News from the Region

Washington DC

Summer 2018

Pickleball Draws Crowds at 2018 NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo

When your goal is to attract attention at the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo in Washington, D.C., all you need to do is tape a pickleball court on the floor and put paddles in the hands of two popular news anchors. NBC Channel 4’s Doreen Gentzler and Jim Handly took a few warm-up shots and then challenged each other to a doubles showdown at the largest community wellness expo in the country, held March 10 and 11, 2018.

Along with their game partners — and local players — Helen White and her husband, Andy Leighton, Gentzler and Handly served, dinked and lobbed to the spectators’ delight. Later, three hometown mascots took to the court to try their hands at pickleball — the NBC4 Peacock and Washington Nationals larger-than-life Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.

How do you introduce pickleball to almost 600 Expo attendees on two courts during a two-day event? According to White, she recruited eight USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) Ambassadors and they enlisted 80 volunteers. Volunteers were diehard enthusiasts from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The Ambassadors represented the newly formed Capital Area District in the USAPA Mid-Atlantic Region. GAMMA Sports provided a representative and donated nets, paddles and balls. White is the USAPA Assistant Regional Drector of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Pickleball volunteers greeted curious attendees and encouraged them to join in. Nearly 600 of them grabbed paddles and gave it a try. On-court volunteers provided coaching, demonstration, and plenty of ball shagging. For most Expo-goers, pickleball was a new sport. For some, this was time to show off skills already acquired at their own gyms and community centers. For a few, it was game on and all business. Participants ranged in age from 5 to 75-plus.

“Pickleball was a major attraction at the event,.” said Mary Hurley Hayes, the Expo Manager.

USAPA was one of more than 250 exhibitors at the Expo, which celebrated its 25th anniversary with this year’s event. Attendance was nearly 70,000 over the weekend at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown D.C.

Jane Hoge is an avid pickleball player and University of Nebraska fan. She plays pickleball at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington, Va.

Jane Hoge

2018 Citi Open Adds Pickleball for Relish

For the 50th summer and counting, Washington, D.C., will host the Citi Open tennis tournament. Been there, done that? Ho hum? Not so fast. This year’s event will feature some new kids on the block.

The likes of tennis greats Caroline Wozniacki (2018 Australian Open champion) and Andy Murray (three-time Grand Slam champion) will share the spotlight with the nation’s best pickleball players. Eight pickleball pros have signed on for the USA Pickleball Association’s Pickleball Pro Exhibition and Clinic – Sarah Ansboury, Chad Edwards, Joey Farias, Simone Jardim, Lucy Kovalova, Ty McGuffin, Irina Tereschenko and Matt Wright.

Among others, Ansboury, Jardim and Wright should feel right at home. They traded their tennis rackets for pickleball paddles and their overhand serves for underhand action. The pros are leading a pickleball fever that is sweeping the country – and making this the fastest-growing racket sport in the U.S.

Not only is the USAPA set to sanction the event, but also Jack Thomas – the association’s president — will play the role of emcee. Thomas will add color commentary to the pickleball action, which includes exhibition matches by the pros followed by skills clinics for 64 registered attendees. Others are encouraged to take in the exhibitions, observe the clinics, and stay for the tennis semi-finals – all on one ticket.

The Citi Open runs July 28 through August 5 at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. The Pickleball Pro Exhibition and Clinic is August 4 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

Registration information is at:

Jane Hoge played softball for the Univ. of Nebraska and now plays pickleball in Northern Virginia.

Jane Hoge