Despite its name, the 2nd Annual Rock Chuck Open in Redmond did not see any rock chucks on the pickleball courts this weekend.
But it sure saw a lot of players!
160 pickleball-lovers participated in the three-day tournament at Sam Johnson Park, divided among the women’s, men’s, and mixed doubles categories at a variety of skill levels.
The event was started last summer at the urging of local players.
“We received some requests from local pickleball players to do a local tournament, and I run the Park and Recreation District, so it’s a really good fit for us to run the tournament, and it’s a fundraiser for our scholarship program as well,” said Katie Hammer, the Tournament Director.
Scholarships help pay for registration fees for recreation programs for low income families.
“The weather’s actually been perfect,” Hammer said. “It’s been in the 80’s, it’s a little warm in the afternoons but it’s been really good. The wind yesterday was a little challenging, but weather’s been great.”
It was Jarrod Burguan’s second time playing in the Rock Chuck Open after playing pickleball for only a year and a half.
He said he enjoyed the ’round robin’ style of the event.
“When you do these tournaments, you pay a fair amount of money to do it,” he said. “There’s an entry fee and then a fee for each of the events. So when you can find round robin events, where you go into pool divisions and you have the opportunity to play multiple games, those are the ideal tournaments to find versus some of the other tournaments, you may pay a lot of money and then it’s just double elimination and you can play one or two games and be done.”
He said since moving to Redmond, most of the friends he’s made have been through pickleball.
“When you play doubles, you can do it in a way where you don’t have to cover the court a whole lot, you can kind of just defend your area,” Burguan said. “So it really becomes more about racket skills, ball handling skills versus having that athleticism to be able to sprint across the court.
“It’s becoming a really popular sport, it’s fun to play, it’s very engaging, it’s very social, you meet a lot of folks.”
He said the local club and himself are in talks with the City of Redmond to encourage more courts in town.
Hammer said that participation more than doubled this year compared to last year, which only saw 75 participants.
“I just hope we continue to help grow pickleball in our community,” she said. “I think it’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., and it’s a fabulous sport and I want to encourage more people to participate.”