Arizona Pickleball Players League (APPL) News
Age Brackets Added to all Regions
We are proud to be the driving force delivering the fun, convenient, affordable and competitive format of team-based league pickleball throughout Arizona. Over the past 3 years we have grown from 95 teams and 1100 players to 307 teams and over 3700 players. Our continued growth along with interest in our unique team concept from cities outside of Arizona seems to support the notion that we are clearly doing something right. Over our 10 year history, starting in 2012 with the 50+ East Valley Interclub League (EVIL) and continuing with the forming of the Arizona Pickleball Players League (APPL), we have been constantly refining our processes to improve the player experience while managing the growth. We are now at a point in our roadmap to make another enhancement to the league.
As APPL has grown in all regions we have received increasing requests to segment the league into age related divisions. As you know this is common in the world of pickleball tournaments and age segments are also used in USTA league tennis. Our roadmap has always had this identified as a necessary occurrence at some point. We are now going to take our first step in this direction starting with the 2023 season.
The First Step:
Effective with the 2023 season APPL will have 2 leagues in each region: A 55+ league and an 18+ league. The 55+ league will consist of players who are 55 years of age or older or will turn 55 during the 2023 calendar year. The 18+ league will consist of players who are 18 years or older (no cap) or will turn 18 during the 2023 calendar year. The EVIL league will now become part of the East Valley region APPL 55+ league and no longer be a separate league in that region. Because the EVIL league was a 50+ league and we are moving to a 55+ age bracket, in order not to exclude the players who were 50-55 last season from playing in the 55+ bracket, there will be grandfathering conditions. All players who participated on any APPL or EVIL team in any region last season who turn 50 during the 2023 calendar year will be grandfathered in to play in the 55+ league. Those players must have been registered players on a team last season.
The Next Steps:
With this decision comes several implications. Initially there likely will be fewer 18+ teams registering resulting in some flights with too few teams to be viable. Note that teams in the 55+ age division may also play in the 18+ division if they so choose. Much like tournaments, if there are some flights with only a couple teams, we will likely combine the flights but there will be separate winners in each age division. The top teams in each age division would move forward to the next level playoffs.
Naturally our State Championships will be expanded. There will be competition between regions in both the 18+ league and the 55+ league with winners declared in each. This will no doubt increase our court needs as well as likely affect the days we hold the championships.
We also hope this will drive additional interest in the 18+ age group not only with our marketing efforts but with player enthusiasm to form more teams. Last season several teams consisted primarily of players under 50. We hope they will encourage their network of playing friends to form teams and compete in this fun and competitive form of pickleball. In addition, with the potential growth in the 18+ league we are focusing even more on court availability during evenings and weekends with our city partners and private court venues.
We have a working group consisting of players and APPL management focusing on these and several other items related to the new age divisions. We will keep you informed as things progress. In the meantime, we hope you have a great summer and look forward to seeing you on the courts next season.
Your APPL Team
APPL is a nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers.