Local Pickleball Guide – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque has some of the largest dedicated pickleball court facilities across the country, and best of all, they’re mostly free! This desert jewel hosted the National Senior Games at the Manzano Mesa courts in June 2019, and now you can enjoy playing in the same location at your leisure. The largest club in Albuquerque (ABQ Pickleball) has over 850 members, so friendly fun and competition are in abundant supply.

Abq Pickleball Club Courts

Albuquerque Pickleball Club (Credit)

Places to Play in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The city of Albuquerque has a map of numerous court locations on their website. A partial selection of the courts are listed here.

Manzano Mesa – Eighteen outdoor courts (six lighted). Free to use and open daily from 6am – 10pm. Scheduled events at Abqpickleball.com.
Villela Park – Six outdoor courts. Free drop in play, open 6am – 10pm.
Los Altos Park – Six lit tennis courts with pickleball lines (12 courts if all used for pickleball). Bring your own portable net. Free to use.
Cesar Chavez Community Center – Four indoor courts. Weekdays except Thurs open play 8:30 -11:30am, Thurs 5:30 – 7:30pm.
Thomas Bell Community Center – Three indoor courts. Pickleball open play on Thursdays from 9:30am – 12pm.

USAPA Ambassadors: Albuquerque

Larry Lite — larrybudlite@usapa.org, 505-331-2014
Joyce Paulsen — healthyjoyce@gmail.com
Gary Rutherford — ruthergary@aol.com, 505-292-5114 or 505-507-3663

Albuquerque Court Construction Companies

DML, Inc.
General Acrylics
Elite Sports Builders

Albuquerque, NM Pickleball Clubs

ABQ Pickleball

ABQ Pickleball

Ruidoso Pickleball
Ruidoso Pickleball Club (~2-1/2 hrs S of Albuquerque)

Angel Fire Pickleball

Angel Fire Pickleball Club (~3 hrs N of Albuquerque)

Pickleball Tournaments in Albuquerque, New Mexico

ABQ Labor Day Classic
New Mexico Games
Ruidoso Pickleball Championships (Ruidoso)
Beat the Heat Tournament (Angel Fire)

Albuquerque Pickleball Related News and Videos

Destination Pickleball Southwest
Pickleball Is Latest Racket in Town
A Match of Pickleball, Anyone?
Hunsberger Strikes Gold in Albuquerque
Ruidoso Pickleball Club Active Year-Round and Growing Fast

Electrum Brings Silicon Valley Standards to Pickleball with Innovative Features

If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s worth your time to explore the Electrum Pickleball revolution. This up-and-coming manufacturer has been making waves with their flagship paddle, the Electrum, thanks to a series of unexpected innovations and highly consistent play. Popular among both intermediate players and pros, many have sought to develop a paddle that satisfies a broad segment of the pickleball population, but Electrum just might have done it.

Electrum Logo

Run by serial entrepreneurs Moheeth Alvi and Mike Kazley out of the always state-of-the-art Silicon Valley, it may be this duo’s first foray into the pickleball industry, but their seasoned business backgrounds and love for the game have already made a mark. Having found its way into the hands of countless players at local courts and on a broader competitive stage, the Electrum is here to stay for good reason.

We had the opportunity to speak with Moheeth to learn about the numerous features that make the Electrum unique and what went into their design process. Find out how Electrum is setting themselves apart by reading on:

Why did you decide to enter the pickleball industry and what area of the market are you looking to address?

I discovered pickleball through Electrum’s co-founder, Mike. We started playing in Rochester, NY. We really enjoyed the game and went on a fascinating journey that led us to making a great product. Our main audience is any player looking to improve their game, whether they want to go from intermediate to pro or are already a high level player wanting to improve even further.

We tend to skew toward players who are around a 3.5/4.0 rating, but the Electrum Pro has seen success on a wide spectrum. Shellton JeanBaptiste is the highest rated pro player (5.0) on our team right now. He plays in the 25+ category. He’s really helped with distributing the Electrum Pro and has fully converted to using the paddle himself.

Another influential 5.0 player we have on board is Coach Phil Dunmayer. He’s been teaching for a long time, is a national champion himself, has authored books on pickleball and is overall a member of the game’s “old guard.” He’s done a lot to spread the sport and advocate for us.

Co-founder Moheeth Alvi with Terran Distefano at the West Coast Classic Tournament in Santa Monica

Co-founder Moheeth Alvi with Terran Distefano at the West Coast Classic Tournament in Santa Monica

How did you come up with the Electrum Pro’s design?

When making a paddle, our goal was to find and use the best materials in the market. Even when it came to the grip, end cap and edge guard—we deeply considered all of these aspects. Another big ingredient was using data to find out what worked not only on paper, but in players’ hands. We analyzed hundreds of players to find out what parts of the face they used the most.

Our design is totally proprietary, and we’re based out of San Francisco. We felt positive about bringing the modern, uncompromising quality of the Silicon Valley tech industry to pickleball which has resulted in our current engineering.

Studying competitors was our starting point, so we made sure we were using something no one else was. People have a tendency to think graphite and carbon fiber are the same, but there is a difference. We have a good amount of manufacturing connections overseas that provided a solid supply backbone for the company and went through an iterative process of creating paddles with different features.

We had an edgeless version at one point, another that was only 7.2 oz in weight. As we continued to get feedback from players we arrived at our final design. Most companies have multiple SKUs; we just have the one. The reason is that once you’ve collected enough data, you can make a paddle that fits 80—90% of players’ needs. There are niche paddles out there with a head-heavy feel and so on, but we wanted to make something that would benefit the largest segment of players possible.

This doesn’t mean we won’t continue creating new products, but we were committed to making something with a broad appeal. We were at the West Regional Tournament and sold 100 paddles there to many different people: 3.0s, 4.0s, pros. The Electrum Pro has a wide face and so you might think that would limit its appeal, but no one has thought it’s unwieldy.

Co-founder Mike Kazley

Co-founder Mike Kazley

Would you explain a bit more about how you analyzed those data points to create a well-balanced paddle?

Yes, we ended up finding that most players really enjoy a paddle that has an evenly distributed weight. Essentially, every part of the face should feel like you’re playing from the center so you don’t skew a certain direction or lose out on power due to a less than perfect shot.

Even if you’re hitting close to the edge with the Electrum Pro, it offers great pop. You can take any paddle and find where the middle is, set it on your finger and check whether it leans toward the handle or the head. With the Electrum Pro, you’ll find it stays at an even 180 degrees. It’s a very balanced paddle which makes it easy to maneuver.

Out of all the paddles on the market, what makes this paddle unique? 

Toray T700 – The carbon fiber we use is Japanese made. It’s the best you can source and uses a special molding technology that gives it a nice, grainy texture. It’s right up against the USAPA’s roughness limit (which has to be within 40 micrometers), so you really feel the fibers. This texture produces very accurate shots with great touch, which results in a lot of control.

While we were iterating we didn’t explicitly mention this to players, but people noticed the paddle’s great handling and started calling this perk the “Electrum Spin.” We were happy to run with that! The carbon fiber also creates a look that stands out on the court. The simple, sleek design comes across quality-centric rather than needing to blatantly promote our brand. We figured: Produce a high quality paddle and it’ll sell itself.

Full Cell Core – At first we tried using Nomex for our core, and it is a stronger material than polypropylene, but you don’t get as much absorption to soften impact and it makes a lot of noise. We were willing to sacrifice a little bit of power for more touch and a reduction of the noise factor. The Electrum Pro still has plenty of pop because the cells are so strong, and in fact we only use full cells in the honeycomb.

With a lot of companies you’ll find there’s very little material near the edge guard, creating a weaker and less responsive feel when you don’t hit right in the center. With the Electrum, you get the benefit of whole cells near the edge and the guard is wrapped all the way around to create a consistent feel. We’ve basically created an “edge-to-edge” sweet spot. We don’t have images of our paddle with certain areas circled showing where players are supposed to hit, because we believe if you’re buying a premium paddle the entire face should be playable.

Carbon Fiber Handle – While the Electrum’s edge guard is plastic, our handle is also made out of carbon fiber like the face. This offers a high level of durability and much better feel as opposed to using lower quality materials. The handle has an ergonomic design with a grip somewhat similar to those produced by GAMMA, but the one we use was fully designed by us. It’s made using 100% leather so it won’t sweat in your hand easily, feels comfortable and takes longer to wear unlike synthetic materials. The 4-1/4” circumference makes it suitable for most hand sizes since it’s a good medium ground.

What should a player expect when using the Electrum?

This weight and responsiveness is such that you don’t have to put in as much work to get the power you want. Less is more. It only takes a couple rallies to get used to the Electrum Pro since it has such a great balance. The paddle feels light, responsive and intuitive.

Shellton JeanBaptiste reviews the Electrum Pro


We appreciate Electrum taking the time to share their knowledge and contributions with the pickleball community. To hear more from Moheeth, check out this interview from Golden Boy Pickleball. Moheeth summed up by saying:

“We want our customers’ end-to-end experience to be amazing; we know people will be satisfied with the Electrum Pro and want as many players to benefit as possible.

Our mission at Electrum is to be an asset to the pickleball community firstly through the creation of great products and then by making pickleball more accessible on a global scale. We’re looking forward to playing a part in the continued growth of the game and hope our current customers and new fans alike will help us share their love for this inclusive, exciting and versatile sport.”

How to Escape “Error Snowballs” and Improve Your Pickleball Technique

You’ll often hear that the most important piece of advice in pickleball is avoiding “unforced errors.” There are many training techniques that center around this concept such as “percentage pickleball,” where one uses shots and tactics which are statistically more reliable rather than attempting risky maneuvers that could just as easily go in the other team’s favor. The idea is to keep the ball in play and let your opponents make the mistakes.

This is a simple concept to grasp, but when you try to break it down, it can be harder to determine where, exactly, your original mistake was made. Learning how and why you made a mistake can go a long way towards improving your game and making it more consistent in the future. Some will point to the final moments of play as the main area for analysis, but in fact, you may need to look even earlier to find out what went wrong.

This idea is elegantly shown in video from Tony of In2Pickle. In it, one of the players seemingly loses a point because her paddle wasn’t in a high, ready position. But Tony expresses that the team made several mistakes much earlier than that, which ended up making the final exchange more difficult to defend and placed them in a disadvantageous position.

Watch this concise and helpful video for a full breakdown. To sum up: The main problem starts with Kathie (in the back left side of the court) making a short return serve. This is due to her standing too close to the baseline and having to move back to make the return, resulting in less power in the ball.

This then snowballs into a series of advantages for the opposing team. The offense steps closer to the kitchen and gains more court coverage, while Kathie is still stuck in no man’s land for her next volley. She is forced to hit the ball in an upward arc, which allows her opponent to poach it and further reduce the amount of time Kathie has to get in position.

If you can work out small technical errors in your game like this, then there are much fewer opportunities for the other team to seize an opening. That’s why learning and utilizing basic good practices is so important, including something as simple as knowing where to stand during a serve to maximize your return.

Have you ever taken the opportunity to analyze your games and discover what simple good practices you might be overlooking? Try it, and have a more seasoned player help out if possible! You might be surprised by what you find and how little changes can make big improvements in your game.

Meet The Pros – Leigh Waters

Meet The Pros – Leigh Waters

 Catherine Parenteau and Leigh Waters, Bronze

USAPA Margaritaville Nationals, Catherine Parenteau and Leigh Waters, Bronze

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

2019 Minto US Open Mixed Doubles Age with Dave Weinbach – GOLD
2019 Tournament of Champions, Women’s Doubles Open Pro with Anna Leigh Waters – GOLD
2019 Chicago Pickleball Open, Mixed Pro Doubles with Dave Weinbach – SILVER
Women’s PRO Doubles with Anna Leigh Waters – SILVER
2018 USAPA Margaritaville Nationals, Women’s Skill/Age Doubles with Catherine Parenteau – GOLD
2018 Texas Open – Women’s Open Doubles with Anna Leigh Waters – SILVER
Women’s Singles – GOLD

Leigh and Anna Leigh Texas Open

Texas Open Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters, Silver; Simone Jardim and Lucy Kovalova, Gold; Catherine Parenteau  and Corrine Carr, Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I use the Paddletek Element because it has good pop while being able to maintain control, plus the head of the paddle is a bit smaller so it’s not overly cumbersome.

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

My father introduced us to pickleball when we evacuated Florida from Hurricane Irma last year. We went to Pennsylvania and played for two weeks straight. We haven’t stopped since!

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Outdoors. I prefer playing on a tennis court surface with a Dura Fast 40.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I definitely prefer doubles. I enjoy having a partner next to me. Singles is such a physical game and it’s just you out there battling it out. It reminds me too much of my tennis days and I find dubs to be much more fun and social.

Mom and Daughter

Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters Pickleball Pros

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I love to play in South Florida with all my pickleball friends. We have multiple facilities where we play and I have the most fun when I’m with them.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I love mixing in power shots from the kitchen. Throwing in a fast-paced shot keeps your opponent honest and wondering when you might surprise them.

What is your day job?

I’m an attorney.

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

I play 6-8 hours a week. I make time by taking my daughter with me. That way we are not missing family time and we get to practice together. Some nights I practice while my daughter has soccer practice. Most important to me is being with her and my family, so I always time practices around Anna Leigh’s busy schedule.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really. I’m not a superstitious person. A good meal is super important, and I like to get to the facility a day or two early to practice.

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

Personally I just want to have fun and play high-level pickleball and do this with my daughter. Obviously, everyone has goals of winning, but I think it’s something really special to be able to travel the country playing pickleball with Anna Leigh and making memories that will last a lifetime. She is always my first priority, and I just want to teach her to be a good person on and off the court. This journey wouldn’t be half as good if she wasn’t a part of it.

The New Generation of Paddletek

Since 2010, Paddletek has been one of pickleball’s industry leaders thanks to their breakthrough product innovation, high quality designs, versatile offerings and lifetime performance guarantee. You can find Paddletek in the hands of pro players in tournaments around the world.

As the sport has grown, so have they, and the company has now unveiled their new era of innovation. Paddletek has completely rebranded their offerings which not only include visual changes but material upgrades to their incredible line.

Paddletek Pros

We had a chance to interview Noah Kaplan, Paddletek’s VP of Sales & Marketing, and he shared some of the reasoning behind this new look and lineup of Paddletek’s products:

“To us, it’s more than just creating a new logo or developing a new paddle. This is about creating a strong brand identity that aligns with our core mission and values and will ultimately give our consumers the confidence they need to take their game to the next level.”

A Fresh Look

To start, you’ll notice every paddle has received a complete visual overhaul. All of Paddletek’s equipment now looks more uniform with clean black backgrounds intersected by eye-catching neon colors. Their appearance feels sleek and modern, expressing dedication to the game but with an energetic edge.

Paddletek’s Product Lines

Before this launch of Paddletek’s new lineup, they offered over 15 different paddle models spread out over a large number of different sub-brands.  As the company exploded in growth since their initial introduction in 2010, they created paddles for every type of player need. After almost 10 years of product innovation, the company decided it was time to reset the product line in a way that helped make it easier for players to select the best paddle for their needs.

The result? Every Paddletek paddle is now sorted into three corresponding product lines that address these areas and then offer further variation.

Catherine Parenteau with the new Tempest Wave Pro

Catherine Parenteau with the Tempest Wave Pro

The Tempest series improves accuracy and provides better control. Noah says this series “utilizes a specialized graphite core to absorb more energy from the ball, giving players more control.” There are two offerings in this line, the Tempest Wave II, and the Tempest Wave Pro.

The Bantam series is made to support power and performance. Paddletek believes these paddles “allow the ball to keep more if its own energy during a return, giving the player more put away options.” This line includes both Standard and Pro models of the famous TS-5 and Bantam EX-L, plus the Bantam Sabre.

The Phoenix series is the most user-friendly for all levels and offers a balance between control and power. Noah feels that the Phoenix line “represents the ‘just right’ category, where [Paddletek] starts from a design perspective and uses adaptations of earlier models that changed the sport.”

How to Choose Which Model Is Right For You?

When it came to organizing their equipment, Paddletek knew players can find it difficult to determine which piece of gear matches up with their needs. To help accommodate this process they’ve rated their paddles in three different categories based on user feedback: control, power and forgiveness.

Control relates to “touch” and allows you to better manipulate ball placement.

Power refers to how much strength the paddle adds to your shots and makes it easier to drive balls with more speed.

Forgiveness is connected to a paddle’s sweet spot, meaning you don’t have to hit dead center on the face to get the ball over the net.

If you’d like to see a full table breaking down the paddles within each of these lines for quick comparison, visit our Paddletek product page.

Scott More with the Bantam Sabre Pro

Scott More with the Bantam Sabre Pro

Visionary Design

In addition to making their paddles more simple to categorize, Paddletek has continued to boost their products’ performance at top level play.

All Pro models include Smart Response Technology (SRT) in their 9/16″ cores which increase the consistency of the sweet spot by evenly distributing the energy from the ball.

Noah says they have “introduced TVC (torsional vibration control) in several paddles, which means the paddle is less likely to twist in the player’s hand when the ball strikes off center. Our vibration dampening technology also reduces vibration and adds comfort at impact when force enters the player’s hand, arm and elbow.”

Leigh Waters with the Phoenix Genesis

Leigh Waters with the Phoenix Genesis

New Product Offerings

Updated appearance of the Tempest Wave II

Updated appearance of the Tempest Wave II

One much-beloved paddle that has been entirely done is the Tempest Wave, now known as the Tempest Wave II. The previous core has been upgraded and it now includes the aforementioned TVC tech so that players experience less interruption to their game.

The Phoenix line is also an entirely new series of paddles from the company as opposed to the updated iterations of their classic models. The Phoenix paddles are perfectly balanced when it comes to power and control, making them a great option for players who don’t want to focus on a single attribute and instead have the flexibility to adapt their play style as needed.

The Phoenix G6 is the entry level selection in the line, having vibration dampening properties and a standard polymer core. The Phoenix Genesis Pro is the next step up with both vibration dampening and TVC tech in addition to a high grade poly core. And finally, the Phoenix Genesis Pro has all of the previous qualities as well as Smart Response Technology and Paddletek’s most advanced core.

Anna Leigh with the Bantam TS-5

Anna Leigh with the Bantam TS-5

The Paddletek You Know, Even Better

For players who have been long-time Paddletek fans, this is your opportunity to show off what you can really do with skills forged in the competition and excellent equipment. For newcomers who are just now discovering them, there’s no better time to take advantage of PickleballCentral’s test drive policy to find your perfect match in the Paddletek family worry-free.

Irina Tereschenko with the Bantam EX-L

Irina Tereschenko with the Bantam EX-L

Check out Paddletek’s updated table of products and find new ways to transform your game, just like Paddletek has transformed their offerings.

Dave Weinbach with the Tempest Wave Pro

Dave Weinbach with the Tempest Wave Pro

Meet The Pros – Kris Anderson

Meet The Pros – Kris Anderson

Kris Anderson action

2019 Texas Open, Kris Anderson and Dave Weinbach

Kris is a great competitor and a doubles master. She has played with the best and competes against the best. Enjoy!

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

2019 Texas Open, Senior (Sr) Mixed Open with Dave Weinbach – Gold
Sr Women’s Open with Lisa Naumu – Gold
2019 Tournament of Champions (ToC)  Senior Mixed Doubles Pro with Kevin Booth – Gold

Sr Women’s Doubles Pro with Lisa Naumu -Silver
2019 The Lakes Spring Fling, Women’s Doubles 50+ with Lisa Naumu – Gold
2019 US Open, Sr Open Mixed Pro with Scott Moore – Gold
Sr Open Women’s With Lisa Naumu – Silver
2018 USAPA Nationals,
50+ Women’s Doubles with Bonnie Williams – Gold
Sr. Open Mixed with Scott Moore – Gold
Sr. Open Women’s with Bonnie Williams – Silver
2018 ToC, Sr. Open Mixed with Kevin Booth – Gold
Sr Open Women’s with Bonnie Williams – Silver
2018 US Open, Sr. Open Mixed Doubles with Kevin Booth – Bronze
2017 USAPA Nationals, Sr Open Mixed with Kevin Booth – Gold
2016 USAPA Nationals, Sr. Open Mixed with Scott Moore – Gold
Sr Open Women’s with Mona Burnett – Silver
2016 US Open, 50+ Mixed with Mike Gates – Silver
Sr Open Mixed with Mike Gates – Gold
Sr Open Women’s with Tracy Worley – Bronze
2014 USAPA Nationals, Women’s 50+ with Tracy Worley – Gold

2019 US Open Sr. Mixed Pro Kris Anderson

2019 US Open Sr. Mixed Pro, Steve Kennedy and Lisa Naumu, Bronze, Kris Anderson and Scott Moore – Gold, Cammy MacGregor and Brian Staub, Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

I just switched this week to the new Onix Evoke Premier Paddle. I love it. It has a great grip, nice texture and balance.

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

I was playing tennis one day and it started raining so someone said let’s go in the gym and try pickleball. I loved it immediately and couldn’t wait to play again.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Outdoors. We rarely play indoors in Southern California.

Courts at The Tennis Club at Newport Beach

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why? 

Doubles.

What is your favorite place to play? Why

The tennis club at Newport Beach. Great club and close to home.

What is your day job?

Being a mom.

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

I’m blessed with an amazing husband and family who are totally supportive of each other and I have all the time I want to play.

Texas Open Sees 28 Junior Participants, Wyatt Stone Helps Youth Find Pickleball

The 2nd annual Texas Open was held September 12-15, where stalwart players braved the heat to test their skills at the Open Wagon Wheel Tennis Center in Coppell. Of the 747 participants that took part, 28 were juniors ranging from 7-18 years old.

These young players are a growing demographic which has only recently gained legislation needed within USAPA-recognized events to fully take part. While many picklers have expressed enthusiasm for the newer generation getting involved in the sport, the reality is that the journey toward full integration hasn’t been as cut and dry as grabbing a paddle and showing up.

Texas Open junior players with Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright

Texas Open junior players with Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright

We recently spoke with Ashley Stone, mother to the winner of the Lone Star Award (Wyatt Stone). She was willing to illuminate some of the challenges the juniors have faced and overcome in addition to describing their experience at the Open:

“My son Wyatt has played in 12 tournaments and taken 18 medals since January 2019. When he first started playing, we had to ask tournament directors to lower the minimum age to allow him to play. He even pre-qualified for the American State Games, but they wouldn’t let him join due to their minimum age restriction last January.

“I have been adding junior events to the USAPA Junior Facebook page and website for a few months. In a short period of time (Jan-Sept, 9 months) we have seen the minimum age lower to include junior players in about 90% of all tournaments nationwide, excluding the senior tournaments. Pickleballtournaments.com just added a “junior” search feature to their toolbar this month as well. This is a huge milestone for the junior movement!

Texas Open juniors with Anna Leigh Waters and William Sobek

Texas Open juniors with Anna Leigh Waters and William Sobek

“In the first few tournaments, Wyatt would often be one of two or three juniors playing in the 19+ skill events. With each tournament we have seen more kids at each event. The Mansfield Summer Slam which was on September 7th had 6 junior players playing up in age 19+ by skill. The Texas Open is the only tournament in the mid-south to have enough kids to make junior brackets work.

“At the Texas Open, events were grouped by players 7-13 and 14-18 years old, a handful of which also played in 19+ age/skill events. The kids came from Texas and Oklahoma areas. Skill ranged from novice play to a 4.0 skill level. All of the kids have a family member who introduced them to the sport and are very passionate about it. They had a really good time and thought it was cool the mixed open events were happening on the same day as the junior events. The kids’ games were right next to pro players.

“One thing that was really great was the pro players (Joey Farrias, Lucy Kovalova & Matt Wright, Michella & Daniel DeLaRosa, to note a few) would stop to watch the kids and do a quick meet and greet. Some of the pro players even refereed junior games. Two I can think of were Gigi LeMasters and Anna Leigh Waters.

“There were also 2 junior pro players, Anna Leigh Waters & William Sobek, who competed at the pro open level.  All the juniors lined up to watch at least one of their games.”

Junior girls' doubles winners

Junior girls’ doubles winners (Gold: Sophia Irwin & Madi Warden, silver: Michaela McElroy & Caitlyn Chia, bronze: Natasha Cole & Katelyn Click)

Ashley mentioned something many junior players would like to see moving forward is divisions separated by skill rather than age.

“The Texas Open (and all other USAPA-sanctioned tournaments) divide juniors by age. We have not yet attended a junior tournament in the US that has enough kids to divide by age and then further divide by skill. What I have seen is that ability doesn’t discriminate by age. In an event with kids ages 7-13 or 13-18 in the Texas Open, we had novices competing with advanced players. All the kids and their families unanimously agreed they would have healthier competition if they played in events by skill.”

It’s also exciting to note that a junior was chosen as the recipient of the Lone Star Award at the Texas Open, a recognition given to someone who has used pickleball to help build up their community and improve people’s health. The winner this year was Wyatt Stone, Ashley’s son.

“Wyatt completed the IPTPA level II certification in less than a month with the desire to teach as many kids pickleball as he could reach. He went to Oklahoma twice to volunteer with youth camps, ran the Andy Roddick Pickleball Camp in Austin, hosted monthly kids’ camps over the summer and set up (with the parks department) a free weekly pickleball clinic for kids that he will teach.

Junior boys' doubles 1-12 (Gold: Ralph Chiu & Hollis Willson Silver: Aden Weimer & Zeus Andre Celedonio Bronze: Grant Wilton & Ryan Wilton) and Junior Boys Doubles 13-18 Gold: Isaiah McAllister & Joshua McAllister Silver: E Ramm & Drew Warren Bronze: Dayton Bartman & Wyatt McAllister

Junior boys’ doubles 1-12 (Gold: Ralph Chiu & Hollis Willson, silver: Aden Weimer & Zeus Andre Celedonio, bronze: Grant Wilton & Ryan Wilton) and Junior boys’ doubles 13-18 (Gold: Isaiah McAllister & Joshua McAllister, silver: E Ramm & Drew Warren, bronze: Dayton Bartman & Wyatt McAllister)

“The September classes have been booked up since last month. Wyatt volunteers working with his mentor May Laz at clinics, camps, challenges and tournaments on a weekly basis. He is also the USAPA Junior Pickleball Facebook editor and has more than organically tripled the followers since he took it over. He runs the Pickleball Facebook Junior forum and San Antonio IH35 to Austin Pickleball meetup where he organizes free competitive play.

“Wyatt is 14-years-old and had only been playing a a couple of weeks when he asked to go to the Texas Open as a spectator. After spending the weekend at the Texas Open, Wyatt wanted to learn how to play like the pros. Wyatt played in his first tournament in January, the Oklahoma State Games, and took 3 gold medals.

“He has been competing ever since, playing in 9 tournaments with 16 medals. He took a gold medal at the MT Regionals, earning a spot at Nationals which he will attend in November. He became IPTPA certified in June and added teaching to his rigorous training schedule.

Wyatt Stone receiving the Lone Star Award

Wyatt Stone receiving the Lone Star Award

“Wyatt did not have racket or paddle experience prior to playing pickleball and has come up through the ranks by working hard and earning his place training with local 5.0 players. He publishes a blog on his website with articles relevant to junior players and their families: WyattStonePickleballJunior.com

“Wyatt joined the Pickleball Rocks Team this past summer and accepted the nomination to lead the USAPA junior program as the USAPA National Junior Coordinator.

“He is thankful every day that he steps on the court and loves to see other kids getting involved in recreational and competitive pickleball.”