Fruit Smash from New Belgium Brewery gave away an all-expenses-paid trip to the APP Tour NYC Open in April 2022. After thousands entered, Ashley and Collin Cooke were the lucky random winners. We sat down to ask about their trip, their pickleball story and more!
What is your pickleball story? How did you get into pickleball?
It’s kind of a funny story. Ashley’s mom started playing pickleball around 2015 and quickly became obsessed. We all made fun of her for playing a game with such an odd name. For Mother’s Day in 2017 all she wanted was for her kids and their spouses to play pickleball with her that afternoon. We all agreed to play her “dumb game” and ended up getting addicted ourselves!
Where are you located? Do you have a pickleball courts you frequent?
We live in Cleveland, TN and there is a large and wonderful group of players in our area. Our city just built six new outdoor courts a couple of years ago and the majority of the pickleball community plays together almost every day of the week. We’ve met some of the most amazing people through the pickleball community, many of whom we never would’ve met otherwise.
What paddles do you play with and why?
We are both Diadem Warrior princesses! Collin called Ashley and her sister this when they both started playing with this paddle a couple of months ago. He just got his own and joined them. We love the Warrior because it has helped add power to our volleys and control for our dinking.
You were the lucky winners for the Fruit Smash giveaway and went on a trip to the APP NYC tournament. How was your trip?
Our trip to the NYC Open was incredible. We flew out of our local airport on Tuesday morning and arrived at our hotel in Queens around 4:00pm. The hotel was beautiful and in a very convenient location to the subway which was one stop from the Billy Jean Tennis Center, and a few more stops into Manhattan.
On our first night we rode the subway into Manhattan and ate at the Porch in Bryant Park, which was delicious! Wednesday morning we left for the tournament and were shown around and given an incredible bag full of gifts!
We watched several hours of the tournament on Wednesday and had a photoshoot at the Fruit Smash tent, which was so much fun! We spent some time in Central Park after that and then ate at Hummus Kitchen, which was an incredible Israeli restaurant with some of the best food we’ve ever had! Thursday morning we went back to watch as much pickleball as we could before leaving for the airport after lunch.
Have you played in tournaments? What advice do you have for those wanting to try? What do you enjoy about them?
We both love playing in tournaments! It’s so much fun to compete at your skill level and we enjoy the challenge of playing against new opponents. We’ve also met people at tournaments that we enjoy running into at other tournaments and enjoy encouraging each other.
Ashley played in the Atlanta Open recently. She loved being able to watch the pros between matches and would encourage anyone to join tournaments where pros are playing! She felt like it was a really fun atmosphere to be a part of. For anyone who hasn’t played in a tournament and is interested in trying: Just get some help deciding what your skill level is and sign up for one you want to play!
We can’t thank New Belgium Fruit Smash enough for the incredible trip! This is our favorite game in the world!
Our thanks go out to Ashley and Collin for taking the time to share their experiences with us. We look forward to giving more fans opportunities to travel and enjoy tournaments in the future.