Hello APPL Enthusiasts,
The Pickleball Universe is Expanding Rapidly: It seems like not a week goes by that a new pickleball organization, tour or initiative doesn’t appear on our pickleball radar. This is really an exciting time for pickleball. There has been considerable activity on the professional front with the formation of professional organizations, professional tours, leagues, etc. Certainly the news coverage and TV coverage of our great sport has taken a giant step forward.
I am also happy to see that there is some additional focus on the largest segment of our sport; the amateur component. It might not be getting as much “air time” as the exciting development of the professional segment but there are certainly things happening, even in our neck of the woods of team-based league pickleball. Most of you, if you haven’t already, will see information on new formats of amateur competitive pickleball. Some will be team-based, some will be tournament based and some will likely be new ways to enjoy the sport that haven’t been thought of yet. I would like to provide you with a statement that might answer a question you have, or someday might ponder regarding what the future holds for APPL.
APPL is proud to be filling a gap in amateur pickleball that no one has attempted before. That gap is a true team-based regional league that is structured quite similarly to the USTA team-based tennis leagues that span 17 regions across the country and the over 700 regional tennis leagues that are not affiliated with USTA. The outstanding growth in participation that we have experienced over the past few years tells me we are delivering a pickleball experience that many players want and gives me confidence that a national path for our league format is feasible and will inevitably come to pass. Please know that as long as you are interested, with or without a national path, APPL will continue to offer its regional leagues through the outstanding support of our volunteer network as the largest regional team-based league of its kind in the country.
I believe there is a fairly significant contrast between the APPL approach and some emerging approaches to team-based league pickleball. Putting it very simplistically and using tennis as an analogy as I quite often do, I see some new approaches to be quite similar to the fun format of World Team Tennis and I see APPL to be quite similar to the also popular format of USTA league play. Both have been successful in tennis (although I believe WTT didn’t focus on organized amateur play and I’m delighted some new approaches in pickleball will) and I believe both will be successful in pickleball. Some of the emerging formats will develop a national program more quickly by leveraging their financial and organizational resources and by integrating the league play with their existing pickleball platforms. This will no doubt be exciting for a number of amateur players but I do not believe it aligns with the majority of the player population that we are serving with our league experience. I do not view them as competition other than for some time on a pickleball player’s pickleball time budget.
In the meantime, we will do what we can to drive some standardization in the “APPL format” across various regions with the intent that it will someday make a national pathway easier to bring to fruition. We already have leagues in several states that have reached out to us for information on how to set up an “APPL like” league and now have their leagues operating or are in the process of starting them up. However I will state once again, with or without a national path, APPL will continue to offer its regional leagues through the outstanding support of our volunteer network.
As always, I am speaking for the entire APPL team when I say we appreciate the encouraging feedback we continue to receive as we all; players, captains, APPL volunteers, APPL partners, contribute to this great way to enjoy pickleball.
Arizona Pickleball Players League Inc. – President
A nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers
TEAM UP! PLAY APPL!