Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

World's top shuffleboard players to square off this week in Zephyrhills

Champion shuffleboard player Earl Ball, 65, has earned state and national titles for his shuffleboard play. He and his wife, Vivian, live in Betmar Acres in Zephyrhills, which will be the site of the International Singles Shuffleboard Tournament.

Times files (2006)

Champion shuffleboard player Earl Ball, 65, has earned state and national titles for his shuffleboard play. He and his wife, Vivian, live in Betmar Acres in Zephyrhills, which will be the site of the International Singles Shuffleboard Tournament.

ZEPHYRHILLS — The shuffleboard courts at Betmar Acres are nestled among orderly rows of well-kept mobile homes, quiet streets and calm ponds. But on Wednesday, the park will be bustling as competitors from all over the world take part in the International Singles Shuffleboard Tournament.

The tournament is being organized through the International Shuffleboard Association and will have 64 competitors divided evenly between the men's and women's singles competitions. All players have already won tournaments in their home countries and will be flying in from all over the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, England and Norway.

The players will compete for trophies and bragging rights, and the top players from each division will win a golden cue stick. The entry fee for the tournament was $260.

Between athletes and their families, Betmar Shuffleboard Club president Terry Rainwater is expecting 90 people to come to Zephyrhills for the tournament, which will end Sunday. Based on similar shuffleboard events, he expects the total number of athletes and spectators to exceed 300.

Rainwater said Betmar was chosen to hold the event in part because of the park's 24-court indoor shuffleboard facility, which Rainwater and Earl Ball, president of the ISA, contend may be the largest of its kind in the world.

Eric Keaton, Pasco's tourism coordinator, conservatively estimated that an event of this size would inject $100,000 into the local economy. He said the money will have a ripple effect and touch many economic sectors, from hotels to auto repair shops.

Rainwater said Florida is a shuffleboard mecca, with thousands of players all around the state. He said the low impact nature of the sport, combined with the social and mental aspects, make it attractive to older players. However, he said the sport should be appealing to athletes of all ages.

"I didn't really want to play it at first," said Rainwater, 63. "Then, as I grew to understand some of the strategies and complexities of the sport, I understood it does take skill and practice."

For Zephyrhills competitor Vivian Frizzle, shuffleboard entered her life through spending quality time with her family.

"When my folks moved to Florida in '82, they got involved in shuffling," said Frizzle, 70. "My husband and I would come down and vacation, and we'd shuffle with them, and I guess the bug bit."

While all of the American and Canadian competitors are of retirement age or older, many of the international players are younger, Ball said. Shuffleboard is seen as a family and leisure sport around the world, he said.

In many ways Ball, a 65-year-old retired General Motors executive who now lives in Betmar Acres, is America's biggest shuffleboard ambassador. He travels the world competing in shuffleboard competitions, and has compiled a booklet on the history of shuffleboard, which he is hoping will be ready to sell at this week's tournament.

Ball said the ISA is looking for corporate sponsors to notch up tournaments and spread the word about shuffleboard as a competitive, fun and social sport.

The county tourism folks didn't have a hand in bringing this event to town, but Keaton said Pasco officials want to bring more shuffleboard tournaments to the area and will "bend over backwards" to help.

"Any kind of championship in Pasco County's backyard is exactly what we are looking to bring in with the county's brand as a sports and travel destination," Keaton said.

If you go

Tournament starts Wednesday

The International Singles Shuffleboard Tournament will be held at the shuffleboard courts at Betmar Acres, 37145 Lakewood Drive. Tournament play begins at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, and resumes each morning at 8:30 a.m. and each afternoon about 1 to 1:30 p.m., through Sunday. Spectators may watch for free. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit

World's top shuffleboard players to square off this week in Zephyrhills 10/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 11, 2009 8:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pro Bowl returning to Orlando in 2018


    ORLANDO — The Pro Bowl will return to Orlando in 2018 for the second straight year.

    Bucs  wide receiver Mike Evans runs a route as Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. defends during the first quarter of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in January at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Plan your weekend: Memorial Day, Sunset Music Fest, comic Pablo Francisco, sci-fi writer Jeff VanderMeer


    Plan your weekend


    Memorial Day: Monday is the day to honor those who died serving their country, and the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony will have Fox 13 anchor Alcides Segui as emcee, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and musical performances starting at 10 a.m. at 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. …

    GULF SHORES, AL - MAY 20:  Diplo of Major Lazer performs at the Surf Stage during 2017 Hangout Music Festival on May 20, 2017 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Hangout Music Festival) 700050769
  3. For starters: Rays looking for runs and a win

    Erasmo Ramirez makes his third start of the season.
  4. United Airlines CEO to investors: We'll be more focused on customers


    CHICAGO — The CEO of United Airlines assured shareholders Wednesday that the company is doing all it can to be more customer-friendly since video surfaced of a passenger being violently ejected from a plane last month.

    Chicago Police arrest protesters after they sat down in a busy street blocking traffic outside a United Airlines shareholders meeting Wednesday, in downtown Chicago. The people who were arrested were protesting the low pay of employees of companies that provide meals and other services for United Airlines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
[Associated Press]
  5. 6 essential things you'll need before going to a theme park this summer


    With Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer, we're back with a new a guide to what's new or noteworthy in Central Florida attractions.