New Pickleball Paddles Launched At US Open

Big tournaments like last month’s US Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, FL are exciting times for the launch of new pickleball products. The best of the industry gathers together and the manufacturers put their best foot forward with new products.

Several companies showed off new paddles at the 2017 US Open including Paddletek, ProLite, Onix and Gamma Sports. If you were fortunate enough to be in Naples you might have gotten a glimpse of some of these hot new paddles in person. We would like to share a summary of the newly launched paddles we were excited to see at the US Open and have been having fun trying out.

Three new paddles introduced by Paddletek include the Paddletek Phoenix Lte, a lighter weight paddle with well-balanced weight distribution and touch, a great choice for newer players.

For those seeking greater reach, the Paddletek Horizon’s elongated shape and 17-inch length is a compelling design, featuring a polymer honeycomb care with composite face, weighing in at about 7.3 oz.

Younger players (and their parents) will be pleased to see the Paddletek Ranger, the first paddle designed for youth 12 and under. The lightweight Ranger features a slim profile, longer handle (helpful for little players who like to use two hands), broad face and large sweet spot—a great paddle for kids to have fun and success playing pickleball.

Another longer-handled paddle that got a lot of attention at the US Open is the new ProLite Supernova. The second release in their Black Diamond series, the ProLite Supernova follows its predecessor the Titan. This cutting edge paddle was designed to the specifications of ProLite Pro and National Champion Simone Jardim, a Triple Crown Winner in the 2017 US Open.

The ProLite Supernova incorporates many of the Titan’s features with a stunning 100% carbon fiber surface and durable QuadCore polymer honeycomb core. The 5-1/4″ handle allows double-handed backhanders like Jardim enough length to fit both hands on the handle, and the balance and heavier weight appeal to power-hitting tennis players transitioning to pickleball.

Prolite’s new CRUSH PowerSpin paddle stands out with its great looks. It features a light head, textured surface, large sweet spot, QuadCore™ with Spintact fiberglass face. The CRUSH comes in three colorful designs with beautiful graphics and an edgy style, a fitting choice for athletes who play hard and want to look good while they’re at it.

The new Onix Evoke Pro paddle has a polymer core and composite face that delivers fine touch and helps with spin. Thanks to a slightly wider body it provides a generous sweet spot. The 8-1/6“ width, medium grip size and 7.8 – 8.3 oz weight suit a wide range of players.

Gamma Atomic and Phaser Pickleball Paddles

Gamma Atomic and Phaser

Gamma added to their paddle line up with the launch of six new paddles that offer something for every player type. The Gamma Phaser 2.0 features a wider 8-1/8” graphite face, Nomex core and smaller grip. For a heavier option, the Gamma Atomic 2.0 paddle has a textured fiberglass face, Nomex honeycomb core and flush edge guard that helps to prevent mishits.

We have been having a great time trying out these new paddles and know that you will too. You can learn more about all of these paddles on our site. We will be sharing more detailed reviews for the Onix Evoke Pro and new Paddletek paddles in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for updates.

 

ProLite’s New CRUSH Paddle Shows Where Pickleball Is Going

Some Paddles Are Designed For Looks, Some For Performance – ProLite’s CRUSH Powerspin Delivers Both

The market for pickleball paddles is diverse. Core and face materials, paddle shape, size, weight, grip and other factors all contribute to the diverse options available. With their launch of the ProLite CRUSH Powerspin, veteran paddle manufacturer ProLite has created a new paddle that is truly unique.

Crush PowerSpin Paddles
ProLite has a long and well established history producing innovative paddles. They were the first company to use aerospace composite honeycomb materials in the construction of paddles. Originally founded in the Seattle area, ProLite’s founders experimented with interesting materials that revolutionized paddle design and are used in most paddles on the market today.

Decades later, ProLite continues to innovate. With the CRUSH Powerspin, their innovations incorporate new materials as well as leading edge graphic design. The CRUSH is built on ProLite’s most successful paddle shape – the Magnum. However, unlike the Magnum, which has a graphite face and nomex core, the CRUSH interior is constructed of QuadCore™ Power Polymer honeycomb, covered with ProLite’s new SPINtac™ fiberglass panels.

The result is a highly durable and quiet paddle with an oversized face that provides plenty of power, great control, and spin when you want it. To top that off, the CRUSH is made in three colorful great-looking graphic styles (called Skate, Snow and Surf) appealing to players with style who like to play hard and look good while they’re at it. Each design is truly unique, with a coordinated brightly colored No-Slip Thin Grip.

We recently spoke with ProLite’s President Neil Friedenberg and Vice-President Lisa Wehr about the CRUSH. We thought our readers would like to hear what Neil and Lisa had to say about this exciting new paddle.

PBC: “We know you designed the new CRUSH Paddle with an eye to serving the younger players, or simply players who are young at heart. What can you tell us about the type of player you are trying to serve with the new Crush Paddle?”

ProLite: “The CRUSH is geared toward a player who values relative proportion in the important aspects of their paddle – balance, power, touch, spin – versus dominance of a particular aspect. This one has plenty of all four. This, along with a sense of style as well.”

PBC: “There are over 100 models of paddles in the marketplace, what makes the Crush truly unique?”

ProLite: “A couple of things. First, the new process for applying graphics to the face has allowed us to enhance ball spin capabilities without exceeding USAPA specs – we’ve named this new surface SPINtac(TM). Next, we opted to create three different designs incorporating stylish colored grips rather than different colors of the same design. All three skew toward a younger (mindset) player with a little bit of attitude included.”

PBC: “The visual design and colors of the new CRUSH models are striking. Are you trying to appeal to a specific type of player with the graphic design of the paddle?”

ProLite: “ProLite recognized the homogenous look of paddles several years ago. Because of the large surface area we have to work with versus other sports like tennis and racquetball, we feel an obligation to create a way for players to express themselves – break out – stand out. It may not improve the performance of the equipment but maybe it lends a little something to the player ego. After all, we’re playing a sport and athletes enjoy distinction. You’ll notice that in all of our paddle graphics.”

PBC: “As you went through the process to select the core and face materials for this paddle, what was your thought process?”

ProLite: “The Magnum shape has been our most popular shape and top performer for many years. It’s always been Nomex and graphite so we felt compelled to utilize popular materials such as polymer and fiberglass to appeal to a different style of player using this highly preferred shape. The Polymer core is a quiet, strong, durable choice. It holds up and adds absorption contributing to touch. The new SPINtac fiberglass surface is cutting edge and to our knowledge, has not been used before on paddles.”

PBC: “For players who are used to playing with the Magnum, what kind of differences would they notice if they pick up the Crush and use it?”

ProLite: “Players will notice a difference. Because the CRUSH is made of 1/2 inch polymer core, it’s thicker. It’s also Green Zone approved for quiet communities where the Magnum’s Nomex/graphite combination is not.”

PBC: “You shared that you thought this paddle served a number of distinct player types including Juniors and Women players. What makes this paddle well suited for various player types?”

ProLite: “The Crush is well suited for any player who is looking for a balance of the four performance elements we discussed earlier. It has the Magnum’s smaller grip size, it’s lightweight and edgy looking. And because of the balance, it should help younger players develop a solid, well-rounded game. For the same reasons, we think women looking for a smaller grip paddle will love the CRUSH’s performance, and the holographic look of the Snow design will likely appeal to more women – the design and color palette.”

For players looking for a paddle that combines an ideal balance of performance features with a healthy dose of color and style, the CRUSH delivers it all. To get all of the details on this hot new paddle, see the CRUSH Powerspin technical specs.

Learn More About CRUSH PowerSpin paddles

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Galax Rec Center Picklers

The Galax Rec Center Picklers donated equipment to Galax Elementary school to get a pickleball program started. The surprise is evident when the teacher came into the gym to see the equipment for the first time.

All of the teachers and students at Galax Elementary were thrilled with having pickleball at their school!

The PE teacher went to a conference this week and heard about the new sport of pickleball sweeping the USA. She really strutted, telling how her students at Galax Elementary were already set up and playing pickleball.

Congrats to all!

It Takes a Thousand Hours

Malcolm Gladwell convinced us that 10,000 hours of practice leads to greatness. Do the math. Many of us don’t have 10,000 hours of pickleball left! That’s twenty hours per week for ten years. Plus, while my skills are improving, my body seems to be declining… slowly, I hope.

Clock

Credit: Kylesteed

But one thousand hours is a reasonable goal. I have probably logged about 1,000 hours.

My pickleball journey is a long series of plateaus. Advancements came quickly at first, than much more slowly. But my comfort level with the soft game and in nearly all other aspects of this quirky sport is high after 1,000 hours of play.

Hitting third shots and kitchen dinks, for example, simply takes practice for most of us. Doing this in a competitive situation where there is some pressure might accelerate the learning curve.

Notebook

Keep track of progress! (Credit: CeresB)

Start logging your hours and see whether you agree that, at the 1,000 hour mark, you have reached a level of pickleball play that is quite enjoyable. Hey, that’s still a lot of pickleball!

In doing so, you may find you’ve also reached a new fitness level and developed a few new friends.

Comments?

 

Tournament Tips: Directing the Grand Canyon State Games and Pacific Northwest Regional

Anne Reynolds has been playing pickleball for six years and is in her third year of tournament directing. Although there were some challenges along the way, her love for the sport and the help of her fellow pickleball fanatics got her through the rough patches. Here are some tips she wanted to share so you can avoid some of the bumps in the road.

anne1

What is the name of your tournament?
I run two tournaments. The Grand Canyon State Games in El Mirage Arizona and the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament in Bend, Oregon.

Was there a club hosting the tournament? Name of the club?
The Grand Canyon State Games are hosted by Pueblo El Mirage Pickleball Club. The Regional tournament is  hosted by the Bend Pickleball Club.

When was your tournament?
The Grand Canyon State Games’ tournament was February 22-26th, 2017.  The Pacific Northwest Regional was August 12-14th, 2016. I’m going on my 3rd year as Tournament Director for the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament and 2 years with the Grand Canyon State Games.

Where was your tournament?
The Grand Canyon State Games are held at Pueblo El Mirage RV Golf Resort in El Mirage, Arizona. The Pacific Northwest Regional is held at Pine Nursery Park in Bend, Oregon.

Anne3

How many players registered for the tournament?
Grand Canyon State Games had 598 players. The Pacific Northwest Regional had 343. This year we have over 400 so far.

How many courts were available for the tournament? Indoor court or outdoor courts?
Both facilities have 16 outdoor courts with permanent nets.

What events/brackets did you offer?
For the Grand Canyon State Games we offered:
Mixed Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Men’s Doubles by Age 19+, 35+, 50+, 60+, 70+, 80+.
Mixed Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Men’s Doubles by Skill groups 3.0-5.0 within age group 10-49, 50+.

Next year at Grand Canyon State Games, I will have the same age event as previous years, but will change the skill event to  a skill/age. Skill level 3.0-5.0 (19+, 35+, 50+, 60+, 70+, 80+).

Anne6

For the Pacific Northwest Regional we offered: Mixed Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Men’s Doubles and both Men’s & Women’s Singles. Skill only 3.0-5.0.

This year (2017) it will be a skill/age Event. Mixed Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Men’s Doubles, and Singles. Skill level 3.0-4.5, (19+, 35+, 50+, 60+, 70+, 80+).

We are also hosting the Professional Pickleball Federation (PPF) in conduction with our tournament. All 5.0 players will be playing either a Senior Pro event (50+) or the pro event, and playing for prize money.

Anne5

Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?
At the Grand Canyon State Games, I handle all registrations and sponsors/vendors. At both venues, we have leads for the various functions at the tournament. All leads are responsible for finding their volunteers, scheduling, and training. Lead duties include:

  • Registration (Their job is to greet players, check them in, and give them player bags. It is very important to have the most friendly people at that position as they are the first impression of a tournament).
  • Event Desk (Their duties are to print score sheets, enter scores, and keep the tournament running, and players on courts).
  • First Aid (We have persons with a medical background at the station).
  • Operations (They set up pop-ups, chairs, tables, banners, PA system, and tear it down. They also clean the courts, check heights of nets, place new balls each day, keep water containers full, and empty the trash).
  • Players’ Snacks (They purchase the players’ snacks. They cut fruits, and provide goodies).
  • Referees (Leaders of referees get commitments from players who agree to ref, and schedule them. Ref leaders check completed score sheets for accuracy, turns them into the Event Desk for posting, and handle rule questions).
  • Line Judges (They are in charge of training and scheduling line judge teams.  Having line judge teams already in place is a real plus, saving  you about an hour in the day’s schedule. We no longer have to beg spectators to line judge).

At the Pacific Northwest Regional, I have another person helping me with Registrations. I design and order medals & shirts (or whatever we have as a player’s give away) and  get commitments from sponsors/vendors. We have the same set up as far as leads as the Training and scheduling of line judge teams. Having line judge teams already in place  is a real plus, saving  you about an hour in the days schedule. No more begging of spectators to line judge.

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?
Yes, I contact all potential sponsors.

For Grand Canyon State Games:

  • PickleballCentral – Donated balls and player bags
  • Onix Sports – Donated $750 cash
  • Pickleball Bling – Donated paddles
  • Selkirk Sport- Donated paddles and $350 cash

For Pacific Northwest Regional:

  • Big Country RV (Last year’s title sponsor. They donated $5,000).
  • Pickleball Zone-Bend (This year’s title sponsor. They are donating $5,000).

Was the tournament a fund-raising event? For what charity or cause? How much did you raise?

Grand Canyon State Games (Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission) uses all the proceeds to fund sponsored youth sports here in Arizona.  Specifically, these sports include Native American track and field and Native American cross country, baton twirling, dodge ball, 2 diving events and golf. We raised approximately $25,000.

Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?
Yes. In addition to having water, we also have an electrolyte product (Sqwincher) in one of our 5 gallon water containers.  It has really cut down on cramping and dehydration. At both venues we have cut bananas, oranges,  power bars (bars are donated), and  pretzels. Both tournaments have food vendors with lunch for sale.

Did you charge a registration fee? How much?
Grand Canyon State Games charges $50 registration fee plus $10 per event. Pacific Northwest Regional charges $50 registration fee plus $5 per event.

Anything special or unique about your tournament?
Grand Canyon State Games is one of the largest tournaments in the country and draws the best of the best!

Pacific Northwest Regional is located within a 159 acre sports park. There are 3 mountain ranges in full view when you are on the courts.  The town of Bend is a popular destination spot and is known for its river running through town, numerous lakes, top rated golf courses and a plethora of breweries.

Anne4

What is your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?

  1. Get your volunteers early. They are the ones who make a tournament a success!
  2. During the tournament walk around, talk to the players and make them feel welcome.
  3. Make sure your event is tidy, picking up trash as needed. Check bathrooms and thank your volunteers throughout the day.
  4. Have training for your referees and line judges.
  5. When you have hiccups, don’t panic – relax and smile, because most times no one knows there’s a problem, only you.

The First Bangkok Open Pickleball Tournament

“This tournament will go down in pickleball history!” Manisha exclaimed, one of over seventy players taking part in the first Bangkok Open.

As new competitions spring up all around the world, we have Mr. Sunil Valavalkar of AIPA (All India Pickleball Association) to thank for giving us a dink by dink breakdown of some fresh action in Thailand and how this event came to be.

Team India - Bangkok Open 2017

The Bangkok Open Pickleball Tournament took place at the Santisuk English School on February 19th this year and involved an international cast including players from Thailand, India, the US, Australia, Vietnam and several other Asian countries.

Although it wasn’t an IFP-sanctioned tournament, the event reflected a high standard of organization and competition.

It all started in December 2016 when Steve Cable sent an email to Sunil Valavalkar inviting Indian players to join the tournament.

The two didn’t expect a huge response, but a week before the sign-up deadline, Sunil had received over 30 requests from players all across India. The picklers responded out of pure passion, willing to cover all travel costs on their own.

The rush of feedback was a double-edged sword for Steve. He’d only accounted for an additional 10 players at the tournament, but with a bit of finagling, he managed to accept 22 participants from India. In the end, there were 5 players from state of Maharashtra, 9 from Rajasthan, 4 from Bihar, 2 from Jharkhand and 3 from Uttarakhand.

Karan-Kavita - Bangkok Open 2017

Once the player selection was finalized, Rahul Wani took over the task of giving Team India a professional look.

He created playing kits for the whole team consisting of blazers, trousers and shirts displaying AIPA’s logo and the Indian national flag. Team India was ready to represent!

Even though high-level Indian picklers like Manish Rao, Atul Edward, Shanai Mehta and Anish Mehta have competed in international tournaments before, none have ever done so on behalf of their country.

As such, it was a special treat to see a pickleball team in their national colors for the first time.

At 8 am sharp, the tournament began after a brief introduction by Steve. It consisted of three events: men’s doubles, mixed doubles and women’s doubles.

The initial rounds were played in a round-robin style, where 4 groups had to play 3 matches. The top 2 teams from each group qualified for the knock-out rounds.

Santisuk English School - Bangkok Open 2017

Every match was played with a competitive yet sporting spirit. Three courts were made across the parking area of the school, but the organizers had to stay on their toes to maintain the time schedule. There were a large number of matches, with many lasting over 30 minutes.

The following pairs from India reached the qualifying rounds in men’s doubles: Manish and Sachin, Dr. Bharat and Ashwani, Anand and Siddarth, and Gajendra and Gourav.

The 3 medal positions would all be won by Indian players, but it was anyone’s guess as to which pair would come out on top.

Everyone thought Manish and Sachin would be the winners, since Manish is a proven international player and has great chemistry with his partner. Yet there’s a reason why people say pickleball is a great leveler.

While playing the semi-finals against Anand and Siddarth, Sachin started cramping. He tried to continue through the pain, but ended up collapsing on the court due to a pulled muscle.

Fifteen minutes were allowed for injury time, but Sachin couldn’t recover that quickly, so both Sachin and Manish decided to forfeit.

Anand-Siddarth - Bangkok Open 2017

The incident proved very lucky for Anand/Siddharth, who went on to overcome Dr. Bharat/Ashwani to become the men’s doubles gold medalists.

This was a fairy tale ending for the pair, who had lost the first set 11;0 due to nerves, then regained their composure to beat the favored pair of Dr. Bharat/Ashwani 11;0, 9:11, 4;11.

The mixed doubles finals came down to Steve Cable/Fang vs Niraj/Megha. The Thai pair was very aggressive and won the first set 11:4 , then Niraj/Megha pulled up their socks and won the second set against all odds. The final set was an epic one, with Megha in particular pushing herself to the limit, but it wasn’t enough to save the team. Steve and Fang kept their nerves to win the third set, and with that, mixed doubles gold.

The final scores were 11:4 , 5 :11 and 11:5.

Sunil and Manisha with Nopaluck Cable - Bangkok Open 2017

The women’s doubles had a different format: Instead of fixed partners, the players had a chance to partner with and against every other player over several matches. It was a unique experience, with the results declared on an individual basis.

Thai pickler Fang was declared the winner based on overall points, with Rekha from India nabbing 2nd.

Each participating player received a certificate and the winners were given gold/silver/bronze medals with t-shirts as mementos.

Thanks to the Bangkok Open, many players from India and Thailand developed a mutual respect for one another. During the closing ceremony, Sunil expressed his desire to set up an Asian Federation of Pickleball—a wish that was applauded by all players present.

Indian Team - Bangkok Open 2017

Some teams won and others lost… but the big winner was pickleball! “Victory is in the quality of the competition and not the final score.“

We wish the best to all the competitors, and for an eventual repeat of the Bangkok Open!

Sunil and Nopaluck - Bangkok Open 2017

Sunil and Nopaluck

Our Courts Are Open for Business: Visit Pickleball Station in Kent, WA!

If you’re in the King County area, then we have some great news for you!

We’ve just established Washington’s first dedicated indoor pickleball facility. Beginning May 1st, Pickleball Station will officially open to the public. Pickleball Station was founded by the same people who own and operate PickleballCentral. We’re considering it a “sister company” located in the same facility, but with a distinct and separate focus: Becoming your favorite place to play pickleball in the Seattle area.

With the amount of fellow picklers growing by the day, we’ve made it easier to get your pickleball fix!

Pickleball Station Logo

Areas of Focus

1. We will have 4 indoor courts available to the public. These courts will be available 7 days a week, from 7am – 10pm. These brand new courts feel like playing on an outdoor surface, but without the rain, snow, fog, and dirt!

2. Pickleball Station contains our Pro Shop. We have over 2,000 different products available for purchase including over 100 different models of paddles, balls, training aids, accessories and the industry’s best selection of pickleball apparel. The Pro Shop is staffed by real pickleball players who have expertise to help you find exactly what you need. It’s just like our online store, but in a physical brick & mortar location. Eventually, we’ll have the Pickleball Museum in our lobby.

3. The final area of focus are our Teaching, Training and Tournaments programs. We are so excited to have hired one of the region’s very best players as our new Pro Shop Manager. Peter Hudachko is a 5.0 player who has won multiple medals at prestigious tournaments. In addition to managing our court facilities and Pro Shop, he’ll develop our Teaching, Training and Tournaments Programs which will meet the needs of players of all skill levels.

Pickleball Station Courts

Pickleball Station Location

Come visit our new location and try out the fantastic courts for yourselves!

Our new address and phone number are:

Pickleball Station
22330 68th Ave South
Kent, Washington, 98032

(253)-243-9858

Pickleball Station Activities

Again, the hours of operation are 7am – 10pm, seven days a week. You can get court time in one of three ways and do any of the following through the Pickleball Station website:

1. Reserve a Court: During May you can reserve a court for $15.00 per hour. This is an introductory rate, so you should come check out our facility and see what we offer. We provide courts with balls included – and you can choose from Dura or Pure 2 balls.

2. Come for Drop-In Play: During the month of May, we will be offering  drop-in play from 9:00 AM – Noon, and again from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM. The courts will be open first come, first served.  We will be limited the number of drop ins each day to make sure everyone gets court time! The introductory rate will be $5.00 per person for 3 hours.

3. Book a Lesson: If you want to work on improving your game and work one-on-one or in a small group (of up to four), you can book a lesson with Peter or one of his staff. One of our private pickleball lessons will allow you to learn the fundamentals and find your comfort zone. Or, if you’re already an accomplished player we guarantee we can help refine your game.  The lessons and instructional program will launch formally in late May or early June.  Introductory rates for lessons (including court time) are $50 per hour.

Pickleball Pro Shop

In the coming weeks, we will be announcing a series of events including local Pickleball Leagues and Pickleball Clinics! Stay tuned for more details.

We are so excited for this new facility and we can’t wait for you to join us. See you on the courts!