Meet the Pros – Lisa Punuali Naamu
Lisa is a tennis pro turned pickleball pro who loves the competition that tennis converts bring to the game. Enjoy!
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2017 USAPA National Championships-
Senior Open Women’s Doubles with Gigi LeMaster – Gold
55+Open Mixed Doubles with Blake Wilcox – Gold
Senior Open Women’s Singles – Gold
Women’s Doubles Age 50+with Kim Jagd – Silver
What paddle do you play with and why?
The paddle I was using during these tourneys was the Engage Encore Pro. It has great control and power. I recently just switched to the new Engage Poach Advantage paddle because it feels great when I hit the ball hard or soft. It will be a great new test for me at the 2018 US Open.
What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
My start in pickleball came after 47 years of playing tennis. I decided to try something different and I heard about pickleball. Around May 2016 I went over to Freedom Park in Palm Desert, California and borrowed paddles for 2 weeks before I made a commitment to try the game. I bought my first paddle there and never looked back.
What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?
I prefer playing outdoors vs. indoors because I live in Southern California. It’s so natural for me to play outdoors like I did with tennis. When it gets to be 100 degrees plus here in the desert, I like to take it indoors where it is air conditioned.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I enjoy playing women’s doubles, mixed doubles, and singles. Like tennis I really enjoy playing 3 events. Doubles you depend a lot on your partner to help you. In singles it’s all you. I like the challenge.
What is your favorite place to play? Why?
My favorite place to play pickleball is Southern California. Whether it be Palm Desert, Tustin, Temecula or San Diego. The weather and good players make it all worth while. I often travel to these other places because I love playing with my friends there and the caliber of play is very good.
What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
My tip for players whether you are a recreational player or a tournament player is to continue to try to study the game by watching, reading, video taping, taking lessons, drills and practice.
What is your day job?
Currently, I teach pickleball seasonally at the Embassy Suites off Hwy 111 in Palm Desert, CA. During the summer I will teach some outdoors but mostly indoors because of the heat. I also enjoy teaching at the local parks: Freedom Park in Palm Desert, Fritz Burns in La Quinta and Whitewater in Rancho Mirage.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I play about 5-6 days a week, especially when preparing for a pickleball tournament. I make time to play pickleball by carefully planning and preparing ahead.
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
I don’t believe in lucky rituals before a tournament. I believe in planning, and preparing myself with drills, practice matches, good nutrition, sleep and massage! I also get some coaching from good counsel which can be sufficient preparation before a big tournament. It’s a discipline that is worth the effort.
Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?
My pickleball goal for 2018 and beyond is to be the best player I can be. I want to continue to help grow and spread this great sport by teaching, coaching and using my website to reach local and global areas.
Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Coming from a tennis background has definitely helped me excel quickly in this game. I see a lot of new players coming in from the tennis world and other sports, so I expect the competition to be even better. I have learned so much from playing with different players with different styles, behaviors, attitudes and backgrounds. Winning or losing I always can take away something to improve my game.