One of THE BEST pickleball players in the world – that’s who Kyle Yates is! So young, and yet, already, so full of pickleball wisdom and success! You are going to love reading about his take on this game! Enjoy!
Can you list for us some of your accomplishments?
Some of my accomplishments:
2014 USAPA Nationals –
Gold 19+ Men’s Doubles with Robert Elliott
Bronze Open Mixed Doubles with Lydia Willis
2014 Fall Brawl –
Gold Open Men’s Doubles with Darin Hurdman
Gold Open Mixed Doubles with Christine Barksdale
2014 SoCal Classic – Gold Men’s singles
2014 Great Lakes Regional -Gold Open Men’s Doubles with Robert Elliott
Gold Open Mixed Doubles with Stephanie Lane
2014 Southwest Regional -Gold Men’s singles
Gold 19+ Men’s Doubles with Darin Hurdman
Gold Open Men’s doubles with Darin Hurdman
Gold 19+ Mixed Doubles with Stephanie Lane
Gold Open Mixed Doubles with Stephanie Lane
2014 South Atlantic Regional -Gold Open Mixed Doubles with Lydia Willis
What paddle do you play with and why?
Paddletek’s Bantam EX-L. Originally, price was a factor for me. My previous paddles continued to wear down and/or break. Paddletek’s 5-year, “no dead spot” guarantee drew my attention. Bantam EX-L has elevated my game with its balance and power, and yet easy to control.
What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
My uncle introduced me to the game when I was 15. There was a small group that played indoors at a local recreation center. I had been a competitive tennis and table tennis player. I picked up pickleball fairly quickly in most aspects, however the transition from tennis to pickleball took some time. After about a year of playing, I started begging my mom to sign me up for tournaments. Luckily, about 2 years ago, I met the Elliotts at a tournament in Naples, Florida. They invited me up to The Villages to practice with them and with some of the top players in the country, like the Staubs, and Phil Bagley. It wasn’t until then that I started to really love the game and take it seriously. After high school, I switched from tennis to pickleball altogether, and I’d say it has worked out for me so far.
What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?
I live in south Florida. Enough said. Outdoors. I prefer outdoors, not only for the sunshine and fresh air, but I like how the ball plays. I like playing the soft game with lots of dinking which seems less common indoors.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
This may be shocking to a lot of people, but doubles. I like the chess aspect of the game, not so much the running. I switched to pickleball from tennis because I prefer pickleball. Singles to me is just like tennis but at a much faster pace.
What are your favorite places to play? Why?
Most of my practice happens at Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center in Fort Myers, Florida. However, my favorite venue to play is right alongside Peace River at Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda, Florida. Great view, great group of players, and a great overall pickleball atmosphere.
What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?
I don’t really have any sort of pregame ritual. I do like to listen to music to calm my nerves before certain matches. Staying calm, I’ve found, is a huge advantage in critical situations. Pickleball is so much about maintaining focus throughout the entire array of points, games, matches and tournaments.
What is your day job?
I hope to make a living solely from pickleball someday but for now I’m looking to get a degree in business from the University of Florida.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make the time to play?
I try to play as much as I can, which ends up around 3 to 4 days a week for a couple hours at a time. Drilling seems to me to be just as important as playing, so I try to practice as much as I play.
Do you have any Pickleball goals that you would like to share?
I hope to keep playing, competing, improving, learning and , most importantly, loving this game for the rest of my life. A few more big wins would be much appreciated, though.
Any advice/ anything else?
People like to complicate the game with all these different techniques and styles, but we tend to forget that the object of the game is to hit the ball IN the court. Pickleball is a game of errors, not winners. All you have to try to do is keep the ball in play longer than your opponents. Strategy is involved only after you understand that concept. Strategy is involved only to make your opponent’s job of keeping the ball in play more difficult. There is a very fine line of demarcation between going for a win, and forcing your opponent to make an error.
I’ve been very fortunate. I’m thankful for what Pickleball has given me. I have had the opportunity to travel all over the country and meet so many great people. In the simplest terms, pickleball is a fun sport we all enjoy playing, but in reality, to some people, and to me, it means so much more.
Thanks so much, Kyle, for opening up about your love and respect for this game of pickleball. May the winning continue!