Submitted by Pad Finnigan.
Three pickleball players from the Lakewood Community Center came away with medals at the Oct. 12-13 Richland WA tournament that drew players from across the country – as far as the Atlantic coast. Top national players were drawn to Richland by prize money and the tournament’s host, Tyson McGuffin, the nation’s best men’s single player.
Two women, Bev Utt and CJ Morlan, placed first and won gold medals Saturday for their play in the under-50 age group, 3.0 skill level doubles competition. They won their first three matches and entered the championship match undefeated.
They then played their final match against a team coming out of the loser’s bracket that had already lost their one and only match to Utt and Morlan. After losing the first two games and the match, thereby tying their opponent’s record of one loss, the Lakewood team immediately began a playoff match of only one game with that same opponent to break the tie. Winners would be champions. Their experience against a younger team prevailed, producing a winning score of 15-8 in a nerve wracking but happy end to their day.
On Sunday, Utt teamed with Steve Thorndill for the mixed doubles competition in the 3.0 skill-level and under-and-over 50-year-old bracket. They won their first two matches but lost their third with a pressure-packed close 16-14 score. Had they won that squeaker, they would have played in the final gold medal match. But the loss earned them a bronze medal for third place and the second tournament medal for Utt.
Utt’s gold medal equaled her gold medal performance in the Washington State Senior Games in August, and Morlan’s gold medal play complemented her two bronze medals also won in August.