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The USA Olympic Pickleball Team

Federico Staksrud PPA 2024 (Picture Kerry Pittenger)

Upon seeing the American flags perched above the court at the 2024 Minto US Open Championships in Naples, Florida, I started thinking about Team USA, should pickleball become an Olympic sport. That is going to happen in due course, ladies and gentlemen, give the reality time to take shape. Anyone who has followed the MLP-PPA tour knows that although some players win more than others,  they–the whole lot–are the best around, an esteemed and mighty league. That much is undeniable. Right? We’ve seen them compete, they all have strengths and weaknesses, yet somehow they get better between tour stops. No exaggeration. What remarkable progress! Some are medalists, others hope to be some day. Up-and-coming players have shown promise too, having given top players an unforgettable run.  As the tour rolls along, the sport’s newest athletes are causing a tremor or two. With plenty of action and excitement on this pro court and that pro court, the pickleball spell has been cast worldwide and is growing stronger as I write.

The above details in mind, imagine being asked to pick a team of men and women to represent the USA. For many, choosing would be easy, a matter of filling out the roster with top-seeded players.  Arguments against that idea would pour in, of course, and alternatives would be considered.  Either way, selecting an Olympic team would be fun to contemplate and map out.

So…let’s do it! 

Forget about the Olympic committees, the qualifying standards, the rules, the principles, the explanatory jargon, etc. – the details that seem unimportant to fans who would much rather strip away the seriousness and find the fun.

So, who would you pick for:

Men’s singles

Women’s singles

Mixed doubles

Men’s doubles

Women’s doubles

Could you leave emotion and personal feelings out, concentrating only on the best players? Would popularity affect your decision? What about Genie Bouchard?

GENIE BOUCHARD
Genie Bouchard (Picture Carvana PPA Tour)

Would, say, a charismatic player who has not won bronze, silver, or gold get chosen before a calm, quiet, more accomplished player who has played under pressure and won medals? Players’ ages range from teens to forties. Would age matter?  So much talent, so many particulars to consider, such a pleasure to get lost for a while in our own imaginations. After all, isn’t that what imagination is for? To go anywhere, to be anything, to let our minds drift far and free and create pictures and scenarios and, in this case, imagine a pro pickleball dream-team?

Now, visualize yourself as Team USA recruiter and coach, whose duty it is to research and study MLP-PPA athletes from top to bottom, inside and out, and pick the right players to wear with pride red, white, and blue. There is not enough room for everyone. And there can be no favoritism, nor changes once picks have been made. No such thing as a wrong choice. Remember, your role here in assembling Team USA is to choose with a pure and honest mind and heart.

Go!

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About David Boyle

A versatile and diversified writer, David Boyle has written three short story collections, published by independent presses. Though he earned his readership by writing reality-based fiction, Boyle has gained a reputation for literary stories, essays, articles, reviews, interviews, analyses, travel writing, reportage, and poems, a good number of which have appeared in both print and online magazines. Inspired by his wife's passion for the sport, David now loves pickleball and aims to illuminate current pickleball events and subjects with a fresh, creative perspective, offering readers something they can't find anywhere else. | My website | boyled411@gmail.com | My Pickleball Journal

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