Meet the Pickleball Pros – Wes Gabrielsen

Wesley Gabrielsen is a pickleball pro from McMinnville, Oregon. Wes, as he’s more commonly called, has found what works for him, and it’s paying off! From the paddle he plays with to his pre-game breakfast, Wes knows exactly what will make him successful.

Pickleball Champion Wes Gabrielsen at the net with a Magnum Graphite Stealth pickleball paddle

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

  • WG: 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Men’s Doubles
  • 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Mixed Doubles
  • 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Men’s Singles
  • 2013 Nationals Silver Medal Open Men’s Singles
  • 2014 So Cal Classic Gold Medal Men’s Open Doubles
  • 2014 So Cal Classic Gold Medal Mixed Open Doubles

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

WG: I play with Pro-Lite’s Magnum Graphite Stealth. It was the first non-wooden paddle I ever used, and I love the weight, overall feel and touch it provides me. I’m more of a touch player rather than a power player so it fits my style of play well.

Magnum Graphite Stealth pickleball Paddle purple with yellow burst

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

WG: I played pickleball in high school P.E. classes but back then I played “boom-ball.” It was a great cross-training activity for my tennis game. I also audited a pickleball class back in college, but was first introduced to competitive, dinking-based pickleball by my current mixed doubles partner Christine Barksdale (former mixed doubles partner in tennis). We played on a USTA Mixed Doubles Team together in 2010 and by January of 2011 she got me back into pickleball and I have been hooked ever since!

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

WG: I prefer playing outdoors as it is more like tennis for me. I feel that I can shape and spin the ball more effectively outdoors and look for any chance I have to play outdoors rain or shine. Living in the northwest, however, we play indoors from October-April and I do enjoy playing inside as well.

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

WG: For the longest time I preferred singles much more than any other event. It was more like tennis for me, although you couldn’t pay me a million bucks to play singles in tennis right now! Singles in pickleball reminds me of net play in the doubles game of tennis, so I preferred it. Now, however, I would have to say mixed doubles is right up there with singles for me in terms of my favorite method of play.

Wes Gabrielsen with female pickleball partner on the court  arm and arm holding MGS pickleball paddles

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

WG: In the northwest we are blessed with many places to play, and I prefer a few. The “Paranto Palace” (fellow player Steve Paranto’s backyard court) is one of my favorite places to play. It’s a great, relaxed setting for good play and friendship. I also enjoy playing at our community park several times a week with my pickleball workout partner Tim Gardner.

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

WG: Preparing for each tournament. I am of the philosophy that drilling and keeping up on your skills is vital to one’s success in a tournament. Practice matches are vital to one’s success in tournament play, but drilling and skill development are what keep me fresh before tournaments. Before nationals or another big tournament, I make sure to workout 3-4 days a week by mostly conducting skill and fitness drills.

Wes Gabrielsen on the metal podium at National Pickleball Tournament holding the Oregon state flag

PBC: What’s your day job?

WG: I currently have two jobs. I am a high school history teacher at McMinnville High School (7th year of teaching overall), and am the Associate Head Coach for the Women’s Tennis Team at Linfield College.

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

WG: During our offseason from tennis I play 4-5 days a week, for a total of 12-15 hours. During tennis season, I play one day a week for 3-4 hours.

PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

WG: My go-to breakfast the morning of a tournament: Greek Yogurt and Granola with Honey. It gives me the right energy to compete well during the days play. In terms of rituals, I just make sure to get into the proper mindset pre-match and get a good long warm up in the night before and morning of competition. Something I use to instruct the tennis players I coach (and use myself when I compete) is that I expect to win every match I play. This is a mindset of confidence, not being cocky, and allows a player to settle in and just play their game. Having this mentality allows me to focus on my shots and strategy, and nothing else.

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

WG: I think I speak for all tournament players when I say I’d like to win every event I enter! But that’s not realistic. I always focus on playing my best one match at a time. My goals for the upcoming months are to get in good court shape before competing in nationals in November. Six events in a week is a lot of play!

Wes Gabrielsen at the net involved in a pickleball game

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

WG: I am single and have no kids. That’s why I have all of my free time to play 8-10 tournaments during the summer!

PBC: Do you have any final words about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

WG: I honestly don’t think like to categorize myself as there are so many great players across the country. My goal is to go out, compete with good sportsmanship and class during each match, and to hopefully come out on top. Pickleball is such a great sport and there are so many exceptional players out there. I hope to continue to be successful in the coming years as I continue to play this great game!

Thanks, Wes!

by Miranda

The Pickleball Palace – A Private Indoor Pickleball Court

While searching for the most beautiful pickleball courts in Washington State, we received a call from Terri Ross in Port Ludlow.  She confessed about her addiction to pickleball, and, she told us that she had built her own indoor pickleball court and christened it the “Pickleball Palace!”  Can you be any more of a fan of pickleball than Terri Ross?  Terri loves to play pickleball.  She played with her mother 30 years ago.  As pickleball has grown in popularity, the Port Ludlow Resort built some beautiful outdoor pickleball courts.  Since Terri and her husband built an indoor tennis court for resort members to keep playing tennis in the winter, they were asked, once again, if they might consider building an indoor pickleball court as well.  This request was what spurred their imagination to consider building an indoor pickleball court.  They had land next to their house, so they scraped off the existing building and began to plan.

 

Pickleball Palace Port Ludlow,WA

“My husband is an engineer, so, we really had no problems in the design and construction of our ‘Pickleball Palace’.” They applied for a building permit.  They chose Sound Building Systems in Port Ludlow, WA to design and build the building. The metal building guy couldn’t envision what they wanted at first.  He had never heard of pickleball!  Together they mapped out what was needed for the space around the court.

They took into consideration that the biggest complaint around the outdoor courts was that there wasn’t enough room.  The building dimensions, not including the viewing room and restrooms, is 65’ X 30’.   They began by talking with players to get an idea of how high the building had to be.  The roof ended up being 25 feet over the net, with beams 22-25 feet over the net.  The beams needed to go length-wise instead of crosswise and had to be longer to create an arch over the net.

photo 4 (2)

 

The building is insulated, but not heated and there is no air-conditioning. There are 2 big doors to open for ventilation and a door to the viewing room.  The playing surface is a gravel base with asphalt on top.  Then it was painted with the Trucourt tennis court paint in green and red, similar to the finish on their indoor tennis court. The lighting is 1000 watt, ballast bulbs on a slow-start transformer. The lighting is PERFECT.  Some say you might even need to wear sunglasses when playing inside.  It took 4 weeks for the installation of the Pickleball Palace.  Terri and her husband have nothing but good things to say about Sound Building Systems.

Pickleball Palace Cake

Over 60 folks are playing pickleball these days in Port Ludlow.  Terri has added a refrigerator, a popcorn machine and a jukebox in the viewing room of their Pickleball Palace.  They expect to be pretty busy playing pickleball this winter.  They have folks who are new to the game playing Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the more serious men’s group, with a gal or two, playing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

photo 2 (2)

Pickleball backyard indoor court waiting area

 

 

 

Pickleball Palace lounge area

 

By Eliza

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Carolyn Ebbinghaus

We’re featuring Carolyn Ebbinghaus today as we continue on in our “Meet the Pros” series. Carolyn eats, sleeps, and breathes pickleball and has found success at making her life revolve around our favorite sport!

Pickleball Pro Carolyn Ebbinhaus of Traverse City, Michigan with a yellow pickleball paddle in her hand

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

* Won the Gold in Women’s singles at the Nationals 2012, in my age group 50+

* Won silver, in Women’s doubles, age 50+, Nationals 2012.

* Won two bronze medals, Nationals 2013, one in singles- age, and one in mixed doubles- age 50+

* Won 5.0 mixed doubles open, 2014, at the Meijer State games

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

CE: I use the “Legacy” (the Legacy paddle by Pickleball Inc.). It gives me the extra power I need for put away shots.

Legacy composite pickleball paddle yellow paddle with blue accent color and edge guard

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

CE: I began playing pickleball at our local YMCA in Traverse City about 7 years ago. Only about 5 or 6 men played, and it looked very tough. I began playing every chance I could, and loved everything about the game.

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

CE: I love outdoor play. Here in Michigan, we get about a three month window of good weather, so I get outside and play every chance I get.

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

CE: I like doubles, singles wears you out faster.

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

CE: I like playing locally, at the new courts we just had put in at the old YMCA!

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

CE: Out dink your opponent, let them make the mistake.

Carolyn Ebbinghaus on the metals platform at National Pickleball Tournament

PBC: What’s your day job?

CE: I teach Pickleball lessons and sell paddles and supplies at Pickleball Outfitters, where I am President.

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

CE: I play out three hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. I do most of my business work in the morning, and then work around lessons and playing. I have a great job!

PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

CE: I wear two different color socks. Always white, but the top band colors do not match, and I do that for luck.

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

CE: My goal is to try to win another gold medal at the Nationals. The competition is tough, so any medal, is a goal.

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

CE: I have a wonderful boyfriend, and I have a terrific 22 year old daughter. Both of them enjoy the game. I have a great, supportive family.

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

CE: I have met wonderful friends in pickleball, all of which would give me a really hard time if I truly believed this last question. They do know,

however, that I have gone out and given it my best try, and hope to keep playing to the best of my ability, to be one of the best in my age group.

Thanks again, Carolyn!

by Miranda

Baby Boomers Return to College for Pickleball! The Western Institute for Lifelong Learning

When you think of a “typical college kid”, what do you picture? An 18-year old walking around with an oversized backpack and a pile of books? Perhaps a young adult with a look of pure excitement on her face, walking across the stage on her graduation day?

Would you picture a 68-year old married woman, with two kids and 7 grandchildren, with a degree she received over 40 years ago?

This is just an example of a typical student you’d meet at the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning, or WILL. According to their website, “WILL offers a lifetime adventure for continued intellectual discovery in a supportive, expansive, and informal learning environment – for eager learners of any age”. The idea for this sort of program stemmed directly from the local townspeople, who had seen similar ideas in other communities.

WILL snag logo

 

 

Offering 70 courses this fall, ranging from a one day hike to a semester long program, WILL is a unique opportunity for students who may not fall into the “traditional” age group. For only $75 per semester, students can take as many classes or activities as they want. Held at Western New Mexico University, inside the city limits of Silver City, the program is a convenient way to have both an active mind and an active body.

June Decker, the facilitator of the pickleball course, is thrilled that pickleball has caught on in her community. In 1979, Decker was teaching at a university in Vegas, where a coworker introduced her to pickleball. For years, they joked that they were the only two in New Mexico who knew how to play! After moving to Silver City from Vegas, Decker was determined to start pickleball as a part of the New Mexico Senior Olympics. Once they started playing at the state level, the cities wanted to join in on the fun as well. Decker had the skillset and the drive – all she needed was a facility. That’s when the WILL program came along. The Western New Mexico University already had good pickleball paddles and indoor pickleball balls, giving her a great opportunity to share pickleball.

WILL pb1

Once pickleball was introduced, the community caught the pickleball craze! Decker jokes that she “never would have believed I would create a community of addicts”.

Pickleball is one of the most popular classes at WILL. When pickleball was first offered as a course in the fall of 2013, registration for the 18-person class was full within minutes of opening. There were so many people on the waiting list that the decision was made to create a second class section. This year, in addition to the beginner’s class, there is also an ‘Intermediate’ class offered for those who took the class the previous year. Each class lasts for about an hour, and there are thirteen sessions per semester (once per week).

Thanks to the large number of pickleball fans, Western New Mexico State now offers community play two days per week. There’s always enough space, thanks to the 6 outdoor courts and the 4 indoor courts in the university gym. Decker said, “I am very glad we have a pickleball community here so I have people to play with, and I’m glad that people enjoy this great sport.”

WILL pb2

Decker keeps her advice for new players simple: “See the ball, hit the ball. If you think too much, you tend to over-teach, and then the [new student’s] heads are spinning!”

As the conversation ended, Decker started laughing while she joked, “We’re keeping senior citizens off the streets!”

Thanks for sharing your story with us, June!

Photos courtesy of http://www.will-learning.com/

by Miranda

Pickleball Referee Shortage? Huntsman Forgoes USAPA Sanctioning

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The Huntsman World Senior Games is considered one of the leading pickleball tournaments, second only to the USA Pickleball Association’s National Tournament. This year the Huntsman Directors made a choice not to be a USA Pickleball Association sanctioned tournament.  It’s pretty shocking news for one of the largest pickleball tournaments in the country to forgo sanctioning by the sport’s governing body. But, the change hasn’t impact registration numbers. Registration is full and has been closed for several months; many of the world’s top senior players will be competing.
Why did the Huntsman Directors choose to forgo USAPA sanctioning this year?   Here’s the response I received from tournament director, Ken Schoonover:
I can confirm that the 2014 HWSG is not going to be a USAPA sanctioned event this year. There are several reasons, and it’s related primarily to the referee requirement but it would be an oversimplification to say “not enough referees”. 
- The requirement that every match have a referee for such a large tournament (we’ll have well over 1,300 matches) is generally doable but taxes the volunteer staff that is already responsible for executing the many, many other functions that are necessary to successfully execute a well-run, week-long event.
- Refereeing that many matches necessitates reliance on players to volunteer to referee. In our experience, players are becoming less and less interested and willing to step up and referee matches. So yes, at times it throughout the week, there can be a shortage of available referees. The worst case scenario is having to delay playing matches until someone steps up to referee. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it significantly disrupts the flow of the tournament. The more regular effect is that it overburdens those few individuals who go way over and above expectations and referee many more matches than one should have to.
- Many players would prefer not having a referee. The volunteer ref system means that the quality of refereeing skills varies greatly … from excellent to frankly very poor. An inexperienced referee can hamper the natural flow of a match compared to what players are accustomed to. Many players have been heard to admit that having no referee is preferable to having a bad referee. 
Having said all that, it is important to note the following, which I hope you will emphasize in your piece:
1. We will run the tournament in all other respects as though it were a sanctioned tournament.
2. We will plan on providing a referee for every match. Choosing not to sanction will give us the flexibility to a) go ahead and play a match without delaying the tournament, should we have a temporary shortage of refs, and b) allow a match to be played without a ref if all players in the match request no referee. As an alternative, we can provide a non-volley zone judge whose only duty will be to watch for kitchen line foot faults.
3. We fully expect to provide a quality, enjoyable tournament experience that will meet players expectations.
4. The HWSG will evaluate the results of 2014 tournament in deciding the future direction of the tournament going forward.
Thanks Ken for such a well reasoned response.
We wonder, will no USAPA sanctioning have an impact? Will other big tournament follow the Huntsman’s lead? It will be interesting to see.
The 2014 Huntsman World Senior Games Pickleball Event  is scheduled for October 13 – 17, 2014 in St. George, Utah.

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Jessica LeMire

Our second featured pickleball player proves that pickleball is a sport for all ages. Jessica LeMire is a college student who is finding success with the sport before she even finishes school! 

Jessica (green hat) at 2013 USAPA Nationals with Yvonne Hackenberg, Marsha Koch and Hilary Marold.

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

JL: 2013 USAPA Nationals- Gold in Women’s 19+ & Bronze in the Open Division
2014 SoCal Summer Classic- Gold in Women’s 19+ & Silver in the Open Division

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?
JL: I play with the Legacy Paddle because of its pop and turbo power.

Jessica LeMire's favorite paddle is the Legacy Pickleball Paddle.

Jessica LeMire’s favorite paddle is the Legacy Pickleball Paddle.

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

JL: My dad and I player racquetball together at the Meijer State Games of Michigan in 2011. During the opening ceremonies for the event, all the participating sports processed into the stadium in alphabetical order. Naturally, pickleball and racquetball participants walked next to each other. Of course, my dad and I were curious as to what pickleball was. When we spoke to the super nice picklers, they told us about it and invited us to their courts to check it out. We took them up on their offer, and we were hooked!

PBC: What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
JL: I prefer playing outdoors. In Michigan, we don’t have the luxury of playing outside all year round so I enjoy playing under the sun when I can.

PBC: Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
JL: I prefer playing doubles because I love the partner aspect of the sport. Doubles is the art of two people working as one- I think that’s pretty awesome.

PBC: What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
JL: If I’m having a blast with the folks I’m playing with, I could be playing on the worst court in the country and it would be my favorite place to play. For me, it’s about who I’m playing with rather than where I’m playing.

PBC: What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?
JL: I think the “secret sauce” in pickleball is partner chemistry. The teamwork and synching that occurs- competing together, moving together, strategizing together, and supporting one another- is such a special part of the game. Not only is it essential to be on the same page, but it’s also crucial to find someone with whom you are comfortable and can have a great time.

PBC: What’s your day job?
JL: I’m currently a graduate student at Central Michigan University studying communication.

PBC: How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
JL: During the summer, I play an average of seven to nine hours or so a week, but when I’m at school, I strive to play every other weekend. I make time for pickleball because of the physical and mental benefits- it’s my favorite way to exercise, connect with friends, and relieve stress.

PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
JL: No lucky rituals for me, but I do say a prayer before I play.

PBC: Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
JL: It’s inspirational to watch athletes in their seventies and eighties play pickleball. My goal is to be like those rock stars and be able to compete when I’m their age.

Thanks Jessica!

Pickleball, a Great Cardio Workout

It’s important at any age to keep your health in tip-top shape. Along with eating right, getting enough sleep and keeping your stress low, another important element of wellbeing is physical exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of intense activity per week (http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html)

Recommendations for adult weekly exercise

 

 

A great way to keep your body healthy is to play everyone’s favorite sport- pickleball!

 

Pickleball is the perfect combination of cardio and hand-eye coordination training. It’s flexible to anyone’s fitness abilities and can be as leisurely or fast-paced as you desire.

 

Want an intensified cardio workout? Play a singles match! Although a pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court, you’ll still get a challenging workout as you run sideline to sideline. If you’re looking for a more mild form of exercise, grab three friends and play doubles. With a partner, you only have to cover half the court!

 

You can also choose the pace of the game by adapting the delivery of the ball. Instead of playing with the goal to beat your partner, try to see how many hits you can get in a row. This changes the focus of the game to a cooperative challenge.

 

Pickleball doesn’t only tone your muscles- it also sharpens your mind!

 

Thanks to the design of the ball, a plastic whiffle ball, it’s difficult to predict where the ball will go. Watching the ball  requires focused attention to the game, which in turn keeps the mind alert and stimulated. The Institute for the Study of Aging reports that, “Remaining socially engaged, continuing life-long learning, and engaging in activities… stimulate the brain, build cognitive reserve, and promote cognitive vitality” (ISOA, 2005, p. 12).

 

Pickleball may have a funny name, but its’ health benefits are nothing to laugh at. With the possibility of improving both your body and your mind, pickleball is a game that anyone can play for a lifetime of fun and health.

health benefits child and adult playing pickleball