Barb Wintroub is an All Around Athlete. She has proven her ability and talent in tennis tournaments, triathalon competitions and pickleball tournaments. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Enjoy!
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2016 US Open – Gold in Women’s Singles and Women Doubles, Silver in Mixed Doubles
2015 USAPA Nationals 2015 Silver in Women’s Singles, 2 Bronze in Women’s and Mixed Doubles
2015 State Games of America – Gold in Women’s Singles, Silver in Women’s and Mixed Doubles
2015 National Senior Games Minnesota – Gold in Singles
2014 Huntsman Senior Games – Bronze Mixed Doubles
In the nine years I’ve played pickleball I’ve medaled in almost every tournament I entered. Now that the tournaments are all skill except the majors, I have to play 20 to 54 years down and I just cannot compete any longer. Mostly everyone my age is quitting the sport.
What paddle do you play with and why?
I currently play with a Brian Jensen XLT POP paddle. It’s light so I’m quicker at net, and it has power so I can play singles with it. I also have played with the Encore Composite by Engage Sports.
What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I’ve been a competing tennis player for 60 years and a competing triathlete for 22 years. I began playing the National Senior Games in tennis when I read an article on pickleball in a now defunct magazine called GEEZERJOCK. There was no pickleball in LA so I bought a paddle and balls online, went to the backboard to hit every day before I entered my first tournament, the Palm Desert Senior Games. I read the rules on the way to play. I won a silver medal in singles and in mixed doubles my first time out thanks to a few years of paddle tennis at Venice Beach. That was 9 years ago. I was hooked on the game but I had nowhere to play. For the first few years, I just played from tournament to tournament. Then I started to drive to San Diego, which is a Southern California hub for Pickleball. I’ve been a member of the USAPA since day one and I met all the right players so I knew about all the major tournaments.
What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
I play only outdoors.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I’m a much better singles player than doubles. I love all the action running around the singles court. Doubles for me is a work in progress. Finding the right compatible partner is a trick.
What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
I love the competition of tournaments, love drilling and practicing and thinking I might improve as I age. The camaraderie and meeting new friends is very special.
What’s your day job?
I still work as a personal trainer and Pilates therapist. It is so important to maintain good posture and muscular strength as we age in order to stave off injuries. For the last 5 years I’ve written the pickleball fitness blog in the USAPA newsletter. I’m a USAPA Ambassador in Palm Desert, California, where I introduce pickleball to Country Clubs around the city. For four years I’ve run an intra-club event where clubs field a team and play other clubs. I also give pickleball lessons. I was a USPTA tennis teaching pro for many years so the transition to pickleball wasn’t difficult.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I play PB several days a week but now find I need more rest as I age. I also practice on the pickleball pitching machine often. I can spend an hour on just one shot.
What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
My tip for players is stretch, stretch, stretch after you play and don’t hit the shots you don’t practice. Practice the shots you want to hit. You can have fun and just enjoy the game or you can enter tournaments to see how you fare with others.
Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
My pickleball goal is to stay strong and healthy so I can continue to play into my 90’s.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Is pickleball becoming a sport for only the younger players or the 3.0-3.5s? The younger players are being courted, sponsored, play money tournaments etc. The 3.0-3.5 players win all the skill tournaments while the better older players quit because they have to play down in age.
When I was an Ironman triathlete, I covered the same course all the elite athletes covered, it just took me longer. I competed in my age group, not against the younger triathletes. Whatever happened, happened. The older athletes were revered because they were still able to compete. Now many of us older better pickleball players feel we are no longer wanted in tournament competitions.
Sobering insight, Barb, into the “progress” of the game. Thanks for sharing some of your story. You are truly a Professional Athlete in every sense of the word.