Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament Highlights First-Ever Wheelchair Division
The first USAPA Sanctioned Regional event with a wheelchair division was recently played at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center in South Carolina.
Gold medal winners from the Mid-Atlantic event will qualify for early entry into the 2020 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships. Six players made their way to Myrtle Beach, some coming from as far away as Canada, New England and Indiana. Players were in wheelchairs for a variety of reasons. Some due to accidents, others because of muscle diseases. One player was a former professional tennis player while a few others were 4.5 pickleball competitors. Remaining participants were newcomers to the sport.
Gold medal winner in wheelchair singles was Jeff Sylvestre from Toronto while Cape Cod’s Joe Sullivan took home the bronze. Bronze medal went to Elijah Stoutt of Ontario. Sylvestre teamed with Serge Collins to win gold in wheelchair doubles. “All the players were very excited and appreciated the opportunity to play in the event,” said Jim Loving, President of the Myrtle Beach Pickleball Club and USAPA District Ambassador East South Carolina. “At the social before the events, we gave each player a plaque recognizing their participation in the first-ever wheelchair division and Onix gave each player a paddle. Hopefully, wheelchair divisions will become a part of all future pickleball tournaments.”
The Mid-Atlantic Region is barely two years old since the USAPA’s regional realignment in 2018. This year’s tournament had 520 registered players, a remarkable 25% growth over it’s # of participants a year ago.