Pickleball Continues Its International Takeover This July at Bainbridge Cup and 1st Italian Open

The Bainbridge Cup made its debut in Spain last year with Team North America winning the inaugural event. This year the competition is taking place in another beautiful European destination: Montesilvano, Italy.

In exciting news, the Bainbridge Cup will not be the only tournament to take place this July. Immediately afterwards, the first Italian Open will begin with players guaranteed a minimum of 4 matches in round robin and double-elimination brackets.

The man behind these exciting developments is Zelindo Di Guilio, the founder and president of the Italian Pickleball Association. After meeting IFP (International Federation of Pickleball) president Mike Hess at last year’s Spanish Open, he realized “the strong socialization and friendship, international spirit and healthy competitive atmosphere [that pickleball fosters].”

This atmosphere was one he wanted to help promote, with the Italian Pickleball Association now a proud member of the IFP.

Italian Pickleball Association

Zelindo has been heavily involved in tennis since the 80s, competing as a junior and running a club in Pescara where he organizes federal tournaments and championships. His interest in pickleball was ignited when he and his colleague, Marco Iacuone, were browsing a catalog from Gamma as part of their tennis distribution business. Along with the tennis equipment they noticed the arrival of pickleball gear, which was completely new to them at the time.

The Start of the Italian Pickleball Association

Zelindo explains how his curiosity and sense of adventure were piqued after he experienced pickleball:

“Marco and I participated in the Spanish Open and Bainbridge Cup in Madrid with limited pickleball experience. Our technical knowledge of pickleball was only through online videos. We trained every day for a month and signed up, asking to join the Elite bracket with some of the best players in the world. In the open play practice days, as soon as we took to the court, everyone immediately recognized us as tennis players, making common tennis player mistakes on the pickleball court. The thing that struck us most was the fact that everyone, especially the Spaniards, immediately gave us advice and provided us with a sort of intensive course!

“Basically, it was a very educational international event where we had the chance to train and play with some of the world’s top players like Marcin Rozpeski, Daniel Moore, Kyle Yates, Irina Tereschenko, Jennifer Lucore and many others. Our most memorable match was against the team formed by the Italian-American duo of Roberto Donati and Steve Wong. The overall experience was incredible from beginning to end.”

Zelindo Di Giulio and Marco Iacuone

Zelindo Di Giulio (with sunglasses) and Marco Iacuone at the Spanish Open

After enjoying the Spanish Open, Zelindo explains that “the curiosity and the intuition of being pioneers of a new sport along with [pickleball’s] strong potential in Italy and Europe immediately led us to experimentation and practice.” This progressed into the formation of the IPA and Italy’s bid to host the Bainbridge Cup.

“For us [hosting the Cup] was an unbelievable opportunity as a new IFP member, so we submitted our bid a few days after being accepted. To present a strong host bid, we secured support from the local government, confirmed a venue large enough to host the event and strengthened our event management staff. Our enthusiasm and perseverance was rewarded, and we’re now very excited to collaborate.”

Pickleball’s Growth in Italy

Racquet sport players in Italy were initially skeptical of pickleball, but as it so often happens, many became addicted to the game after relenting and giving it a try. The government was even quicker to catch on, with Zelindo receiving early support from Tocco Da Casauria. The public now has access to 3 permanent outdoor pickleball courts and has established a large local group, along with other clubs in L’Aquila and Montesilvano.

The city of Montesilvano, through the Vice Mayor Ottavio De Martinis, has graciously allowed the IPA the use of their facilities for the Italian Open and Bainbridge Cup at the sporting venue Pala Dean Martin.

Montesilvano is a popular seaside town located in Abruzzo on the Adriatic Sea. The area is called the “Green Region of Europe” due to its three national parks. The venue is located only 200 meters from the beach, and Montesilvano is 8 km from Pescara, the main city of the region.

Montesilvano

Montesilvano

“Our region offers excellent local food, characterized by mountain dairy products such as sheep’s cheese, plenty of pasta and the excellent seafood dishes of our marine cuisine. We’ve organized an exclusive tour to one of the local wineries, called ‘Cantina Zaccagnini,’ where we’ll dine and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. For people wanting to see more of Italy, Rome is only two hours away, making it very easy to visit the capital of Italy and some of the world’s most historic attractions.”

Zelindo also notes that Mattia Astori, a friend he met at the Spanish Open, is working on the development of pickleball in the Milan area and that pickleball should gain a foothold in Rome in the coming months.

“Our short-term objectives are to create clubs in Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice, the most important Italian cities. I believe that the link between sport and tourism can facilitate pickleball growth in Italy, giving the opportunity to bring together new Italian players with experienced North American players. The short-medium term objectives, on the other hand, are those of having professionals who can represent Italy in international competitions like the Bainbridge Cup, as well as developing a training program with qualified instructors.”

The 2018 Bainbridge Cup and Italian Open

The 2018 Bainbridge Cup will start on Friday, July 20th with the Italian Open following on Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22nd. Players can find more information on the IPA’s website and register for both events at PickleballTournaments.com. The registration deadline is July 15th.

Some of the world’s best players will arrive in Italy as team captains. Scott Moore, Christine McGrath and Alice Tym will be leading Team North America, and Irina Tereshenko and Ernesto Cardenas will be heading Team Europe, with more captains to join.

Italian Open 2018

Considering Team North America’s advantage when it comes to pickleball’s longer history and broader presence, what does Zelindo think of Team Europe’s chances this year?

“Pickleball in Europe is developing very fast and the quality and level of the players is rising. It will be very hard to win the Cup, but I’m sure that many first-class matches can be won by European teams. The Spaniards are strong; in England, in France, in Finland and in Holland they play all year round now. Germany has started playing. Europe has a very high level of tennis so we’re optimistic it won’t take long until we can win the Cup… and who knows what might happen this year in Italy!”

If you’re interested in seeing how the Cup plays out firsthand, be sure to arrange your travel plans now, or participate personally be signing up for the Bainbridge Cup and Italian Open. It’s certain to be an exciting series of events!

We sign off with Zelindo’s farewell:

“We are very encouraged to see such a positive response from around the world. The Cup and Open are filling up fast, so we encourage anyone who is interested to sign up soon. It is sure to be an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. We look forwarding to hosting players from around the world with our warm Italian hospitality. Speriamo di vedervi presto! (We hope to see you soon!)”

 


Have any questions? 

Pat Murphy is one of the Bainbridge Cup organizers and can provide answers regarding accommodations or the events themselves. If you would like to ask him anything, you can get in touch at 317mmpm@gmail.com or (623)-363-6952.

Meet The Pros – Jose (Joey) Farias

Meet The Pros – Jose (Joey) Farias

Joey Farias

Joey Farias, credit to Partovich Photography

Jose Farias loves to play and teach tennis and pickleball. You have to admire a tennis instructor who falls in love with this game. Enjoy!

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

2016 US Open Men’s Doubles 5.0 – Gold with DJ Howard
2016 US Open 19+ Mixed Doubles – Bronze with Catherine Parenteau
2017 Southwest Regionals Men’s Doubles 5.0 – Gold with Sean Rickard
2017 Southwest Regionals Mixed Doubles 5.0 – Silver with Miok Lee
2017 US Open Men’s Doubles Pro – Bronze with Ben Johns
2017 US Open 30+ Men’s Doubles – Gold with Rafael Siebenschein
2017 US Open 30+ Mixed Doubles – Silver with Lee-Anna Camper
2017 Northwest PPF Bend Men’s Doubles – Gold with Ben Johns
2017 So-Cal Mens Open Singles – Bronze
2018 Southwest Regionals Mens Doubles 5.0 – Gold with Sean Rickard
2018 Southwest Regionals Mixed Doubles 5.0 – Bronze with Miok Lee
2018 US Open 30+ Men’s Doubles – Bronze with Chris Miller
2018 US Open 19+ Mixed Doubles – Silver with Catherine Parenteau 

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Gearbox GX5. I really enjoy the new paddle; I was able to put a lot of my input on how the paddle should feel and play, making it tailored to my preferences. It has plenty of pop and is soft enough for me to really control my shots around the kitchen.

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

I was a full-time tennis coach when I was introduced to pickleball in Lansing, Michigan, while working at a club that had 4 pickleball courts. I was introduced to the sport by Dan O’Toole and DJ Howard. I had a great group of “new players” who were learning at around the same time and they were Corrine Carr Siebenschein, Simone Jardim and DJ Howard.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I enjoy playing outdoors more because that is what I am most familiar with and I sometimes have trouble seeing indoors. 

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles because of the strategy behind it and how different it is from tennis. Pickleball strategy is one of the reasons I fell in love with the game. My tennis background definitely helps with singles but it is a little too close to tennis to pick it as my favorite. 

Jose Farias in Michigan

5.0 Singles Finalist -Jose Farias Bronze (left), Simone Jardim Gold (center), Brandon Schmeling Silver in Williamston, Michigan.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I would pick East Naples Community Park and the US Open to be my favorite place to play. I enjoy the atmosphere of the tournament and the courts there are world class.

Jose Farias with friends at the USOPEN

Jose Farias with friends at the USOPEN

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I would say my secret sauce would be my deceptive shots, my one-handed backhand drive/roll and consistent dinks, especially from the right side of the court. If I could give one tip to players it would be to get as low and balanced as you are physically capable of and take more dinks in the air. 

What is your day job?

I was a full-time tennis pro but about a year and a half ago I became the Director of Pickleball at a Tucson Country Club in Tucson, Arizona and am now full time pickleball. I am an IPTPA-certified Pickleball Instructor and I travel all around doing clinics. Its a rough life, haha! 

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

I practice about 4 hours a week, but I do teach close to 30 hours each week so I get plenty of dinking practice you could say. Since I do pickleball full time now I have plenty of time to practice, but in Tucson it’s the lack of practice partners that I have to deal with. I have another 5.0 in town named Sean Rickard who I try to drill with when his schedule allows.

Joey Farias for the win

Joey Farias for the win – fueled by chocolate milk

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t know if I would call it lucky, but something I tend to do before playing in a tournament is drink chocolate milk the morning of the event and possibly have a cookie.

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

My pickleball goals would be to help grow the sport in any way I can and to be a positive role-model on and off the court to up-and-coming juniors. I would also like to medal in a pro event in all three majors by the time I am done playing. 

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

My experience being one of the top pickleball players has been amazing because I get to meet players from all over the world and travel. I now get to do what I love for a living, and it is such a blessing. 

Introducing the ProKennex Kinetic Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle

Introducing the ProKennex Kinetic Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle,
the First Paddle Designed To Prevent Arm Injuries

As the sport of pickleball grows, the number of players suffering from “pickleball elbow” and related arm injuries is also on the rise. We hear from many players looking for equipment that will help alleviate and prevent injuries to the arm. Finally, there is a paddle designed specifically to do just that, the Kinetic Pro Speed pickleball paddle just introduced by ProKennex Pickleball.

Kinetic Energy System

A leading science and design company well known in the tennis and racquetball worlds for their innovative injury-prevention product designs, ProKennex has been immersed in racquet sports since the 1970s. Their Kinetic Energy technology was thoughtfully developed specifically to prevent arm and elbow injuries. Utilizing a highly sensitive timing system with internal tungsten-filled chambers that reduce vibration and focus energy more efficiently, the ProKennex Kinetic Energy technology protects players from harmful impact forces and creates the most efficient energy transfer from paddle to ball.  The micro-tungsten beads are embedded in the paddle’s perimeter, absorbing impact vibration before it has a chance to travel from the paddle up your arm and into the soft tissues in your joints.

Steve Dawson, USAPA Nationals and US OPEN medalist, attributes the ProKennex Kinetic Energy system to saving his tennis career over 30 years ago, enabling him to become a Big 8 Collegiate champion, and successfully play and coach full time since graduating college.  As a young adult, Steve developed almost career ending elbow injuries, and after a switch to the ProKennex Kinetic racquets, he restarted his career, going on to a set of great collegiate championship performances, and a long, professional teaching career.  He swears by the technology, and is a living testament to its effectiveness.

Reduced Shock and Vibration

An independent study conducted by MIT Labs found that the ProKennex Kinetic Energy system delivers impressive improvement in shock reduction and dampening characteristics, creating a 43% reduction in vibration and a 20% reduction in shock, which the team at ProKennex believes can result in less damage to the arm. Shock and vibration are greatly reduced within the paddle, before traveling up your arm.

Preferred By Pros

Jennifer Dawson, 2018 USOPEN

Jennifer Dawson, 2018 US OPEN 4X Medalist with the Kinetic Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle

Pickleball Pros Jennifer Dawson, Steve Dawson and their son Callan Dawson have partnered with ProKennex to develop the Kinetic Pro Speed paddle, and all three of these powerhouse pickleball players now play exclusively with the Pro Speed.

At last month’s 2018 US OPEN Pickleball Championships, Jennifer won Gold in the Women’s Senior Pro Doubles and Silver in Women’s Senior Pro Singles playing with the Kinetic Pro Speed. Steve, a long time “survivor” of tennis elbow through his 35+ years of playing and coaching high-level tennis and pickleball, appreciates the same injury-reduction benefits of the ProKennex Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle that caused him to select the ProKennex Kinetic Energy technology as his preferred tennis racquet design.

Fast and Maneuverable with Exceptional Shot Performance

Engineered for maximum maneuverability with wind-resistant edgeless construction and thin core technology, the Kinetic Pro Speed paddle is lightning fast, nimble and responsive. The unparalleled tip speed improves quickness and reflex enhancement. The Kinetic Energy shock absorbing system helps players experience greater touch, feel and control, improving confidence and success at the net.

What Do Our Pro Testers Think?

Our staff has tested the paddle extensively here on the courts at Pickleball Central, and in many ways this paddle defies traditional categorizations.  It is without question the highest performance edgeless paddle we’ve ever tested, with a large, consistent sweet spot.  Most edgeless paddles we’ve tested don’t provide good shot feel the closer you get to the edge, but the Pro Speed maintains a solid feel out towards the edge similar to paddles that use a traditional edge guard.  We theorize that its integrated carbon fiber flush fit perimeter (which is super durable) gives the paddle stability at the edges that many prior edgeless paddles lack.

Jennifer Dawson with her ProKennex Pro Speed Paddle

Jennifer Dawson with her  Kinetic Pro Speed Paddle

It features a unique core and face build-up combining 7 layers of polymer, carbon fiber, and hybrid composites for a paddle that delivers tons of power with a large consistent playing sweet spot.  Weighing in at around 8.0 ounces, the paddle itself does a lot of the work, reducing the swing energy you need to use to power a ball over the net.  In warm, or outdoor windy conditions, or in situations with a softer playing ball (like the Onix), this paddle excels at giving you power without needing to swing super hard. It does this without giving up a soft touch – in fact, the feel of the ball on the paddle is unique because you feel less vibration in the paddle, and as such the sound and hand feel is less “noisy”, with a more confidence inspiring “solid” feel.

Don’t wait to be injured, prevent it before it happens with the Kinetic Pro Speed, the revolutionary new pickleball paddle that leverages nearly thirty years of injury-prevention design expertise. Learn more about the Kinetic Pro Speed on our website.

Can You Make a Living with Pickleball?

Most sports provide a variety of ways to get involved in the industry without diverging too far from job hunting norms. If you want to be around skiers, work at a lodge. Love soccer? Become a school coach. But considering pickleball’s somewhat uncommon status, it can be harder to know how to earn a living with this lovable sport.

Of course, working at PickleballCentral provides us with an easy (and fun!) way to earn income while enjoying the game. But we have some ideas for those who may not have such a specific role.

Become a Coach

Okay, we just said coaching is too easy of a way to get involved! What gives?

When it comes to pickleball, working at schools can be difficult unless you’ve already been certified as a general PE teacher. Most schools won’t have dedicated programs for the sport, so you’d have to work it into a broader rotation.

But if you’re interested in running classes or one-on-one instructor specifically for picklers, this is a great way to share your love for the game while helping others. Many pickleball coaches work on a freelance basis or through local rec centers/clubs.

You can earn official teaching credentials via the IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association) workshops to add more credibility to your offerings.

Jennifer Lucore at Kelowna

Jennifer Lucore is one of many pros that is not only officially sponsored, but offers classes and private lessons as well

Become a Distributor

This can not only be a primary source of income, but a great “side hustle” if you enjoy pickleball but don’t want to spend all of your time working. You will need a business license, but it’s a fairly simple process to become a distributor for most major paddle manufacturers and even us if you’d like to make money by sharing your favorite equipment with players.

This role requires solid product knowledge and a willingness to learn the common needs of clubs, tournament organizers and other related groups, but if you’ve spent some time in the world of pickleball and have a good sense for what picklers crave, then it might be the perfect role.

Get Sponsored as a Pro

This is probably the toughest and riskiest way to try and make money with pickleball, but once you achieve a high level of proficiency with the game, you may be able to court manufacturers and see if they’ll sponsor your travels to various competitions.

Unfortunately, since pickleball still hasn’t received as much widespread attention as the likes of tennis, even the largest companies likely can’t fund the entirety of your income as pro. This is why many top level players primarily make a living through coaching and offering lessons even if they have the support of businesses.

Pickleball Partners Pendant

Pickleball Partners Pendant

Sell a Pickleball Product

You don’t have to limit yourself by thinking of only balls or paddles. Some people have made income by selling pickleball jewelry, paddle holders, writing books or creating other functional items for the courts.

If there’s a current need in the industry that no one has addressed and you have an entrepreneurial slant, brainstorm ideas of how you could solve players’ needs and bring a fresh product into existence!

 

Are there any other unconventional ways you know to make money with pickleball? Let us know in the comments!

 

Sky Valley Pickleball Club/Resort Opening More Courts This Fall

Spring and summer are still ahead of us, but for those who like planning ahead, we have news of a beautiful CA resort that will be opening up more pickleball courts on their property this fall.

Sky Valley

Sky Valley Resort is a lovely vacation spot that’s located only minutes from Palm Springs. It currently has four pickleball courts and over 70 local players of various skill levels that keep games rolling throughout the day. Four more courts will be added later this year, and lessons and clinics are offered year round.

In addition to pickleball, Sky Valley has an onsite restaurant and fourteen natural mineral pools which supply hot water to the resort’s pools and tubs. Enjoy a daily spa ritual or add to your health regimen with a variety of water exercise classes.

Sky Valley Pickleball

Other offerings include zumba, yoga, art lessons, shuffleboard and pool hall sports. Accommodations can be provided in the form of furnished homes for rent, or you can bring your own RV if you’re already prepped for travel.

Give Sky Valley a look if you want a quiet and beautiful place to play pickleball and enjoy soothing springs.

The Best Things to Do with Old Paddles

Maybe you’ve been playing with your paddle for a couple of months and it’s just not working out anymore. You could’ve started with a beginner paddle that now lacks finesse or you’ve developed into a different type of player and needs something better suited to your play style.

What’s the best thing to do with a paddle that’s lost some of its shine? We have a couple of ideas!

Donate to a Club

If you’re part of a local pickleball group, then you likely know that organizers are always in need of paddles for newbies to play with. Consider donating your old equipment so that beginners will have more options to try and more opportunity to play with something that’s a step above a wood paddle. If any local schools have pickleball programs or are even curious about trying the game, you could also help their program get rolling by giving them something to use.

Girl with paddle

(Credit: Baliboa Racquet)

Store a Backup

Another option is, of course, to not get rid of your original paddle at all. Friends and family members may get curious about pickleball the more you play, and it doesn’t hurt to have a backup on hand so others can try it without having to invest first. As another plus, you know all the ins and outs of your first paddle, so you’ll be able to better guide players who want to get serious about the game if they want to pick out their own equipment from there.

Return Your Paddle

This is contingent on how long you’ve had your paddle, but at PickleballCentral we offer a test drive policy that allows you to try out paddles for 30 days from the date of purchase. This means if you’ve had your paddle for a relatively short amount of time and have decided it’s just not working for you, you can give us a call to set up a return or exchange it for something different.

Other suppliers or manufacturers may have similar policies in place, and it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of them if you’re unsure of what you want or just need to have a paddle in your hands before you know if it will work out.

Paddle swing

(Credit: Ron B)

Perform Surgery

This may seem a bit wasteful, but depending on how old and/or battered your paddle already is, it may make perfect sense! The interior design of paddles is quite interesting, and if you’ve never seen a honeycomb core before or are curious about the way a paddle’s face “sandwiches” its interior, then you may want to break your paddle apart to see what it looks like on the inside.

Yes, there are pictures of paddle cores and handles, but each model is a little different, and it’s always interesting to be able to see things firsthand if you’re curious about how paddles are structured!

What have you done with your old paddles, whether you’ve gifted them to friends or simply dumped them for a newer design?

Meet The Pros: Tiener-X Nguyen

Meet The Pros – Tiener-X Nguyen

Tien Nguyen

Tiener-X Nguyen

Tiener-X Nguyen is an extreme strategist! I say this because he turned down chances to play in order to deeply study this game of pickleball before stepping onto the court. It is clear to me that he loves this “inclusive” game and he is in it to win it. Enjoy!

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

2017 State Games of Oklahoma (first tournament): Gold – Mixed Doubles 50+
     Gold – Singles 50/55+, Silver- Doubles 50/55+
2017 USAPA West Regionals: Gold- Mixed Doubles 4.5 50+
2017 State Games of America: Gold- Singles 5.0 50+
     Gold – Mixed Doubles 4.5 50+: Bronze- Doubles 4.5 35+
2017 OK Senior Games – Gold in three disciplines
2017 USAPA Nationals: Gold – Doubles 4.5 50+
     Bronze- Mixed 4.5 50+, Bronze, Singles 5.0 50+
2018 State Games of Oklahoma: Gold-Singles 5.0
     Gold- Mixed Doubles 5.0 50+, Silver- Doubles 5.0 50+
2018 Hawaii Senior Games – Gold in two disciplines
2018 USAPA Mountain Regional: Silver- Mixed Doubles 5.0 50-59
***All but two medals won in the Mixed division was with my wife, Moira Roush, as my partner***

What paddle do you play with and why?

Pro S1G

Pro S1G

I play with the Selkirk Pro S1G+; I like the overall feel and balance of the paddle. The paddle has been discontinued so I plan to upgrade to the newer AMPED models soon. I am a part of the Selkirk Team.

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

I first encountered pickleball during a TDY (temporary duty) near Surprise, AZ, in 2007. I saw from afar what appeared to be very small tennis courts. I returned that evening and saw how the game was played. It was enjoyed by both genders on the same court, young and old competing alongside and/or versus each other… camaraderie and “fun” filled the atmosphere. After watching for about an half hour, I pondered to myself what a great sport it was to give everyone across the spectrum an avenue to stay fit and still compete if desired. At the time, I didn’t lift a paddle or pursue pickleball any further.

In September 2016, I was exposed to pickleball again at a local gym through a friend’s invite. I watched and absorbed the game as I saw her play. I stayed a couple of hours to “let it dink in” (pardon the pun). I noticed how much fun as well as the “friendly competitiveness” everyone experienced. I did not partake, although I was asked. I did this two more times just to get a better understanding/knowledge of the game. On my fourth visit I participated and brought my own paddle, a wooden one.

I really enjoying playing sports, especially ones that hold my interest. I try to be a “student” of the game. A couple months later, I introduced pickleball to my wife. We’ve continued to play ever since.

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer outdoors where you have to learn to play the elements (sun, wind, shadows, etc). Those who can adjust their games better to the elements will normally come out ahead. In the Oklahoma City (OKC) area, there is only one outdoor place where everyone plays. It’s at Stephenson Park, where four pickleball courts are painted on one slightly dilapidated tennis court. There is a need for more outdoor courts in Oklahoma.

Tien Nguyen 2017 USAPA Nationals

Tien Nguyen 2017 USAPA Nationals

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like both, perhaps a slight edge toward singles, because in singles you “can’t not” stay focused during a point. When you do, you have given your opponent the advantage. In singles, I get to hit the ball every other hit.

I also enjoy doubles because everyone likes being a part of a team. I like setting up my partner as she/he knows when I have hit a better than average shot to gain a team advantage. When fatigue comes into play, doubles is a great alternative.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

Little Valley Pickleball Complex, Ogden, Utah

Little Valley Pickleball Complex, Ogden, Utah

Little Valley Pickleball Complex in St. George, UT. It is a great 24-court outdoor facility with lights, benches, restrooms and shade pavilions. It is open to the public and FREE to play. If OKC had a place one-quarter the size of St. George’s, it would assist with the “obesity” problem. The staff & volunteers in St. George run a great Regional Tournament.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I don’t have one but may go to one in the future: two hands on both sides in kitchen exchanges. I had to change my tennis strokes by hitting two hands on both sides due to two elbow surgeries.


Tips: Concentrate more on the easy put-aways. It is the point you have earned and/or set your team up to win. Don’t be so nonchalant and lose focus when executing it. It’s the easy points that you/your team must win, not the difficult ones.

What is your day job?

I am a Telecommunications Engineer for Tinker Air Force Base. I am a civilian who has been on five deployments: Qatar, Djibouti, & Cuba. If I had known about pickleball back then, I would have made a valiant effort to introduce it to our men and women overseas. I plan to introduce pickleball to Tinker Air Force Base personnel this summer.

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

I play 8-10 hours per week; I would like to do more drilling but there are not enough courts, so play takes precedence. I play mostly after my work day is finished and on weekends. Most times my wife and I are together, whether it is to play or drill.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I like to eat duck feet. (Just kidding…making a Swedish joke). None.

2018 Hawaii Oahu Tournament – Tiener-X Nguyen-Moira Roush Gold, Lori Tokutomi-Pete Bresciani Silver and Chris Why-Jimmy Lowe, bronze

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

I would like to play the top seniors in singles to see where I stand and what areas can improve. I got a chance to play a few at USAPA Nationals last year. Also, I would like to bring pickleball to other countries, especially Vietnam (my birth country). In Asian countries I have witnessed exercise regimes in the form of walking, badminton, Tai Chi, swimming, etc.  I see where pickleball would be a great addition to their fitness routines.

I would like to venture into the “Have Net, Will Travel” pickleball lessons concept. Something along the lines of my wife and I driving to provide lessons to individual(s)/couples/families/peers. Yes, you can watch videos and read all you want, but most people are visual/hands-on oriented. With us being present, the learning potential would be much greater. Anything within a 7 hours’ drive would be considered.

Oh yeah, and I enjoy cooking!

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

Pickleball has been the only sport where I have witnessed a great-great grandpa playing/competing with his great-great grandson… filled with smiles, being competitive and continuing to make life-long memories. I do have a “Barrel List” (like a Bucket List):

  • Play on the same court with a person from each of the 50 States.
  • Play a tournament in all 50 States
  • Play in all 6 continents

I have “Sour Dills” (like pet/pickleball peeves): In pickup play, when an opposing team avoids hitting to the better player. This tells me 0-0-2 things:

(1) You would rather win versus improving your game… really… win a “pickup game”?
(2) You are preparing (for your upcoming tournament) to beat teams that are “inferior” than yours. Thus you need to work on that game strategy.

I plan to take advantage of free lessons and tips.