Pickleball team strives for Guinness World Record
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – How soon can an individual play a pickleball match in each of the 48 contiguous United States?
The answer comes this week as Dean Matt plays his 48th and final game near Tampa, Fla. Dean hopes to have secured a Guinness World Record.
After spending months assembling a team, hiring sponsors, charting the most efficient course, and coordinating opposing hosts at various stations, Dean and his playing partner hopped on a plane and began their world record attempt on May 1st.
The mission, which spanned 8,200 nautical miles and a total of 83 flight hours, spanned from the Deep South to the lower Mississippi Valley, across the southern Great Plains and into the US Southwest. They flew up the west coast and traveled back across the northern plains overland, reaching the northeastern United States last Saturday.
Along the way, Dean and his playing partners have competed against opponents of all ages, skill levels, and experiences.
From professional pickleball players to NFL and NBA players to local celebrities, Special Olympians and politicians, from young children in urban communities with little access to pickleball to a 98-year-old woman in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
They flew south along the East Coast this week, making their 44th stop here in Hampton Roads on Wednesday.
Photo credit: WVEC
Pickleball player Dean Matt plays a match in Virginia Beach against Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer and former Virginia Governor and US Senator George Allen while attempting to set a world record.
They played their Virginia match at a private course called “Sip ‘n Pickle” in Virginia Beach. Charlie and Jennifer Wilson hosted the game and brought along a couple of “wrestlers” who played Dean and his partner: Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer and former Virginia Governor and US Senator George Allen.
Although Dyer was new to pickleball, he was a racquetball player while Allen is a celebrated multi-sport athlete.
The two politician-turned-players were given an introduction to the rules of the game, and Dean and his playing partner were happy to share game tips. Above all, the group laughed a lot and had fun.
Allen shared his thoughts on the game: “It’s a lot of fun! You train well and there is a lot of camaraderie. I can understand why it has become such a popular and fast growing sport.”
And Mayor Dyer sees a bright future for Pickleball in Virginia Beach.
Dyer added, “Virginia Beach is opening up a lot of pickleball courts. For this we exchange unused tennis courts. I can tell you, this sport catches fire and flames.”
The popularity could mean more visitors and an economic boost for Virginia Beach.
“We could do big tournaments. Let’s host national tournaments here. And that way, people will stay at the hotels, go to the restaurants, and see what a beautiful city Virginia Beach is,” Dyer said.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Dean Matt
Pickleball player Matt Dean (left) poses with playing partner and fellow pilots.
Although Dean’s stay in Virginia was short-lived as he saw players from across the country, he took the time to offer this advice to anyone who had been thinking about gambling but wasn’t sure how to proceed give.
“Don’t be intimidated. “It’s a welcoming community,” Dean said. “You don’t have to have four people, you don’t have to have two people.” Go out and get a paddle or rent a paddle. Tell them you are new. Everyone will be very willing to have you with them and show you the rules and some basic techniques. In one hour you can learn 80% of what you need to know about pickleball. To get better after that, all it takes is practice and repetition.”
Dean concluded, “I guarantee you, the first time you go there, you’ll be back for more.”