Pictured are some of the bracket winners from last year’s Lake Stevens Classic pickleball tournament. (Photo courtesy Pablo Granados)

Pictured are some of the bracket winners from last year’s Lake Stevens Classic pickleball tournament. (Photo courtesy Pablo Granados)

Registration for Lake Stevens pickleball tournament still open

The 2024 Lake Stevens Classic is July 11-14, no strings attached.

With the weather app showing sun and 80-degree weather for the second weekend of July, it’s time to grab the paddles and pickleballs and hit the courts.

The third annual Lake Stevens Classic pickleball tournament is scheduled for July 11-14 at the Cavelero Mid High School courts (8220 24th St. SE). Registration is based on skill level using the Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating (DUPR).

The tournament has 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and Open divisions, each requiring their appropriate DUPR rating points.

The over 55 men’s and women’s doubles divisions are Thursday starting at 10 a.m., the over 55 mixed doubles division are Friday starting at 10 a.m., the men’s and women’s doubles divisions begin Saturday at 8 a.m. and the mixed doubles division start Sunday at 8 a.m.

According to DUPR, a player with a 2.0-3.0 rating would be a novice, 3.0-4.0 intermediate, 4.0-5.0 advanced, 5.0-5.5 expert and 5.5+ professional.

There will be money prizes for gold medalists in all divisions. The registration fee is $50 and $15 for each event. For players in the Open divisions, registration is $50 and $50 for the event due to the purse being higher for first place. There will be four games guaranteed per event.

One of the folks you’ll meet at the event is Pablo Granados, the tournament director and organizer.

Granados was born and raised in San Ramon, Costa Rica. He arrived to the U.S. when he was 15 years old and has resided in Washington the past 14 years.

About five years ago, Granados and his wife, Katie, went to the Marysville YMCA to exercise, and as Granados walked through the front doors, he saw pickleball players in the gym. Growing up as a soccer player in a football-spirited nation, the aspect of a different ball sport intrigued him, so he joined the group for an introductory session.

“I told my wife, ‘Oh my goodness. This is the sport that I need to play so I can beat up on some old people and feel better about myself,’” Granados said jokingly. “And she goes, ‘Yeah, go try it out.’ And of course it was the complete opposite. They beat me up.

“… Being raised in Costa Rica, the closet thing (to pickleball) that I ever came to was ping pong,” he continued. “So I didn’t even know how to hit the ball properly. I didn’t know they called it a paddle. I thought they called it a racquet.”

One of the people Granados met that day was Tom Lamoreaux, a name very well known among Snohomish County players. Lamoreaux was the former president of the Marysville Tulalip Pickleball Club. He wore knee and ankle braces when he played but would still get the better of others, proving that looks were deceiving.

“I (thought), ‘Well, I should be able to beat (Lamoreaux) up a little bit in this game.’ Of course not. He beat me up,” Granados said. “He (also) gave me a paddle. That was the first paddle that I ever got. … And I just got hooked after that.”

Granados found a new activity, and the ball got rolling from there.

Aquafest, which is one of the largest summer festivals in the Pacific Northwest, welcomes 20,000-30,000 people each year to Lake Stevens during the last weekend of July. But in 2022 after not having an event for the previous two years due to the pandemic, Aquafest needed assistance gaining traction. The pickleball tournament, which occurs a couple of weeks before Aquafest, served as a way to get people to the area.

“It was an accident that (the Lake Stevens Classic) was born because it was just to help Aquafest get on their feet,” Granados said. “And then the mayor got involved, the city got involved. And we just realized that there was a lot of players from Snohomish and Monroe and Lake Stevens that wanted to have events, so it just exploded. And this year is going to be our biggest one so far. Hopefully next year we’re going to make it bigger.”

There were more than 100 players in the tournament’s inaugural year in 2022, and the participation numbers doubled in 2023 to more than 200. There are more than 350 players already registered this summer, with the possibility of hitting the 400s.

Interested in trying pickleball? There are several opportunities in Snohomish County through the Marysville Pickleball Club, Snohomish and Monroe Pickleball Club and Lake Stevens Pickleball Association.

According to USA Pickleball’s 2023 annual growth report updated January 2024, there are 1,011 pickleball courts in Washington, and nation-wide membership is nearly 79,000, a 15% increase from last year.

“I went from 320 pounds to 220 pounds, so that was a big deal. It helped me get moving again,” said Granados about the improvement of his health from playing pickleball. “I’m a schoolteacher, too. … What I notice here in the U.S. when I became a teacher is that some kids don’t have the height to be basketball players or size to be football players or the agility to (do) track or all these other things. And I have been able to talk them into doing pickleball.

“And because pickleball is a very recreational and social sport, it has allowed those kids that don’t have a specific skill set to play anything else to do something healthy and outdoors,” he continued. “… One of the greatest things to me is to see a 90-year-old grandpa playing pickleball with their 10-year-old grandson. So it’s kind of a sport for everybody.”

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