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PPA Junior Jake Marusak standing in front of PPA Masters logo
Junior PPA player Jake Marusak at the PPA Masters in Janury. Doria Anselmo

Junior PPA parent tip: First tournament advice

DALLAS, TX – Big move. You’ve decided to register your child for their first Junior PPA event.

The countdown to tournament weekend has officially begun, and then, in the blink of an eye, it's time to travel and enjoy everything that comes with the Junior PPA experience.

Bags are packed, paddles are stowed, and the hype playlist is ready to roll. It’s go time!

For parents and young competitors alike, first tournaments can be a bit overwhelming because you're walking into the unknown. Fortunately, pickleball.com has plenty of valuable advice to share. 

Doria Anselmo and her son, Jake Marusak, attended their first Junior PPA event in January at the PPA Masters in Palm Springs, CA.

“We had no idea how it was going to go. Everyone at our local community courts were telling him that the tournament is going to go great and he’ll be on the pro tour one day, but we didn’t want to push him if that’s not what he wanted to do,” said Anselmo. 

After all, Marusak has only played recreationally up to this point.

Jake Marusak playing pickleball at the PPA Masters. Doria Anselmo

“Go into it with the mindset that it’s going to be fun. Yes, it’s a competition, it’s a tournament, and people are there to win, but we’re there to have a good time because pickleball is fun,” advised Anselmo. 

Admittedly, Jake's mother was a bit anxious watching her son play doubles.

“It was a little nerve-racking. You want him to do well and enjoy the experience, win or lose. It felt like this high-pressure environment, but he was so calm and relaxed,” shared Anselmo. 

One of their favorite moments on-site at Mission Hills Country Club was meeting World No. 1s Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters.

“Anna Leigh was on the court next to him. It was beyond cool to be mixing with amateurs and pros and juniors,” praised Anselmo.

And a photo was snapped alongside the best in the business, of course.

Jake Marusak posing with Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters at PPA Masters Tournament
Marusak with Johns and Waters at the PPA Masters.  Doria Anselmo

Be prepared to make friends, too. It’s no surprise the kiddos are quick to bond with fellow players, but Anselmo was pleasantly surprised to make some connections of her own. 

“I met other parent friends and made mom friends. I wasn’t expecting the community part of it, and that is really a bonus at the junior tournament level,” said Anselmo.

According to Anselmo, “Jake played every day with all different players with all different abilities and all different ages” in preparation for the tournament. 

He also plays hits the court almost every day. Balancing school, extracurriculars, and pickleball is a challenge, but this family manages everything with ease. 

Most importantly, Anselmo and Marusak absolutely loved their Junior PPA debut. 

“We were literally on the last shuttle of the tournament, the very last people to leave. He just didn’t want it to end,” she concluded. “We signed up for the next tournament in Mesa before we even left Palm Springs. He liked it that much.”

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