Upcoming 2019 Pickleball Retreats in the Tropics

As the weather cools down in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve been looking out for exciting new pickleball experiences that offer a bit more warmth on the courts. Most of us prefer playing outdoors, and unless you’re used to weathering icy blasts, it’s a lot more fun to play in the sunshine!

Pickleball Vacation Adventures has a beautiful trip to the Mayan Riviera scheduled for 7 nights, running from Jan 6 – 13th in 2019. There will be daily open play at the stunning Grand Palladium Colonial Resort including clinics led by the PVA team of pros including Ben Johns and Christine McGrath.

Pickleball Vacation Adventures

Pickleball Vacation Adventures – Mayan Riviera

Meals, lodging, hotel transport and instruction are all included in the price tag. Pickleball Vacation Adventures will also be heading to Israel and Ecuador in June and August respectively, so if you don’t have enough time to plan for Mexico, take a look at their other upcoming trips.

The Pura Vida House is another excellent tropical escape that should be on your pickleball to-do list. Located in Costa Rica, this 5-star resort is home to three white sand beaches, two spas, a host of fantastic restaurants and private courts at the nearby Hacienda Pinilla.

Brian in Costa Rica

Brian in Costa Rica (Credit: Pura Vida House)

Pura Vida House also offers 7-night trips throughout the year and hosts a number of traveling pros for top tier instruction. Spots for these experiences sell out fast, but act soon and you might be able to snag time with athletes like Tyson McGuffin, Aspen Kern and Laura Fenton Kovanda.

PickleballCentral’s beloved, bearded pro Brian Ashworth helped host travelers in Costa Rica earlier last year and said the experience was one he’ll always remember. Available trips start in April 2019 and are currently scheduled through May.

Lastly, we have a reminder that PickleballTrips, run by the highly talented and kind Daniel Moore, has several tours scheduled around the world next year in stunning international destinations. The first to come up will be in San Carlos, Mexico (February) and Thailand (Feb/March).

We’ve spoken with Daniel about his work as a instructor and guide before, so be sure to take a look at our PickleballTrips interview to find out more about the exciting and personal experiences he seeks to create.

Are you planning any warm weather retreats this winter, or are you taking your game indoors so your skills don’t ice over this season?

When Should You Poach?

Poaching, which involves one player moving to take a shot that was hit to their partner, is a fairly common technique in pickleball, especially at higher levels of play.

Some picklers rightly assume that poaching can be frustrating to your partner if done indiscriminately. After all, those balls were intended for them and there should be a certain level of trust between both players. However, in high stakes scenarios like tournaments where one player is often heavily targeted (either due to a lower skill level and/or to try and fatigue half of the competition), poaching can be a necessity to avoid burnout.

So when should you make a move to cover your partner? We discuss the best circumstances below:

1) If your partner is out of position.

The best and clearest instance of when you should poach is when your partner is having to really exert themselves to cover their side of the court. Maybe your opponents hit a tricky shot right at your partner’s feet and there’s no way they could recover fast enough to chase after it. The ball was lobbed and they’re facing the wrong way. They’re struggling to follow the ball’s spin. In any of these situations and similar scenarios, if you see the opportunity it’s safe to say you should take it to avoid losing the point.

Shot down the middle

If he’s a rightie, the player in white should normally take this shot. (Credit: Michael and Sherry Martin)

2) If the ball is coming toward your forehand.

It’s easier for most players to hit with their forehand. When you encounter those annoying shots down the middle of the court, or even if the ball is heading slightly to your partner’s side, if your dominant hand is in position then you’ll be able to reach it more easily and return it with more “zing.” The same goes for your partner as well. When you switch sides on the court, try to allow whoever has the “power position” to take advantage of their role, unless either of you has a killer backhand.

3) If your opponents are being consistent.

Has the other team been reliably targeting your partner? It’s tougher to tell what your competition’s plans are at the start of the match, but if it’s obvious they’re trying to wear your partner down, it’s likely time to start drawing some of the heat away from them. Start slipping over to their side and changing up the pace of play in order to throw the other team off their game.

As always, be respectful of your partner and be sure to discuss strategies with them and if they mind you poaching before starting a game. You may find that when you’re the partner under fire, poaching can be a saving grace!

What experiences have you had poaching or being poached, and is it a technique you like to employ during games?

Meet The Pros – Ted Meyer

Meet The Pros – Ted Meyer

Ted Myer

Ted Meyer and Jenny Butler

Ted Meyer is very philosophical about the game of pickleball. He is in it to win it! Enjoy!

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

  2018 U.S. Open, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Jim Hackenberg, Gold
  2017 USAPA Nationals, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino, Gold
                   Men’s 65+ Singles, Silver
*2017 National Senior Games, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Jim Hackenberg, Gold
                   Mixed 65+ Doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Bronze
*2017 U. S. Open, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Ernie Tomlinson, Gold
                   Mixed 65+ Doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Bronze
*2016 USAPA Nationals, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino, Gold
                   Men’s 65+ Singles, Silver
*2016 Huntsman World Games, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino Gold
,                  Mixed 65+ doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Silver
                   Men’s 65+ singles silver medalist
*2016 U.S. Open, Men’s 65+ doubles, bronze
                   Mixed 60+ doubles, bronze
*Super senior slam –  men’s 65+ doubles (all 4 majors in 8 month period)

Ted Myer Jenny Butler Gold

2018 USAPA Great Lakes Regionals: Debbie Mascarin-Dan McLaughlin Silver; Ted Meyer-Jenny Butler, Gold; Yvonne Hackenberg,-Jim Hackenberg Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

Tempest paddle discontinued

Tempest Paddle

I play with the Paddletek Tempest Paddle because it gives me the most feel on my dink shots and third shot drops.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I started playing pickleball in 2012 at The Villages, FL. But the first year I was there (like many others), I was essentially just playing tennis on a pickleball court. So, I always tell people I’ve only been playing for 5 years the right way.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer to play outdoors. Like many of us at my age, we can see the ball much better outside.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer to play doubles. I only play singles at the national tournaments. For me, singles is fun for the first few matches, then after that it becomes a lot of work.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce is not really a secret, but you would be surprised to know how many don’t utilize it. My philosophy is not to feed to your opponent’s forehand. Hit 90% of the shots to their backhand. Make them beat you with their backhand. Also, when dinking, make sure your shot bounces in the kitchen so that your opponent cannot attack it.

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

Since I’m retired, I play 4 times a week, 3 to 4 hours at a time. Playing that much does require me to schedule an hour nap in my daily routine, however. (Lol.)

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t have any lucky rituals before a big tournament. I got severe leg cramps in my last match on the first day of the first U. S. Open. Since then I do make sure I stay hydrated with plenty of water and Gatorade.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

My goal is to stay healthy enough to play competitively for another 5 years.


Are Pickleball Beginners “Owed” Time with Stronger Players?

The debate is one that’s been raging in the sport for years: Should high level picklers “play down” with other members of their club?

The simplest answer is, “If they want to,” but with a bit of digging many different opinions come to light. Some feel that “open” play is just that, and believe it should be an opportunity to play the game and have fun heedless of skill divides. With this mindset, open play is an opportunity for picklers to mix things up rather than always sticking to their own.

Some clubs or communities have open play scheduled for a set period of time followed by rank-specific games at others. This allows high level players to choose whether they want to mingle among the intermediate crowd or stay with their peers, largely eliminating the feeling that they’re being “forced” to play with those outside their bracket. Unfortunately there aren’t always enough players or court availability to make this happen, which can lead to both parties feeling wronged.

Pickleball Station Class

An easy way to learn from the pros without taking time away from their open play is to invest in a class, like ours at Pickleball Station!

The best way to handle this situation uses qualities popular across the sport: respect and communication. It helps newer players feel included when pros generously take the time to play down, but they also shouldn’t be expected to constantly lower the playing field for the sake of others.

If a 4.5/5.0 says, “No, not right now,” because they have a competition coming up, haven’t had much opportunity to play with their peers or simply don’t feel like it that day, they shouldn’t be penalized. Newer players are not entitled to play with higher skill opponents unless they’re taking part in a class, and should be able to accept “no” gracefully.

In addition to this, it’s not even beneficial for average players to hit above their weight all the time. Does the pickler in question actually have the ability to “read” the game and determine areas they can improve, watch their opponent’s techniques and apply them, and focus on skill acquisition? Or are they just going to end up frustrated when they get beat, unable to understand where their own weaknesses lie?

Unless a player has the ability and awareness to pick these things out, playing above one’s skill just becomes an exercise in frustration. Playing someone of the same rank would’ve provided more fun, opportunity for improvement and reasonable challenge.

Green Valley Pickleball

A game at the Green Valley Pickleball courts

The Green Valley Pickleball Club in Arizona has a unique and organized way of addressing this topic by using monitors that show players if they’re in the wrong group. Each player is moved up or down depending on their performance. When someone wants to jump up a level, they must set up a ratings session and play with three picklers in their goal bracket, earning a total score of at least 21 points to progress.

This means that picklers can compete with opponents of a +- 0.5 skill level. It’s a small enough gap to avoid frustrating high level players while being reasonable enough to give the lower level player a proper challenge (without getting trounced).

How does your club handle skill imbalances? Do you prefer skill-specific brackets or enjoy the fluidity and community that open play provides? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Meet The Pros: Ty Petty

Meet The Pros: Ty Petty

Ty Petty, 2018 US OPEN

Ty Petty, 2018 US OPEN

Ty Petty loves this game and he is ready, willing and able to share his love of pickleball with anyone who steps on the court. Enjoy!

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

2018 Minto US Open, Mixed Doubles Over 40 with Lucy Kitcher – Gold
2018 Logan Stanley Memorial Classic, Nashville, TN, 5.0 Men’s Doubles with Jeff Carlson – Gold
2018 Logan Stanley Memorial Classic,Nashville, TN, 5.0 Mixed Doubles with Mary Helen Atkins – Gold
2018 North Carolina March Madness, Concord, NC, 5.0 Men’s Doubles with Jesse Simon – Gold
2017 Piggleball Tournament, Lexington, NC, Mens Open Doubles with Jeff Carlson – Gold
2017 USAPA Atlantic South Regional, Griffin, GA, 5.0 Men’s Doubles with Brad Tursky – Bronze
2017 Battle on Beech, Beech Mountain, NC, 5.0 Mixed Doubles with Stephanie Lane – Gold
2017 USAPA Great Lakes Regional, Kalamazoo, MI, Mixed Doubles 5.0, 35-49 with Kat Smalley – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I just switched from the Engage Blade to the new Engage Poach Extreme. I have played competitive table tennis my whole life so I am used to having a paddle that is only 6 inches wide and I love the long skinny paddles for their aerodynamic feel. The Poach Extreme still has a lot of power when I need it, but I really needed the excellent control it offers for third shot drops, volleys and dinks. It gives me a chance to compete at the highest level. I have been sponsored by Engage for over a year and am very thankful for their support.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

My wife Cindy actually discovered pickleball for our family, and we immediately became addicted. It combined the best elements of table tennis and badminton, which we’ve played for years in the backyard. This has been a great enhancement to our marriage and I am proud to say that my wife is my favorite pickleball partner, although we stick to recreational games. Unlike playing competitive table tennis, you can play pickleball with anyone and have a fun and competitive game, while getting good exercise.

What is your preference, playing indoors or outdoors?

My first introduction to outdoor play was a tournament in Las Vegas on the roof of a hotel and casino, with over 30 mile per hour winds. It was so windy the nets were blowing over and across the court until they hit a fence, even though they were weighted down at the base. Since then, I have slowly come to embrace playing outdoors and definitely prefer it over indoors. Although all of the organized play in our area is indoors, I try to get outside to play every chance I get.

2018 US Open, Lucy Kitcher/Ty Petty, Over 40 Mixed Doubles - Gold

2018 US Open, Lucy Kitcher-Ty Petty Over 40 Mixed Doubles, Gold, Takako Tourangeau – DJ Howard, Silver

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I preferred singles when I first started because it was easier to figure out strategies using skills from other racket sports, but I prefer doubles now since I have come to understand and embrace smart pickleball strategies.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite tournament is the Logan Stanley Memorial Pickleball Tournament in Nashville, TN. They play great music in the gym, provide an amazing assortment of snacks, and the tournament is run by one of the best referees in pickleball, Don Stanley. Two of the most beautiful places I have played are Beech Mountain, Nort Carolina and Hiawassee, Georgia.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Ty Petty selfie

Ty Petty selfie

If you want to improve, it is more important to be able to slow the ball down than to speed the ball up. I wish I had learned that a lot sooner so I hope it helps someone else as they climb up the pickleball ladder.

What is your day job?

I am an Agriculture and 4-H Extension Agent for the University of Tennessee Cooperative Extension Service.

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

I usually play 2-4 hours per week, but it’s tough because most of the organized play in our area is in the mornings. We finally have some outdoor pickleball courts with permanent lines on four tennis courts, so we have been able to play in the evening more often. Pickleball is my main source of exercise and the practice helps me stay sharp for tournaments, so I make it a priority to find a day or two to play most weeks.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

My most important ritual before any tournament is to make sure all of my tie-dye headbands are clean and ready to go.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

My goal is to win another Mixed Doubles Gold medal and also win a medal in Men’s Doubles next year at the US Open. I am also looking forward to teaching several clinics this fall around East Tennessee.

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

I have been blessed to have an opportunity to play this sport with some of the world’s best players and will continue to share my love for the sport with anyone who steps on the court.

Can Pickleball Reduce Crime?

We have talked about pickleball being taken to correctional facilities before and how it’s positively influenced the inmates there. Pickleball has little if any direct physical contact between players, making it an ideal spoke to promote competition without aggression. It’s simple to get started and generally lends itself to friendly banter between opponents.

An article from the Daily Herald has presented another interesting viewpoint on pickleball’s perks, saying that the game has even reduced crime in Orem, UT.

Sharon Park Courts

A beautiful view from the Sharon Park courts

Six courts were introduced to Sharon Park, and comparing crime statistics from June – July this year to 2017, “drug calls are down 40 percent, fireworks complaints 50 percent, juvenile problems 60 percent, public peace 60 percent, suspicious activities 20 percent, and theft is down 57 percent.”

Pickleball alone likely can’t be credited with having all the solutions, as city spokesman Steven Downs said that “activating” parks is a known deterrent to crime. The city has also improved walkways, added additional lighting and benches and updated restrooms. Yet pickleball has clearly played a large role in creating a family-friendly atmosphere and revitalizing the area.

Downs says that, “These pickleball courts have not only been a physical benefit to our citizens, it has also been a social benefit. Every day you can see families, friends, neighbors, and others interacting together. We are ecstatic that these courts have been received so well. We plan to do more in the future.”

So there you have it! Pickleball not only provides benefits to health and happiness, but city safety as well. With many parks across the country opening up more pickleball courts or renovating current locations, we hope to see many more improvements in the future.

Have you ever had personal experience with pickleball making a location safer or more welcoming to the community? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Meet The Pros – Kale Klein

Meet The Pros – Kale Klein

Kale Klein and Randy Coleman

Kale Klein and Randy Coleman

Kale is SERIOUS in his commitment to the game! Enjoy!

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

Riverton, Utah Bronze 4.5
Star Valley 5.0 Men’s Doubles with his Dad, Kyle Klein, Gold 4.5 mixed doubles
Logan Bridgerland Cash valley  5.0 Men’s Doubles with dad
Farmington Summer Classic 4.5

Kale Klein

Kale Klein in action

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Amped S2. It has the biggest sweet spot for me and has the best control and power of any paddle I have tried. I have a lot of respect for the Barnes family and how they have been so kind to me, offering their sponsorship through their company, Selkirk Sports.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I started 7 years ago, at age 6. We visited my grandparents in Sun City. Playing pickleball was okay when I played the first time. The second time, I really got into it. We went home and drew lines to start playing pickleball. I started competing in tournaments at age 8. I love a good rally. I’m strong in the net game. I like it when the points are longer with more rallies, and I enjoy all the nice people I meet.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?
Definitely outdoors!

2018 Star Valley - Nick Galanis/Matt Dimock - Silver; Kale Klein/Kyle Klein - Gold; Jevan Weeks/Jesse Roberts - Bronze

2018 Star Valley – Nick Galanis/Matt Dimock – Silver; Kale Klein/Kyle Klein – Gold; Jevan Weeks/Jesse Roberts – Bronze

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I haven’t medaled yet in singles, but I like both!

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is the Brigham City courts – it’s about 30 feet from my house.

Brigham City Sports Complex - Pickleball Courts

Brigham City Sports Complex – Pickleball Courts

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I like to look like a little kid when I come out on the court.

What is your day job?

 I am a student in 8th grade.

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

I try to play 4x weekly. I play pickleball in school. Not a lot of younger people to play with outdoors.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

My ritual is to make sure I match head to toe with Selkirk gear.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

I’m very competitive. I’m in it to win it: USAPA Nationals, Fall Brawl, etc. I have a goal to BEAT BRIAN ASHWORTH!

Brian Ashworth

Brian Ashworth

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

I am thankful for this sport. It has helped me to be a better player. I have learned how to talk and partner with older adults and how to be a good competitor.