Selkirk Wows the Pros & Brings Improvements You Can Feel to Amped Paddles

Whenever new paddles are released you hear promises of equipment being taken “to the next level.” But what does that really mean?

In certain cases it involves a manufacturer creating something we’ve never seen before—a unique paddle shape, grip or look. Just as often, however, we see fresh iterations of pre-existing gear.

Selkirk Amped Paddles

Tyson McGuffin won the 2017 USAPA Nationals Gold in Men’s Open Singles with the Amped Maxima 

Paddles might get a new decal or weight class, minor tweaks which can nonetheless result in significant differences in play. With Selkirk’s recently released Amped series, however, the paddles have undergone so many alterations from their original design that they truly are on a “different level” than the predecessors.

The main thing the Amped paddles share with their original models is shape. Selkirk has taken 4 of their most popular paddles and mirrored their style to address different types of play.

Each paddle comes in multiple colors in addition to those shown below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epic – A traditional widebody paddle shape that balances handle length and surface area. Its wide sweet spot helps with fast volleys at the net and can suit any player type.

S2 – Has the largest sweet spot of any of the Amped paddles, providing a very responsive and lively feel. The broad design provides plenty of surface area to easily return pickleballs while focusing on technique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omni – Provides reach and control. Paddle has a shorter handle designed for players who grip lower on the handle or those who play with a finger against the face. This allows for maximum reach while maintaining a decent width.

Maxima – The longest paddle; ideal for power players who drive the ball but requires precision due to slimmer face. Weighing only 7.5 oz, it features a power-generating, head-heavy balance preferred by tennis players.

These paddles have already proven their success on the courts, but through their Amped evolution, the designs have been strengthened further. Both the faces and cores have been updated to provide improved touch, consistency and control.

Thanks to these changes, Selkirk believes they’re truly hit on a combination of “power and control” that players will love.

FiberFlex Unidirectional Fiberglass

The face material’s “unidirectional” quality relates to Selkirk’s unique manufacturing process, including the way inks are melded onto the face. This affects performance by providing players with an even feel and additional “cushioning” that causes pickleballs stay against the face longer.

X5 Polypropylene Core

This thicker, patent-pending core creates a larger sweet spot, reduces vibration to prevent pickleball elbow and minimizes torque. Torque is what happens when you hit off-center, causing a paddle to twist in your hand and reducing accuracy.

Unibody Design

This sturdy design melds the core and face together for improved performance and durability.

Many 5.0 players have already tried the Amped paddles and are loving how they play. You can find pro reviews in the Selkirk paddles category on PickleballCentral.

Amped Fans Include:

Tyson McGuffin, 2016 National’s Medalist & 2017 USAPA Nationals Singles Champ
Kurtis Campbell, SoCal Summer Classic Gold Medalist
Tonja Major, 2017 US Open Gold Medalist & 2017 USAPA Nationals Bronze Medalist
Morgan Evans, 2017 TOC Champion

And many others! Check out the video below to hear more about the Amped paddles from top player Glen Peterson (US Open & USAPA Nationals Gold Medalist):

To find the perfect selection for your play style, check out the Amped paddles at PickleballCentral and get ready to supercharge your play.

Amped Contest

We’d also like to extend a special offer to our readers by providing a chance to win one of the Amped paddles for yourself.

Just click the image below and enter a few details to test your luck. Entries close on November 21st, so make sure to join in soon!

Amped Contest

An Exciting Recap of the 1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship

1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship – An Event to Cherish
Please enjoy this report on the 1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship presented by Manish Rao:

1st Indian Open Pickleball Championships

Many of us dream of playing pickleball at the highest level among the best competitors. This is exactly what we Indian players got to experience on October 28-29 at the 1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship held at the Jamnabai Narsee International School in Juhu, Mumbai.

This event, hosted by the All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) and organized by event managers, Sports Wizards, saw many firsts in Indian pickleball. It was the first time Indians had a chance to witness international players at a tournament in their home country. Both groups had an amazing time interacting with each other and sharing their love of pickleball.

The biggest attraction was the squad from Bangkok, Thailand, captained by the group’s passionate mentor, Steve Cable. There were also participants from the USA and UK. We had the pleasure of hosting one of the kindest pickleball souls in the world during the tournament: the one and only Elaine Shallcross from the UK. She’s such an inspiring lady that even at the age of 64, she gave every player a run for their money!

Teaming up with the iconic Atul Edward of India, Elaine bagged the coveted gold in the Mixed Doubles category. She not only showed us her pickleball skills, but her people skills! Elaine’s positive attitude brightened every player’s day. Even for those who didn’t medal, interacting with Elaine felt like being showered in gold dust.

I have to throw out a mention to Emmett Williams from Alaska as well, a gentleman on a business trip to India who stayed back to play at the Open. In spite of the extreme heat and humidity, Emmett was amazing. He freely shared his enjoyment of the game with his Indian partner, and that’s what pickleball is all about! It’s not just the win or the loss, it’s playing to inspire others.

Footage from the Men’s Doubles semifinal featuring Nikhil Singh / Prashant Kalani (Rajasthan) vs Mayur Patil / Ajay Choudhari (Maharashtra)

It’s not easy to conduct back-to-back matches in the extreme heat of Mumbai. We made sure every match had a referee, scorer and linemen for all matches, including the league match. We required many dedicated and skilled volunteers to give their best throughout the event regardless of the tough conditions. The fact that everyone held out is a demonstration of the power of pickleball and the passion surrounding the sport in India.

The event was supported by many sponsors, including PickleballCentral. The national TV channel, Doordarshan, recorded all the finals and were aired a week later. The venue itself was an icon! We appreciate the Jamnabai Narsee Trust for providing us with a world-class facility where setting up 3 courts was possible. It took the event to the next level. Thanks to Mr Sujay Jairaj, the Indian Open saw some amazing competition and great friendships formed.

Every match was on schedule due to the great team effort from Tournament Director Rahul Wani and company. Each event had 16 teams with 4 groups each, meaning a total of 96 players took part in this inaugural event.

The highlights include –

Men’s Doubles:

This was a fight between the traditional rival states of Rajasthan & Maharashtra. Nikhil Rajput / Prashant Kalani beat Manish Rao / Bhushan Potnis 11-7, 5-11,11-5 in a cliffhanger which went to 3 sets. The young and energetic Rajasthan duo kept their nerve and got the better of the “Old Fox” duo from Mumbai. Pickleball itself was a winner too; the match was carried out in a cordial manner off the court while all cylinders were firing on court.

2017 India Open Championship Men's Doubles

2017 India Open Championship Men’s Doubles: With Manish Rao, Mk Pickleball, Bhushan Potnis, Nikhil Singh Rajput and Ajay Chaudhari.

Mixed Doubles:

Atul Edward (India)/Elaine ShallCross (UK) beat Steve Cable/Suprarat (Thailand) 9-11, 11-0, 6-11. After winning the first set, Atul and Elaine let their guard down to be rolled over by Steve / Suprarat 11-0 in the second set. The 3rd set was an amazing contest of skill and mental toughness. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, and that’s what Atul / Elaine did by utilizing clever tactics and closing on the kill. What a match, with a standing ovation to Elaine for her grit!

2017 India Open Mixed Doubles

2017 India Open Mixed Doubles

Women’s Doubles:

Suprarat & ThitiWorada (Thailand) beat Karishma & Rutuja (India) 11-9, 11-8. The “Smiling Assassins” and “Thailand Duo” showed the importance of teamwork and made the win look easy. The Indian women were overawed by the occasion but still put up a great fight.

The Indian Open was not just about winning or losing. Every participant and organization involved in the planning of this event was a winner. Pickleball has been in India for the last 10 years and this tournament has shown the world that we have arrived in style.

To pull off an event of such magnitude shows that Indian pickleball is in right hands. Our passion and persistence is paying off and we hope to host many more international events!

Mixed Doubles semifinal with Atul Edward (Mumbai, India) / Elain Shallcross (UK) vs Ashwani Kumar Wadhawa & Geetam Sharma (Jaipur, India)

The bar has been set extremely high for the next Indian Open tournaments. We are well on our way to becoming the top pickleball event in Asia. We’d love to welcome even more competitors the next time around!

Meet The Pros – Mario Najera

Meet The Pros – Mario Najera

Mario Najera and Scott Moore - Gold

Duel in the desert in Casa Grande Az. Silver – Steve Cole/Ron Chang, Gold -Scott Moore/Mario Najera  Bronze – Byron Freso

Mario Najera is one humble pickleball competitor, and he also likes to gives back in a big way.  Kudos to Mario and Geri Grodzinsky for running the Nevada Senior Games Pickleball Tournament in October this year. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2017 Grand Canyon Mixed Doubles (MDBL) with Roxanne Pierce 60+  – Gold
2016 USAPA Nationals – MDBL 60+ with Cookie Drake – Silver
2016 Sin City Showdown, Las Vegas, MDBL 60+ with Cooke Drake – Silver
2016 Duel in the Desert Men DBL with Scott Moore  – Gold
2013 MDBL with wife Geri – Silver.  This was my favorite win and my first 4.5 tournament!

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk S1G Polymer Graphite paddle. I’m a touch player, coming from racquetball. I prefer the soft, touch game to the power game.  This paddle is the best I’ve found for touch. I can really feel the ball with this paddle.

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

I started playing in August 2011. I’m a racquetball addict. My wife invited me to come play at an indoor place. I learned to play with a wood paddle. It was fun. I was impressed by how friendly everyone was – quite different from racquetball fanatics. A couple of months later, I was invited to compete at the Huntsman Senior Games. That was a rude awakening. I was beaten badly. I stayed to watch some of the top players, like Jim Hackenberg and Mark Friedenberg. Got hooked and didn’t look back.

What’s your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I first learned playing the game indoors, but I love the outdoor game better. I was raised in San Diego. I’m a So Cal boy. The outdoor game is definitely a faster game.

Mario Najera and Steve Paranto

Mario Najera and Steve Paranto

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like doubles. I wouldn’t say it was a nice transfer from racquetball. The mechanics and strokes are very different. But I like the cat and mouse of the pickleball doubles game. I enjoy strategizing with my teammate. I do love watching singles though.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is St. George, Utah. It is the first town where I fell in love with pickleball. It’s 2 hours away from where I live.  I love the Little Valley courts where 24 courts are available. And I love Bend, Oregon and Apex too! They have beautiful courts.  

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

My secret sauce is my lob! I watched Enrique Ruiz to learn the most effective lob. To get better, I suggest finding someone to drill with.  It’s very important to practice through drills. Also, try to play with a stronger player. It helps you deal with the pressure of competing in a tournament setting.

What’s your day job?

I’ve been retired for five years from a 35 year career in banking.

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

Most players in Vegas still work, so my time on the court is restricted by their work schedule. I play 3-4 days a week, about 8 hours. I have a buddy, Pete, who likes to drill with me.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really. I try to keep everything in perspective. I stay pretty calm. I feel lucky to be out there playing, and win or lose, I’m still loving the game.  It keeps me healthy.

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

Geri Grodzinsky and Mario Najera

Geri Grodzinsky and Mario Najera

Never say no. My wife, Geri Grodzinsky, is a USAPA Ambassador in Las Vegas. She has been instrumental in growing pickleball here. Geri is a person who gets things done and she gets people like me involved.  She holds clinics and shares the sport. I want to continue teaching and helping to grow pickleball here as well. I want to keep healthy too. I want to make more time to play pickleball with my wife, who is as hooked on the game as I am.

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

My wife and I became RV’ers, so we are gone 3 months out of the year. I do clinics and  personal lessons in various states. I’m glad to give back and help others in the pickleball community. That doesn’t happen in racquetball. You can’t just show up for racquetball, you have to find someone ahead of time to play the game. In pickleball, everywhere you go, you just show up, and  people are ready to play pickleball. 

Meet The Pros – Dominic Catalano

Meet The Pros – Dominic Catalano

Dominic Catalano and JoAnne Russell

Dominic Catalano and JoAnne Russell

Dominic Catalano lives for this wonderful sport! He plays, he competes, he’s a USAPA Ambassador and he owns his own pickleball business where he gives instruction and runs tournaments and leagues. Enjoy his story!

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

2017 US Open, 35+ Men’s Doubles with Phil Metz- Silver
2016 Atlantic South Regional, Singles – Gold
2016 US Open, 4.5 Mixed Doubles with JoAnne Russell- Gold
2016 US Open, 35+ Singles – Gold
2016 US Open, 19+ Men’s Doubles with Joshua Elliott- Bronze
2016 US Open, 4.5 Men’s Doubles with Scott Smith – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Engage Elite Pro.  I was using the Engage Encore X Series all the way through the 2017 US Open this past season and then switched to the Engage Elite Pro right after and haven’t looked back.  It has a great balance of touch and power that is perfect for my game.

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

I was introduced to the game up in my hometown of Chicago. While in Chicago I was a high school physical education teacher at Notre Dame College Prep and we were the only school in our area that was teaching pickleball in our curriculum. So my first few years playing pickleball was teaching the sport in my classes. Over time, I started to enjoy pickleball!!  In 2013 I moved to Naples, Florida, taking a job with local Parks and Recreation Department. We did not have pickleball at the park, so I had 4 courts painted on 2 of our tennis courts and started the program with 15 people. When I left the that job to concentrate on my pickleball company this past summer, we had over 300 members at the park.

Dominic Catalano in Blue

Dominic Head to Toe in Blue

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I prefer to play outdoors every day of the week! I just think the game was meant to be played outside on an actual pickleball court. When you play inside, everything is different (the ball, the lighting, the courts).  Plus, outside you have to deal with all of the elements too like wind. Which as any pickleball player know, can play havoc with the ball, but I like the challenge!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

If I had to choose, I would say I like doubles better. I like the team aspect of doubles and especially when you gel so well with a partner. It makes winning that much more special. I was blessed to play mixed doubles with JoAnne Russell (former Wimbledon champion) for a few years and we just worked so well together! We always knew where each other was going to be at all times. It’s tough to find someone like that and someone that is as competitive as me, but with JoAnne it was easy!

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Without a doubt, anywhere down here in Southwest Florida! We have some of the best facilities in the country! From the Bonita Springs YMCA to East Naples Community Park (host site for the US Open) to Veterans Community Park and all the private communities in between, we are never short of some great pickleball facilities in my area!

Dominic coordinated Head to Toe including paddle

Dominic coordinated Head to Toe including paddle

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

Well now what kind of player would I be if I gave away my “secret sauce”?!?! Seriously though, I believe that one of the most important things in our game is consistency. Whether it be at the Pro Level or the 2.5 level, the name of the game is consistency. The best way to build up that consistency is by drilling. It’s great to come out and get those competitive juices flowing while playing games, but there is no substitute for some good drill work! Also, confidence helps. No matter who is on the other side of the net, mentally you tell yourself you are the best player on the court!!

What’s your day job?

I own my own pickleball company named 3D Pickleball. The “3D” stands for Dedication, Determination, and DOMination!!  I give lessons and clinics all over SW Florida as well as run 2 tournaments: the 3D Pickleball Turkey Classic in November and the 3D Pickleball Cupid Shootout in February I also run some ladder leagues and flex leagues. It definitely keeps me busy! How could I ever complain being on the pickleball court all the time? I was a baseball player and coach by trade but have traded in my glove for a pickleball paddle and have not looked back!!

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

I would have to say I play about 10 – 15 hours a week. Yet luckily for me, when I’m working, I’m still on the court giving lessons or clinics so I’m constantly with a paddle in my hand working on things with my students. We are blessed with some of the top players in our sport that live down here in Southwest Florida. We set aside certain days and times to get together to play and drill. We are kind of spoiled when it comes to that kind of top level play!!

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m very particular about what I wear. I always have to match from head to toe and that includes my paddle.  So my rituals start at home with picking out what I’m wearing for that particular day at that tournament. If it wasn’t for Pickleboat (my clothing sponsor) and Engage (my paddle sponsor), it would make things much more difficult but because they let me pick my color combos with clothes and paddles it makes my life that much easier! Lastly, you will always see me with my headphones on before a tournament starts and it’s only playing one song, the Game of Thrones theme song! I guess I’m kind of a nerd like that, haha!!

Dominic coordinated in neon yellow

Dominic coordinated in neon yellow

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

As a pickleball player I just want to continue to improve each and every time I step on the court. I make sure that every time I’m out there I have something in particular that I am going to work on that day. As an instructor and an ambassador for the sport I just want to continue to grow the game! Going to tournaments and competing on courts next to my students and seeing them have success makes me just as satisfied as when I medal in a tournament. To see the excitement on their face is priceless!

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

Where I’m at right now in pickleball gives me the opportunity to spread the word about our great sport. It allows me to help so many people improve their game of pickleball as well as promote a healthy lifestyle for many, who without pickleball would not be getting much physical activity!

Meet The Pros – Doug Koch

Meet The Pros – Doug Koch

Doug Koch

Doug Koch Grand Canyon Senior Games with Roxanne Pierce

Doug Koch does it all: brings home the medals, organizes high level play all over Northern California  and runs his own teaching business, Pickleball Pimp. Enjoy!

12-time Medalist in Huntsman World Senior Games including 2 Singles Gold Medals
5-time Medalist in USAPA Nationals in Men’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles, & Singles
2014 SoCal Classic 50+ Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles – Gold Medalist

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk Omni 31P XO Glen Peterson signature paddle. It has a great feel which allows for precision placement and plenty of power plus the extra length allows hitting sharper angles on volleys and overheads.

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

My brother Jimmy from Colorado played a few times when visiting his in-laws in Surprise, AZ. He brought some balls & paddles to my daughter’s high school graduation. We tied a badminton net to 2 garbage cans, chalked out a court in my driveway, and wound up playing all weekend. I was hooked!! I started playing with a local group in Grass Valley and soon was playing 5 times a week.

What’s your preference: playing indoor or outdoor?

I do a lot of teaching indoors and play indoors on rainy days but you can’t beat playing outdoors on a nice day!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I enjoy both. I enjoy the amount of running and the battle of wills that is the singles game and the teamwork and strategy of the doubles game.

Rob Schmidt/Doug Koch Silver

Rob Schmidt, Doug Koch, Silver – 2016 Grand Canyon Senior Games

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Johnson Ranch Racquet Club in Roseville, CA where I am one of the teaching pros. I love the great competition and the comfort level of having played thousands of games there. My favorite tournament is the SoCal Classic in Encinitas, CA. It is a great location near the beach in the summertime, well run, great competition.

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

I was fortunate when I was getting started that I got to play & drill with many strong players and teachers: Prem Carnot, Wendy Garrido, Matthew Blom, Steve Wong, Alan Christensen, Ian & Kim Dickson and the Johnson Ranch crew. I tried to learn from everyone better than I was and figured out how to try to make it a little harder for them to beat me (and bruise me).

2014 Grand Canyon State Games - Doug Koch/Roxanne Pierce, Gold

2014 Grand Canyon State Games – Doug Koch/Roxanne Pierce, Gold

What’s your day job?

I was a software engineer for 30+ years.  My 2nd career is pickleball teaching pro, Pickleball Pimp, which is something completely different.

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

I teach about 15 hours per week and play about the same.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really, I’m not very superstitious.

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

As a teacher, I would like to help continue the growth of pickleball by teaching adult & junior players. I would also like to try to become a better player and teammate.

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

Pickleball is great exercise, let’s you hang out with the nicest people in the world, and is just plain FUN!!

Pickleball Youth Leagues on the Rise, Bring New Talent to the Game

Pickleball is a fantastic hobby for young players for the same reasons it’s great for adults—the nature of the game is a strong equalizer which lowers the barrier to entry, both financially (for their parents) and from a skill-based perspective.

Many players have come to pickleball not only from other racquet sports but from non-sporting backgrounds entirely, which makes it ideal for kids who don’t consider themselves particularly athletic. Bring the game to a school gym or community center, and time and again, we’ve seen young players take to the sport like it’s second nature.

As noted by Beverly Youngren of the Carlsbad Pickleball group, “While older competitors are often former tennis players looking for a sport that’s easier on the knees, young players often go the other way. They become confident at pickleball and move on to tennis.

“You can see the glimmer in their eyes, and they say, ‘I can do this.’ ”

Carlsbad Pickleball hosted their first tournament for youth in December 2016.

“We had other youths that wanted to play, but I had to cut it off because there [aren’t] enough courts.”

At PickleballCentral we’ve seen this trend continue to grow as clubs open up enrollment to kids and start classes or leagues specifically for them. Even manufacturers have started to take note, with some businesses like Paddletek creating paddles specifically for younger players (see the Ranger).

We’re always happy to see players of any age take up pickleball, but it’s especially exciting to know the next generation will be bringing some fresh talent to the courts.

Jack Munro

Jack Munro won US Open gold

Younger players have already been engaging in more competitive events as well. One particularly fun example is that of 12-year-old Jack Munro, who won gold with 69-year-old JoAnne Russell in the 2017 US Open Mixed Doubles.

They were respectively the youngest and oldest competitors in the 19-49 group!

The USAPA launched a Juniors Division in 2016 which was kicked off at the USAPA Nationals VIII Tournament where the kids got a chance to play with pros. You can find additional resources and information on the USAPA site specifically for junior players or those interested in promoting the game to a younger demographic.

Check out some of the amazing play from these up-and-comers at the Nationals VIII Tournament:

From both official tournaments to local initiatives, we know pickleball can only benefit from more youth involvement.

If you haven’t seen them yet, be sure to check out our articles on the Yavapai Detention Center and Ontario Pickleball Club. Both of these groups are great examples of local pickleball associations that have taken the initiative to provide healthy outlets to kids in their community.

We’re glad that existing pickleball communities are welcoming young players with open arms. Do you know of any youth programs or leagues started up in your community? If so, let us know in the comments!

 

Meet The Pros – Rick Witsken

Meet The Pros – Rick Witsken

 

Rick Witsken

Rick Witsken

Rick has a real passion for tennis and the game of pickleball.  He is growing a pickleball program in Indianapolis that he is proud of because he is saving lives.  Enjoy.

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

2017 US Open, Men’s Doubles 45+ with John Moorin – Gold
2017 Great Lakes Regional, Men’s Singles 5.0 – Gold
2016 US Open, Men’s Doubles Pro with Matt Schiller – Bronze
NW Regional – Open Mixed Doubles Open and Men’s Doubles Open – Silver

Rick Witsken - Gold

Great Lakes Regional, Men’s Singles 5.0, Will Willson /Silver, Rick Witsken/Gold and David Seckel/Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Bantam Ex-L. It is light weight, with a nice solid sweet spot and core.

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

I was introduced to pickleball about 2 ½ years ago. John Kirstin talked to me about playing. I loved ping pong. I grew up with 7 siblings, including 4 brothers, so I grew up competitive. I’ve always wanted a sport like ping pong and tennis, so when pickleball was introduced, I was very interested. I have a built-in camaraderie with other tennis players. I’m intrigued by the administrative side of tournaments. I have a nice facility and know there are lots of competitive folks around. I put on lots of tennis tournaments and wanted to bring pickleball tournaments to Indianapolis. I have offered 2 pickleball tournaments so far. I’ve also coordinated a Pickleball Powwow Clinic with exhibition games with players Chris Zeilinga, John Moorin, Matt Schiller and myself.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I prefer the faster, up tempo game that indoor games provide. I don’t mind the challenge of outdoor play. Outdoors is more of a finesse game.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Singles at 40 is harder because the competition is so much younger these days, especially in 80 degrees with high humidity like at the US Open in Naples, Florida. 

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is at my tennis facility, Pearson Automotive Tennis Club in Zionsville, Indiana. We have over 100 players and it’s growing by leaps and bounds.  I’ve put in lots of volunteer hours to introduce pickleball and have reaped lots of benefits from the game.

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

I play with both hands, which my opponents do not expect. One tip I can share: Be mindful of how you’re gripping your paddle handle. A lot of players hold the grip the same way throughout the game. You can improve your game if you vary how you grip the handle. If it’s a faster game, then tighten the grip. If slower, then loosen it. It’s also based on pace and how far back in the court you are. I have a scale of 1-5: 1 being light as a feather and 5, tight as a vise.

Pearson Automotive Tennis Club's Grand Opening on March 4, 2017

Pearson Automotive Tennis Club’s Grand Opening on March 4, 2017 – Derek Mandel, Adam Mandel and Rick Witsken

What’s your day job?

I am the owner and director of my own tennis facility mentioned earlier. I coach tennis and teach pickleball. Adding pickleball has been an important improvement to the tennis club business model.

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

I currently play in tennis leagues and coach some of the top 10 emerging tennis players, so my time playing pickleball is limited to about 3 hours a week. My priority is to run my tennis club, so I don’t get to travel much on the tournament circuit.

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

As my tennis club and pickleball program get more established, my goal is to compete in more national tournaments. I hope to gain recognition as being one of the top 10 pickleball players in the U.S.

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

I’m coaching two middle school pickleball teams right now. I am passionate about spreading the word about pickleball. I realize I am saving lives by getting folks active in a sport that everyone can play. It gives me great satisfaction to help people and at the same time, to save lives.