Meet the Pros – Lenny Chimino

Meet The Pros – Lenny Chimino

Cynthia Tietze January 15, 2018 · Congratulations to CarlTietze & Michael Cox for battling into the dark and taking home the SILVER🥈MD 5.0 65-69 at the Southwest Regional, way to go all you guys! Gold to Seymour Rifkind & Lenny Chimino, and Bronze to Mark Freidenberg & Al Hager

MD 5.0 65-69 at the 2018 Southwest Regional –  Al Hager & Mark Freidenberg – Bronze, , Lenny Chimino & Seymour Rifkind – Gold and Carl Tietze & Michael Cox – Silver

Lenny Chimino is an Illinois-to-Arizona snowbird who sometimes can’t convince folks back home that pickleball is a sport. He’s a retired teacher and coach, so that makes him a subject matter expert on what a sport is in my eyes. Enjoy!

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

2018 USAPA Nationals MD 65-69 5.0 Gold with Ted Meyer
2017 USAPA Nationals MD 65-69 5.0 Gold with Ted Meyer
2016 USAPA Nationals MD 65-69 5.0 Gold with Ted Meyer
2016 USAPA Nationals MX 65-69 5.0 Bronze with Sally Dobson
2015 USAPA Nationals MD 65-69 5.0 Silver with John Grasso
2014 USAPA Nationals MD 60-64 5.0 Silver with John Grasso
2013 USAPA Nationals MD 60-64 5.0 Gold with John Grasso
2012 USAPA Nationals MD 60-64 5.0 Silver with John Grasso
2011 USAPA Nationals MD 55-50 4.5 Silver with Mike Rains
2018 SW Regional MD 65-69 5.0 Gold with Seymour Rifkind
2018 SW Regional MX 65-69 5.0 Gold with Carolyn Bagley
2016 Huntsman MD 65-69 5.0 Gold with Ted Meyer

Head Radical Pro

What paddle do you play with and why?

This past year I played with the Head Radical Pro and Radical Tour paddles. I like the grip, touch, control and power of these Head paddles.

Head Radical Tour

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

I was asked to come play pickleball while on a hike in Sabino Canyon, Arizona. I learned more about the game from John Grasso and Tony Calendrillo and watched tournament play to learn to compete. I also spoke with Pat Kane and Chili.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I like playing outdoors in the sun, fresh air and elements.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles. I like the strategy, teamwork and dink play. I also prefer to play tournaments with different players during the season.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I don’t really have a favorite place. I love tournament play as well as any place there is good play, good fun or learning opportunities.

Lenny Chimino Casa Grande

Juli Goft, left (hand), Estelle Dechaine, Rob Barrett and Lenny Chimino play a game of pickleball at Mission Royale. (photo credit Oscar Perez/ Casa Grande Dispatch, Feb 23, 2016)

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players? 

Not really. I try to “Keep it Simple.” So my advice? Keep the ball in play. Play soft and be patient. Be a positive encouraging partner.

What is your day job?

I’ve been retired since 2005. I was a high school teacher, coach and administrator over my 31 years in public education.

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

I try to play 3 times a week, probably 10-12 hours. I also enjoy golf and biking.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I used to be superstitious when coaching basketball, but not with pickleball or tournament play.

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

My goal is to play as long as physically possible and as long as my skills allow me to be competitive.

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

Enjoy the game. Always show good sportsmanship on and off the court as a partner and opponent.

 

Easy and Effective Pickleball Hand-Eye Coordination Drills

A wide variety of techniques go into pickleball skill development, but as much as areas like footwork and ball placement matter, at its core pickleball is still a sport centered around hand-eye coordination. No matter how ingenious a play is in your mind, if you can’t get your paddle to connect then you’re out of luck!

On the Edge

To develop your coordination there’s a simple technique you can use that you may have already done unconsciously while waiting to play a game. Here Coach Claudia Fontana introduces the drill as “On the Edge.” The goal is to practice bouncing a pickleball up and down on your paddle. You want your wrist to remain firm while controlling where the ball makes contact.

 

 

Once this feels comfortable, you can turn your paddle so that the ball is bouncing on the side/edge guard. This obviously narrows your target area and makes the movement a bit trickier to position. If that gets easy too, you can switch between the front, side and back of the paddle while moving to see how well you can keep the ball in motion.

If it helps you to get a clearer image of the action, here is another video of Coach Lavery performing the drill in real time. He makes it look simple!

 

 

Wall and Ball

You can also do a series of exercises simply using a pickleball and a wall. It’s an ideal exercise when you don’t have a lot of time or space to practice but want to get in some training.

Here Jack Cascio is using a tennis ball, but you can do the same with a pickleball. Simply by changing the position of your hand, type of throw and amount of vision available, you can train yourself to more quickly respond to incoming shots.

 

 

Pickleball “Juggling”

Lastly, to test your current hand-eye coordination and give yourself a challenge, try this array of exercises from Third Shot Sports. You’ll be using a wall again, but this time more than one pickleball will be involved in the rotation. It’s a bit like juggling, but using a paddle instead of your hands!

How controlled can you keep the speed and direction of your hits?

 

 

Playing actual games is, of course, a great way to improve your abilities too. But by honing in on more precise exercises like this, you’ll often find that your movements gain more precision, more quickly.

If you have any favorite drills or exercises for developing hand-eye coordination, let us know in the comments.

3rd Bainbridge Cup Arriving in Germany – Are You Team North America or Europe?

This summer an exciting showdown will happen between two powerhouse pickleball teams representing North America and Europe at the 2019 Bainbridge Cup in Essen, Germany. Will you be part of the action?

Closely following this competition is another great international opportunity in the form of the first German Open. It’s time to mark your calendars for July 12 – 14th if you want exposure to some of the world’s top pickleball talent.

Bainbridge Cup 2019

All players who register for the Open are placed in their respective teams based on country of origin. Last year Team North America won the title in with pro Daniel Moore at its helm, and Europe, with the guidance of Oliver Strecker, is eagerly looking to settle the score.

The German Pickleball Association is hosting the event at the TVN Tennis Centre. As one of the largest indoor tennis halls in Europe, its 14 tennis courts will be converted to an impressive 28 pickleball courts! It offers generous training rooms, showers, match seating, parking and new LED lighting along the courts.

TVN Tennis Centre

The Bainbridge Cup itself will take place Friday, July 12 and is an age/skill-based competition with men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. The same categories will apply at the following German Open on July 13 – 14th. The registration fee is $63 while the event fee for the Bainbridge Cup is $17 for all events and $17 per event for the German Open.

Essen is known for its important role in German industry due to its history in coal mining and steel production. It has a number of unique museums dedicated to this subject and others such as design and art. It’s also home to a series of beautiful botanical gardens collectively known as Grugapark that not only includes a wide array of plants, but aviaries with enclosures for herons, flamingos and owls.

With theatres, elegant churches and even a Baroque Castle (Schloss Borbeck), there’s much to enjoy.

Grugapark in Essen (Credit: Grugapark.de)

Popular nearby cities (within an hour’s travel time) include Dusseldorf, Cologne and Dortmund. A number of local hotels in Essen can be found on the German Pickleball Association’s website.

The Bainbridge Cup is sure to be full of incredible talent from around the world just as it was in Italy last year. Sign up now to secure your position and represent your team!

Meet The Pros – Steve Deakin

Meet The Pros – Steve Deakin

Steve Deakin Margaritaville

Steve Deakin at 2018 USAPA Nationals, Indian Wells

When I first reached out to Steve, I thought he was a young up-and-coming pro. Hey, his track record now speaks for itself! He is a bona fide PROfessional. Enjoy!

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

These would be my most memorable results in the limited time I have been competing:

2019 International Indoor in Centralia – Gold in the Men’s Doubles.
2018 US Nationals Indian Wells, Silver in 35+ 5.0, Men’s Doubles and 5th/6th in the Men’s Doubles Open/Pro division.
2018 Canadian Indoor Championships Chilliwack, Men’s Doubles Open – Silver and Mixed Doubles Open – Silver
2018 Kamloops, Open Men’s Doubles Open – Gold and Mixed Doubles Open – Silver
2018 Alberta Provincial Championships Doubles Gold Men’s and Mixed Doubles Open
2018 Pacific NW Regionals in Bend 5.0 Bronze in both Men’s Doubles 19+ and Mixed Doubles 35+
2018 Grip and Rip Doubles – Gold Men’s and Mixed Doubles Open
2018 Pickle Barrel Classic – Silver Men’s Doubles 5.0 and Gold Mixed Doubles 5.0

Steve Deakin/Rick Witskin Gold

2019 Intl Indoor Pickleball Tournament: Tyson McGuffin/Morgan Evans-Bronze, Steve Deakin/Rick Witskin – Gold, Erik Lange – Bronze

I would like to thank all my partners to date who have been a part of my journey the past 2 years. Mike “The Ninja” Yee, Tim MacVinnie, Mike “The Jockey” Kerr, Darren Tillson, Marco Jankowiak, Barry Mah, Nick Williams, Rick “Ripskin” Witsken, Brenda Martel, Ronith Cogswell, and Irene Mah.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk Amped Invikta. It is by far the best paddle I have played with to date. I enjoy the extra length that gives more reach along with the added power and touch that makes this paddle so desirable by many players of all skill levels.

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

I come from an extensive tennis background but suffered a shoulder injury while competing at Canadian Nationals August of 2016. I was rehabbing this injury for months without any relief or return to sport in sight. I was getting frustrated with the process as I had many big tournaments on the horizon that I had to withdraw from due to this injury. This was devastating for me as tennis was a huge part of my life. My dad recognized this and approached me about a sport called pickleball. Claiming it is “exciting, fun to play and much easier on the body.” I had reservations at first about playing a sport that had a hamburger garnish in its name. Ha ha! After 3 consecutive weeks of an invite  to play at my local recreation centre (which I declined), I finally decided to give in, take my dad up on the offer and join him. I was immediately hooked and left tennis behind January 2017. I still struggled with the shoulder issue but was able to play/compete while rehabbing. I earned a gold medal in my first tournament in March 2017 and now pickleball is one of my passions.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Hands down, outdoors! I always enjoy the challenges of navigating the wind, sun, etc. I also prefer playing with the Durafast 40 Pickleball. I am no stranger to playing indoor pickleball though, as I live in Vancouver and I’m pretty certain it rains more than half the year! Haha.

Steve Deakin Men's Doubles

Steve Deakin at 2018 USAPA Nationals

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love doubles, as rallies can be very long. It combines the excitement of the fast exchanges along with the patience of the soft game. I really enjoy the thinking and strategies involved as well.  Even so, I do plan to start playing some singles next year.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I have two places that stand out. Number 1 is the Pitt Meadows Rec Centre near my home where I played pickleball for the first time. I will never forget the picklers there that taught me the rules of the game as there were quite a few. Number 2 is the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. I recently played USAPA Nationals there and the atmosphere was electric, the crowd support was large and the courts were pristine.

Steve Deakin action

Steve Deakin at the 2018 USAPA Nationals

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce is my hand speed and dinking consistency. Tips: Practice patience while dinking and learn to recognize the right time to speed up a point. I will hit as many dinks as I feel necessary to extract the right ball from my opponents to put away. Think before you dink. I strongly believe if you want to improve your game (no matter what skill level) drill those dinks and third shot drops!

What is your day job?

I work for my uncle’s business selling mineral exploration equipment to mining camps.

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

This is a touchy subject and may want to plead the 5th on this one… haha. Just ask my wife Stacy who has become a pickleball widow. I would say I play 12 hours a week and she would say 20 hours. I am sure somewhere in the middle is the truth. I play 3-4 days a week depending on what tournaments are coming up and what time of year it is. I’ll usually play 3 days a week during winter months and 4 days a week during summer months when the weather is nice.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I am very ritualistic when it comes to tournament preparation and that came from my tennis background. However, I have lightened up just a bit on those rituals for pickleball. One funny thing I will typically not do during a tournament is sign the score sheet after a win. I am sure my partners scratch their head when I point to the referee and walk away.

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

I would like to win Gold at the USAPA Nationals, the US Open and the Tournament Of Champions Event in the next 2 years.

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

Pickleball has opened up so many amazing opportunities for me. It keeps me fit, healthy and has cultivated many new friendships. I love it and will continue to play for many years to come. A special thanks to the entire group at Selkirk who have treated me very well throughout my development as a competitive player. A very special thanks to my wife Stacy and family who have supported me with this new passion.

Pickleball Ball Holders and Storage Ideas

When you’re playing pickleball, especially in an area with multiple games, it’s a given that balls will end up scattered across the courts by the end of play. Picking them all up without the assistance of any sort of tools can be tiring and backbreaking work, which is why we provide a number of pickleball-collecting solutions to make the process easier.

From rolling caddies to ball hoppers and collectors, we’ll help you figure out the best storage fit for your needs.

Kollectaball CS40 Ball Collector

Kollectaball CS40 Ball Collector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kollectaball line allows you to simply roll your way to a tidier court. Just pass the cage over pickleballs and they slide between the wires for dispensing elsewhere. This product almost feels like you’re using a lightweight lawnmower or vacuum, but it’s a lot more fun!

When we first took it to our PickleballStation courts to tidy up after clinics and open play, we were surprised to find both employees and customers jumping to do the job for us! You can’t often say that something makes chores both easier and more enjoyable. If you want an option that holds more than this model, we also carry the K-Max Ball Collector which holds up to 60 pickleballs.

Pickleball Ballport Mini

Pickleball Ballport Mini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t need to stash too many pickleballs, the Ballport Mini is a great way to make clean-up more efficient. At only 3.5 lbs, you can carry it around and then press it atop balls so they pass into the storage area. Two rods prevent the pickleballs from falling out.

You can then change the position of the “handles” so they become legs when you’re ready to play again for easy access to the balls. The larger version of this model, the Deluxe Pickleball Caddy, holds more and also comes with wheels so you can quickly move it around the court.

GAMMA Pickleball Hopper

GAMMA Pickleball Hopper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GAMMA Pickleball Hopper is similar to the Ballport Mini, but it has a different shape and make. Its hexagonal design helps to improve durability. The carbon steel handles can be used to maneuver the hopper for gathering pickleballs or rotated around for conversion into a standing storage container.

It uses “floating wires” that prevent the structure from weakening over time and holds up to 50 pickleballs.

Quick Cart Plus

Quick Cart Plus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our most expensive option, the Quick Cart Plus, is a sturdy and adaptable container with a huge storage capacity. With wheels and a structure that can be folded together for easy transport, it’s ideal for players on the go. The zippered upper bin holds an astounding 150 pickleballs.

The lower shelf is made of mesh so you can stash other necessities. It also comes with its own bag so it can be stored safely when not in use.

What are your favorite pickleball storage solutions and how do you like to streamline the post-game ball collecting ordeal?

Test Your Indoor Pickleball Skills at the Finnish Open

This week the U.S. is hosting the lnternational Indoor Pickleball Championships in Centralia, but there’s another competition coming up you won’t want to miss if you’re seeking more opportunities for international exploration and honing your indoor skills: the Finnish Open!

Pickleball Finland will be hosting the tournament June 14 – 16 at the Esport Center in Espoo. This is the largest indoor sports complex in all of the Nordic countries. There are a total of 16 courts available and the venue is very polished, to say the least.

Finnish Open 2019

The Esport Center offers a large variety of services for participants and visitors, including a café with 70 seats, pro shop, locker and shower rooms, and saunas—an obvious “must” considering the location!

Espoo is only a 20-minute ride on the metro line from Helsinki, making it easy to shuttle back and forth. The capital of Finland provides plenty of options for fun when you’re not at the courts, from its famous market square where countless stalls and fishing boats sell their goods, to a church made from ancient rock, a zoo filled with 150 species, a giant central park, elegant museums and a UNESCO-protected island fortress.

Helsinki

Helsinki (Credit: Travel Triangle)

The 3rd Finnish Open is a skill-level tournament (official of self-assessed) with singles, doubles and mixed events. Participants are guaranteed a minimum of four games per event. The deadline for registration is May 24th, so make sure to sign up through their management site soon.

The registration fee including one event is 45€ (~$50). The price lowers for each additional event you join, costing 15€ for the second and 10€ for the third. You can also add a full-course buffet dinner on Saturday for ~$40 and a special tournament t-shirt for ~$17.

Before the tournament begins, on Thursday (6/13) players can enjoy Pickleball Finland’s weekly open court session to warm up and meet your competition. A special deal has also been arranged with Sokos Hotel Tapiola Garden for discounted rates. Click here to read more about the opportunities for lodging.

Esport Center

Pickleball at the Esport Center (Credit: Pickleball Finland)

Sokos Hotel is only about 1.5 mi from Espoo and has a number of enjoyable amenities including a shopping center, cultural center, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art and a Lutheran church. If you’d prefer not to walk the distance to the Esport Center, you can also take the affordable metro, bus or a taxi.

Don’t miss out on this special opportunity to take in the sights of beautiful Finland while fitting in your craving for pickleball. Go visit Pickleball Finland to reserve your spot!

Randy Wince Adds Extra Fun to Pickleball with Unique Events

Randy Wince gives his local group of picklers plenty to look forward to thanks to the fun activities he plans every month at the Life Fitness Center in Bettendorf, IA.

Randy had always loved organizing parties and celebrations during his previous employment at Northwestern Bell. Now retired, he applies his knack for event planning to devise unique pickleball events.

Judy Petersen and Paul Willoughby

Judy Petersen and Paul Willoughby (Credit: QC Times)

The seven courts he frequents normally host around 50 players during standard times of play, but his festivities have brought in an extra influx of participants. This month Randy set up a St. Patrick’s-themed gathering and 75 people wanted in on the action! A bagpipe player was even brought in to set the mood.

Another idea Randy expanded on came from joking about players needing to compete for WWE-style belts. A short time later, he actually brought in belts that picklers in A and B divisions now wear. The belts are used by each individual for a week and are then passed to other winners. Randy has also provided smaller trophies to be given as permanent awards.

Myrna Seline

Myrna Seline (Credit: QC Times)

In March last year, Randy underwent back surgery and has shared how pickleball helped him to physically and mentally recover from the operation. By setting up these events, he’s been able to pass on the support and “good vibes” the community provided him when he needed it the most.

We love when picklers get creative with their ideas and find ways to add even more excitement to the sport. Have you ever set up a special event for your pickleball club or group? Are there any concepts you haven’t seen yet but would like to make a reality?

Marlene Corray

Marlene Corray (Credit: QC Times)