Meet The Pros: Bonnie Williams

Meet The Pros: Bonnie Williams


Some folks play for the love of the game.  Bonnie is one such pickleball pro.  She came to pickleball while recovering from an injury.  Pickleball is a great rehabilitation program, isn’t it Bonnie?  Enjoy!

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

2016 Tournament of Champions, Women’s Senior Open, Singles – Gold
2016 Tournament of Champions, Women’s Senior Open Doubles Bronze
2016 Pickleball Canada Nationals, Open Mixed with Dalton Vavra- Bronze
2016 USAPA Pacific NW Regional- Women’s  Singles Skill 5.0 – Silver
2016 USAPA Pacific NW Regional-Women’s Open Doubles – Bronze

2015 USAPA Nationals, Women’s Senior Open, Singles – Gold
2015 USAPA Nationals, Women’s Singles, 50-54 – Gold
2015 USAPA Nationals, Women’s Doubles 50+ with Laura Schwarz – Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

I prefer the feel, consistency and control of my Engage paddles. I use 2 different paddles. I like the Engage “Encore” for doubles and the slightly heavier Engage “Encore Pro” for singles.

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

I was introduced to pickleball by a friend from work, Oscar Garcia. After learning I used to play tennis and was rehabbing from an ACL injury, Oscar is responsible for getting me out on a pickleball court. Best rehab ever!

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I’ll play anywhere – with any ball, indoors or out. If I had to choose- it would be outdoors:-)

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I enjoy both singles and doubles. Doubles offers me the challenge of working with different partners- both men and women.  Singles is serenity- only

What’s your favorite to play? Why?

I am a tennis player from the South. I feel most at home playing in a “club-like” atmosphere where there are outdoor courts, warm temperatures and above average humidity. Sunshine and heat are my friends!

 Friday pickleball at Sheila's. — Steve Paranto with Sheila Schoonover, Bonnie Williams, Randy Bither and Sarah Linh Ansboury.

Friday pickleball at Sheila’s. — Steve Paranto with Sheila Schoonover, Bonnie Williams, Randy Bither and Sarah Linh Ansboury.

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

My secret sauce is to have fun. When I am enjoying myself,  I play my best. I can make almost any challenge a pretty fun game🙂

What’s your day job?

I am lucky! I get to do exactly what I want to do. My most important job is taking care of my two, wonderful kiddos, David and Anna. I also have a part-time job as a ratings clerk working for USAPA. 

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

Only with the help of Mike Hascall do I get to play almost every day. A minimum of 5 days a week, usually 3-5 hours each day. Unless, of course, Enrique is involved -then I get to play all day:-)

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

A prayer of gratitude.

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

My pickleball goal is the same as my other life goals- which is to be and do the BEST I possibly can

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

Yes, I would like to share that I am most impressed with our pickleball community. It’s a community that wants to educate and share. A community that accepts and embraces individual talents and perspectives. What a terrific group of people.

Our Top Men’s Open Doubles Picks for Nationals in Casa Grande

Whether in Casa Grande or watching a live stream, here are eight pairs to keep an eye on among the 39 teams competing on November 11th this year.

If the Tournament of Champions played last month with the Onix Pure II ball is any indicator, Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates will be the top seed and favorite to win the USAPA VIII Nationals. Their patient, defensive strategy in the gold medal match against the Dawson brothers was nearly flawless.

Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates

Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates

Both Kyle and Wes were in the gold medal match at the US Open back in April, but on opposite sides of the net. Don’t expect fireworks from these two until provoked. Are they playing pickleball or performing some sort of synchronized dance? They will mesmerize and outlast any opponent. But watch closely—with two lightning quick forehands in the middle and a seemingly impenetrable defense, when the heat comes, sparks will fly.

And no team brings more heat than Marcin Rozpedski and Morgan Evans. With Morgan artistically striking Dura Fast 40 Balls from the baseline with his sword-like paddle and Marcin unceremoniously clubbing volleys from the eye formation, points rack up quickly. No dancing here, just raw athleticism. With sufficient consistency and just the right amount of patience, this team at their peak is unbeatable. Will they play an entire match without dropping points for receiving or serving in the wrong position?

Daniel Moore trophy

Daniel Moore (Credit: Daniel’s Blog)

Daniel Moore won Nationals in 2015 with Matthew Blom and took 2nd at the US Open with Wes Gabrielsen. He and Matt Staub swept the Tournament of Champions in 2015. If these two get into their rhythm early and maintain their patient, chess-like strategy all day long, enjoy watching them progress through the bracket. In their zone, these two never miss. Keep smiling, boys.

These are my top three picks. Other exciting teams to watch include Dave Weinbach and Enrique Ruiz; they each have tons of gold medals and perform well with the Dura Fast 40 Ball. Oliver Strecker and Matt Wright are relative newcomers but bring extraordinary talent as well. Can Oliver hit three soft kitchen shots in a row without striking? If he is on, watch out!

Brian Ashworth with Titan

Brian Ashworth (Credit: Dink Sports)

Also watch Brian Ashworth and Glenn Griffin. They’re two of the most humble players in pickleball, but oh can they move. Finally, check out the pairs of Chris Miller/Dalton Vavra or Kurtis Campbell/Matt Goebel if you would like to see great action combined with attitude.

These players are sure to keep things exciting. But with 39 teams and 78 players, anticipate surprises. Hey, this is PICKLEBALL!

Stay tuned for my picks in the other categories.

– Glen Peterson

Meet The Pros – Tyler Sheffield

Meet The Pros: Tyler Sheffield


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

2015 Senior Men’s Doubles Silver Tournament of Champions 2015
2015 Senior Men’s Doubles Nationals Silver
2014 USAPA Nationals, Senior Men’s Doubles – Gold
2014 Tournament of Champions, Senior Men’s Doubles – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

Onix Evoke

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

We were building a basketball court in the back yard and looked on line to see if there wasn’t a court game we could play.  I saw pickleball and made the basketball court a little bigger and we started playing as a family with a starter set of net and four paddles and some orange balls.  This sport has brought our family closer and created many opportunities for travel and togetherness.  Although, all buy my oldest son think I am a little too involved with a sport that uses a whiffle ball and involves dinking.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?


Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I wear a brace on my knee now, so I prefer doubles.  

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Our neighborhood owns a park and we put in a perfect dimensioned court.  Lots of space and fenced in.  The commute is great.  Love it when great players and friends choose to join me on this court.  

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

I don’t think there are any secrets.  Too many good players.  I like to mix it up going soft and hard.

What’s your day job?

I am  retired as chief financial officer.

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

I probably play on average six hours a week – that’s usually two days a week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

No rituals.

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

As I approach 60 years old I’d like to remain competitive in the senior brackets.


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

Best in the world?  Yikes.  Not sure that is the case.

Mickey Mouse Loves Pickleball

It’s no surprise that Disney is often associated with gifts. The gift of childhood, the gift of magical animation, the gift of… pickleball? While you might not think Mickey and friends have anything to do with the game, in truth, they’ve funded a new pickleball court at Tweila Reid Park in Anaheim, home of Disneyland!

Image courtesy of Pickleballmax, sharing pickleball with Disney power couple

Image courtesy of Pickleballmax, sharing pickleball with Disney power couple

According to the OC Register, the court was just recently completed with the good news announced on Oct 1st. During the talk, it was also revealed that five local parks would be getting new playgrounds as well. Never let it be said that The Mouse leaves out his biggest little fans.

The pickleball court was created thanks to a $200,000 donation that also supplied residents with a new soccer field and upgraded softball field.

Councilman Jordan Brandman added, “This pickleball court and field renovations came about as a result of input from the residents. They said they wanted more sports intensive activities at the park.”

You heard it here first: If you want more pickleball, all you have to do is ask. We recommend asking city officials or wealthy mice over Santa, since he tends not to have as much sway these days. (Santa, if you want to prove us wrong, our paddles are ready!)

We think Buzz's jetpacks would give him a slight advantage during a game... (Credit: Pickleballmax)

We think Buzz’s jet pack would give him a slight advantage during games… (Credit: Pickleballmax)

Remember that Disneyland’s big cousin, Disney World, is located in FL aka Pickleball Paradise. Why haven’t we seen more toon-supported pickleball action there? It was noted that many pickleball courts could fit in Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which was re-branded in 2010.

Is there any progress being made down there, Floridians? If not, get on it!

Meet The Pros: Bill Wilson


Bill Wilson at the US Open in Naples, Florida

Many of the nations best players came to be recognized for their ability at the US OPEN in Naples this year.  Bill is an East coast star pickleball player and all-around athlete who was introduced to pickleball in his later years. We’re all impressed with his ability and dedication to physical fitness. Enjoy!

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

2016 New Hampshire State Senior Games Men’s Doubles with Paul Hawkes and Men’s Singles- Gold
2016 Maine State Senior Games Men’s Doubles with Paul Hawkes and Men’s Singles- Gold
2016 Massachusetts State Senior Games Men’s Doubles with Paul Hawkes and Men’s Singles- Gold
2016 US Open Men’s Singles 75-79 – Gold

2015 New Hampshire State Master Games Singles 70-74 – Gold
2015 Massachusetts State Senior Games Singles 70-74 – Gold
2015 Vermont State Senior Games Singles 70-74 – Gold
2015 Atlantic Regional Men’s Doubles 70-74 – Gold
2014 New England Singles Championship, Senior Division – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

I use the Paddletek Phoenix Pro because it gives me more power when playing singles.

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

I was a recreational tennis player, but as I grew older I couldn’t find people my age to play singles. About seven years ago I was sitting on the beach in Anna Maria Island, Florida with my wife. A man approached me who I didn’t know. He commented that I was in great shape and asked if I played tennis. I told him I did. Then he asked if I had ever heard of pickleball. I replied that I didn’t know what he was talking about! He explained that they had  a small group playing two nights per week at the community center and invited us to come. We watched and were hooked from the first time we started playing.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I prefer outdoors. There’s no wait time and I can work on my tan.

bill-wilson-us-openDo you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer singles because I am addicted to working out. Singles is a much better workout.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is wherever I can find players who are better than I am.  I believe that’s the best way to prepare for tournaments.  I play ten to fourteen tournaments per year.

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

My “secret sauce” is being in better physical condition than my opponent.  My tip for players is to practice and do drills.  If you don’t practice and do drills, you will never get better. Pickleball is so much fun that you will rarely find someone who wants to practice; but you should do drills for a half hour before or after you play.

What’s your day job?

I am a thirty-year weightlifter. I work out four hours per day, five days a week. I do an hour lifting weights, an hour power walk, and two hours of pickleball. If you wish to see my weightlifting workout, go to YouTube and type “Old School Weightlifting” in the search bar. (My wife calls it “Old Fool Weightlifting.”)

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

In a perfect week, it would be two hours per week for six days of the week. Pickleball is my priority after family and weightlifting.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I spend at least two weeks before a big tournament playing singles against 30 and 40 year-old players. That really prepares me for playing men my own age.

Bill Wilson at the New Hampshire State Games

Bill Wilson at the New Hampshire State Games

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

In the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, I didn’t finish in the top three in men’s singles. At the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama, I would like to finish in the top three.

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

I’m smart enough to know that I am not one of the best pickleball players in the world. I’ve seen and played with many of them. However, I believe I am one of the top players in my age group 75-79.

You are certainly one of the best all-around athletes on the planet, Bill.  Thanks for sharing some of your pickleball story!

Does Pickleball Have a Shot at Olympic Gold?

With the 2016 Olympics in Rio now firmly in the rear-view mirror, we thought we’d take a look ahead at what it might take to get pickleball into the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. As we said in 
this article about it back in 2014, getting a sport into the Olympics is a long and winding road. But four things make us hopeful that pickleball has a better shot (heh heh) than most sports at getting a coveted spot under the Olympic rings.  

1. Viewership for the Rio Olympics was abysmal. Down by 17% overall and 25% among millennials from the London games, future games need ratings H-E-L-P. Being the fastest growing sport in the United States, with almost 3 million players nationwide and players on 6 out of 7 continents, pickleball would be a natural fit for injecting fresh blood and interest into the games.

More entertaining than many current Olympic sports (dressage, we’re looking at you), there’s no way pickleball wouldn’t bring a massive ratings boost. Best of all? That boost would be multi-generational, as the sport is played by players 7 to 100.  

In addition, the sport’s small court size coupled with the finesse and skill of top pros would make for a slowmo replay heaven that would fit perfectly with the TV-dependent nature of the games. Plus, we’re pretty sure viewers would be captivated by the image of an octogenarian holding their own against a 30-something. Ratings would soar!  

Olympic medals

Credit: yosoynuts

2. Six new sports – baseball, softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing – have recently been added to the 2020 lineup of Olympic sports. As one of these is bound to fail (our money’s on sports climbing or softball), room may open up for a sport that never fails (pickleball) in 2024!

3. With almost 3 million players on six continents and more joining every day, the sport is getting closer to meeting the basic minimum requirements it needs to be considered to be an Olympic sport. If it keeps growing the way it’s growing, every grandparent on the planet could unwittingly be training the first pickleball Olympian. What a thought! Want to make sure you’re training a pro? Check out the 200P Mini Paddle for little hands.

4. This past year we saw the success of the first US Open Pickleball Championship. Thousands flocked to the tournament and tens of thousands more talked about it all across the internet. Who can look at that event – the hype, the interest, the level of play – and not see the future of the sport?  

For all these reasons we believe pickleball players will make it to the Olympic podium. It’s just a matter of when.

Ontario Pickleball Club Creates Free, Year-Long Program for Kids

Pickleball has a reputation as an old timers’ sport, and that’s fine by us—more time on the courts! But sometimes you just have to wonder: Won’t someone think of the children?

Today an Ontario club is sharing how they not only started an adult pickleball league, but created an entirely new pickleball program for kids.

This past August, Dan Pronovost of the K-W Badminton Club was awarded a $13,331 provincial grant to start a free pickleball program for the community’s youth. It’s an exciting development that will help show how the game’s versatile appeal while giving kids a positive outlet for their energy.

KWBC Building

Setting the Scene

“I’ve been a member of the K-W Badminton Club (KWBC) for many years,” Dan explains. “About 5 years ago, it became clear we’d need to purchase our building to continue growing our club and add additional sports. I joined the board to help manage this process and oversee renovating our 45,000 sq. ft. building.

“I’m happy to say since the purchase of our building in 2013, we’ve renovated about 25,000 sq. ft. of space for sport use. About 75% of the building is in use by our sports tenants and users. This includes axe throwing, roller derby, bike polo, professional wrestling and pickleball, along with our badminton club of course.”

Dan says that his group first reached out to KWPA, the Kitchener Waterloo Pickleball Association, in 2014 to bring the sport onto their six court badminton facility. Thanks to this cooperation, they now have daily pickleball programs for all skill levels.

“Hundreds of players visit the facility for pickleball every week, from beginners to advanced players who visit despite being hours away. Pickleball has been an excellent way to add additional weekday daytime programming in a facility that would otherwise be empty.”

KW Pickleball Interior

Wish Granted

Clearly, the club’s leadership went a long way toward getting pickleball established in the first place. But considering grants are something many pickleball groups would love to obtain, how did Dan make his case? Turns out it was a combination of past experience and finding an underserved demographic.

Dan Pronovost

Dan Pronovost

“We became aware of the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund (OSRCF) through our successful Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grants in past years. In talks with KWPA, we decided that pickleball for youth is a very underdeveloped demographic, since the sport is primarily aimed at seniors.

“But pickleball is of course equally exciting and fun for kids! The partnership opportunity with KWPA made perfect sense: KWBC is a mature and fiscally strong non-profit organization with grant experience and a world class sporting venue. KWPA has excellent talent for developing and leading a professionally-coached youth pickleball lessons program.”

The money for the grant has been allocated for, in order of usage:

– Coaching/instructor costs for the lessons (although 50% of the coaching is volunteer/non-paid)

– Additional administrative staffing and facility upkeep

– 20 new pickleball paddles and sufficient balls for one year

– Development of the coaching program/youth lessons sets

– Coaches certification and training

There are an incredible 192 kids that will get to enjoy this new program, where before there were no local opportunities for kids to play pickleball. The KWBC has also run paid youth badminton lessons for over 10 years which have been successful, so they feel confident there will be similar interest in pickleball.

KW Pickleball Games

Dan says the OSRCF grant will let them to make the pickleball lessons available for free to all participants for the 2016/17 school year, even with paddles and balls being included. With professional coaching, a great venue and free lessons, it’s not hard to see why spots fill up fast.

Their aim is to use the OSRCF grant to “seed”‘ the pickleball youth program in 2016/17, then continue with a nominally paid program beyond that to break even.

It’s a smart and beneficial model for all parties involved. While securing the grant was relatively straightforward, there are other concerns Dan has about supporting a thriving sports community.

Effort and Expansion

“The challenge is maintaining an 80+ year old building for sport use. Since the purchase of our building in 2013, we’ve invested over $500,000 in renovations and thousands of volunteer hours. While we are very happy to have received generous grants from sources like OTF and OSRCF, we can always use more help to further improve the quality of our venue.

“We are hoping to further renovate our 10,000 sq. ft. concrete rink pad space, which is used for pickleball and roller derby, by replacing part of the roof, adding heating for better winter usage, insulation, and high-quality floor painting and lines. Adding air conditioning for summer-time use is one of our more frequent member and user requests!

KWPA Players

“The demand for sport space in the core of Kitchener is growing, but there are no municipal plans to add venues. Every time we open an area of our building for tenants and renters, the space is taken almost immediately, especially for lesser-known sports struggling to compete for space.”

Dan says that he believes forward thinking, financially secure non-profit organizations such KWBC are key to helping address shortages of sport space for everyone in the community.

He also welcomes and encourages all pickleball players to visit their club, so if you’re ever in the area, feel free to stop by! KWBC hosts a popular regional pickleball tournament in spring, which is a draw for players from abroad to come out and compete.

“Many other sporting organizations are starting to see the value of adding pickleball to their venues. Indoor and outdoor tennis clubs are a good candidate for adding pickleball to help support their facilities and courts. Any club with a suitably-sized gym should be thinking about adding it to fill unused court times.”

We agree! To our readers looking to expand pickleball offerings in their area, we hope you’ll keep this advice in mind and push local community centers and other facilities to bring our favorite sport to the masses.

Thanks to Dan for his time and hard work ensuring pickleball is available to players of all ages!