Meet The Pros – Kyle Thieme
Everyone has to start somewhere, right? From college Division 1 tennis player to falling in with the local 5.0 young gun crew (you know who you are), Kyle’s trajectory is the stars… well really, it’s the moon. Enjoy!
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2016 SPA 1 Men’s Doubles with Justin Rodgers – Gold
2016 USAPA Nationals- Men’s doubles 19+ w/ Aspen Kern – Bronze
What paddle do you play with and why?
I’m fortunate enough to be sponsored by Selkirk, a company owned by folks who share my beliefs and make great products. Currently I play with Selkirk’s 30P EPIC because it offers up loads of control and comes in my favorite color: Pink. I’ve also played with the PRO S1G from Selkirk, which has the most feel of any paddle I’ve tried.
What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
My wife and I are both former Division I college tennis players. But due to an injury she’s no longer able to swing the racket. A couple years ago we came across pickleball and assumed its low impact nature wouldn’t aggravate her injury. We thought it looked like something we could maybe pick up fairly quickly and minimize the embarrassing and frustrating beginner stage of a new hobby. We played a few times but sadly her injury wouldn’t allow her to continue. However, by then I had joined a group of players which would evolve into the local 5.0, young gun crew of myself, Aspen Kern, Matt Staub, Brian Thieme, Jotham Darrin, and Erik Fosdick.
What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
As an Arizona kid, I’ve only played outdoors. But since I just moved to Boise, Idaho I guess I’ll need to figure out the indoor game come winter.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
If I were 5 years younger I’d probably love singles. But with a busy career and an even busier one-year-old daughter, I can’t make the time to get into the shape needed to compete with the young bucks. Maybe once I mature into the next age bracket I’ll give it a shot again. In the meantime, I think I’ll start playing more mixed doubles at tournaments. Any ladies needing a partner, give me a shout.
What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
I haven’t discovered a clear favorite yet. I’m hoping to travel a bit more and play more tournaments in the next couple seasons. I hear good things about the Little Valley Pickleball Complex in St George Utah and the Zing Zang Championship Court at the US Open in Naples Florida. I bet playing on the moon would be radical.
What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
I guess my anatomy could be considered my secret sauce. The good Lord blessed me with a pickleball body. At 6’2″ I’m not so tall that I can’t get down and handle the low balls, and with a 6’6″ wingspan I can reach into the kitchen further than most.
The two tips I have would improve the level of 99% of the players out there:
Increase the effort around your footwork and movement.
Take a shorter backswing on all your strokes.
What’s your day job?
I’m the Product Manager for an e-commerce platform called Scott’s Marketplace.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
3-4 hours a week is all I can get.
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
I’m still searching for a lucky ritual that will work. You did notice my major wins list wasn’t very long, right?
Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
I’d like to become the first pickleballer sponsored by Nike. That way Federer, Nadal and I can do a commercial together.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
The game is growing so fast. I’m still fairly new to the game, but I’ve already seen it change significantly. The talent pool keeps getting deeper and deeper. I’m just trying to keep up! So, if PickleballCentral could send me a water and fire-proof copy of them calling me “one of the best pickleball players in the world,” it would really help my credibility when I tell me future grandkids about it.
You are one of the best, Kyle! Best of luck in getting that “endorsement”!