Late Saturday morning, SXSW attendees and Texas natives alike flocked in droves to an estate nestled in the hills above Austin and made their way to the backyard, where the #PaddleBattle2018 was already underway. The event, supporting the Andy Roddick Foundation and Square Panda, boasted a lineup of various celebrity guests competing against one another on the Pickleball court. In case you’re sitting there asking yourself what in the world pickleball is, you’re not alone. I was in a similar position prior to (and even during) the event. According to Wikipedia, pickleball is “a paddle sport played on a badminton-sized court in which two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated polymer ball over a net”. Hundreds of spectators, clearly more familiar with the intricacies of the sport, watched eagerly as women and men of all ages competed on the court.
As temperatures crept well into the nineties, spectators sought ways to escape the heat. Fortunately, SAFE brand ambassadors were on hand to provide guests with trucker hats and lip balm, while Richard’s Rainwater was at the ready to satisfy any and all hydration needs. Chowing on TexMex and sipping margaritas, attendees exchanged pleasantries and debated when the guests of honor would make an appearance.
Just as the competition was heating up, Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi, two tennis greats, arrived on the scene. Assuming their positions on opposite sides of the net, a hush fell over the crowd. After an intense period of prolonged silence, Roddick tossed the ball high into the air and, with a swift swing of his racket, hit a line drive to his opponent. Agassi, no newcomer to the sport, returned the serve with ease and initiated a stunning rally. After the point was awarded to Roddick, both players proceeded to laugh heartily, sending an uproar through the audience. It quickly became clear that, although initially feigning seriousness, these players were not here to compete in Wimbledon. Instead, they came to participate in a playful match as old friends in support of the Andy Roddick Foundation and Square Panda with Readvolution, two charities that work tirelessly to improve the lives and education of underprivileged children.
Overall, the #PaddleBattle2018 was an enormous success. SAFE was thrilled to partner with such amazing brands as Richard’s Rainwater, Margaritaville, and Smash Park to put on an incredible event and support the efforts of ARF and Square Panda. To see more images from the event, check out our Facebook page.