, “court coordinator” Louise Rashleigh for managing coin tosses, court assignments, and score-keeping.