Meet The Pros – Miok Lee

Miok Lee with David Redding

Miok Lee with David Redding

Meet The Pros – Miok Lee

We love to feature local folks who are doing a tremendous job on the courts. Miok Lee is the real deal! She loves this game and her enthusiasm is contagious. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers? 

Miok Lee with Joey Farias

Miok Lee with Joey Farias

Miok Lee with Tyson McGuffin

Miok Lee with Tyson McGuffin

2017 Int’l Indoor Pickleball Championships:
    Senior Women’s Doubles Open with Julie Haney – Gold
    Senior Mixed Doubles Open with Scott Edwards – Gold
    Women’s Doubles Open with Cat Grant – Bronze
2017 Yakima pickleball Classic hosted by Tyson McGuffin – Silver
2017 Grand Canyon State Games – Mixed Doubles 50+ with Tony Tollenar – Silver
2017 Tommy Wong Memorial Tournament:
     Mixed Doubles 5.0 with Justin Rodgers – Silver
     50 + Mixed Doubles Skill 5.0 with Ross Holcomb – Bronze
2017 USAPA Southwest Regional Tournament:
    Mixed Doubles Skill 5.0, 19-49 with Joey Farias – Silver
    Women’s Doubles Skill 5.0, 50-59 with Susan Baze – Gold

Miok Lee with Susan Baze

Diane Ahern and Roberta Meakin – Silver, Miok Lee,and Susan Baze – Gold, Helle Sparre and Laura Fenton Kovanda Bronze

2016 International Indoor Pickleball Championships:
    Women’s Doubles 19+with Lynn Syler – Gold
    Mixed Doubles 50+ with Roger Archer – Gold
    Women’s Doubles Open with Lynn Syler – Bronze
2016 Western Oregon Pickleball Classic – Mixed Doubles Skill Group 5.0 – Silver
2016 US Open Pickleball Championships – Mixed Doubles 50+ with David Redding – Bronze
2015 State Games of Oregon –
    Mixed Doubles 19+ Gold with Dalton Vavra
    Women’s Doubles 5.0 with Lynn Syler – Silver
    Mixed Doubles 5.0 with Dalton Vavra – Silver
2015 4th Annual Rally in the Valley – Mixed Doubles 5.0 with Wesley Gabrielsen – Gold
2014 Timberhill Winter Blast – Mixed Doubles 5.0 with Enrique Ruiz – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?
I love the Selkirk Pro S1G+. It has a large sweet spot and the control for the short game is excellent. The power is good for put-aways.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I was introduced to pickleball at our local YMCA in Gig Harbor about 6 years ago. My husband Ken and I like to stay active and wanted to establish some more regular play time at the YMCA. At the time, we were actively playing tennis and badminton. We had setup some clinic time at the YMCA to introduce badminton to folks but there were very few people that were interested to play. One day, some pickleball players dropped in during our badminton clinic and introduced us to the pickleball. They were looking for players and asked us to join in. We started with the wooden paddles. We quickly understood why folks like this game! We don’t know of any other sport where we laugh and enjoy the game so much, and it is so easy to start to play this game, starting out at Level 3.0 level.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Outdoor… I’m just more used to playing outdoors now. I love the fresh air.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Doubles! I used to play singles when I was younger but you need a lot of stamina for singles game and I don’t have any more for the level I like to play at. My hat is off to the folks who play singles.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Indoors it’s George and Kathleen Raft’s place called “The Court.” It’s very nice. They have recently built an enclosed pickleball court and they often let me play there. For outdoors, I love my local place: Sehmel Homestead Park. It is a beautiful park. It has painted lines over tennis courts and a basketball court where we use portable nets. We have 9 courts! You folks are all invited to come and play with us.

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

I feel confident with my dink game and I like the extreme angle shots. For a tip: practice, practice and go with your high percentage shots. The more you practice, the more high percentage shots you can choose from.

What’s your day job?

I’m one of those that are lucky and don’t have a job outside of the house, so, pickleball!

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

I play at least 12 hrs a week and I can move all my other tasks around my pickleball play.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Nope.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

I’m still learning, so I would like to continue to improve and would like to win at Nationals and again at the US Open.

Miok Lee at Canadian Nationals

2017 Canadian Nationals… from the back left: Alex Hamner, Ben Johns, Kyle Thieme, Jack Munro, Tyson McGuffin, Matt Goebel, Shonda Shallenberger (I hope I spelled your name right), Matt Staub, Kyle Yates, Miok Lee, Jan Yu, Jennifer Lucore, and Morgan Evans in front

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

I’m flattered that I may be considered one of the best players in the world, but I don’t think I am. There are so many more better players than me. I am so grateful to Selkirk for supporting me. They are an amazing family and company!  I would like to just give a quick shout out and thanks to the great players that partnered with me like Tyson McGuffin, Dalton Vavra, Wesley Gabrielsen, Joey Farias, Lynn Syler, Jan Yu and so many others. I really love this game and that should be the biggest take away: Enjoy the game!

Meet The Pros – Christina Dorman

Meet The Pros – Christina Dorman

Christina Dorman - 2015 USAPA Nationals

Christina Dorman – 2015 USAPA Nationals

Christina Dorman is an all-around PRO in our eyes: she balances the rigor of pickleball training with homeschooling.  We love her story. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

2017 Cedar Park Tournament of Champions Mixed Doubles Open – Silver
2016 Doubles Pickleball Tournament Monty Ballard YMCA @ Cinco Ranch Mixed Open – Gold
2016 Cedar Park Pickleball Championships Women’s Doubles Open – Gold
2015 Mid-South Regional Open Women’s Singles – Gold
2015 Mid-South Regional Open Women’s Doubles – Gold
2014 Mid-South Regional Open Mixed – Bronze
2014 Mid-South Regional Open Women’s Doubles – Gold
2014 Mid-South Regional Open Women’s Singles – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

Since the first day I held a Selkirk paddle in my hand, I have loved this brand of paddle, well before I was sponsored by Selkirk. The first paddle I started playing with was a 300A-XL Aluminum Honeycomb Core Graphite paddle, and I put it in the hands of everyone player I encountered. When the Morgan Evan’s Maxima 21P MXO Composite paddle was released, I found the perfect paddle for me. I am a small woman and found the extra length a definite plus. The core is exceptional for the soft game with just enough power to help me put balls away.

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

I have been an athlete all my life. I ran long distance for 20 combined years, played softball, volleyball and soccer. I was tired of running and had been looking for another outlet to satisfy my competitive nature. I drove past our local recreation center and saw a flashing sign advertising they had pickleball. At that time, I thought to myself, WHAT THE HECK IS PICKLEBALL?? I mean, I know sports, but what was this crazy thing?? So, I went in and was kindly invited to play by a sweet gentleman named Larry Honeycutt. I was instantly hooked and I’ve been playing ever since.

What’s your preference, playing indoor or outdoor?

Last year I would have said indoor, but we have switched to an outdoor venue this year and I absolutely love it. The elements add a certain degree of difficulty that I really like.

Christina Dorman indoor doubles

Christina Dorman indoor doubles

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer to play doubles because of the strategy and team chemistry.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Rio Vista Dam

Rio Vista Dam near Rio Vista Tennis Courts

My favorite place to play is my home court. My husband and I play with a wonderful group of friends at the Rio Vista Tennis Courts in San Marcos, TX. The area is surrounded by beautiful pecan trees and the best part is the river that runs right next to it. We jump in after playing to cool off and heal up our sore muscles. It is a true blessing.

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

Don’t really have a secret sauce. My tip for players would be to play your own strengths. Some people play hard ball, some people are soft dinkers, some people are excellent at strategy, Yes, it’s best to have a well-rounded game, but I encourage you to be happy with your strengths and use them wisely.

What’s your day job?

I have been a homeschooling mom for the past 11 years.

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

I play a minimum of 9 hours a week, but try to get closer to 12. My schedule is very flexible, so I can get in plenty of play time.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

No lucky rituals. I do mentally remind myself to play with confidence before each match.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

My goal is to be able to travel a bit more to get to more of the major tournaments.

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

Pickleball has given me a wonderful opportunity to compete on a very high level athletically. It’s something that has changed my life completely and I am forever grateful.

Meet The Pros – Kyle Thieme

Meet The Pros – Kyle Thieme

Kyle Thieme 2016 Nationals

Kyle Thieme – 2016 USAPA Nationals

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

2016 Nationals

2016 USAPA Nationals – Bronze/Kyle Thieme, Aspen Kern, Gold/Kyle Yates, Wes Gabrielsen, Silver/Matt Staub, Daniel Moore

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.

The Local Crew

The Local Crew where Kyle got introduced to pickleball

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.

Kyle and his daughter Tatum

Kyle and his daughter Tatum

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?

2016 SPA 1 Gold with Justin Rodgers

2016 SPA 1 Gold with Justin Rodgers

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.

2016 CDA Classic with Brian Thieme

2016 Coeur d’Alene Classic with Brian Thieme

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”!

Meet The Pros: Kim Jagd

Kim Jagd and Morgan Evans

Kim Jagd and Morgan Evans – 2015 SW Regional Open Mixed Doubles

Meet The Pros – Kim Jagd

Kim has a strong passion for team sports and she loves teaching people new to the game. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

2017 So Cal Classic Sr Women’s Doubles Open with Stacey Downey-Bronze
2017 So Cal Classic Sr Mixed Doubles Open with Scott Burr-Bronze
2017 So Cal Classic Women’s Doubles 50+with Stacy Downey-Bronze
2016 US Open Sr Women’s Doubles with Lydia D Willis – Bronze
2016 Grand Canyon St Games Sr Mixed Open with Ron Chang – Bronze
2016 Huntsmen Games Sr Open Women’s 50-54 Doubles with Stacy Downey – Silver
2016 Senior Games Mixed Doubles Open with Ralph Rabago – Gold
2016 Senior Games Women’s Open with Karen Gysin – Gold
2016 LeMaster/Davison Mixed Doubles Open with Marcin Rozpedski – Bronze
2016 SW Regional Women’s Doubles Sr Open with Mona Burnett – Gold
2016 So Cal Classic Sr Women’s Doubles Open with Julie Haney – Silver
2015 Tournament of Champions Sr Women’s Doubles with Stacy Downey – Silver
2015 SW Regional Open Mixed Doubles with Morgan Evans – Silver

How my background/career helped me in pickleball?
I played tennis at a high level until age 13, when I realized that I wasn’t going to beat my Jack Kramer Club superior, Traci Austin! I had an passion for team sports where I excelled as a softball pitcher, point guard and eventually as a setter.  It was volleyball that really captured my focus in high school and I eventually ended up at UCLA (NCAA Champs 1984) and then to the beach playing on tour for 3 seasons.  

Coaching was in my blood early as my high school senior year where I coached my first team (jv boy’s volleyball).  I was hooked!  I’ve had a wonderful 30+ career coaching High School, Jr Club, USA Volleyball and at CU and UCLA!  Tennis, Volleyball and coaching has been a great foundation for excelling in Pickleball.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I am currently sponsored by Selkirk.  They are a great family run business that really puts an emphasis on quality of product, customer service and Team Selkirk!  I have played with and for a couple of the other big paddle manufacturers and have found my home with Selkirk!  I play with the 7.8 elongated Omni 31P XO.  As a former tennis player, I really like the extra length for leverage while maintaining good width for blocking.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I have never played indoors!  I spent far too much time in volleyball gyms. (playing, coaching and recruiting)

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I liked playing singles and had some success, but it far too hard on my body after 11 orthopedic surgeries!  I LOVE playing high level mixed doubles!

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

I am sure everybody expects this to come from a life-long coach. . . PRACTICE if you want to hone your skills and improve faster!  I also like to watch video of myself, my opponents and other top players.  Like 90% of the population, I am a visual learner.  There is nothing better than video analysis!

What’s your day job?

I am a retired collegiate volleyball coach.  I am fortunate; I property manage for my family and get to play pickleball and golf to my heart’s (and my body’s) content!!

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

I practice/play between 9-15 hours a week depending on my tournament schedule.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Nah, as a coach I don’t really believe in luck or have rituals other than preparation.  Practice, video and play elevates my confidence so I feel like I will have earned any success that comes my way!

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

I am helping grow the game at my country club in Indian Wells, California and enjoy seeing new players discover, improve and fall in love with this game.  Personally, I want to keep improving!  I enjoy the never ending yet FUN struggle of mastery.

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

I live in the small, up and coming area of Palm Desert in the Coachella Valley.  We have a wonderful group of 4.5 and 5.0 Pickleball Pro men and women that have a passion for practicing and playing at a high level.  It’s like being in college again and being on a team of like-minded individuals that are bound by training, competition and camaraderie!

Richard Dudek Introduces Pickleball to Western Massachusetts

We love to share a good story with you. Here is one, compliments of Richard Dudek, a pickleball mover and shaker in Agawam Massachusetts. First, you must know this: Agawam Massachusetts has the distinction of the lowest zip code in the US: 01001!  If you google Agawam Mass Pickleball, you will find the local news article featuring the grand opening of this lovely court.

Richard Dudek Agawam Mass

Richard Dudek, 3rd from the left, Mayor Richard Cohen, center right, Parks and Recreation Director Christopher Sparks left center, and other community members celebrating the completion of a new dedicated pickleball court at Borgatti Field on Sept. 27. The Reminder Publications photo by Chris Goudreau

Richard Dudek is in love with the game of pickleball. He loves to teach people the fine art of the game. He played for 15 years in Florida and decided to find out how to get the game started in his home town. It took 3 years and a lot of work in the public sector and fundraising to the tune of $50,000 to get the Agawam outdoor court built.

Richard’s determination involved obtaining the thumbs-up from the local senior center, from Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen, the Parks and Rec, the Community Preservation Board, the City Council and the local court construction company. He loves how all his specifications were seriously considered: good dividers, 13 foot backdrops, 10-foot clearance area and a dividing wall. People thank Richard every day for his hard work in getting the first dedicated court built in the area.

There is nothing like it in a 40-mile radius from Agawam,” says Richard. The new Borgatti Field court is the “first true outdoor pickleball court in Western Massachusetts.” He has the go ahead to put in 2 more courts now and has the financial backing to do it. Way to go, Richard!

Folks in other nearby towns are frustrated that they have caught the pickleball “bug” but can only find dilapidated tennis courts for pickleball. Here’s hoping they find the same determination that Agawam has in Richard Dudek!

Meet The Pros – Tonja Major

Meet The Pros – Tonja Major

Tonja Major has been competing at the USAPA Nationals since 2011.  She loves to compete and she practices good sportsmanship with folks at all levels of the game!  Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

2017 US Open – Mixed Doubles 35+ – Gold
2017 The Lakes Spring Fling Professional Pickleball Federation (PPF) – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2016 International Indoor Championship – Women’s doubles – Gold 
2016 Pacific NW Regionals, Bend Oregon – Mixed Doubles – Silver   
2016 US Open – Mixed Doubles – Bronze
2016 Canadian Nationals West – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2015 Canadian Nationals West -Mixed Doubles – Silver, Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2014 Oregon State Games – Women’s Doubles – Gold
2014 Tournament of Champions – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2013 Tournament of Champions – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2012 USAPA Nationals – Women’s Doubles 19+ – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

The Glen Peterson Signature Omni Graphite paddle @ about 7.2- 7.3 ounces. I love the touch that it has and the extra length I get from it. It’s a nice light paddle that is forgiving and has the shorter handle which is better for my choked-up grip. The moment I tried the prototype in the early stages, I didn’t want to use anything else. I liked my shots off the paddle better right away.

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

I met my husband, Lavon Major, at the gym where I worked. He was playing pickleball there on a hard carpet court. He called me at work to ask me out and we started to date. Shortly after that he introduced me to pickleball. I played other sports at the time and pickleball wasn’t huge 20 years ago like it is today, so it took a while before I started to play more seriously and competitively. Over the years though, it was something we always did together and has brought lots of fun and maybe even a few fights to our marriage.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

If you had asked me a year or so ago, I probably would’ve said indoor, but now I’ve changed my mind. I like outdoors better. I used to like not having to worry about the weather, shadows, wind, sun, temperature and all that. Now I prefer the challenge and faster speed of the outdoor ball. 

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Doubles… I’m better at it.

Indoor Pickleball Champion ship

International Indoor Pickleball Championship Mix Doubles Open winners. Joy Leising,Dalton Vavra (gold)Tonya Major, Kurtis Campbell (silver) Stephanie Lane in Enrique Ruiz (bronze) — with Kurtis Campbell, Tonja Major, Dalton Vavra, Stephanie Shouse Lane and Enrique Ruiz.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play would be wherever all the other players at my level are playing. 😉 It’s hard to pick a favorite so I would say just about anywhere with the perfect temp, little wind, a good group of fun and high level players and no wait for a court. That would be my ideal place to play.

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

Well if I shared then it wouldn’t be a secret, so I’m probably going to keep that one to myself! There are some things I won’t even share with my partners because there’s a good chance I’ll be playing against them at some point, too. 

Tips… hmm… I would say, BE A GOOD SPORT! No one likes a poor sport; and there’s always something you can be working on, learning or getting from playing with lower level players when you are sharing a court with them.

What’s your day job?

I’ve been an aesthetician for over 14 years and now work part-time in our home.

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

Probably about 6-9 hrs. a week on average. I also spend extra hours volunteering my time at the YMCA to teach pickleball. I just started giving lessons to beginners as well. Lucky for me, I make my own schedule so I can base a lot of what I do around when I want to play pickleball. 

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really, but I do have a meditation/inspiration type of reading that I quickly go over a day or so before I start most tournaments. 

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

My current goals are to focus more on actual drilling for practice rather than just games to prepare me for a tournament. I also hope to add some extra agility and speed training to work on faster movement and endurance.

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

I always want to remind people: Don’t be that player who thinks they’re too good to play with and share a court with lower level players. We’ve all been in a place where we wanted to play with others better than us because it’s not only fun and cool, but helps us get better. A lot of players look up to, admire and aspire to be better players, like the ones they want to play with. So, before you brush them off when they want to join in occasionally or ignore when you’ve been asked to join them, stop and think what everyone could take from the experience. 

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Galax Rec Center Picklers

The Galax Rec Center Picklers are a small group of 8-9 players who donated equipment to Galax Elementary school to get a pickleball program started. The surprise is evident when the teacher came into the gym to see the equipment for the first time.

All of the teachers and students at Galax Elementary were thrilled with having pickleball at their school!

The PE teacher went to a conference this week and heard about the new sport of pickleball sweeping the USA. She really strutted, telling how her students at Galax Elementary were already set up and playing pickleball.

The Galax Rec. Center Picklers would like to challenge other pickleball clubs to furnish their schools with pickleball sets.  The rewards and the smiles are absolutely worthwhile!

Congrats to all!