Hello Team Pickleball Enthusiasts,
What a season! Last month our 2022 Winter League regular season concluded. Many of the flight champions were undetermined until the final week of the season. On top of that, there were some pretty exciting sub-flight playoff matches held for the larger flights. It has really been a remarkable season. All four regions were fully functional with Women’s, Men’s and Mixed divisions and we blew away our team and player count record set last year. We had 307 teams and over 3700 players compete in our winter league this year, almost doubling the numbers from last season!
Looking at the year so far, and I’m happy to say it’s not over (more on that in a moment), I’d like to reflect on some noteworthy achievements.
Upgraded our league software
Other than our phenomenal growth, we implemented a new league operations software engine. According to considerable positive feedback it has been a tremendous tool for our League Coordinators, Captains and Players. Registration, fee payment, scheduling, score reporting, team statistics as well as other informational accessories (for example our Captain’s Guide) all were vast improvements over last year. We are already working with our software provider to make additional system enhancements in preparation for next season.
Added public court capacity
To facilitate our growth this season it was imperative that we increase our availability of public courts and time slots. Our venue arrangements across the state grew from four in 2021 to ten venues in 2022. We added public courts in the Southern, West Valley and East Valley regions. Also, we doubled our weekend and evening time slot availability. The relationships we have developed with many city/county park organizations throughout the state are sincerely appreciated.
Helped players find teams
We put a genuine focus upon helping players find teams on which to play. Our “Players Seeking a Team” program was assigned to our Vice President – Bob Ham who proceeded to put “teeth” into the process. I’m delighted to report that in every region nearly 50% of the players who expressed interest in finding a team to play on, found a team. In fact one team was formed entirely from players seeking a team and that team went on to win the State Championship!
APPL is not just a winter league anymore
Yes, our year is not over. Earlier this year we announced the addition of a new region which will offer APPL pickleball in the summer months. Many of our Arizona players who head to the White Mountains when it gets hot have expressed interest in a summer league. After a successful pilot last year we made it official, and the White Mountain Region became our fifth region. We hope to pilot a Northern league in the future which would encompass the Prescott and Flagstaff areas.
State Championships end the season on a high note
Once again, the regional APPL champion teams from the Southern, Casa Grande, East Valley and West Valley regions met in Casa Grande to compete for the State Championship trophy in their flight. The three day event was full of exciting games (774 of them to be exact). Many of the matches weren’t decided until the last half of the third round which comes as no surprise. I was especially impressed with the several instances of good sportsmanship I observed. Congratulations to all the participating teams for their regional accomplishments and to the winners of the State Championship finals. Special thanks goes to our Tournament of Champions director Brian Shipman and the outstanding volunteer group that worked so hard to make the event an overwhelming success.
Team APPL – A group of role model volunteers
Although our team and player count almost doubled this year, our volunteer core team only grew slightly. They have dedicated a serious portion of their free time to bringing this fun and competitive version of our sport to players throughout Arizona. What our small band of Team APPL volunteers has accomplished is truly amazing. They all are exemplary role models of what a team can do.
We also want to thank our community administrators throughout the state who take it upon themselves to pull teams together in their community as well as thank the captains and co-captains of all the teams. Without their leadership we wouldn’t have the participation we have.
Finally, we are sincerely grateful for the positive feedback we continue to receive from so many players. During the off-season we will explore several areas of the league where changes may be appropriate, much of which is based on your input. We will remain focused on continuously improving the player experience and making it even more fun to play APPL’s team-based league pickleball.
Be sure to stay tuned to our APPL and regional websites for information about next season and other APPL news and events.
I wish you all a safe and enjoyable summer.
Arizona Pickleball Players League Inc. – President
A nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers
TEAM UP! PLAY APPL!