Meet The Pros – Steve Kennedy
Steve Kennedy has achieved the perfect balance between tennis and pickleball. He is passing it on to his younger tennis students as well. Way to go, Steve! Enjoy!
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
I’m new to pickleball tournaments and have been fortunate to medal in each one I’ve played last year:
2016 USA Masters Games – Doubles Gold with Steve Rose and Mixed Doubles Silver with Lucy Kitcher
2016 Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic – Silver with Joe DiMauro
2016 Kentucky Senior Games – Singles Gold and Doubles Gold with Jeff Carlson
2016 Geezer Meister – Doubles Silver with Scott Tingley
2016 USAPA Nationals – Singles Silver
What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with the Engage Encore Pro paddle with added head weight. I love the touch, control and power that the Engage paddle gives me. Jodi and Robert Elliott are great to work with and helped me to find the perfect paddle for my game.
What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I discovered pickleball totally by accident while sitting on the soccer field watching my son practice in Davie, Florida. I kept hearing a loud popping noise and walked over to investigate. When I realized that pop was the sound of the pickleball hitting the paddle, I was intrigued. I was immediately offered a wooden paddle by a super friendly group of people and I was hooked.
What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
Living in Florida allows me to play outdoors all year long but I enjoy playing indoor as well. It’s nice to mix it up.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I love the strategy and teamwork associated with doubles. Because of my prior professional tennis career, I also like singles because I’m guaranteed to get every ball, where in doubles, there are times I rarely see one. In singles it’s all up to me…all of the mistakes are mine and so are the winners.
What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
Davie, Florida is my pickleball home. It’s where I discovered the game and it’s where I play with the greatest people in the whole world. I’d like to give a shout out to every one of them but I have too many pickleball friends to list. I’ll just say that Davie Pickleball people are the best and if you’re in Florida we’d love to have you join us.
What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
I’m a power player so I have to say that it’s OK to play with power, however, you must develop a proficient dink game and be able to turn on your finesse at any moment. I like to be unpredictable and switch up my game at unexpected times, keeping my opponent confused. My tips are simple:
Don’t let your game become predictable.
Drill, drill, drill and spend 80% of your practice time on your dink game.
What’s your day job?
I’ve been teaching tennis at Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in Fort Lauderdale for 26 years. I’m also an IPTPA-certified pickleball instructor which allows me to share the sport that I love by teaching others to play. I love both tennis and pickleball, but pickleball is new and exciting and the rapid growth is exciting as well. I encourage all of my tennis clients to try pickleball. It’s great to have a variety of physical activities to choose from and pickleball is conducive to fun for the whole family.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I typically play 4 or 5 days a week for about 2 hours a day. I live a couple of miles from Davie Pickleball so I hop on my bike or my scooter and head over late afternoon. My wife loves to play and travel with me which makes my pickleball life a lot easier!
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
We all feel the nerves before a big tournament. I try to just focus on having fun and relaxing. I do depend on a secret holistic spray for nerves given to me by my good friend Dan, and I chew gum, lots of gum, before I go on the court.
Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
My goal is to continue to love playing pickleball in the future as much as I love it today while introducing the sport to as many people as I can.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Wow, really, one of the best in the world? Thanks for that compliment! I’m so excited about playing pickleball because I have so much more to learn and I feel that I can continue to work hard and get so much better. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play and train with some of the very best players in the world here in Florida. I also have a group of South Florida Pickleball Club training partners here in Davie who spend a lot of time with me playing and drilling. They give me an unbelievable amount of support in practice and at tournaments. I owe a lot of my success to the people who have helped me with my game by just spending time with me on the court. Again, too many people to list but each of you know exactly who you are, so THANK YOU!