Meet The Pros – John Moorin

Meet The Pros: John Moorin

 

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John Moorin won Gold, Men’s Singles Age 50+, at the US Open last April. He played singles 3-4 times and doubles 10-15 times before the tournament. Is this guy lucky, or just incredibly talented? You decide…

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

I have only played one pickleball tournament in my life: the US Open in Naples last year. I was fortunate enough to win it. I’ve had some decent wins as a tennis player though.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Bantam EX-L. I chose it by looking up what lots of players used and what my friends that I play with suggested. I really like it.

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

I was introduced to pickleball about 8- 10 weeks before the tournament by Rick Witsken, Matt Schiller and Chris Zeilinga in Indianapolis. Rick is a former Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) pro and Matt and Chris are 5.0 – 5.5 rated tennis players with the National Tennis Rating Program. We play tennis together and they needed a fourth to try this new game. It was so fun. I played singles 3-4 times and doubles 10-15 times before the tournament.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

We play mostly indoors in Indianapolis because of the weather, but I think I like outdoors better. I like being outside and I think you can hold your shots longer before you commit.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love singles for the exercise but I like the trash talking that happens in doubles with my friends. I play with guys who can beat me in tennis but I’m really more competitive in pickleball. So they tell me how old I am and how bad I am in tennis now. I tell them I can’t see who is saying those things to me because the light from my medal is shining in my eyes. It tends to work.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is The Retreat in Indianapolis. Rick Witsken does a great job getting players together and it is a fun atmosphere. The park in Naples where the tournament was held is a close second. Great weather and the courts are nice.

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

My secret sauce is probably my racket background. I played college tennis in the Big Ten and have won some decent events. I also was nationally ranked in squash. I think that helped me develop pretty good hands at the net, which is really helpful in pickleball. One thing I believe that may have also helped me is riding and training on  a road bike. It helps you keep your legs as the match wears on, especially in heat. The US Open was really hot and I played multiple events and matches in a day. Having my legs at the end was a definite plus.

What’s your day job?

My day job is that I own a medical distributorship. We distribute orthopedic devices and regenerative medicine products. It’s stressful but pretty interesting.

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

I probably play over the course of a year about an hour a week. Usually sneak one in during lunch or one on the weekend. I try to play enough to keep my feel.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

No lucky rituals, but I get really nervous. I always think I’m going to lose in warm up. I need to learn how to change that. Once the match starts I tend to get better as it goes on.

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

My goal for pickleball is to play more. I think I have a lot to learn. The game is so young and I think it will look different in 10 years. Strategies and techniques will change as the equipment and players develop. I would like to evolve. That’s my goal.

Thank you John for sharing your pickleball story with our readers. We look forward to seeing more of your talent on the tournament medals list next year!

The Future of Power Pickleball: Will the Bangers Win?

We veterans love the soft game with its long rallies. The USAPA does its part by making rule changes to preserve the soft game and protect the nature of pickleball to keep us happy. Instructors remind frustrated students who want to wail on wiffle balls that consistency and patience are rewarded.

Many young people along with tennis and racquetball players put down their paddles because they find the soft game so dreadful. So far, no player has been able to achieve a 5.0 rating without some level of mastery of the soft game.

Dinking

Dinking slow and steady (Credit: Michael D. Martin)

And all the while, uninformed spectators find the 50-stroke rallies confusing and boring…

Why don’t they just hit a winner and finish the point? 

But perhaps the spectators are not so wrong.

Last night I played with a 25-year-old college tennis stud that got me rethinking where pickleball might go. He hit the ball so hard and low that put away volleys were unthinkable.

Just try to block the ball back,” I told myself. These young tennis players love Morgan Evans’ longer Signature Paddle by Selkirk. And like Morgan, they’re hitting with amazing speed and topspin.

A ball hit very hard within an inch or two of the net with topspin might land near the kitchen line.

Makes it tough to volley, even with my larger Omni 31P Paddle! With a bit of practice and focus, it’s not so hard to hit a ball within a few inches of the net. Hey, the net is only about 22 feet away and waist height!

Slamming

Can you defend against slams? (Credit: Chad Ryan)

So I predict that, at the highest level of play, doubles rallies will get shorter rather than longer in the coming years.

Much shorter. More like singles.

Serves and returns will not simply be preliminaries but will become more aggressive shots that are vital to the outcome of the point. Just as there is one setter in volleyball, expect that one partner will hit every third shot while the other partner (who happens to be of basketball proportions) performs the spiking role to pounce on a popped up volley.

Tactics may involve the forward player acting as a decoy or even blocking the opponents’ visibility to the ball until the last moment. Volleyers on both sides will frequently leap or straddle the kitchen corner to put away shots near the sidelines. Most points will involve the ball hitting the floor only twice—the service and return.

Then, watch out!

Pickleball and basketball

Will pickleball requirements become more similar to basketball’s? (Credit: Baliboa Racquet)

I’m not saying there will be no place for soft shots, but I can imagine the soft shots punctuating aggressive play. Even now, a barely perceptible trend is emerging where attackers, not the defenders, are more likely to win the point.

A lot of this might depend on whether the injection-molded ball (Onix Pure 2) or a rotationally-molded ball (DuraFast 40) prevails in top play. But my theories on which ball encourages the power game are still in process.

Okay, I’m probably wrong about all this. I hope I’m wrong and rallies get even longer. But the sport is going somewhere, and younger athletes than me will define that path.

Then again, perhaps the USAPA will dictate a nerf ball!

These blogs make wild speculations so easy and forgivable. What matters much more than my opinion?  Your opinion. Please blast away!

 

Meet The Pros: Tyler Wren

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Tyler Wren at the US Open

USAPA Ambassador John Gullo of the Ogden, Utah area, gets the credit for introducing pickleball to Tyler Wren. Enjoy!

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

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US Open Tyler Wren/Oliver Strecker Gold, Daniel Moore/Brian Ashworth Silver and Matt Staub/Rob Elliott Bronze

Gold 2016 Fall Brawl Mixed Doubles (Christine McGrath)
Gold 2016 US Open Tournament Men’s Doubles 25+ (Oliver Strecker)
Silver 2016 LeMaster – Davison Classic Mixed Doubles (Christine Barksdale)
Gold 2016 Southern Utah Pickleball Shootout Men’s Doubles (Randy Zbinden)
Gold 2015 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Gold 2015 Tournament of Champions in Mixed Doubles (Christine McGrath)

Gold 2014 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Gold 2014 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Gold 2013 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Silver 2013 Singles 19+ at USAPA Nationals
Gold 2012 Singles 19+ at USAPA Nationals

What paddle do you play with and why?

Paddletek Tempest for doubles and the Bantam EX-L for singles. I love the touch of the Tempest and power of the Bantam. I played with other paddles in the past but they would break down after 6 months of hard play. They started to dent from hitting the ball. I’ve never had a problem with Paddletek paddles and I love the way they play.

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

I have a tennis background. I was waiting at the courts one day to meet my friend who was running late (as usual). John Gullo called me over to the newly built courts at Mt. Ogden and told me I should give it a try. I got hooked pretty quickly. I met Kyle Klein soon after and he convinced me to start playing tournaments. I’ve been playing competitively ever since. 

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Outdoor for sure. 

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Tyler wins Gold with Christine McGrath at the Fall Brawl

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I’ve always preferred singles but it’s not easy finding opponents since most prefer doubles. I would love to start practicing singles more. But I’ve really grown to love both men’s and mixed doubles.

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TOC Gold with Christine McGrath

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I loved the venue at the US Open last year in Naples, Florida. The Championship Court was amazing. But you can’t beat the views at my home court here in Ogden, Utah. 

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

Serving and returning deep is a huge key. That will help set up the entire point. I’m also not known for my patience. 🙂 I like to get the party started by hitting hard shots or lobs to keep my opponents on their toes. 

What’s your day job?

I’ve worked in wholesale for most of my career. I sell products to all the major retailers in the country. I also love real estate investment and own a few other side businesses. 

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

Probably 5 – 10 depending on the time of year. We’ve been meeting at 5 am to play for a few hours before work.  

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Tyler at Tournament of Champions

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

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Tyler at Nationals

“In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.” But it takes me quite a while to get into the game, so I make sure to have an extra long warm up and play practice points before I start a match. Having a super awesome partner that carries you helps a little too!

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

I’d love to practice singles more this year so I can be more competitive. It’s been super fun watching new tennis players entering the sport.

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

 I have twin daughters that are almost 2 years old. I can’t wait to start teaching them the sport. I’m sure they’ll be a top women’s doubles team in about 15 years. 🙂 

Tournament Tips: 300+ Competitors, Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic

Peggy Castorri is a tournament director for Georgia Mountain Pickleball, located in Hiawassee, Georgia. As the pickleball scene in her community continues to grow, so do their tournaments. Here are some tips from Peggy on how to direct a tournament with over 300 participants.

What is the name of your tournament?

The Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic which started in 2015 as a local tournament, which then grew to a nationally promoted tournament.

Was there a group hosting the tournament?

We are Georgia Mountain Pickleball.

When was your tournament?

The tournament took place Friday through Sunday the weekend of September 16, 2016. This upcoming year will be the same weekend September 15, 16, and 17

Where was your tournament?

The location for the tournament was our picturesque Towns County Pickleball Complex, Hiawassee, Georgia. This complex was formerly abandoned and dilapidated tennis courts, and just days before the first years’ tournament 2 years ago, the courts were transformed into 14 permanently dedicated pickleball courts.

Georgia Mountain Pickleball

How many players registered for the tournament?

We had more than 350 people from 11 states –  from Arizona and Colorado in the west;  from Canada down to South Florida and Texas.

What events/brackets did you offer?

We wanted to be as broad as possible, so we offered a variety of skills and age levels in Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. Age group 10+, 50+, 60+ and 70+. Skill levels 3.0-5.0.  All ages 5.0 players. This year we will add Singles to the mix.

Georgia Mountain Game

(Credit: Paul Aaron)

Did you have a team working with you? What were their delegated tasks/roles?

For scheduling purposes, we used PickleballTournaments.com and they basically ran the operations on the ground the days of the tournament.  PT handled all registration and scheduling, whatever we needed they took care of it quickly, accurately and efficiently.  

Since we offered referees for all 5.0 matches and Finals, we decided to have Marsha Fresno handle this responsibility during the tournament.

The support from our local players is what makes the tournament flow and be fun. These are suggested committees.

  • Sponsorships
  • Parking
  • First aid/health
  • Gatekeepers
  • Prep and Take down
  • Hospitality
  • Meet-and-greet

Did you seek sponsors for your tournament? Who were the sponsors? What did the sponsor contribute?

We solicited for sponsors. Months before the tournament,  I attended local rotary club meetings and business breakfasts to let the business community know what was coming up. There were various levels of sponsorships available. Hospitality tent, T-shirt,  court, coupon booklet, and those who paid to have a marketing item placed in the player bags. We had all types of sponsors and preferred to have non- competing sponsors for the large sponsor packages. In other words, only one real estate company was on the T-shirt, however another real estate company could have a different type of sponsor and signage.

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We also had some on-site vendors including Real Time Pain Relief, a popular pain relief ointment for players. a local eye doctor who specializes in providing sports eyeglasses, and a local booster club hosted their fundraiser.

Did you offer refreshments? Or sell food/drink at the event?

Our complimentary hydration tent was filled with water, fruits, nuts, and homemade banana bread.  The main on-site food vendor sold grilled burgers and dogs as well as hummus, candy bars, baked goods, drinks and chips and utilized the profits for their annual school fundraiser.

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Did you charge a registration fee? How much?

We charged a registration fee of $35 plus $5 for additional events and the Meet And Greet was $10 which did not include alcohol.

What is your top tips for people putting on a tournament like yours?

Decide early the tone and theme of the tournament – Charity, National, Local, Regional, Doubles, Mixed, Round Robin, etc. Begin 6- 9 months in advance.

Share the workload and potential for proceeds with other community organizations.

Farm out professional help where your budget allows.

Make each player feel special – whether they win or lose.

Meet The Pros: Patrick Williams

Meet The Pros: Patrick Williams

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2016 US Open – Gold 40+ Mixed Doubles Jack Oxler/Lynn Syler, Silver Emily and Patrick Williams

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

My wife, Emily, and I placed 2nd at the US Open last year in 40+ doubles (defeated Robert & Jodi Elliott).

Rob Davidson and I defeated Chris Miller/Dalton Vavra, Kurtis Campbell/Brian Ashworth and Tony Tollenar/Doug Hastings before losing to Wes Gabrielson and Kyles Yates at the Rally in the Valley (Albany, OR).

Steve Paranto and Patrick Williams garner gold while Shayne R. Johnson and Bigchris Seekingknowledge

Steve Paranto and Patrick Williams garner gold while Shayne R. Johnson and Bigchris Seekingknowledge get silver at the Thousand Trails Pickleball Tournament in Sunriver/Bend, OR.

What paddle do you play with and why?

In the past, I played with the Selkirk Pro S1C+. Great touch, large sweet spot and ability to hit with topspin and slice. I just switched to the Selkirk Maxima 21P MXO paddle and love it.

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

I was introduced to pickleball at a Young Life fundraiser tournament 5 years ago. I was the girl’s tennis coach at West Albany HS at the time. I teamed up with the boy’s tennis coach. We raided the PE department and found some wooden paddles.

We won the tournament easily but had no idea about strategy (dinks, 3rd shots, etc). At the event, we were introduced to Bob VanderLinden, a local USAPA ambassador. He encourage us to join the local pickleball club and enter the Timberhill Spring Fling in Corvallis, OR. We entered the tourney at the 4.0 level and were the only players in the tourney with wooden paddles! Had a great time anyway and I was hooked.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I enjoy playing both, but overall I like indoors better for two reasons. The gym floor is easy on the body, so I can play for 3 or 4 hours, multiple days in a row.  And the slower game doesn’t require as much drilling to groove your shots enough to have fun.

 Steve Paranto, Randy Bither, Robert Davidson, Patrick Williams and Shane Denning.

Steve Paranto, Randy Bither, Robert Davidson, Patrick Williams and Shane Denning.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles. I’m 45 now and enjoy covering 1/2 the court more and more with each passing year. The first couple of years I played both singles and doubles in tournaments. I eventually made it to the 5.0 level in singles. To play singles well, you have to be in great shape. To play doubles, it isn’t as important.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Eleanor Hackleman Park in Albany, Oregon. It’s the home of the Albany Pickleball Club. I spent a good part of my first two summers working on skills and strategy with Craig Poole, Sarah Gaines and Bob VanderLinden. The last couple of summers I’ve spent time there drilling with Wes Gabrielsen and my wife, Emily.

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Daniel Moore, Patrick Williams Wes Gabrielsen and Steve Paranto

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

Grind, baby, grind! I’m usually not the tallest or most athletic player on the court. I try hard to neutralize my opponents strengths.  In most cases, this involves patience, low dinks and hitting high percentage shots.

What’s your day job?

I’m a high school math and science teacher at Baker Web Academy. It’s an online charter school run out of Baker City, Oregon which provides free, public education for students all across Oregon who are interested in an alternative to the brick and mortar option.

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

I try to play twice a week for about 3 hours each session. This fluctuates greatly depending on the availability of other 4.5/5.0 players in the area.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really. I just make sure to take a couple of ibuprofen before the tourney starts and make sure to know where the mustard packets and/or pickles are located.

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

My goal is continue to enjoy pickleball and get my son, Luke (13), and daughter, Kate (10), into it.

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

The pickleball community is so open and inviting. I really enjoy meeting new people and making close friendships through the sport.

Pickleball Calm

Few sports demand the abrupt transitions between calm and intensity so common in pickleball. I played doubles recently with one of the finest athletes over 50-years-old whom I’ve ever met. In his first game, he played completely relaxed yet raised his intensity and focus perfectly at critical moments. He played flawlessly.

Pickleball reach

You’ve got to keep your calm under pressure! (Credit: Michael D. Martin)

In the second or third game, after making a few mistakes, he begin to tighten up. As he tightened, the calm and relaxation disappeared, and he compensated by raising his intensity throughout every point. Mistakes flowed. Frustration mounted. And at the end of several games, he was both exhausted and discouraged.

Pickleball calm is essential in this quirky little sport. This is unnatural for many tennis players and other athletes. But at the present stage of this emerging sport, it is mandatory… and fun. I simply wouldn’t last during long kitchen rallies with prolonged intensity, happy feet and bent knees.

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Don’t play with bent knees all the time (Credit: Michael D. Martin)

Some of the finest players, like Aspen Kern and Mike Gates, almost appear lazy. They are relaxed but keenly focused.

No need to keep your knees bent throughout every point. Stand up, stay alert, and watch the ball come off your opponent’s paddle. Think of each point as a long dance which could be sustained for minutes.

Meditating

Get into a meditative state (Credit: Tina Sbrigato)

And breathe!

Meet The Pros: Rafael Siebenschein

Meet The Pros: Rafael Siebenschein

Rafael with some of our favorites: Brian Ashworth, Daniel Moore an Dave Weinbach

Rafael with some of our favorites: Brian Ashworth, Daniel Moore and Dave Weinbach

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

2016 Tournament Of Champions – Mixed Open with Simone Jardim, Silver
2016 US OPEN – Mixed Doubles Pro Event with Corrine Carr– Bronze
2015 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Doubles Open with Simone Jardim  – Gold
2015 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Age 19+ with Gigi LeMaster –  Silver
2015 USAPA Nationals – Men’s Doubles Age 19+ with Rob Elliott – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

The Engage Encore. I think it’s got the best surface for former tennis players to allow for optimal balance of power, touch and topspin.

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

I started playing in Grand Rapids, MI, in spring of 2013. There was a park with pickleball courts just down the hill from a place I moved to and my landlord suggested I give it a try when I told him I missed playing tennis. I also met my wife, Corrine Carr Siebenschein, through pickleball.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I definitely prefer playing outdoors. Indoor pickleball is often tricky due to the different ball(s) and having to deal with multiple drawn lines and the glare of a wooden court.

Pickleball in the Triangle photo

Pickleball in the Triangle photo with Corrine Carr Siebenschein, Rafael Siebenschein, Dennis Brennan, Kelly Wiggins-Gen

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like them both. Coming from tennis, I enjoy playing singles every now and then as it’s very fast and a great workout. It’s quite hard to find people to play with though. Overall, I do prefer doubles as the rallies last much longer and require a lot of patience and finesse.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I really enjoyed playing at Belknap Park in Grand Rapids. The facility has come a long way and it’s fun playing with the people who introduced me to the game. I also enjoy the big tournaments – the US Open, TOC, Nationals – as they generally attract all the top players and the facilities are getting better each year!

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

I think the combination of a tennis background and the Engage Encore Paddle enable me to hit with more topspin than most players. This enables me, especially on my forehand, to hit the ball at a high speed with relatively short travel distance.

And patience! For players from a racket sport background, I would recommend finding some top-level players to play against. Playing against weaker players, many tennis players think that the key is to hit as hard as possible. For me, practicing with Kyle Yates and Matt Staub in The Villages back in the day for the first time really was an eye-opener. I recognized the importance of dinking and being able to keep the ball in play while waiting for the opportune time to be aggressive.

What’s your day job?

I am working in IT as a Systems Developer and Analyst.

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

Since we’ve moved to West Virginia this past summer I hardly get to play – mainly due to difficulties finding outdoor courts and time constraints. Ideally, I would like to play once a week or so for maybe 2 hours.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Tennis players are often superstitious and have rituals they go through before every match. However, I don’t think any of these have transferred to pickleball for me. Generally, I try to just eat as much as possible for breakfast as tournament days are usually quite long with little time to grab food between matches.

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

Become more patient and consistent. And play more than once every couple of months!

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

One of my favorite things about the sport is the pickleball community. In tournaments, everybody fights hard and competes against each other. But at the end of the day, people hang out, get a drink and have a blast together. In rare instances, you may even get to listen to Daniel Moore sing karaoke. I’ve had fun at every tournament I’ve traveled to, even when not performing as well in an event as I had hoped! I’ve met many amazing friends through the sport – including my wife. 😉