Meet the Pickleball Pros – Hilary Marold

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Hilary Marold PICKLEBALL PRO

I sent an invitation to Hilary via facebook the other day. I asked her if she would like to share some of her pickleball story with our readers. She’s one in a million! Have fun reading about her life-long love of competitive sports! Thanks Hilary!

Can you list for us some of your accomplishments?

I have competed in almost every racquet/paddle sport out there: badminton, racquetball, table tennis, paddle tennis, platform tennis, tennis and now, pickleball. I have many years to my credit, so here goes: 9 National USTA gold balls (tennis), 11 National APTA championships (platform tennis)-Hall of Fame inductee 1998, 15 National USPTA championships (paddle tennis)-Hall of Fame inductee 2012.


I have won 12 National USAPA gold medals from 2009-2014, and most recently, have won medals at the following events:

Tournament of Champions, Ogden, Utah
Gold, Senior Open Mixed Doubles(50plus)
Gold, Senior Open Women’s Doubles(50plus)
Silver, Senior Open Women’s Singles(50plus)

Huntsman World Senior Games, St. George, Utah
Gold, Women’s 60-64 Singles
Gold, Women’s 60-64 Doubles
Silver, Women’s 5.0 Doubles

USAPA National Championships, Buckeye, Arizona–Gold, Women’s 60-64 Singles
Gold, Women’s 60-64 Doubles
Silver, Senior Open Women’s Singles(50plus)
Silver, Senior Open Mixed Doubles(50plus).

I have also been a television sports broadcaster: NBC Wimbledon 1977 with Bud Collins and John Newcombe, ABC Women’s Superstars 1976 (competitor) 1977 (broadcaster) with Al Michaels.  I have been the only female athlete to compete in CBS World Racquet Championships 1977 and I have been featured in Sports Illustrated, Us, Racquet, Women’s Sports (cover), and People magazines.  I have also appeared on numerous television shows, among those, the David Letterman Show.

What paddle do you play with and why?

Having bought and tried just about every pickleball paddle out there, I still am happy and content playing with my original choice! That is the Spike’s (ZZT Sports) EVO I Classic.

EVO I Composite Paddle

EVO I Composite Paddle

I believe for me it has a large “sweet spot” with the best control and “feel” as well as offering enough power. The only difference I have made in my Spike’s EVO I Classic is moving up in weight. I started out with the average 7-8 oz. paddle, but I noticed that during heavy winds I felt at a disadvantage. I play with a 10 oz+ paddle now and find the added weight suits my game fine. I do not recommend this paddle weight to beginners or players with unorthodox strokes. In all my sports I have always chosen to have a racquet or paddle with some weight, and it makes sense now more than ever, especially at my age where it is evident I’m not as strong as I used to be. I appreciate how my heavier paddle gives me more defensive security and offensive depth than a lighter paddle.

What’s your Pickleball story? How were you introduced to Pickleball?

Yvonne Hackenberg and I competed together in the late 70’s, early 80’s on the platform tennis tour. She called me in 2009 and told me she was playing a sport called, “pickleball”. I had heard of it. She wanted me to fly out to Nationals in Buckeye, Arizona to be her partner. Because of my background it seemed like I would like it. We won our age division doubles and were runners up in the open women’s. The next year we won the National Open Women’s Doubles together, 2010. We have played every year together since then. I believe we have won the national gold medal every year in women’s doubles in our age. I’m proud to say we also won the gold medal this year in the Tournament of Champions- Ogden, Utah in the Senior Open Women’s Doubles (50 plus), giving away those 15 years to many of our opponents.

Hilary Marold, Jen Lucore Yvonne H.

at Tournament of Champions Ogden, Utah Sept 2014 From left…Hilary Marold, Yvonne Hackenberg, Jennifer Lucore, and Alex Hamner

 

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Since there is no pickleball where I live, (Corpus Christi, Texas) I get to practice only when I arrive at a tournament early. Since I only play 2-3 tournaments a year, my opinion might not be based on enough “indoor” experiences. I have only played one indoor tournament ever! It was in College Station, Texas at the Texas Senior Games. Luckily I had brought two pair of tennis shoes. My first pair was old and the soles rather worn out. I slipped on the court and did not get good traction. The other pair was newer and worked great. I found the ball had to get some getting used to. It seemed faster and “slid out” at times, more so than I’d experienced with the outdoor ball. I did like the fact that there were no worries about the sun or wind. Overall still, I am an outdoor person! Can’t help but love competing with all the natural elements on a beautiful and sunny or a cold and windy day!! My vote is to play outdoors!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like singles for the workout. It is both physically more demanding and psychologically more intense. And it’s all on MY shoulders, whether I win or lose in singles. However, the camaraderie and satisfaction in winning together with a partner in doubles competition far outweighs my love of singles in the long run. I’m too social! I like to have fun and kid around on a court and I like to share all that with a friend/partner next to me “in battle”.  I also like to interact with my two opponents; it is more of a chess game in doubles. Anyone who knows me well knows I love ANY game, the more people playing the merrier!

Working together in doubles play, what does that look like?

Working together in doubles should look like a good, healthy meal and taste like one too. Good teamwork should look effortless, with all the hard work and preparation done prior. The teammates should be excited to “dig in” to the match. Everything should go calmly, be enjoyed, savored, while leaving no bad taste in your mouth and no currents of negativity left behind on the court. In other words, to be in a good partnership, it has to feel good, be fun, feel right and be a healthy experience. Both players should understand the team strategy and his/her individual role on the court, which can vary throughout a match. Each partner needs to be able to meet and understand the needs of the other throughout a tough match. Encouragement, strategic knowledge, and levelheadedness in the “tiebreaker times” come in handy by both partners, but it is also of comfort to know that the leadership roll can be assumed by either, depending upon the circumstances. It is ok to allow moving “ying to yang” and vice versa. To show respect and have faith in your partner’s abilities is key always, on and off the court.

Tournament of Champions Ogden, Utah Sept '14 with Alex Hamner (gold) Senior 50+ Open singles ( Hilary -silver medal on the left) on left

Tournament of Champions Ogden, Utah Sept ’14 with Alex Hamner (gold) Senior 50+ Open singles ( Hilary -silver medal on the left) on left

What are your favorite places to play? Why?

It is always enjoyable for me to play in places where I have played before and have a “history”. Obviously, I love St. George, Utah, as I always try and compete in the Huntsman World Senior Games in October every year. Late summer, early fall is a gorgeous time to be in Utah. I enjoy Ogden, Utah for the Tournament of Champions in September too.  It is a beautiful area with the surrounding mountains and clean air. I loved Arizona for the nationals in Buckeye and look forward to Nationals VII at the Robson Ranch in Casa Grande, Arizona. I would also like to play in the Canadian Open sometime. I bet that would be a pretty area!

What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?

My “secret sauce” would have to be my parents putting a paddle tennis paddle in my hand at four years old, then playing my first doubles tennis tournament at nine years old in Southern California. My first doubles partner ever turned out not to be too bad. Her name is Peggy Michel. She ended up winning Wimbledon doubles with Yvonne Goolagong Cawley. We used to ride our bikes to the park and play. She practiced tennis and played more tournaments than I did, while I went to the beach a lot and played my paddle tennis, volleyball, and surfed. What we do have in common is that I also have a partner named “Yvonne”!?! TIPS: I would stress conditioning, footwork, the fundamentals of shotmaking/strokes, and the mental preparations that go along with strategy and the positive attitude needed to enjoy competition. A successful athlete has to learn how to face defeat head on with a positive attitude and learn from the experience while on the other hand, being able to accept any victory with grace.

What is your day job?

My husband and I own rental properties (houses, 4plexes, duplexes…) in and around Corpus Christi, Texas. We are our own management company, so there is always work to be done and never a dull moment!! We could write a book!! (…the good, the bad, and the you know the rest!! )

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make the time to play?

I do not have to worry about “finding the time” to play pickleball, in that as I said prior, there is no pickleball where I live. There is some pickleball about 2 1/2 hours away in San Antonio, but that is still quite far to travel. We have given some clinics here at the YWCA (indoor) and the country club (outdoor), but the attitude here among the tennis playing community is a bit derisive of a “smaller” racquet/paddle game. It is also extremely windy in Corpus Christi, which could be another factor. My feeling is that my hometown will eventually come around to pickleball, but they will be definitely “late to the party” and missing out on the fun that we have now!

Do you have any Pickleball goals that you would like to share?

I have played platform tennis in Europe: England, Belgium, Holland, to name a few countries. It would be a nice goal to be able to compete in pickleball in Europe, Asia, Australia and the other continents in my life time. Is that too lofty a goal??!

 

No, Hilary, that is not too lofty a goal!  We all hope to see international competitions in the near future!

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Glen Peterson

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Glen and Paula at the Timberhill Spring Fling

 

Glen Peterson stopped by Pickleball Central just a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t get to talk with him then, but I asked David Johnson about Glen, and David said he was definitely a “Pickleball Pro!”  Glen was gracious enough to share about himself via email.  Thanks Glen!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

Some of my accomplishments include:
           Gold in Senior Men’s Open Singles 2014 Tournament of Champions
           Silver in Senior Men’s Open Singles 2014 Nationals VI
           Gold Men’s 5.0 Singles 2014 Timberhill Spring Fling
           Bronze Men’s Over 35 Doubles 2014 Oregon State Games with Don Paschal
           Gold 50-55 Men’s Doubles 2013 WA State Senior Games  with Scott Lennan

          Here is a link to the 2014 Nationals Senior Open Men’s Singles Gold Medal Match (I took silver):

What paddle do you play with and why?

     PTK007-1     I play singles with the Paddletek Stratus and doubles with the
Pro-Lite Graphite Blaster. PL05-1
Both paddles are under 7 ounces, which s
eems to help my reaction time. Every time I visit Pickleball Central I buy another paddle hoping for some magic to overcome my weaknesses.

What’s your Pickleball story? How were you introduced to Pickleball?

My 82 year old father and I started playing in 2011 at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell, Washington. My first tournament was in May 2013. My wife Paula would say my addiction to pickleball began late in 2012 and has finally subsided to normal levels. Oh, that I had started playing in my twenties!

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

We love being outside and will even play in the rain at times. We find the outdoor Dura pickleball and indoor Jugs ball to be dramatically different. A common indoor/outdoor ball would help reduce the difference in play.

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Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Though exhausting and lonely, singles is a great physical challenge with significant health benefits. My blood pressure is much better since I started playing singles in 2013. I prefer doubles with its long rallies, kitchen parlays and camaraderie.

What are your favorite places to play? Why?

We consider the two outdoor courts at the Redmond Senior Center to be our home courts. The distinct northern tilt is no mirage. A popular bike trail beside the courts supplies onlookers and even an occasional participant.

What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?

Relax, smile, and complement your partner no matter how things are going! Continually experiment with your style of play or others will ‘figure’ you out.

What is your day job?

Following a wonderful career with Caterpillar in North America, Japan and France, we retired to six acres in Redmond where we garden and enjoy our children and friends.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make the time to play?

I play 6-10 hours per week with many extraordinary people and some outstanding players.

Do you have any Pickleball goals that you would like to share?

My goal is to be competitive with my wife Paula in 5.0 Mixed Doubles. Despite her non-competitive nature, she is willing to engage with me in this sport and has improved dramatically. We may not win any tournaments this year, but we might scare a few teams! I would love to compete as well in doubles as I have in singles. I hope to play for decades to come and eventually be known as one of the most gracious players in the game.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

I am thrilled to be involved in this sport as it is still emerging and love the fact that its idiosyncrasies allow seniors to compete with much younger players. I never imagined that I could be contending for Senior Gold medals in the biggest tournaments in the nation! Winning these tournaments will be much more difficult in 10-20 years as more athletes discover this extraordinary game. 

 

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Steve Wong

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Steve Wong at 2014 Nationals in Buckeye, Arizona

 

Can you list for us some of your accomplishments?

Some of my accomplishments include:

  • USAPA SW Regional Tournament, El Mirage, AZ
    – Gold in Men’s Doubles 35+
  • USAPA Nationals VI, Sun City Festival, Buckeye, AZ
    -Silver in Mixed Doubles 35+
  • 2014 SeaTac Spring Open Doubles Skill, SeaTac, WA
    -Silver in Men’s Doubles 5.0, -Bronze in Mixed Doubles 5.0
  • 2014 Grand Canyon State Games, AZ State Pickleball Championships
    -Gold, Men’s Doubles 19+, -Gold, Men’s Doubles Skill 5.0,
    -Bronze, Mixed Doubles 35+ and Skill 5.0
Graphite Stryker Pickleball Paddle

Graphite Stryker Pickleball Paddle

What paddle do you play with and why?
My favorite paddle is the new Graphite Evoke by Onix Sports, because it is the most different new paddle out there. It has nice touch, a big POP, good control. Usually I play about 6 months with my prototypes to see what people love. The Onix Graphite Stryker is the paddle I played with the longest.STS350-1

What’s your Pickleball story? How were you introduced to Pickleball?
I was introduced to pickleball in 8th grade. I have been playing athletics all my life. In 2000, I played at 24-Hr Fitness in Bellevue, where I played with folks like Yoda Friedenberg and Don Paschal, a great bunch of players, and that is where I started getting involved in competitive play. I could play and be satisfied with the workout and competitive aspects of any sport. But the social aspect of pickleball is the best thing; it’s what keeps me playing. I make new friends everywhere I play, and when I travel to play in tournaments, I always meet lifelong friends. These are people who will invite me to dinner and to stay in their homes. I see some of my best friends at competitions.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?
In Surprise, I LIVE for the outdoors, and prefer outdoor play: the wind, the sun, the playing surface. Games seem to go a lot faster.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I like to play doubles better: mixed doubles and men’s doubles. I like working together, figuring out how to use each others strengths in the game. And, I like singles for the ratings.

Working together in doubles play, what does that look like?
Top players play with different skills, they have developed different shots and styles. Playing together, we get to know each others style and shots and learn how to work together for the advantage in the game. An example of working together would be when the ball comes down the middle. In that scenario, whoever has the forehand always has the advantage, so always has the right of way.

What are your favorite places to play? Why?
My favorite place to play is at home in Surprise, Arizona. They call it the “Mecca of Pickleball”. When I moved there 4 years ago, I helped form the Surprise Pickleball Association (SPA). Over time, good players have developed here and people now travel to Surprise, and even move here, just for the level of pickleball played in Surprise. The people I meet for the first time tell me they can see the passion I have for the game. The other day I was playing at the Surprise city courts and met a couple visiting from Toronto. I introduced myself and found they already knew me, but, after playing together for about 10 minutes, they realized how passionate I was about the game and became more passionate about the game as well. Most folks, who begin to share my passion, also start going to tournaments, and find new friends and start living the Pickleball lifestyle. Pickleball is an outlet for folks who fall in love with the game and who like sharing their life-long passion with others.

What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?
As a coach, I teach folks to:
     get consistent, work on skills, work on getting a high percentage of your shots
and then go for the harder shots.

What is your day job?
My full-time job is President of Onix Sports. I now have 12 employees, so I’m finding myself busier with the business aspects of the company.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make the time to play?
I try to practice 4-5 times a week for 3–5 hours. I do a lot of coaching by invitation. I spend a lot of time doing clinics. I love it when people invite me to do a clinic where I’ve never been before, because I always make new friends.

Do you have any Pickleball goals that you would like to share?
My main goal is to get pickleball available to youth in schools. When I do clinics, if any fees are collected, they go to my Foundation to support the sport for youth. The Foundation donates paddles to youth organizations. I also do clinics at schools. The long term goal is to get Pickleball in schools around the world. If Pickleball is played in middle school, high school and college, then JV and Varsity play will follow and if each school gets competitive, then the competition level of all players will skyrocket. And we all dream of pickleball one day becoming an Olympic sport!

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Paul Porch

Meet pickleball pro Paul Porch from Vancouver, Washington, on the right.

SeaTac Pickleball Tournament

Pickleball Friends gathered at the SeaTac Pickleball Tournament, Paul Porch on the right

Can you list for us some of your accomplishments?

Some of my accomplishments include:
2014 Nationals 60+MX Silver Medal with Sally Dobson
2014 Nationals 65+MD Bronze Medal with Mike Wolfe
2014 State Games of Oregon 50+MD Silver Medal with Hunter Duval
2014 State Games of Michigan 60+MD Gold Medal with Rick Meyer
2014 Tournament of Champions Senior Open MD “barely in the money” with Dan Wheeler
2013 Rally in the Valley 5.0 MX Bronze Medal with Hoagie Hoggatt (photo below)

What paddle do you play with and why?

I use both a ZZT paddle made by Spike Christensen and a POP paddle made by Brian Jensen. Both paddles have short handles since I use a table tennis grip and a longer handle gets in the way. The shorter handle also allows for a larger hitting area.

Spike pickleball composite paddle Evo I

ZZT Sport’s Evo I Paddle

What’s your Pickleball story? How were you introduced to Pickleball?

I first played Pickleball in a PE class at Mt Hood Community College in 1982 but subsequently I was not aware of anywhere to play PB recreationally for more than 25 years. In 2009, I was looking for a sport that was easier on my knees than tennis and discovered Pickleball being played at the Firstenberg Community Center in Vancouver, Washington. Soon after that Mike Wolfe, whom I had first met playing table tennis, asked me to play in a Pickleball tournament.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer to play indoors where the rallies, my knees, and shoes last longer.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Because of my knees, I only play doubles even though I almost exclusively played singles in tennis. As it turns out, the skill set needed for Pickleball doubles is a good fit for my athletic strengths at this point in my life. And with four players on the court the strategy is compounded which makes it more interesting.

What are your favorite places to play? Why?

For an outdoor tournament, I really enjoyed the Tournament of Champions venue at Gullo’s Grotto in Ogden UT. For an indoor tournament, the State Games of Michigan venue on the 15 courts at the MVP Fieldhouse in Grand Rapids MI is wonderful. And for “recreational” play, it is difficult to surpass the excellent competition at June Crabb’s beautiful indoor court in Oregon.

What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?

Utilize a practice partner for meaningful drills while focusing on placement and consistency in terms of depth in the court as well as direction. When playing competitively, play the percentages, be a positive partner, and have FUN.

What is your day job?

I retired from teaching Mathematics to adults in 2005. Now, in addition to occasionally doing some work around the house, I occasionally instruct and coach Pickleball.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make the time to play?

Since I am retired and have four good Pickleball venues within 15 minutes of my house, I play 2-3 hours most days, with some games being very recreational and others very competitive.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I try to find a partner that I will complement and that will complement me.

Do you have any Pickleball goals that you would like to share?

I hope to see the day when a player’s ratings are 100% objective, with three significant digits, and are updated immediately after every sanctioned match. With my mathematical background, I have researched and developed an algorithm, similar to those used in badminton, table tennis and chess that would met these three attributes, as well as having many other positive implications.

Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best Pickleball players in the world?

I am honored to be added to the illustrious list of players on the Pickleball Central blog, lucky to have had the opportunity to play with many of the best players in the world, and fortunate to be playing Pickleball at this time in its development.

Meet the Pickleball Pros- Jennifer Lucore

Meet the amazing pickleball pro Jennifer Lucore. Lucore has been collecting gold medals since she first started competing, and she deserves every one. As the former USAPA newsletter editor, Lucore  knows this sport inside and out!

OS lucore 3 1

PBC: Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

  • USAPA Nationals VI 2014, Buckeye, AZ; GOLD Open Women’s Singles, GOLD Open Women’s Doubles (with Alex Hamner); GOLD Women’s Doubles 35+ (with Alex Hamner)
  • Grand Canyon State Games, El Mirage, AZ – GOLD Doubles 5.0 (third year in a row with Alex Hamner!), GOLD doubles 35+, GOLD mixed 19+.
  • So Cal Summer Classic, Oceanside, CA – GOLD open doubles, GOLD 35+ doubles, GOLD open singles, Bronze open mixed doubles.
  • Pickleball Canada National Open Championship 2014, Abbotsford, BC Canada – GOLD open singles (third year in a row) and SILVER open doubles.
  • Tournament of Champions, Ogden, UT – GOLD doubles masters – open, GOLD mixed doubles masters – open.  GOLD doubles masters – open
  • USAPA Nationals V 2013, Buckeye, AZ; GOLD Open Doubles (third year in a row with Alex Hamner), GOLD 35+ mixed doubles, SILVER Open Singles, SILVER 35+ doubles. · Pickleball Canada National Open Championship 2013, Abbotsford, BC Canada – GOLD open singles and GOLD open doubles (second year in a row for singles and doubles with Darcy Jacobsen).
  • Tournament of Champions, Ogden, UT – SILVER open doubles. USAPA Nationals 2012, Buckeye, AZ; GOLD Open Singles, GOLD Open Doubles, GOLD Singles 19+, GOLD Doubles 35+, GOLD Mixed Doubles 35+. Yes, 5 GOLD medals!

lucore 5 golds

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

JL: I always juggle between a few paddles because it is important to have the right tools (paddles) for all the various playing conditions – indoor, outdoor, windy, hot, cold, doubles, singles… Yes I usually play with a different paddle for singles – looking for more power, and doubles looking for more touch

PBC: What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

JL: Her first exposure to pickleball was in 2007 when she was vacationing with her family and met up with her parents, Bob and Bev Youngren, in Bend, OR for a fun family tournament. There she saw how all ages can compete and have a great time together. She attended the first USAPA Nationals in 2009 for a mini vacation and to just watch her parents compete. In 2010 she started playing and from there caught the love and passion for this game and the people that play.

 PBC: What’s your preference — playing indoor or outdoor?

JL: I am from San Diego, the joke is we are not allowed to play indoors, we usually have outdoors available EVERY DAY! :-)

Jennifer Lucore pickleball paddle Champion

In this photo, Jennifer is playing with the Champion Aluminum Core paddle and Alex is playing with the Legacy Composite paddle, pictured below.

 

Aluminum Core Champion composite paddles

Champion Aluminum Core

Legacy Pickleball paddle by Pickleball Inc.

Legacy Composite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PBC: What’s your day job?

JL: My day job is running my own marketing business. I help clients with their marketing needs from public relations, website design/maintenance to social media. I have been in marketing for over 14 years. For pickleball I was the USAPA newsletter publisher for two and half years, I enjoyed it, but recently ran out of time for that…

PBC: Do you mind sharing about your personal life? Are you single? Married? Kids?

JL: I am knocking on the “senior” door (48 years old), I am married with two girls 19 and 22, my husband is a Chief at a fire department. I LOVE LOVE PICKLEBALL. The wonderful people you meet is the best, I highly recommend pickleball to EVERYONE.

2013 3 peat gold hamner youngren lucore

PBC: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

JL: Through pickleball, Jennifer has been able to travel and meet great friends from around the country; and internationally (Yay Canada! and look for her in 2015 in Spain and Italy)

Thanks again, Jennifer!

Want to watch videos of Jennifer playing?

Meet the Pickleball Pros- Joy Leising

Next in the “Meet the Pros” series is Joy Leising. Joy is a natural on the pickleball court, who first picked up a paddle in 2013 and has already taken gold medals home from the USAPA Nationals!
fall brawl

 

1) Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

  • Nationals 2014:
    Silver Women’s 35 Doubles (with Christine Barksdale)
    Silver Women’s 35 Singles
    Silver Women’s Open Doubles (with Christine Barksdale)
    Silver Women’s Open Singles

2) What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with the Onix Evoke Paddle 8.0. A year ago at the Grand Canyon Games, I asked Steve if I could try an Onix paddle and one that might be a little heavier. He passed me the Evoke and ever since that day on the Surprise City Courts, I could not take it out of my hands. The paddle has a lot of pop and also feels really balanced so I can have control on the dinks and ground strokes, but when I need to put the ball away, the pop in the paddle allows me to do that.

Evoke Composite Pickleball Paddle

3) What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I was introduced to pickleball by my women’s doubles partner Christine Barksdale. We had played tennis on the same team for 6 years and she started getting more into pickleball and I was a little curious about it. She then asked a few of her tennis friends to go to Canada in Summer of 2013 for a fun weekend . She then told me later she would be playing in a pickleball tournament while we were in Abbotsford and that I should play. My response was I don’t even know how the game is played or how to keep score- how can I play a tournament? She said it would be fine and just fun so we drove up to Canada Nationals and laughed a lot and played women’s doubles and singles. I ended up getting bronze in singles and also getting the pickleball itch. After returning from Canada I didn’t play much and Chris was needing a partner for the Pickle Barrel tournament in Vancouver, Washington. She asked me to partner with her and my response was yes, but that I would need to practice a lot since I am new to the game. The Pickle Barrel was my first official tournament and we placed Gold in Women’s 5.0 and from there, our doubles partnership began and I was hooked on the sport!

pickleball partner

4) What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
I used to think I didn’t have a preference because I started to learn indoors. After my first nationals this year though, I think outdoors is my preference. It’s more like a tennis court and I like the outdoor ball.

5) Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
Gosh, that’s a hard question! I feel like they are two completely separate games so I would say I like them both. In singles, I get to hit more groundstrokes and get more exercise. Doubles is a lot about setting up your partner and patience which is fun and exciting.

6) What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
That is a hard question. I have been really lucky to travel to so many beautiful places this year playing pickleball. Utah has been one of my favorites. The Brigham and St. George Courts are awesome and I love playing at the Surprise City Courts in Arizona as well.

pickleball doubles

7) What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
Remember to have fun, change up your game/strategy if things aren’t working and use your timeouts to refocus. A pickleball game can go by so fast- it’s good to remember to slow down and think.

8) What’s your day job?
Social work.

9) How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
It depends on the time of year because outdoor play time is limited in Oregon with the rain. I usually play between 2-6 hours a week. It is a challenge balancing work, life and pickleball but I usually set up drilling sessions with my partner Christine outside and also hit the gym with the Columbia Pickleball Club who reserves courts in local gyms during the winter and are great at organizing folks.

10) Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
Not really. Coconut water, sleep, good food and focus on playing the best game I can play.

11) Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
I would like to play at Tournament of Champions this year since I have never gone and hear such great things about this tournament. I would also like to continue to medal at Nationals, improve my game with more singles and doubles drilling sessions and increase my cross training workouts so I can be more fit for the 6 hard days of play at Nationals.

nationals 35's doubles 2014

12) Do you mind sharing about your personal life? Are you single? Married? Kids?
I am married to a great man, John Paul, who supports and understands my many hours of travel and time on the pickleball courts. We also have 2 cats.

13) Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
I would say I need about 15-20 years of pickleball under my belt before I could say that. Although I have been lucky to be surrounded and practice with many of the best players, I have a lot to learn and develop in my game to consider myself one of the best.

Thanks, Joy!

Meet the Pickleball Pros- Matthew Blom

Meet pickleball pro Matthew Blom. Matthew carved some time out of his day to speak to me about the role that pickleball has played in his life, and where he hopes it will go in the future.

matthewblom

PBC: Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers? (we updated Matthew’s list with his wins from the 2014 Nationals)

  • 2014 Nationals Men’s 35+ Silver with partner Mills Miller
  • 2014 Nationals Mixed Doubles Bronze with partner Alex Hamner
  • 2014 Nationals Open Mixed Doubles Silver with partner Alex Hamner
  • Tournament of Champions 2014- Gold Men’s Doubles/ Bronze Mixed Doubles/ Bronze Men’s Singles
  • Nationals 2012 Silver Mixed Doubles/ Silver Aged Singles
  • Oceanside Gold Mixed Doubles in Age/ Bronze Men’s Doubles

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

MB: I play with the Performance One paddle. They’re made by a guy in San Diego named Brian Jensen. It’s unique, and long.

PBC: What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

MB: When I was in college, my tennis coach wanted to find something to help us improve our game. Our coach was from Seattle, and was one of the original players of the game. I then went 13 years without ever seeing or thinking about it until my friends Prem and Wendy reintroduced me to it 3 years ago. I had so much fun that I stopped playing tennis, table tennis, and badminton and now only play pickleball.

PBC: What’s your preference — playing indoor or outdoor?

MB: I basically only play outdoors. It’s part of what I like about the sport- to be outside, in the elements, and in the sunshine.

PBC: Do you like singles or double better? Why?

MB: I’d say doubles. Singles can be a little repetitive, and not as social and fun. In doubles, the points are longer and more exciting and require the soft game as well as the blasting hard game that exists more in singles. Doubles to me is more creative and requires more shots in your repertoire to play well.

PBC: What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

MB: Over in Roseville, there’s this facility called Johnson Ranch Racquet Club. It’s where the best players in Northern California converge to give each other trouble.

Johnson Ranch Racquet ClubPhoto courtesy: Johnson Ranch Racquet Club

PBC: What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

MB: Reduce your anxiety on court so you can slow the ball down, see more angles, see more shots, and be more consistent, more powerful and more accurate.

PBC: What’s your day job?

MB: : I do work called mind re-patterning. Helping people who are stuck in self-destructive behavior change new supportive tracks that help them with anxiety, money, relationships, and a freer lighter state of being.

PBC: How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

MB: I play 3 times per month. I have to travel 1.5 hours to get to a place where I can play against great competition. Being entrepreneur means I set my own hours. But the travel time and everyone’s combined schedules makes it challenging to play more.

PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

MB: I sometimes listen to music and make sure my shots are all warmed up, but I wouldn’t say I have any ‘rituals’.

PBC: Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

MB: I’d like to win Gold at Nationals in Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles.

Good luck chasing that dream, Matthew!

Want to see videos of Matthew Blom?