Meet the Pros – Walter Knestrick
Can you list for us your major wins so we can properly introduce you to our readers?
My partner Rex Lawler and I won Gold for Mens’ Doubles over 80 in the April 2017 US Open Pickleball Tournament in Naples, Florida. We repeated our Gold win there in April 2018. Then Rex and I won Gold for Mens’ Doubles over 80 again in June 2018 at the St. Jude National Indoor Classic Pickleball Tournament in Cartersville, GA. This was a USAPA-sanctioned event, where I also won Gold with partner Anne Harrington for Mixed Doubles over 80 and Bronze for Singles over 80.
What paddle do you play with – and why??
I am presently playing with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. The grained surface on the paddle helps me get more spin on my serve and return-of-serve than the Paddletek Bantam EX-L which I used last year. It is very important for me to be able to put extra spin on my serve, away from my opponent’s backhand.
What is your Pickleball story? How were you introduced to Pickleball??
I played tennis and racquetball most of my life, but in the end both sports took a toll on my back, and it was just too painful to continue playing. Six years ago I was introduced to pickleball by a neighbor in Florida where we spend our winters. I fell in love with the sport and the friendly way we organized play in our residential development. I found the game easy to play—but hard to master, and I loved the challenge! To my surprise, playing doubles for two hours five or six times a week did not bother my back—in fact, I believe the sport has not only helped my back but added years to my life!
What is your preference – playing indoors or playing outdoors??
I enjoy playing outdoors—when the wind is less than 20 mph and the temperature is between 50 and 85 degrees! When you are over 80, the lighting on most indoor courts can be a problem—but when outdoor conditions are bad, I am happy to play indoors!
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I enjoy doubles more than singles and that is what I play most of the time. In August 2017 I got a new hip and was told not to play singles—but I played singles in the Cartersville tournament with no pain and won bronze. Pickleball, either doubles or singles, is just too much fun not to play both.
What is your favorite place to play? Why?
I really don’t have a favorite place to play. I play wherever there is a good group! Close by my home I love playing at Lipscomb University, home of the “Nashville Pickleball Club.” They have over 100 members and offer clinics for new players almost every week, led by volunteers like Nicole and Rick Hobson. I also often drive 30 minutes or more to play with younger and better players, which really helps my game. At our Florida residence there is play for various skill levels going on all day every day. We have four courts there now for our 300+ players, but this year that will expand to six. Good places to play continue to increase as pickleball becomes more and more popular.
What is your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?
Learn the “dink” game! It is important to be able to make this shot from anywhere on the court. Slamming the ball at two opposing players at the net will not work against good players.