Junior PPA Overview

What Parents Need to Know About the Junior PPA

Costs

For the Juinor PPA Masters in Palm Springs, the PPA automatically applies a $70 discount off the registration fee, bringing it down to $25. The fee for each individual event was an additional $5. Overall this is very competively priced, as we’ve paid more for local round robin tournaments in Las Vegas.

For the Palm Springs event, there was also a $10 parking fee that gave access to a nearby casino with shuttle service directly to venue.

Food

At the PPA Masters in Palm Springs, they had a pretty decent food stand that offered everything from hot dogs, burgers, turkey BLT wraps, chicken Caesar wraps, and more. But the food is expensive. Just a couple of dogs with chips and a two drinks was $30. You can bring in snacks and drinks in your tour bags, as they don’t prevent you from bringing in your own stuff.

We usually subsist on the free hotel breakfast, snacks from our bag during the day, and then eat out at night. If you’re eating multiple meals a day at the venue, you can quickly rack up hundreds of dollars in food costs.

I usually budget around $100 per day for all food costs, and have plenty left over.

Lodging

The PPA offers preferred vendors for hotels and accommodations. We never spend much extra on our hotel, as we don’t spend a lot of time there during our trip, and we don’t use any of the amenities. Our criteria are thus:

  • Reasonably Priced
  • Decent free breakfast
  • Proximity to shuttle lot
  • Proximity to public pickleball courts

We’ve done dozens of pickleball trips and stayed in dives and luxury resorts. We’ve never once used the pool or spa or hit the beach, even though these options have been available on most trips. We’re simply there for the pickleball. If you’re turning the trip into a vacation, just know the days at the tournament are long, and most nights you’re just going to want food, shower, and sleep!

More often than not our lodging costs are under $150 per night, but that varies greatly by location and date.

Courtside Seating

By registering for the Junior PPA, you get weeklong grounds passes for your child and ONE adult. If you have additional adults attending, you have to buy more grounds passes at $25 per day or $80 for a week-long pass.

The grounds passes DO NOT grant you access to the Championship Court where the best matchups are played. HOWEVER, Wednesday – Friday, especially late in the day, they will open it up to anyone who wants to watch, as crowded stands look better on TV.

On Saturday and Sunday the courtside passes are strictly enforced, and you won’t get a good view without one. They do offer upgrades at a discount on site, pricing dependent on availability. So if the stands are looking sparse, you can score a deal on great seats.

Tournament Details

Logistics

NOTE: Be sure to pay attention to the follow up emails from pickleballbrackets.com as they will give you a sitemap, recommended lodging, rental car discounts, and parking information.

Site map of the PPA Masters in Palm Springs

You can view an example of the full email here:

PPA-Masters-Welcome-Email

Format

The format is a double elimination bracket, 2 out of 3 games to 11, win by two. You can still win bronze if you lose early, unlike the pro brackets. If the schedule is severely delayed due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, they will often shorten the qualifiers to one game to 15, win by two. And the medal rounds will still be 2 out of 3 to 11, time permitting.

Brackets

Here are the brackets available for the Junior PPA

Bracket

Ages

Format

Skill

Gender

Coed Doubles

8-12

Doubles

<4.5

Coed

Junior Boys Doubles

13 To 16

Doubles

<4.5

Boys

Junior Boys Singles

8-12

Singles

<4.5

Boys

Junior Boys Singles

13 To 16

Singles

<4.5

Boys

Junior Boys Singles

15+

Singles

<4.5

Boys

Junior Girls Doubles

13 To 16

Doubles

<4.5

Girls

Junior Girls Singles

13 To 14

Singles

<4.5

Girls

Junior Girls Singles

14 To 16

Singles

<4.5

Girls

Junior Girls Singles

8-12

Singles

<4.5

Girls

 

Level of Play

As you can see from the bracket list, the players must be under 4.5 rating to play in the Junior PPA. Here’s a few questions that I think can help you decide if this is a good fit for your child.

1: Are they consistently winning / medaling in local round robins or 3.0 tournaments? Can they hold their own and potentially medal in a 3.5 tournament against adults? That’s the level the kids were at in the 12U divisions. The further up you go in age, the closer the top players are to hitting the 4.5 rating cap.

2: If you’re playing doubles, are you playing with a regular partner that you know well? Many of the teams will have several tournaments under their belt as a team, which gives them an advantage.

3: Are both players on your doubles team comparable in skill? This is tournament play, and the weaker player will get exploited ruthlessly.

4: Will your team continue to fight even when down? I’ve seen several instances where a better team got down early and mentally surrendered. This is a skill that’s best learned at a lower pressure tournament.

Gold Medal Ceremony PPA Masters Junior Coed Doubles 2023

Schedule

For the PPA Masters in Palm Springs, we played 12 singles on Thursday, and 12U Coed Doubles on Friday. This meant our child had to miss a day of school.

For the Junior PPA Mesa AZ Cup, the schedule worked out where he’s playing 12 Boys Singles on Saturday and 12U Coed Double on Sunday.

What’s really tough is that you won’t know the start time until the Sunday before the tournament. So if you only live a couple hours away, you could potentially travel that morning for an afternoon start and save yourself one night’s lodging. The problem is that by waiting until the start times is released, you’ll have last pick of lodging arrangements with inflated prices.

 

 

Facilities

In the past some of the venues struggled providing guests with sufficient facilities. At the PPA Masters there was never a line for the restrooms. They have two very nice trailers with accommodations for both sexes. The insides look much like a restroom you’d see at any decent restaurant or hotel.

There are also water stations throughout the venue so you can top off your water bottle throughout the day.

Socialize

Secret Benefit

Getting to meet other kids who are passionate about competitive pickleball is the best part about the experience. After their brackets are over, the kids are all friends again. It was great to see them running around the venue sneaking in ad hoc games between official matches.

Where we live there aren’t any other kids who take the sport seriously, and there’s only a handful of players that still give our son a good game. But for the 4 days he spent at the Junior PPA Masters, he got in dozens of high quality games. And most importantly, made friends that he will hopefully be competing with and against for years to come.

Don’t Forget to Network

Every family faces different choices about which events to play. As a result, meeting other parents ensures you’ll have more choices for partners at future events if your current partner cannot attend.

Also, if you pay attention, the pros walk the grounds unescorted. Your child can strike up a conversation with their idol, or even hit a few balls of warmups between matches. You just have to put yourself out there. If they’re busy, most pros will be gracious and decline. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know!

Media

The PPA wants the Junior Tour to be a success. If you want to get your child more eposure, be sure to sign the media release!¬†They won’t use your child’s images or video without your permission, so if you forget to turn in the form, you may miss a chance to be featured in a major social media post or even a podcast.

We also try to film most of our son’s matches. That way when they have an amazing point or match, we can send highlights to various outlets to get him more coverage. Most modern phones have excellent cameras that are more than good enough. Simply invest in a quality stand and a battery bank. We bought a pair of these camera/phone stands for less than $20 each and they work great.

Finally, if you’re networking, try to get contact info from other parents so you can share media. You may get a good video of their kid hitting a winner, or they may snap a photo of your child with their favorite pro. That way you have a pretext to exchange contact details, and if you need to discuss potential partnerships in the future, you’ve already established a relationship.