A pickleball tournament takes place Sept. 24 in Clinton Township, near the Civic Center. About two dozen participants took to the courts, looking to showcase their talent.

A pickleball tournament takes place Sept. 24 in Clinton Township, near the Civic Center. About two dozen participants took to the courts, looking to showcase their talent.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Community gathers for first pickleball tournament in Clinton Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published October 7, 2021

 Vince Cusumano, left, and Wasef Gemeile were partners in the tournament, hosted by the Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center. It was the first official pickleball tournament in the township.

Vince Cusumano, left, and Wasef Gemeile were partners in the tournament, hosted by the Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center. It was the first official pickleball tournament in the township.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Pickleball courts have been in Clinton Township for about three years, but it wasn’t until last month a formal tournament took place.

On Sept. 24, a pickleball tournament was held near the Clinton Township Civic Center. It was hosted by the Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center. This was the first official pickleball tournament in the township. All ages were invited to play.

Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with a perforated plastic ball, similar to a whiffle ball, and composite or wooden paddles. The paddles are roughly twice the size of ping-pong paddles.

Wasef Gemeile, of Clinton Township, is a Senior Center member who has played pickleball for about three years.

“I’m not too proficient, but it’s fun,” he said. “All ages can play it, unlike tennis.”

Gemeile was partnered with Vince Cusumano.

Cusumano, 60, has been playing the game for about five years.

“I’d say I’m a little better than average,” he said. “Word of mouth, for one, makes it popular. People, even if they haven’t played tennis, love it.”

Cusumano said the rules of pickleball are more strict than in tennis.

Casey Currey, the sports and fitness coordinator at the Senior Center, said three games were played per round.

“I was very new to pickleball when I first came here eight years ago,” she said. “We put the courts in, and now there’s people everywhere. It’s awesome to see so many people regularly coming to be active and competitive.”

Currey said typically, pickleball is played to 11 and teams have to win by two points. Each game at the tournament was played to 15 points.

Jim Wright said it was a perfect day to have a tournament. He’s been in the sport for four years.

“I think people at our age like it because it’s a very physical activity and can be very competitive,” he said. “It’s not as strenuous as tennis. … This sport is engaging and very social.”

Wright summed the game up as one that is very easy to learn but difficult to master.

Debbie Travis, Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center assistant director, said all participant slots for the tournament were filled several days prior to the tournament.

In total, 24 pickleballers took to the courts, looking to showcase their talent. Clinton Township has six pickleball courts.

“We’re anticipating it being a giant success in the future, too, and host it annually,” Travis said. “This tournament was exciting because tennis is fantastic and as people age, it’s a little harder on joints and a faster ball. Pickleball is a little slower and gives you the same movements and challenge.”

The tournament was set up in a round-robin format, with partners randomly assigned.

“A really great player could be with someone who is new to the sport,” Travis said.

Players rotated on each court, and there were three rounds of play, followed by a complimentary lunch and awards, like new pickleball paddles.

Travis said seeing seniors so active in pickleball is fantastic.

“We also have indoor pickleball and have an active opportunity that many play in,” she said. “We categorize it as a learners experience. Then it seems there are bigger hitters outside.”

Pickleball courts in Clinton Township are open seven days a week, with time reserved for seniors on weekday mornings.

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