Whatcom Community College and the Bellingham Pickleball Club are hosting the first-ever Orca Pickleball Spring Classic Tournament from Friday, May 19 to Sunday, May 21.
While the tournament is the main attraction, Rob Pedicone, WCC’s director for athletics and recreation, hopes that this weekend will be a fun event for all of Whatcom County and not just pickleball players.
“Our goal with this is not only to put on a quality pickleball tournament but also bring the community together,” Pedicone said. “We want it to be like almost a festival feel.”
To encourage people to show out and create the desired festival atmosphere, several amenities will be available for anyone who decides to go. Food trucks, face painting, a beer garden and other services will be provided throughout the weekend.
In addition to the tournament and special services, t-shirts and raffle tickets will be on sale. Raffle prizes include gift certificates, gift baskets, a portable fire pit and a Traeger grill. All proceeds from the event will go toward WCC athletics, providing student-athletes with scholarships, gear, travel expenses and other benefits.
Brackets are sorted by skill level, ranging from 2.0 to 4.0. The 2.0 level is classified by the Bellingham Pickleball Club as lower novice, 2.5 as upper novice, 3.0 as lower intermediate, 3.5 as mid-intermediate and 4.0 as lower advanced. More detailed explanations can be found here.
Friday’s games will be for men’s doubles, hosting the 3.0 bracket at 10 a.m., 3.5 at 1:30 p.m. and 4.0 at 3 p.m.
Saturday will hold mixed brackets starting with 2.0 at 9 a.m., 3.0 at 10:30 a.m., 3.5 at 1 p.m. and 4.0 at 3 p.m.
Sunday’s women’s brackets will begin with 2.0 at 9 a.m., 3.0 at 10:30 a.m., 3.5 at 1 p.m. and 4.0 at 2:30 p.m.
If all goes well, WCC plans to host the tournament every year with hopes of it becoming a staple event of Whatcom County.
“This is the first year ever,” said Mary Schroeder, WCC’s student recreation manager. “The pickleball courts are new, so it’s a new option for us to be able to do this. In the past, we’ve done golf tournaments, but this is our first time doing a pickleball tournament.”
WCC opened its pickleball courts in the fall of 2022, around the same time both Armory Pickleball and Volli Bellingham opened their doors. With a recent surge of pickleball facilities in Bellingham, the sport has grown considerably.
Gary Cassera, recommended by both Armory and Volli as one of the best pickleball instructors in Whatcom County, has noticed the spike in popularity since he moved to Bellingham around a year and a half ago. He credits the inclusiveness of the sport as a reason why so many have found enjoyment in it and thinks the tournament will be great for the community.
“It’s a good first tournament for local people. They still get the nervousness of having to go to a tournament and scout your opponent and some of the commitment part to it,” Cassera said. “I think it’s definitely a good stepping stone for people that are maybe taking that first step to a competition, getting a little bit more serious.”
Andrew Foster (he/him) is a sports reporter at The Front. He enjoys listening to music, playing basketball and is working towards a degree in journalism.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.