Lunch with Pickleball Founder Barney McCallum


Glen Petersen and Barney McCallum, 2016

The other day I had lunch with Barney and David McCallum at the Seattle Yacht Club. Time seemed to slip backwards as I sat with Barney and his son in the mahogany-lined dining room overlooking Union Bay, listening to their nostalgic stories of how pickleball came to be.

Mostly they remember the people. Energetic, creative people. Some famous, some nearly infamous. Barney was among the three who invented the game of pickleball in 1965. In 1972 he launched the first pickleball company, Pickle-ball Inc., and started manufacturing the first commercial paddles. Barney made the early paddles by hand.


One of the first pickleball paddles. Made by Barney McCallum by hand.

In April 1966, within the first year of pickleball’s birth, Barney and David were tinkering with the kitchen line placement in their Magnolia neighborhood cul-de-sac. They moved it from six and half feet (badminton distance) back to seven feet to prevent one particularly tall player from dominating the sport with volleys at the kitchen line. We agreed that they got it right.

Barney was an enormously successful inventor and businessman in the envelope industry. Pickleball was never more than a hobby to him, although he’s better known for inventing this quirky sport than his innovative envelope machine patents. Barney was the first player to experiment with the third shot dink as a means to advance to the kitchen line.

He would announce to his partner that “the X is on” before hitting a 3rd shot dink so they would move forward together. Barney and his partner, Jim Weller, routinely won the early pickleball tournaments sponsored by Nalley Pickles back in the 80s.


Barney playing pickleball in the 1970s

I asked whether the game was named after the dog, Pickles, or whether the story was true the name originated from a rowing crew term. Barney and Dave roll their eyes. “Everyone involved knows the name came from the dog.” They have pictures of Pickles back when the name was adopted.

Evidently there were efforts to rename the sport. “Don’t change it,” Barney exhorted. We agreed that all efforts must be made to ensure the name of PICKLEBALL sticks, and that agreement is binding, as far as I am concerned.

Barney still spends much of his summer on Bainbridge Island, the birthplace of this wonderful game of pickleball. I was only four years old in Seattle at the time, but for those few hours in the Seattle Yacht Club, I felt like I was right there with him and his pickleball partners in the summer of 1965.

Glen Petersen

Meet The Pros – Scott Clayson

Meet The Pros – Scott Clayson

Silver Fall Brawl Scott Clayson/Laura Ogden

Fall Brawl St. George, Utah: Gold with Tyler W. Sheffield, Silver Scott Clayson/Laura Ogden Fenton Kovanda, Bronze Roxanne Pierce/Scott Lennan

Scott Clayson has been described as an “awesome partner and a class-act person” by one of his doubles partners. He’s a humble guy who is totally addicted to this sport! ENJOY!

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

Silver in 2016 Fall Brawl Mixed Doubles age with Laura Fenton Kovanda
Gold in 2016 Tournament of Champions Legends Men’s Doubles with Scott Moore
Silver in 2016 Tournament of Champions Legends Mixed Doubles with Alex Hamner
Gold in 2016 US Open Men’s age 50-55 with Scott Moore
Silver in 2016 US Open Mixed age 45-50 with Stephanie Lane
Bronze in 2016 US Open Men’s Senior Open 50+ with Michael Gates
Gold 2016 USAPA Western Regional Tournament Mixed 50+ with Gigi LeMaster
Gold in 2016 Grand Canyon State Games Men’s age 50-60 with Michael Gates
Silver in 2016 Grand Canyon State Games Mixed age 50-55 with Alex Hamner

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. Early on in my pickleball experience I tried a number of different paddles. I have now found a home with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. I think it strikes the right balance of touch for the soft game and pop for a deep return of serve. I also feel that it has durability so it lasts longer than some other paddles I’ve used in the past.

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

Interestingly, I was introduced to pickleball in 1998 by a coworker. We only had four of us playing for about a year. At the end of the year, our most avid player died and our group ceased to play. I didn’t play again for another 13 years, as there was no one to play with. Then a local tennis player, Kyle Klein, started a group in our local community of Brigham City, home of Tournament Of Champions, and my addiction grew from there.  If anything, I’ve had to restrain myself from playing too much. I would strongly encourage others to cross train with other exercises as I have found injuries come from repetitive angles on my joints.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I prefer outdoor play as I like the fresh air and the outdoor surface. We do play indoors for 2 or 3 months though and still have a great time.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles as I want to save my joints so I can play as long as possible!

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I really enjoy playing recreationally in Brigham City, Utah. We have a number of different levels of players in our local area. We have a great time playing competitive games plus a little trash talking to keep it interesting.

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

My background was in high school tennis and participating in local community racquetball tournaments, but my most dominant influence has been table tennis. My mindset for the game of pickleball is that it’s like one large ping pong table. I grip high on the neck of the paddle handle and use the same grip I use on a ping pong paddle. I use a lot of wrist and particularly favor my backhand, which is unusual for a pickleball player.

What’s your day job?

I retired back in 2010 from working in the oil / gas industry as a CPA. I do a few hours of consulting each month plus some of my own investing activities. When I go out to play pickleball, I tell my wife I am headed to work. She caught on really quickly.

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

In past years I played 4 or 5 days per week, but I’ve cut that back to 3 days per week as I want to cross train with other exercise programs like biking, lifting weights, etc. In hours, I probably play 10 hours per week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Eggs and whole grain cereal for breakfast. Playing warm up points or games help me greatly.

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

My goal is to not take it so seriously. If it becomes too much like work, I won’t enjoy it. It is just a game and I want to keep it that way. With that being said, it is more fun to win than to lose.

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

First, I am not one of the best in world. I prove it by losing regularly! Second, I am excited to see the sport grow and positively affect the lives of people who may not have played a sport at their age or physical ability. I also think the social and emotional benefits are unique and are the greatest part of why the sport is so addictive. I do think there can be a “dark side” to the pickleball addiction if people do not keep a proper perspective and life balance. I worry sometimes that people alter their family, religious or work life to accommodate an excessive amount of pickleball. That being said, the sport has far more positive benefits than negatives and I enjoy it very much!

USAPA 2015 Nationals: Gold Medalists Rob and Jodi Elliott, Silver Medalists Josh and Abby Grubbs and Bronze Medalists Scott Clayson and Stephanie Lane.

2015 USAPA Nationals: Gold Medalists Rob and Jodi Elliott, Silver Medalists Josh and Abby Grubbs and Bronze Medalists Scott Clayson and Stephanie Lane

The Birth of the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association

Pop! Pop! Pop!

The familiar sound of pickleballs ricocheting off paddles filled the pickleball courts at Palm Creek in Casa Grande, Arizona. The noise was a soundtrack to the hard-fought tournament in progress at the 2016 USAPA Nationals. The rapid back-and-forth of two teams competing their hearts out served as music to the ears of international gymnastic gold medalist-turned-pickleball aficionado, Seymour Rifkind.

“What a fantastic event,” exclaimed the author of 21st Century Samurai: The Secret Path to Success and Fulfillment. “The organization was outstanding, and the media coverage was instantaneous.”

With over 10,000 views and counting on YouTube, this year’s 2016 USAPA Nationals has been shared time and again. “The competition just keeps getting better… and younger,” Seymour says in a reflective tone.

USAPA Nationals

Image credit: Tom Gottfried

During the 2015 National Tournament, pickleball coaches and players including Rifkind discussed whether the time was right to organize a formal teacher certification program. All sports have training camps and clinics which are used to cultivate talent. Standards needed to be set and adhered to, and teachers needed to maintain high standards.

This led to the birth of the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA). According to Rifkind the organization created “a curriculum of agreed-upon basic pickleball fundamentals [such as] identifying the correct strategies, shot selections and strokes for beginner through intermediate players.”

Five months later, on the heels of the US Open Pickleball Championships, the IPTPA was born. “We launched our website and formally started certifying IPTPA teaching professionals,” says Rifkind. Since its inception, the IPTPA has had over 200 people in various stages of the certification process, of which approximately 100 are IPTPA certified.

This isn’t simply a “sign up and get on the list” scenario. The IPTPA takes their certifications seriously to ensure the future of the sport is in good hands. No stranger to success, Rifkind and company challenge the applicants to be their best. “We have a failure rate of 7.5% identified as individuals who did not pass one or more of the three tests required and have been asked to retake the exam at a later date after completing more study, practice and/or teaching experience.”

It’s clear that Rifkind was feeling that passion that made him an Olympic-level gymnast. “One of the most important traits of a good coach is the recognition from the start that this is a selfless profession. It is not about me; it is about my students. You need to feel genuine satisfaction in helping your students achieve their goals.”

“All your planning, study and self-improvement should be directed to helping your students: How can I organize my lessons and clinics more effectively? What additional drills or suggestions can I learn to aid my students in learning the third shot drop? What are the most effective training tools other IPTPA members use while teaching? What can I do to motivate, recognize problem areas and, most importantly, correct the problems I identify with each of my students with each of my students?”

Seymour Rifkind

Seymour Rifkind

Prior to his involvement in pickleball, Seymour Rifkind traveled the world putting on peak performance workshops for major university athletic teams. He explained to coaches that peak performance was more than breaking down film. It was about reinforcing the basics, training harder and longer, and surrounding yourself with other coaching experts. At the highest level of competition, the mental aspects that each individual must train to develop is the critical factor to success and winning titles. Focus, commitment, and one’s belief system become paramount mental factors to success.”

In order to maintain member status as a certified teaching professional, it is required that each IPTPA member continue his or her education by earning 2 continuing education units (CEU) per year. This process will be emphasized and enforced in year two. IPTPA will offer extensive full-day workshops such as the one being offered on April 21 in Naples, Florida (which will fulfill the 2-CEU requirement) as well as monthly webinars and on-line video tutorials.




Members may also write articles, create videos and tip sheets for submission to IPTPA. If they are deemed worthy and published, members will earn CEU credit. In this way, a two-way level of communication is encouraged so that members and management are working together to fulfill their mission:

IPTPA will be the world’s leading organization of Certified Pickleball Teaching Professionals, viewed and highly respected as an organization of knowledgeable experts and industry innovators. IPTPA will deliver an ongoing program of workshops, seminars and other learning experiences to continually raise the quality of each of our members. Our intent is to raise the standards of pickleball excellence on a worldwide basis and to work in conjunction with the USAPA to help grow the sport of pickleball.

As Seymour Rifkind reminisces about all the progress made, he can’t help but look ahead to what the 2017 US Open Championships hold. He is excited to see which star athletes will become the next champions, breaking out of their molds to become superstars.

“In April 2017, we will be celebrating our first full year in operation. We will kick off our second year by introducing the first of many content-driven programs for our membership. The first IPTPA World Congress is scheduled as an all-day workshop to be held April 21, 2017, in Naples, Florida, in conjunction with the 2017 US Open Pickleball Championships.”

IPTPA members should visit their website and sign up for their inaugural IPTPA World Congress.

Prospective members may also be interested in checking the website as well, to learn more about the IPTPA such as requirements necessary for certification. Follow the IPTPA Facebook page for additional content and breaking updates.

Meet The Pros: Gail and Dennis Dacey

Meet The Pros – Gail and Dennis Dacey


The family that plays together, stays together, right? Gail and Dennis are experts on playing and winning at mixed doubles with each other. Enjoy!

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

Gail and Dennis have an impressive list of wins, and here are the medals they won together:
2016 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Doubles age – Gold, with Dennis
2015 National Senior Games – Mixed Doubles age – Silver
2014 Arizona State PB Championships – Mixed Doubles age – Gold
2013 National Senior Games – Mixed Doubles age- Gold
2013 So. Cal Classic – Mixed Doubles age – Gold
2013 USAPA Nationals Mixed Doubles age – Silver
2012 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Doubles Age – Gold
2012 Huntsman Sr. Games – Mixed Doubles age – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

Gail:  I play with the Legacy. I have a good feeling for the soft game with it and it gives me punch when I need it.
Dennis: The Black Mamba by POP. I like both the touch and the power it gives me.

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

Gail: I played tournament tennis as a kid, racquetball as an adult. When my partner got injured I was without a sport for a couple of years. In 2007, an article in the paper described pickleball. I showed up at the courts and found I could use most of my skills from tennis and racquetball. I was hooked!
Dennis: I saw a feature in the local paper on pickleball. Just by reading the article, I knew I would love the sport.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Gail and Dennis: A resounding, “Outdoors!”

Grand Canyon State Games - Gail Dacey - Glen Brower Gold

2016 Grand Canyon State Games – Gail Dacey – Glen Brower Gold, Marylou Furaus – Bob Youngren, Silver, Rita Weihe – Lance Thiede Bronze

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Gail: I used to love singles more than doubles but my hamstring made me change my mind. I have grown to love and appreciate doubles, especially the connection with my partner. It’s very rewarding to work together toward a mutual goal.
Dennis: Doubles, because it doesn’t hurt so much!

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Gail and Dennis: We’re lucky enough to have plenty of great places near our homes in Surprise, AZ and San Marcos, CA.

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

Gail: My secret sauce is to keep the game “vanilla:” be methodical and stunningly boring, waiting patiently for the killer opportunity. And chewing gum!  Tips? Always be on the lookout for advice and tips , including watching videos that might help your game.
Dennis: My favorite shot is the backhand cross court dink from the even side of the court. Tip? Drill, drill, drill.

Dennis Dacey — at Granlibakken Tahoe.

Dennis Dacey — at Granlibakken Tahoe.

What’s your day job?

Gail: I was an elementary school teacher for 30 years, mostly kindergarten and 1st grade. I have been retired for 10 years. I wouldn’t go back for anything. Life is good, right here, right now!
Dennis: I was USAPA Rules Chairman, and now serve as IFP Rules Chair. I am a retired engineer.

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

Gail: I love to play a couple of hours a day so maybe 12 – 14 a week. The hard part is restricting play to give the body and mind a break and do the rest of “life”!
Dennis: 18 hours a week. No problem making time.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Gail: Just the basics: eat right, hydrate, plenty of rest. Chew gum!
Dennis: Early to bed, early to rise.

Dennis and Gail Dacey — at Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort.

Dennis and Gail Dacey — at Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort.

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

Gail: My short term goal is to wake up in the morning pain free and grateful for all pickleball has done to enrich my life. My long term goal is to play in the Nationals XVIII (2026) in the 80’s Mixed Doubles with my sweet husband and maybe earn a medal!
Dennis: My goal this year was to heal from ankle surgery and win gold at the Nationals in Mixed Doubles.

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

Gail: Ha! I don’t know about that, unless you add “for her age.” In that case I’ll credit good genes and take some pride for making the most with what I have. I am even more proud of finding a way to play competitively with my husband… not always an easy task!
Dennis: At 70+, I’m competitive with my peers (and occasionally the younger guys) and that’s good enough for me.

Gigi LeMaster, Melissa McCurley, Gail Dacey and Dennis Dacey before the great treetop adventure!

Gigi LeMaster, Melissa McCurley, Gail Dacey and Dennis Dacey before the great treetop adventure!

Meet The Pros: Tracy Worley Hagen

Meet The Pros: Tracy Worley Hagen

We are loving the influx of tennis players who fall in love with pickleball. Tracy played Wimbledon in ’82. She is a class act! Enjoy!


Tracy Worley Hagen and Wendie Mahan, Gold Women’s Doubles 55+

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

2016 USAPA Nationals in the Women’s Doubles 55+ with Wendie Mahan- Gold
2016 US Open Women’s Doubles 50+ with Kris Anderson – Bronze
2016 Tustin Winter Classic – Mixed Doubles with Sid Crossley – Bronze
2014 USAPA Nationals Women’s Doubles 50 with Kris Anderson – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

I am sponsored by Paddletek and I love playing with the Paddletek Graphite Tempest.

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

I’ve competed in tennis for 40 years, played Wimbledon in 1982, and I was ranked #1 in Women’s Doubles in the 50’s nationally. I started playing pickleball 3 years ago and I’m addicted. Here’s why: It’s easier on my shoulder than tennis, mainly because of the serve. It’s also easier on my knees because I don’t have as much court to cover. It’s super satisfying to hit the ball with that noise it makes on the volley. It’s fun playing with men and women together, as pickleball is more of an equalizer than tennis.

It’s obvious to me why the sport is growing so fast because anyone can play it, whether or not they played another racquet sport. Obviously if they did, they start out with an advantage from a hand/eye coordination standpoint.

The only negative I’ve found in pickleball is that fact that tennis courts are being cannibalized at a rapid rate everywhere! But besides that, I love my new sport.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

 I prefer playing outside because we have great weather here in Southern California.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles because there is more strategy and less court to cover.


Tracy Worley Hagen and Mike Fedderly Jan 2016

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

Secret sauce for competitions is the same as for tennis: shade, lots of protein, rest legs in days immediately before the competition to have strength to go the distance late in the day. Advice: Try it!  You’ll like it…

What’s your day job?

I own a video production company called Video Resources in Santa Ana, California. I’m recently widowed and I have 2 children. I’m also a 4-time Mayor of Tustin, California, my home town where I still live.


Pickleball in the Czech Republic: A Lesson in Fun

When a teacher and a sports trainer join forces, you know things will get done! Pickleball found its way into the Czech Republic thanks to a determined duo made up of US Open silver medalist Lenka Mišičková and teacher/counselor Jodi Oppenhuizen. These two players have plenty of expertise between them and use a friendly yet consistent process for integrating the game into local communities.

Lenka and Jodi

Jodi Oppenhuizen (left) and Lenka Mišičková (right)

Joining Forces

The first time pickleball found its way into the Czech Republic was in 2014 after Jodi was introduced to the game by her parents and learned to play in Michigan. She brought donated paddles and balls to the Christian International School in Prague where she works and started a pickleball club. Wanting more partners to play with, she also taught her friends about the game and created the Pickleball Czech Facebook page to share information.

A year later and worlds apart at the time, Lenka visited with a friend in Meadville, PA. There she was introduced to senior pickleball champion John Vicek. After sharing pictures from his matches, John and his wife invited Lenka to their home in Windsor, Canada to learn the game. Lenka quickly took to it, having been a ping pong champion in her teen years and an athlete her whole life.

Pickleball in Prague

Pickleball in Prague

It was only last year (2015) that Lenka and Jodi crossed paths. Lenka contacted Jodi after finding out about her efforts through a mutual contact in Amsterdam. After falling in love with pickleball, she wanted to help spread the word about the addictive game.

Gearing Up

Jodi lent equipment to Lenka so she could teach pickleball to kids at FIT Sports Club just south of Opava in Hradec nad Moravici, where she also trains them in ping pong, tennis, roller blading and floor ball (known in the U.S. as “floor hockey”).

Lenka’s first attempt was during the children’s summer camp, where they quickly became interested in the sport. As a follow-up, she continued to teach them pickleball during the 2015 – 2016 school year in the Czech Republic’s Moravian-Silesian region.

In spring 2016, Lenka purchased the domain for the Pickleball Czech website to better network with newcomers. Her and Jodi’s initiative was also strengthened by the head of the Ukraine Pickleball Association, David Conover.

A star of donated pickleball gear!

A star of donated pickleball gear!

In the following summer, Jodi participated in the Michigan State Games where she was recognized for her efforts to start pickleball in the Czech Republic. While there, she established a sister club relationship with the Grand Rapids Pickleball Club.

She also received support from Paddletek, Selkirk Sports and PickleballCentral when it came to acquiring more equipment, which is currently finding use on both sides of the country (Prague and Hradec nad Moravici)!

Despite having a decent amount of paddles and balls, one area where the Czech Republic lacks “equipment” is when it comes to the courts themselves. In fact, there are currently no pickleball-specific courts in the country. But Jodi and Lenka don’t let this slow them down!

“Although there are no courts that have been made exclusively for pickleball,” Jodi says, “there are many badminton courts. [Since] a doubles badminton court is the same size as a pickleball court, you can typically find a place to play indoors.”

Lenka adds, “[When] I train outside my house we just find level ground and use chalk for lines!”

Pop-Up Pickleball

When Lenka visited Jodi for the first time, they found another way to adapt to their surroundings. Jodi suggested they play pickleball on the Charles Bridge, one of the most famous tourist locations in the country.

Jodi and Lenka playing on Charles Bridge!

Jodi and Lenka playing on Charles Bridge!

“And we did!” She confirms. “We played many other unusual places in the city and were able to talk to people from various countries about pickleball. I appreciate Lenka’s humor and positivity.”

How’s that for pickleball guerilla marketing? No more excuses for not playing if you lack a “proper” court! Jodi shares another benefit of teaming up with Lenka aside from her open-minded attitude:

“She’s won several medals in tournaments, so it’s great to have an excellent Czech player in the country paving the way for future players.”

A Fighter’s Endurance

Indeed, it was Lenka who won the silver medal for women’s singles in the US Open. Amazingly, it was her very first pickleball tournament and she had to fight through an injury the whole way.

“The US Open was the first [pickleball] tournament in my life. I didn’t know what my level of play was, but because I have lots of experience in ping pong I felt I could adapt quickly. I had very good partners with me. In the women’s doubles we won 4th place and in mixed doubles we got 5th.”

“At the beginning of the second day my leg muscles started to hurt. I couldn’t take a step without intense pain. But because I’m great fighter I wanted to make it through to the end! I honestly have no idea how I won silver in those conditions. After every match I visited the tournament doctor who iced and bandaged my leg.”

Lenka fighting through the pain at the Amsterdam Tournament

Lenka fighting through the pain at the Amsterdam International Pickleball Tournament

“Afterwards I went to a hospital back in the Czech Republic and they determined it was inflammation of the muscles and tendons. I wasn’t allowed to play for nearly a month. After waiting things out I competed in the Amsterdam International Pickleball Tournament and had the same issue return… but I won another silver medal! Miracle.”

Lenka may attribute her wins to luck and divine intervention, but we give her credit for tons of grit, determination and skill. (Though we hope her legs have gotten some much-needed rest and fully recovered!)

In addition to teaching pickleball during the school year and during summer camp for kids in Opava and Ostrava, Lenka is sharing her talent by joining with the Osatrava Municipal Hall to organize exhibitions in primary schools.

Lenka with her silver medal at the US Open

Lenka with her silver medal at the US Open

Incredibly enough, coaching pickleball and numerous other sports isn’t even this champion’s day job. Lenka primarily teaches law and economics to people transitioning in the work force. In her remaining time, she has also published 3 books on sports. (Stop making us look bad, Lenka!)

Her endless supply of resiliency is perhaps no surprise when you hear Lenka has spent her life tracking down extended family after contact was lost between relatives in the U.S. in 1948 and 1968 due to the Czech Republic’s communist regime. Thankfully she has been able to find several aunts and uncles at this point, and shows no signs of slowing down.

We’re glad this determination has spread into other areas of her life and that picklers get to benefit!

Setting the Scene

The big push for Lenka and Jodi to establish pickleball in the Czech Republic will come when they’re able to host their own competition. Although there haven’t been any tournaments in the Czech Republic yet, several countries nearby have seen them, such as Amsterdam and Ukraine.

Lenka with Leonardo Gonzalez from Spain in the Kiev International Tournament

Lenka with doubles partner Leonardo Gonzalez from Spain in the Kiev International Tournament (with their gold medals!)

Europe in general has been making great progress, considering there was a pickleball tournament in Spain this past September and in the UK in October. As the number of players in the Czech Republic continues to grow, Pickleball Czech looks to the future with hope and plenty of spirit.


PickleballCentral offers a big round of applause for Lenka’s wins and both women’s dedicated efforts to continue growing the sport around the world. Thank you both for taking the time to share your work with us!

Meet The Pros: Jennifer Dawson

Meet The Pros Jennifer Dawson

Women's open doubles winners: Gold: Sarah Linh Ansboury /Christine Barksdale Silver: Jennifer Lucore/Alex Hamner Bronze: Cammy MacGregor/Jennifer Dawson

Women’s Open Doubles winners: Gold: Sarah Linh Ansboury /Christine Barksdale Silver: Jennifer Lucore/Alex Hamner Bronze: Cammy MacGregor/Jennifer Dawson

Here is a pickleball success story that comes from pickleball being added to a tennis club. Enjoy Jennifer’s story!

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

2016 USAPA Nationals 35 Doubles Gold
2016 Andalucia Women’s 5.0 Champion
2016 California State Games 5.0 Champion
2015 USAPA Nationals Women’s 19 Under Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

I am currently playing with the Engage Encore Pro because it has the perfect balance between power and feel, with the added benefit of being able to grip harder pickleballs.

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

Here’s my pickleball story: Pickleball came to the tennis club my husband and I own. We both watched for a year or so and kept to ourselves while we played and coached tennis. It looked like so much fun that we both jumped right in and got started. Here I am now, 2 years later, traveling all over the place playing both tennis and pickleball.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Coming from Southern California and with pickleball courts at our club, I’ve never played indoors. Being more of a power player than a defensive player, I’ve been told that outdoors is best for my style of play.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer singles in tennis and doubles in pickleball, but I’m looking to get started at singles in pickleball next year. I just like the teamwork and fun that a pickleball doubles game produces. Pickleball is so much fun, doubles makes it double-the-fun, and winning in pickleball is great. But losing, honestly, isn’t that bad. I mean it’s only pickleball!

Mixed Doubles 35+ Gold: Kris Anderson/Kevin Booth Silver: Jennifer Dawson/ David Lecours Bronze: GeeGee Garvin/ Mike Gates (Missing)

Encinitas Mixed Doubles 35+ Gold: Kris Anderson/Kevin Booth, Silver: Jennifer Dawson/ David Lecours: Bronze, GeeGee Garvin/ Mike Gates (Missing)

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is our club, Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in Encinitas, California. That’s where all our friends are and where I call home.

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

My secret sauce and tips for all players is this: Make your opponent play your style. It you have fast hands and power, speed the point up. If you like the soft game, slow it down and make your opponent do what you do best.

What’s your day job? How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

My full-time job is teaching tennis and managing our tennis/pickleball club. This allows me the freedom of playing 7 days a week if I want. I also compete in tennis and am playing for team USA in South Africa in 2017, so I will probably put the paddle down for a while and work on my tennis, then pick the paddle back up again to get ready for the US OPEN in Naples, Florida.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

No lucky rituals for me. Maybe a good steak dinner the night before.

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

As far as my pickleball goals, I believe the best way to get good at anything is to enjoy the process. Getting good is what happens to people who love what they are doing, so I guess I just want to keep having fun!

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