News from the Region


Summer 2018

“Oscar-Mike”….On the Move at Boot Camp in Pittsburgh PA

“Give me 20!” were not the only words given by Pittsburgh Area USAPA Ambassadors Alexis Duncan, Kathy Demetri and Pickleballer Spyder Dicer as they helped improve players games through “Pickleball Boot Camp”. The Campers experienced intense drilling to hone their skills including service variety and depth, return variety and depth, third shot accuracy, team movement, attackable balls, kitchen play and a variety of skill shots. Thanks to Nancy Sutton, USAPA Ambassador from Paducah, KY for outfitting the instructors in embroidered military vests. Alexis and Kathy also proudly wore the “wings” from Alexis Duncan’s father’s Flying Tiger squadron.

Kathy Demetri
USAPA Ambassador
Fox Chapel, PA

In April 2018, a premier outdoor pickleball facility opened in Western Pennsylvania, CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP PICKLEBALL ASSOCIATION. The facility, located in Graham Park, Cranberry Township, PA, includes eight outdoor dedicated pickleball courts with vision to add 8 more indoor courts to allow for winter play. CTPA currently has over 310 members. CPTA offers lessons, level play and open play. For more information on CTPA visit: []

Bruce Mazzoni
Cranberry Township, PA


Pittsburgh’s Gamma Pickleball Classic, June 29 to July 1, is a one-of-a-kind tournament which has two major goals: to grow pickleball in the northeast and to help the Parkinson Foundation.

“It is one of the most unique tournaments of this size anywhere in the country,” Mike Wertz says.

Mike is the man who started the Classic three years ago. He realized there are thousands of pickleball players who are a wide range of ages. The Classic recognizes this with brackets from 2.5, those newer to the sport, to 5.0, open to pros. There are age groups, too, and men’s, women’s, mixed, and single brackets.

“It’s a big step up, a big improvement from last year,” Mike says.

For players, there are 40 courts and five practice ones, using more of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. This centers the Classic in Pittsburgh’s cultural district, too.

Mike says, “People are really surprised by how welcoming the city is.

There are concerts, Heinz Field, restaurants, and galleries to enjoy.”

At the classic, there are many options besides playing. Pro players will hold seminars. Spectators can watch any match of the three days with a $5 donation; kids under 12 have free entrance. Players can bid to partner a pro or get a private lesson.

Of course, it’s an option to join the fun by volunteering.

“It’s an opportunity to meet people and share stories. We want to offer them a first rate pickleball experience,” Mike says.

The emphasis on serving up a great tournament has grown not only the number of participants but also the contribution to the Parkinson Foundation. The first year $6,000 was donated. Last year, $20,000 was raised. The goal this year is $30,000. Sponsors such as GAMMA Sports and Aetna Insurance help the Classic send a large check to Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania.

That foundation runs the event, an unusual collaboration. Mike is connected with the nonprofit, too, serving as president. His father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

If it sounds like Mike is busy, add his PR business Apple Box Studios to the mix. However, they all work together.

“It’s not a full-time job, but as [the Classic] grows it will take more effort. We’re able to juggle it at Apple Box,” Mike says.

“The tournament itself is just in its infancy. The long-term plan it to make it a major sporting event for Pittsburgh.”

Apple Box Studios, the Parkinson Foundation, and pickleball mesh together to make one great tournament. They go for the winning shot to spread the game, fight Parkinson’s, raise money for research, volunteer to help others, and put Pittsburgh on the pickleball map.

Sharon Drake
Mid-Atlantic Publishing Writer
Pittsburgh, PA