Meet The Pros – Shane Denning

Men's doubles age 35+ winners. Shane Denning, Nicklaus Williams (gold).

2017 International Indoor Pickleball Champions: Men’s doubles age 35+: Shane Denning, Nicklaus Williams-gold, Tim MacVinnie-silver, Hillbilly Spivey, Sugar Shayne R. Johnson-bronze

Meet the Pros Shane Denning
Shane has a real heart for this game, a healthy respect for the competition and a great talent for organizing tournaments.  Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2017 International Indoor Pickleball Championships – Men’s 35+ Gold
2017 Yakima Pickleball classic – Men’s 5.0 – Bronze
2017 Spring Fling – Men’s 5.0 – Gold
2016 Western Oregon Classic – Men’s 5.0 – Silver
2016 Willamette Valley Spring Rally – Mixed 5.0 – Bronze
2015 Pickle Barrel Classic – Men’s 5.0 – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk Pro S1G Graphite  for indoor courts and the heavier Selkirk ProS1G+ outdoors. Great mix of touch and power.

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

The game kind of fell into my lap. I am the Athletic Director at an multi-use athletic club and in 2005 a few retired folks came back from Arizona for the winter and asked if they could tape some lines in our gym and play this sport called pickleball. It grew from there and by 2008 we had 6 indoor courts with permanent lines. I still didn’t play much, I admit that I thought it was just a sport for older folks. I would go in and just blast away, refused to dink and the 60+ age players would beat me on a regular basis. Then we ran our first tournament in 2012 and I learned to dink a little. I entered in Men’s 4.5 and played against Wes Gabrielsen in his first tournament. Then I was HOOKED, and have been ever since. Side note: I also haven’t beat Wes since. : (

What’s your preference playing indoor or outdoor?

I know this isn’t a popular answer, but INDOOR is my favorite! I love that the ball is slower and harder to put away. You get a better workout and crazy rallies. I also have no racquet background and have always felt that ex-tennis players have a big advantage outside with a faster ball. I’m much better indoors.

Shane Denning Bronze

2016 Western Oregon Pickleball Classic, Mens Doubles 5.0 Devin Shoquist/Chuck Taylor Bronze, Wes Gabrielsen/Brian Ashworth – Gold, Kurtis Campbell, Shane Denning – Bronze

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Doubles for sure. Singles are for crazy people! And to be honest, at the 5.0 level I can’t beat anyone in Singles! They are too young and too fast.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Well I have a young family, and I don’t travel outside of the Pacific Northwest to play much, so I haven’t seen some of the amazing facilities out there. However, I think it would be hard to beat Pine Nursery Park in Bend, Oregon.  Absolutely beautiful courts, with great views of the mountains.

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

My secret sauce is my backhand volley. I just pray that a player will leave a ball up for me so I can use it!  As for tips… I would say play LTSU pickleball (Let Them Screw Up). Keep your balls in and low and you will watch your opponents make more errors.

What’s your day job?

I am the Athletic Director at Timberhill Athletic Club in Corvallis, Oregon. I run summer camps, kids basketball leagues, men’s basketball leagues, pickleball tournaments, volleyball and other gym activities.

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

My work desk has a window that directly faces our indoor courts so I am inspired to go in and play a lot. I play with other 5.0 players about once a week, and then a few days a week with 4.0 and above, and about once a week with intermediate and beginners. I probably get in about 6-8 hours per week of playtime. I am lucky enough to have a wife that understands my pickleball addiction, so she lets me play a lot!

Open Men's Doubles medalists at the La Pine Frontier Days Pickleball Tournament. Gold: Wesley Gabrielsen and Robert Davidson, Silver: Shane Denning and Shayne R. Johnson, Bronze - Steve Paranto and Patrick Williams.

Open Men’s Doubles medalists at the La Pine Frontier Days Pickleball Tournament. Gold: Wesley Gabrielsen and Robert Davidson, Silver: Shane Denning and Shayne R. Johnson, Bronze – Steve Paranto and Patrick Williams.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Fortunately, I live in the Pacific Northwest, where every tournament I have to play against Chris Miller, Brian Ashworth, Kurtis Campbell, Wes Gabrielsen, Enrique Ruiz, Matt Goebel, Ty McGuffin and many more top pros. I usually pray before the match and hope to not lose 11-0, 11-0.  

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

Each year I have gotten a little bit better, so I’d like to continue that path. I would love to travel to Nationals or the US Open in the coming years and watch, meet, and compete against all the players from across the country. I would also love to see the Junior program grow across the country.  In my opinion, that is the best way to grow the sport for the future. If kids can grow up with pickleball, then I think we would see the sport explode in the next 20 years. in that series. 

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

I absolutely love this sport! I love how friendly the pickleball community is. I love to see older players pick the game up and become addicted.  I have been running beginner clinics for 5 years and I have never had anyone say that they didn’t enjoy pickleball. I also love reading about new dedicated courts popping up all over the nation. This sport is growing at a crazy rate, I am excited to be a small part of it.

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