Pickleball Magazine 2-6 - Page 77

M y husband and I are almost 70, and at the top of our bucket list was a WORLD CRUISE...but how could we be on a ship for 128 days and not play pickleball? My husband, Mike, said it would be a good time for my “old- age pickle injuries” to heal. I thought differently and snuck four paddles and a few balls into my luggage. Our itinerary was amazing and fast- paced, visiting 32 countries and 66 ports, an “all-inclusive” fantasy…except for pickleball. I knew that our ship, the Regent Navigator, did not have a sport court, but I was determined to find a place to play onboard for our “at sea” days. Lucky for me, our cruise directors were picklers from Traverse City, Michigan, so when they were surrounded by people (how could they say no?), I asked if we could play pickleball on the stage of our showroom. To my amazement, they said YES and Regent Pickleball was born. The next day, our daily program announced that a “pickleball enthusiast” was aboard and invited everyone to join her to play. The first few days, we tied a ribbon between two bar stools—not the best net. By the time we reached San Diego, we were 15-20 players strong, but were desperate for a net. Since San Diego is my hometown, our dear pickle friends, Jay and Haruko Meinhardt, gave us a net, some paddles and more balls. Now we were in business. Each sea day at 9:00 a.m. we dinked, we lobbed (the only person who almost broke the ceiling theater lights was our cruise director), we played short and long games. We even had weekly tournaments! We played for an hour, right before the morning lecture, so the audience was often filled with our cheering section. Our pickle group was from all over the world: Scotland, Australia, Canada, Spain, the UK and the USA. We had special pickle parties in the dining room with menus in the shape of paddles and white chocolate pickleballs for dessert. My friend, Mike Hess, who is president of the International Pickleball Federation, introduced us to players around the world. We played with the locals in Wellington, New Zealand; Sidney, Australia; Barcelona, Spain; and Mumbai, India. The most special experience was given to us by the Indian Pickleball Federation, which invited us to present pickleball to the university women of Mumbai. We introduced the sport, did a demonstration with the Indian Federation picklers, and played with the university women in their beautiful saris. As a result, the directress of sports in India decided to include pickleball in the freshman curriculum. On days in port, when returning early from touring, we snuck our net and paddles outside of the ship and pickled inside the port. However, the security officers on the ship and the port authorities told us we were breaking a number of security and safety rules. Oh please, just let us play for a little while! I learned to beg in a plethora of different languages and found hand gestures to be most useful. As we were heading home across the Atlantic, we were treated to a surprise goodbye pickle party where our players were given Regent Pickle The World t-shirts. They were also given the names of their hometown ambassadors so they could continue to play when they returned. We all knew the trip would have to end, but we now look forward to our first Regent Pickle reunion in the near future. Yes, love makes the world go round…and so does pickleball!  • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 | MAGAZINE 75