Hello everybody, my name is Josh Elliott and I am a 3 time Junior gold medal winner at the 2014 USAPA Pickleball Nationals in Buckeye, Arizona. November 2nd to the 9th was one of the best weeks of my life. Not only did I get to play some great pickleball against some other junior players, I also got to see the best pickleball play on earth.
Throughout the tournament, there was terrific play from every player and I got to see and make friends from around the country. My dad got a 19+ Gold with Kyle Yates and my mom got a 35+ Bronze with Lydia Willis. My mom and dad are my coaches and mentors, taking me to practice and preparing for the tournaments. All the watching was fun, but my turn to play was coming up. On the 8th, it was the Juniors turn to play.
When I went to bed on the 7th, I was feeling nervous but I woke up pumped and ready to roll. I met my Juniors Men’s partner for the first time that day. His name is JJ Stone Jr. and he is super nice and a great player. He was 17, so I played up. We did great and took the Gold. That was the 2nd event of the day I played. The first event I played was Junior Singles. In my first game, (2/3 to 11) I won the first game but the 2nd was much tougher. At 10-10 I buckled down, not wanting to go into a 3rd and won 12-10. I was thinking to just get the ball back and let my opponent make the error. My next match was even harder, going into a 3rd game. After splitting, I was telling myself to calm down and not go for the winners every shot. I won the 3rd game, which made it the best match of the day for me. I then moved on to win in the finals.
A bit later in the day, they started the Junior Mixed and I played with my younger sister, Rachel. I was starting to ware down, but I really wanted to win this. We first played LeEllen Lane and Kale Klein and lost in 2. It was frustrating but we played good matches. After that, we went to play Ian Junatas and Camille Flynn, but Camille was 8 years old and left early! We then faced LeEllen and Kale in the finals, (2/3 to 11) and beat them there, so we had to go into a game to 15. We ended up winning in the game to 15 and took the Gold. The games we played were tough and a lot of fun. At the end of the day, it was a great feeling, winning all 3 divisions. When I was receiving the medals, it was very gratifying knowing all of my work had paid off. Hope to do it again next year!
Isn’t that a great story! Thanks again Junior Gold Medal Winner Josh for sharing your thoughts of that special day.
Note: I was lucky enough to have the Elliott’s as my host family when I played at the Pro Exhibition in 2014. Since then we have kept in touch and I am
grateful to have met such a wonderful family. We have a blast together. Here is a photo of me, Rachel (sister), Josh and Jodi (Josh’s mom) goofing off on the court – no surprise there 🙂