Meet The Pros – Devin Shoquist

Meet The Pros – Devin Shoquist

Devin Shoquist

Devin Shoquist

Pickleball put a smile on Devin Shoquist’s face from day one.  If you are in the neighborhood, Pickleball Station in Kent, WA, you may just catch his smile. Enjoy!

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

2018 Pickleball Station Pre-Nationals Tournament, Mixed Doubles with Lynn Syler – Gold
2018 Blue Hole Bash in Sequim, WA, Mixed Doubles with Lynn Syler – Gold
2017 So Cal Men’s Doubles with Rob Davidson Age – Gold
2016 Oregon State Games, Mixed Doubles with Camille Schermerhorn– Gold
2016 International Indoor Championship, 4.5 Mixed Doubles with Shonda Schallenberger – Gold

Lynn Syler/Devin Shoquist - Gold

Bryce Ogren/Julie Haney – Silver, Lynn Syler/Devin Shoquist – Gold, Allison Hastings/Douglas Hastings – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk Amped Maxima. I like the reach and feel of the paddle and it gives me the ability to create top spin on my shots.

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

I played tennis in high school. I’ve played other racket and paddle sports, including ping pong. Fast forward to 7 years ago, I saw pickleball being played at the local YMCA. I talked to a couple of guys about it and found out how many folks were playing. I just stepped into the action one day and haven’t looked back. I started competing 3 years ago.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

 I like them both. I like singles because it’s a challenge and I am the only one responsible for the results.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

Devin Shoquist with Rhonda Smith at Pickleball Station

Devin Shoquist with Rhonda Smith at Pickleball Station

I enjoy playing at Sehmel Park, Gig Harbor, WA and Pickleball Station in Kent, WA. 

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce is Hammer Gel, espresso flavor, and my tip for players is to do everything you can to keep the ball in play.

What is your day job?

I am a psychiatrist.

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

I play 12-15 hours a week, 3-4 times a week. I make time to play because I find the game to be good exercise and great stress relief.

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

As a 35+ and 50+ player, I hope to win gold at one of the National Tournaments.

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

Pickleball has been an excellent way to have fun and meet new people.

Pickleball Players Create Calendar to Raise Funds

Many picklers have come up with unique and interesting ways to raise funds for their clubs, from themed tournaments to collaborations with local businesses. Recently the women of Simi Valley YMCA came up with a new idea to support their local courts by making a pickleball-themed calendar.

Florence Trapani, aka Miss November, shared, “I always take pictures and videos and put them on Facebook. Then Sue and I were like, at the same time, ‘We should do a calendar!’ Then we were laughing about who’s going to buy our calendar. So we asked the guys who play with us, and they were like, ‘We’ll all buy a calendar!’”

Image from last year's  2017 Triple Crown Professional Pickleball Tournament in Simi Valley

Image from last year’s 2017 Triple Crown Professional Pickleball Tournament in Simi Valley (Credit: Simi Valley Acorn

The women involved are all sizes and dressed in their favorite pickleball attire for the images. Alongside raising cash for the YMCA, they hope that the calendar might dispel some of the uncertainty surrounding pickleball for newcomers. Gary Gossett, the local USAPA ambassador explained:

“Sometimes people poke their head through the gate and they’re intimidated because they see all of us playing and they don’t know how to play. This looks intimidating because it’s such a small court, so I think the ladies doing this will lighten it up a little bit — and it will be a hit.”

The players all decided to take action shots of their signature moves, such as the “chicken wing” and “punch.” The calendar serves as a way to promote pickleball, its players and the community.

We’ve actually seen a few other groups put together pickleball calendars, but it’s primarily been for fun/promo purposes rather than as a fundraiser. AIPA, for example, showed several of their members in different court locations to serve as memorabilia for their members, partners and friends.

Have you tried any unique ideas for fundraising to support your pickleball club? What sort of activities or goods would you be interested in?

Meet The Pros – Riley Newman

Meet The Pros – Riley Newman

Riley Newman and twin sister Lindsey Newman

Riley Newman and Lindsey Newman, photo credit to Pickleball Channel.

Riley Newman hit the floor running in this auspiciously named sport, and has been a force to reckon with ever since, especially paired up with his twin sister, Lindsey. Enjoy!

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

Riley and Lindsey Newman

Pickleball Station Riley with Sister Lindsey – Gold

2018:
-Canadian National Indoors in Chilliwack, BC – triple crown winner 
-National Indoors in Centralia, WA – Mixed Open Gold with my sister Lindsey 
-Columbia Basin Classic in Kennewick, WA – Men’s Open Singles Gold, Mixed Open Gold with Lindsey
-Pickleball Station Pre-Nationals Tournament in Kent, WA – Men’s Open Doubles Gold 
2017:
-Frontier Days Pickleball tournament in Sun River, OR – Mixed Open Gold with Lindsey Newman 

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Bantam EX-L Pro by Paddletek. This paddle gives me the most power but also steady control at the kitchen line. I highly recommend it!

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

I was introduced to pickleball by a great friend in Seattle, Mark Cook (4.5 soon to be 5.0 player). He knew I had played Division 1 tennis and felt if I gave the sport with a funny name a shot I would fall in love. Sure enough, he was right! He took me to a local YMCA where I was clearly the youngest player by many years, not knowing how to keep score or what the heck a “dink” was. But everyone in the pickleball community has been so welcoming to my sister and I, even though we were just a couple of “tennis players.” We entered our first tournament 3 days later and ended up taking home gold. We have been hooked ever since that weekend!

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Growing up on Whidbey Island, Washington, the weather wasn’t always the greatest for playing pickleball outdoors. Now that I live in Southern California I can play outdoors anytime I want, which has helped my pickleball game tremendously!

2018 Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic. Riley with Kurtis Campbell, Bronze

2018 Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic. Riley with Kurtis Campbell, Bronze

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

So far in my young career I have played on the US Open center court in Naples, Florida. It was a great opportunity and an amazing venue.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic, Riley and Lindsey Newman, Gold

Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic, Riley and Lindsey Newman, Gold

I’d say my secret sauce is my two-handed backhand. I am confident from that side whether I want to speed it up with my opponent or dink all day. The tip I would recommend to any beginner or tennis player would be just to play! Go out and play lots of practice games with all sorts of different players and skill types. Receiving coaching is great, but I have learned that being in a competitive environment where you can learn what works and what doesn’t is most beneficial to the learning process.

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

My dream is to referee Division 1 Men’s college basketball. This works great with pickleball because my basketball games start at 7 pm, so during the day I can play pickleball. When I’m not on a pickleball court, you can find me on the basketball court! My pickleball goal for 2019 is to win a major tournament: the US Open, USAPA Nationals or Tournament of Champions.

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

I would like to thank my family for their continued support, especially my sister Lindsey, and also Paddletek for being an amazing sponsor that has provided me with an opportunity to grow in this great game!

Upcoming 2019 Pickleball Retreats in the Tropics

As the weather cools down in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve been looking out for exciting new pickleball experiences that offer a bit more warmth on the courts. Most of us prefer playing outdoors, and unless you’re used to weathering icy blasts, it’s a lot more fun to play in the sunshine!

Pickleball Vacation Adventures has a beautiful trip to the Mayan Riviera scheduled for 7 nights, running from Jan 6 – 13th in 2019. There will be daily open play at the stunning Grand Palladium Colonial Resort including clinics led by the PVA team of pros including Ben Johns and Christine McGrath.

Pickleball Vacation Adventures

Pickleball Vacation Adventures – Mayan Riviera

Meals, lodging, hotel transport and instruction are all included in the price tag. Pickleball Vacation Adventures will also be heading to Israel and Ecuador in June and August respectively, so if you don’t have enough time to plan for Mexico, take a look at their other upcoming trips.

The Pura Vida House is another excellent tropical escape that should be on your pickleball to-do list. Located in Costa Rica, this 5-star resort is home to three white sand beaches, two spas, a host of fantastic restaurants and private courts at the nearby Hacienda Pinilla.

Brian in Costa Rica

Brian in Costa Rica (Credit: Pura Vida House)

Pura Vida House also offers 7-night trips throughout the year and hosts a number of traveling pros for top tier instruction. Spots for these experiences sell out fast, but act soon and you might be able to snag time with athletes like Tyson McGuffin, Aspen Kern and Laura Fenton Kovanda.

PickleballCentral’s beloved, bearded pro Brian Ashworth helped host travelers in Costa Rica earlier last year and said the experience was one he’ll always remember. Available trips start in April 2019 and are currently scheduled through May.

Lastly, we have a reminder that PickleballTrips, run by the highly talented and kind Daniel Moore, has several tours scheduled around the world next year in stunning international destinations. The first to come up will be in San Carlos, Mexico (February) and Thailand (Feb/March).

We’ve spoken with Daniel about his work as a instructor and guide before, so be sure to take a look at our PickleballTrips interview to find out more about the exciting and personal experiences he seeks to create.

Are you planning any warm weather retreats this winter, or are you taking your game indoors so your skills don’t ice over this season?

When Should You Poach?

Poaching, which involves one player moving to take a shot that was hit to their partner, is a fairly common technique in pickleball, especially at higher levels of play.

Some picklers rightly assume that poaching can be frustrating to your partner if done indiscriminately. After all, those balls were intended for them and there should be a certain level of trust between both players. However, in high stakes scenarios like tournaments where one player is often heavily targeted (either due to a lower skill level and/or to try and fatigue half of the competition), poaching can be a necessity to avoid burnout.

So when should you make a move to cover your partner? We discuss the best circumstances below:

1) If your partner is out of position.

The best and clearest instance of when you should poach is when your partner is having to really exert themselves to cover their side of the court. Maybe your opponents hit a tricky shot right at your partner’s feet and there’s no way they could recover fast enough to chase after it. The ball was lobbed and they’re facing the wrong way. They’re struggling to follow the ball’s spin. In any of these situations and similar scenarios, if you see the opportunity it’s safe to say you should take it to avoid losing the point.

Shot down the middle

If he’s a rightie, the player in white should normally take this shot. (Credit: Michael and Sherry Martin)

2) If the ball is coming toward your forehand.

It’s easier for most players to hit with their forehand. When you encounter those annoying shots down the middle of the court, or even if the ball is heading slightly to your partner’s side, if your dominant hand is in position then you’ll be able to reach it more easily and return it with more “zing.” The same goes for your partner as well. When you switch sides on the court, try to allow whoever has the “power position” to take advantage of their role, unless either of you has a killer backhand.

3) If your opponents are being consistent.

Has the other team been reliably targeting your partner? It’s tougher to tell what your competition’s plans are at the start of the match, but if it’s obvious they’re trying to wear your partner down, it’s likely time to start drawing some of the heat away from them. Start slipping over to their side and changing up the pace of play in order to throw the other team off their game.

As always, be respectful of your partner and be sure to discuss strategies with them and if they mind you poaching before starting a game. You may find that when you’re the partner under fire, poaching can be a saving grace!

What experiences have you had poaching or being poached, and is it a technique you like to employ during games?

Meet The Pros – Ted Meyer

Meet The Pros – Ted Meyer

Ted Myer

Ted Meyer and Jenny Butler

Ted Meyer is very philosophical about the game of pickleball. He is in it to win it! Enjoy!

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

  2018 U.S. Open, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Jim Hackenberg, Gold
  2017 USAPA Nationals, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino, Gold
                   Men’s 65+ Singles, Silver
*2017 National Senior Games, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Jim Hackenberg, Gold
                   Mixed 65+ Doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Bronze
*2017 U. S. Open, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Ernie Tomlinson, Gold
                   Mixed 65+ Doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Bronze
*2016 USAPA Nationals, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino, Gold
                   Men’s 65+ Singles, Silver
*2016 Huntsman World Games, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino Gold
,                  Mixed 65+ doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Silver
                   Men’s 65+ singles silver medalist
*2016 U.S. Open, Men’s 65+ doubles, bronze
                   Mixed 60+ doubles, bronze
*Super senior slam –  men’s 65+ doubles (all 4 majors in 8 month period)

Ted Myer Jenny Butler Gold

2018 USAPA Great Lakes Regionals: Debbie Mascarin-Dan McLaughlin Silver; Ted Meyer-Jenny Butler, Gold; Yvonne Hackenberg,-Jim Hackenberg Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

Tempest paddle discontinued

Tempest Paddle

I play with the Paddletek Tempest Paddle because it gives me the most feel on my dink shots and third shot drops.

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

I started playing pickleball in 2012 at The Villages, FL. But the first year I was there (like many others), I was essentially just playing tennis on a pickleball court. So, I always tell people I’ve only been playing for 5 years the right way.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer to play outdoors. Like many of us at my age, we can see the ball much better outside.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer to play doubles. I only play singles at the national tournaments. For me, singles is fun for the first few matches, then after that it becomes a lot of work.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce is not really a secret, but you would be surprised to know how many don’t utilize it. My philosophy is not to feed to your opponent’s forehand. Hit 90% of the shots to their backhand. Make them beat you with their backhand. Also, when dinking, make sure your shot bounces in the kitchen so that your opponent cannot attack it.

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

Since I’m retired, I play 4 times a week, 3 to 4 hours at a time. Playing that much does require me to schedule an hour nap in my daily routine, however. (Lol.)

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t have any lucky rituals before a big tournament. I got severe leg cramps in my last match on the first day of the first U. S. Open. Since then I do make sure I stay hydrated with plenty of water and Gatorade.

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

My goal is to stay healthy enough to play competitively for another 5 years.

 

Are Pickleball Beginners “Owed” Time with Stronger Players?

The debate is one that’s been raging in the sport for years: Should high level picklers “play down” with other members of their club?

The simplest answer is, “If they want to,” but with a bit of digging many different opinions come to light. Some feel that “open” play is just that, and believe it should be an opportunity to play the game and have fun heedless of skill divides. With this mindset, open play is an opportunity for picklers to mix things up rather than always sticking to their own.

Some clubs or communities have open play scheduled for a set period of time followed by rank-specific games at others. This allows high level players to choose whether they want to mingle among the intermediate crowd or stay with their peers, largely eliminating the feeling that they’re being “forced” to play with those outside their bracket. Unfortunately there aren’t always enough players or court availability to make this happen, which can lead to both parties feeling wronged.

Pickleball Station Class

An easy way to learn from the pros without taking time away from their open play is to invest in a class, like ours at Pickleball Station!

The best way to handle this situation uses qualities popular across the sport: respect and communication. It helps newer players feel included when pros generously take the time to play down, but they also shouldn’t be expected to constantly lower the playing field for the sake of others.

If a 4.5/5.0 says, “No, not right now,” because they have a competition coming up, haven’t had much opportunity to play with their peers or simply don’t feel like it that day, they shouldn’t be penalized. Newer players are not entitled to play with higher skill opponents unless they’re taking part in a class, and should be able to accept “no” gracefully.

In addition to this, it’s not even beneficial for average players to hit above their weight all the time. Does the pickler in question actually have the ability to “read” the game and determine areas they can improve, watch their opponent’s techniques and apply them, and focus on skill acquisition? Or are they just going to end up frustrated when they get beat, unable to understand where their own weaknesses lie?

Unless a player has the ability and awareness to pick these things out, playing above one’s skill just becomes an exercise in frustration. Playing someone of the same rank would’ve provided more fun, opportunity for improvement and reasonable challenge.

Green Valley Pickleball

A game at the Green Valley Pickleball courts

The Green Valley Pickleball Club in Arizona has a unique and organized way of addressing this topic by using monitors that show players if they’re in the wrong group. Each player is moved up or down depending on their performance. When someone wants to jump up a level, they must set up a ratings session and play with three picklers in their goal bracket, earning a total score of at least 21 points to progress.

This means that picklers can compete with opponents of a +- 0.5 skill level. It’s a small enough gap to avoid frustrating high level players while being reasonable enough to give the lower level player a proper challenge (without getting trounced).

How does your club handle skill imbalances? Do you prefer skill-specific brackets or enjoy the fluidity and community that open play provides? Share your thoughts in the comments.