2017-06-22 / Community

Team CRPD cracks Team Acorn in paddle battle for the ages

Pickleball
By Tom Hare
Special to the Acorn

EARLY EXIT—Despite their incredible team spirit, demonstrated here, Team Acorn, comprising Kyle Jorrey and Dawn Megli-Thuna, could not overcome CRPD’s Andrew Mooney and Tom Hare in the inaugural CRPD Celebrity Pickleball Tournament, held June 10 at Rancho Conejo Playfields in Newbury Park. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn NewspapersEARLY EXIT—Despite their incredible team spirit, demonstrated here, Team Acorn, comprising Kyle Jorrey and Dawn Megli-Thuna, could not overcome CRPD’s Andrew Mooney and Tom Hare in the inaugural CRPD Celebrity Pickleball Tournament, held June 10 at Rancho Conejo Playfields in Newbury Park. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn NewspapersCOMMENTARY

Editor’s note: The following commentary is the result of a lost wager. Apologies in advance for any hyperbole, poorly used adjectives and fake news contained within.

“Thwack!”

The sound of the hard-hit pickleball was heard all the way to Westlake.

“Those guys are pretty big,” said a spectator to no one in particular, as she stared in awe at the size of Andrew Mooney and Tom Hare, a quarter-ton of sculpted physiques between them (yes, I’m referring to myself in the third person).

The daring duo was one of two teams representing the Conejo Recreation and Park District in the first (and probably last) Celebrity Pickleball Tournament at Rancho Conejo Playfields in Newbury Park.

Mooney and Hare’s combined 13 feet of height and nearly 14 feet of imposing wingspan would make it difficult for their adversaries to hit over or around the pair.

Their first-round opponents, Acorn editor Kyle Jorrey and reporter Dawn Megli-Thuna, seemed incredibly diminutive compared to the towering team representing the park district. Yes, the Acorn was in for a long game.

The match was more than just a first-round competition between this formidable foursome. To celebrate the opening of the six new lighted pickleball courts at Rancho Conejo, CRPD had organized the tournament to complement a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

Conejo Rec and Park and the Acorn, both award-winning organizations in their respective fields, felt their competitive juices start flowing when the tournament was announced in April.

A challenge by the district to the Acorn sparked some friendly pre-tournament banter. Both teams were pickleball novices, but they had learned to love the game as well as its basic rules and strategies through several strenuous practice sessions led by Colette Berney, CRPD’s in-house pickleball expert.

Jorrey and Megli-Thuna started brilliantly, summoning their superior journalistic-like mental and physical abilities, using accurate and well-placed wrist shots to take an early 2-0 lead.

“Dink!”

The subtle paddleball hit pinged all the way to Sunset Hills.

Mooney had moved deftly to his left, with his bold backhand return barely clearing the net. Jorrey ran as fast (which wasn’t fast at all) as he could toward Mooney’s drop shot but could not return it.

He nearly fell at the end of his futile effort but managed to bravely brace himself, escaping what certainly would have been an embarrassing faceplant. The gathered crowd felt the momentum shift to the imposing twosome from the district.

“Big and athletic,” commented another spectator, in reply to the first one’s comment.

Skillful volleys and impressive shots from both sides ensued; however, the talented team from CRPD eventually began to dominate their lesser foes.

Game point: Hare served to Jorrey, who replied with a decent forehand to Mooney. Mooney then stroked a calculated backhand toward Megli-Thuna.

With a barked command of “Net!” from Hare, the district’s dominating duo thundered to the net, displaying a valiant, unified approach of teamwork representing a defensive wall that rivaled the Pittsburgh Steelers’ famed Steel Curtain of the 1970s.

Megli-Thuna, in the midst of her return, glanced up momentarily in response to the resonating roar from the district’s fast-approaching defensive barrier.

“Thud!”

The noise quietly echoed throughout the Conejo Valley.

The reporter’s return collided with the net, rolling harmlessly back toward her team.

Game over. 7-3. The Conejo Recreation and Park District had prevailed over the Acorn.

Rancho Conejo Playfields is at 950 N. Ventu Park Road.

To find out more about pickleball, take a class or enter a tournament, call CRPD at (805) 495-6471 or visit www.crpd.org/sports.

Hare is the park and planning administrator for CRPD.

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