These Legends are awesome players – Larry, Tyler, Ron and David! Great play to all four of you, that first games was so close! Larry and Tyler, the hometown Utah team, has played often together and they conquered gold. Here is their video of play and below their thoughts of that day:
Thoughts from Larry Moon:
What a fun day we had. I am proud to say that Gullo’s Grotto is my home court and there was something special about playing the event with the support of so many friends. Of course, thanks to John Gullo for making this a reality and to Papa Jeff for his tireless leadership. And thanks too to the army of local and out-of-town volunteers who made the tourney run smoothly.
We had several great matches on the way to the finals and really enjoyed being on the court with the “real” legends of the game – Bob Youngren and Yoda “have-you-seen-my-nuts” Friedenberg. These guys continue to play great Pickleball and are quick to welcome the junior “old guys” to the sport. I would also like to thank the other legends who decided to play in the Masters division and would encourage you guys to continue to play Masters in the future.
I feel very fortunate to have Tyler Sheffield as a partner and hope he continues to ignore all of my errors and make a big deal of my occasional good shot. And, after thinking it over, I agree with the many observers who suggested that Tyler should get 80% of our winnings since he was responsible for 80% of our points. I’m sure that Ron and David would agree. But, seriously, you guys had an amazing tournament and congrats on making the finals.
Thoughts from Tyler Sheffield:
– Who isn’t intrigued by the Tournament of Champions concept? Players came from all over the country come to compete in Masters brackets for under-fifty players and Legends brackets for over-fifty players. I heard the collective prize money awarded was $46,500? Those monetary awards added to the drama and competition of the event.
– It is satisfying to see people’s visions and dreams realized. John Gullo wanted to put Ogden (and Utah) on the map for pickleball. And he has succeeded. The eight courts he funded at the base of the mountains on the east side of Ogden are very busy. Since those eight were put in, Ogden has responded to demand starting construction on eight more courts. Numerous other communities within 30 minutes of Ogden have also added pickleball courts, with around 40 public courts having been constructed or under construction since John Gullo’s original eight. This doesn’t include the dozens of private courts that have been added, including one in my backyard and one in our neighborhood’s park. John has put Utah on the Pickleball map!
– Even had I not won one match, it would have been a success to me to watch the quality of pickleball played at the Tournament of Champions. It was particularly interesting to see many “new” players raise the level of their games to be able to compete with “seasoned” champions. We all know that this is the future of our sport.
– I am grateful to Larry Moon who consented to be my partner. I’m glad that the Tournament of Champions had the two divisions, providing people like me a chance to win some matches. Larry is a great partner and never gets ruffled. The most criticism I ever get might be when he rubs his goatee and quiet ponders “I wonder if we should go short more on our third shots.” What he’s really thinking but doesn’t say “what the heck are you doing hitting so many balls out of bounds or at our opponents with nothing gained, you nincompoop you.” Thanks Larry!!
– Jeff Gardner ran a great tournament. Thanks for the countless hours put in by Jeff and many other volunteers. The refereeing, administration, events, seating, filming, etc was top notch. Congratulations to all involved.