Meet The Pros – Justin Rodgers

Justin Rodgers

Justin Rodgers

Meet The Pros – Justin Rodgers

Justin is a Tennis Pro turned Pickleball Pro, and he’s the real deal, as nice as he is professional. He’s also a member of the “120 Degree Club,” where you have to play in 120 degrees for an hour to be a member. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
I’m most proud of the 2015 USAPA Nationals 2015 Grand Canyon State Games. I went undefeated with Dave Weinbach in both events. My favorite win was when I played with Adina Jones age division in the 2013 Grand Canyon State Games. She was a good player and she got my confidence up. 

Gold Medals
2017 US Open, Men’s Doubles (MD) 50+ with Scott Clayson
2016 SPA 1, MD, 5.0 with Kyle Theime
2016 Pebble Creek Club, MD 5.0 with Bill Pardue
2015 USAPA Nationals, MD 35+ with Dave Weinbach

2015 USAPA Nationals, Men's Doubles 35+ Jason Munro, Rafi Bazerkanian, Justin Rodgers, Dave Weinbach, Brian Staub, Phil Bagley

2015 USAPA Nationals, Men’s Doubles 35+ Jason Munro, Rafi Bazerkanian, Justin Rodgers, Dave Weinbach, Brian Staub, Phil Bagley

2015 Brigham City Memorial, 5.0 Team event (Cookie Drake, Sarah Ansboury, Darin Hurdman)
2015 Grand Canyon State Games, MD 5.0 and MD 35+with Dave Weinbach
2014 SPA 1, MD 5.0 with Scott Stone
2014 Scheels Capital City(Springfield), MD 5.0 with Dave Weinbach; Mixed Doubles (MXD) 5.0 with Stephanie Lane
2014 SPA Spring Fling, MD 5.0 with Scott Stone
2014 Grand Canyon State Games, MD 35+ with Scott Stone
2013 Mesa Regal, MXD 5.0 with Gigi LeMaster
2013 SPA 1, MXD 5.0 with Gigi LeMaster
2013 Palm Desert, MXD 5.0 with Gigi LeMaster
2013 Bend Oregon, MD 5.0 with Enrique Ruiz
2013 SOUP (St. George) MXD with 5.0 Adina Jones
2013 Grand Canyon State Games, MXD 19+ with Adina Jones
2012 San Diego Senior Olympics, MXD 40-49 with Stephanie Lane
2012 Wrightwood CA, MD 4.5 with Ryan O’Toole

2015 Grand Canyon State Games with Brian Ashworth, Justin Rodgers, Dave Weinbach, Aspen Kern, Steve Wong

2015 Grand Canyon State Games with Brian Ashworth, Justin Rodgers, Dave Weinbach, Aspen Kern, Steve Wong

What paddle do you play with and why?
I’ve played with the Pickleball, Inc. Champion Aluminum and Legacy, the Engage Encore, the Onix Evoke Composite. I currently play with the Paddletek Tempest Wave in both singles and in doubles. The Tempest Wave paddle is a good combination of power and touch. Also, I play wristy, with a strong backhand, so a lighter weight paddle like the Tempest Wave is the best paddle for my style of play.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I’ve played tennis most of my life. I lettered in high school all 4 years. I got bored with tennis singles, so I went to doubles. One day I was treating a patient who had a knee replacement and all he talked about was wanting to get back to playing pickleball. He inspired me. I had free time so I decided to check out pickleball and try something new. I’ve been playing pickleball for 6 years now and have competed in tournaments for the last 5 years. I love to play pickleball for exercise, fun and recreation. I recently had wrist surgery for tendinitis, so I’ve had to take 6 months off from playing.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I like singles for the exercise. It’s hard to find anyone that will play singles. I prefer doubles as a tournament game.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
When I first tried the Pebble Creek Courts in Casa Grande, Arizona, I loved it. It’s nearby. I also like playing on the courts in Surprise, Arizona. I like the group that plays there. Surprise just broke ground on 8 new courts and the city is footing the bill.

Friends who play together

Justin and friends – Friends who play together…. stay together!

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
Eat like a rabbit; that means small meals between games. Make sure to balance carbs and protein. Eat often. Don’t just play to win. Play at least half of your balls to the best player to get challenged. This helps your singles game. I’m a bit ambidextrous, and mostly play lefty, but have been playing right-handed since the US Open. I prefer to hit forehand whenever possible.

What’s your day job?
I have done in-home physical therapy for 20 years.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
Before my surgery, I played 2 times a week for 2-3 hours. When I was more fanatical, I did 15-20 hours a week. My advice to avoid injury is not play hard for too long, too often. If you play hard and long, take a break. Take a day off.

 

Adina Jones and Justin Rodgers, center, Gold Medal

Adina Jones and Justin Rodgers, center, Gold Medal

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
Just common-sense stuff:
     For 24 hours before, no sodas, caffeine
     Make sure to carb load the night before
     Eat well.
     Sleep well.
     Don’t play the day before so your legs can stay strong.
     Hydrate.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
My main goals are: Get healthy, have fun, enjoy the sport. After my recovery from surgery, I may enter singles events again in the senior bracket.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
When I compete, I hope to win but expect to have fun. So, have fun and make friends. Friends are what count. Friends don’t ever forget you.  

Meet The Pros – Del Kauss

Meet The Pros – Del Kauss

Del Kauss

Del Kauss

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

I am a 4-time USAPA Nationals Medalist and a 5-time US OPEN Medalist. My wins include:
2017 Grand Canyon Games Champion with Larry Moon (60+) – Gold
2017 US Open 55+ Men’s Doubles with Glen Peterson – Gold
2017 US Open Senior Pro Champions with Glen Peterson – Silver
2016 US Open, Senior Pro Champions with Glen Peterson – Gold
2016 USAPA Nationals, Senior Open Bronze Medal with Rob Schmidt
2015 USAPA Nationals, Mixed Doubles 55+ with Linda Kauss -Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I currently play with the Pro-Lite Titan. I really like the balance of the paddle and it is the best combination of touch and power that I have found. This is a great paddle.

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

My wife introduced me to pickleball. She was introduced by some friends and I played a few times, but did not think it was too challenging as I was an avid tennis player. It took me tearing my patella tendon to come back to pickleball. I was unable to play tennis during rehab but was able to hobble on the pickleball court. As I got better, so did the pickleball competition and I was enjoying it more and more and haven’t played any tennis since.

Del and Linda Kauss

Del and Linda Kauss

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I definitely prefer outdoors. I live in Minnesota and we cherish our outdoor time. I love being outdoors for all my activities.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles. I love the chess match of good dinking rallies and the longer points. I like what I read recently that pickleball is an easy game to learn and a hard game to master. I think doubles is the reason for this quote. What keeps me coming back is the ability to see improvement in my game and shot selection. I’m 60, so singles in a lot tougher on the body, but I’m playing singles in a couple major events in the next couple months.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

The US Open in Naples, Florida, under their new canopy. It was such a great experience to play some key matches there this yearwith the crowd cheering and the music blasting between points and timeouts. There’s no other pickleball venue like it! I’m looking forward to playing in Utah at two events this year as I hear their courts are very scenic.

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

Consistency!!! This game is so much about not making errors. Choose placement over power and become consistent by drilling. My wife and I were drilling at our local pickleball club and one of the members said: “That looks boring.”  I said: “Yeah maybe, but it wins tournaments!”

What’s your day job?

I just retired from 3M in April. I was in product Development and Corporate Communications. I am loving retirement; more time for pickleball and fly fishing.

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

I probably average 5 times a week for 2 to 3 hours a day, so a total of 10 – 15 hours. We have a lot of good competition and many outdoor courts here in Minnesota, so I’m really blessed.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Eat and hydrate well. Get some tough practice games in before the tournament starts, so I am sweaty and ready! Otherwise, I am usually a slow starter. Most importantly, pray for a good positive attitude during the day.

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

My goal is to be able to keep playing at a high level for many years and to learn to have more fun playing. I love playing with Brian Ashworth and Dave Weinbach, because both of them really have fun during recreational games; lots of laughs! What’s great about Brian is he is just the same in tournaments: all about the fun. I’m a little too serious, I need to lighten up a bit.

Ian Astbury, Stephanie Shouse Lane, Dell and Linda Kauss

Ian Astbury, Stephanie Shouse Lane, Del and Linda Kauss at Minneapolis 4th of July tournament

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

It’s great to be a part of this sport, as I’m able to compete with some of the best players in the world! I hope I can pass on the torch to many more people entering competitive pickleball, the sport of a lifetime!

Meet The Pros – Tim MacVinnie

Meet The Pros – Tim MacVinnie

Tim MacVinnie

Tim MacVinnie

Tim MacVinnie is seriously on the fast track to Gold at Nationals. Keep your eye out for him on the winners podium. Enjoy!

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

I started playing tournaments in January of 2016 at the 4.5 level. I won men’s gold and mixed silver at the Cascade Cougar Classic, followed that up with 2 more men’s golds at my next two tournaments (Battle of the Paddle and International Indoor Pickleball Championships). I then got my 5.0 ratings and won men’s Gold at a small but super fun tournament in Helix, Oregon. Since then I’ve won 3 more golds and 2 silvers in the local tournaments in the Vancouver, BC area.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I’ve pretty much been a Selkirk player only and started out with the Enrique Ruiz 30 PXL. I’m now currently using the Selkirk Pro S1G+ and love it.

Enrique Ruiz Signature 30P-XL Epic Graphite Paddle

Enrique Ruiz Signature 30P-XL Epic Graphite Paddle

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

My racquet background is from squash. When I started working with our municipal Parks & Recreation department I was at a center running a squash league and quickly started playing. As the years went by I continued playing until about 2 years ago when I hurt my hamstring. It took about 6 months to recover from and combined with the wear and tear on my knees from squash I transitioned to pickleball. I had already been playing pickleball with patrons at the center for about 2 years but never took it seriously, rather just a way to have fun and socialize. Once I started taking it seriously I got hooked pretty quick and was playing as many tournaments as I could get in to.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Living in the Northwest we have to play inside, but usually can’t wait for the good weather to go outside. I don’t really have a preference, other than getting good, competitive and fun games in.

Team Selkirk at the 2017 Canadian Nationals

Team Selkirk at the 2017 Canadian Nationals

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I am pretty much only a doubles player as the singles game looks like it would just aggravate my knees/hamstring. The singles game is drastically different and without a tennis background I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

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

I’m still trying to learn the game and improve to the point where I can not only compete with the big fish, but start to beat them sometimes. As far as any tips, personally I try to tell players (especially newer ones) to really work on their footwork. I often find lazy or poor footwork leads to many of my errors in games and it’s always a challenge to constantly be focused (part of the lure of the game!).

What’s your day job?

Like I mentioned above, I work in a Recreation Center and I specifically run our gymnasium programs which obviously include pickleball!!! There are many days when I’m getting paid to play pickleball. : ) I also teach pickleball lessons outside of my work hours.

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

I usually only play about twice a week on average for about 5 hours. I know others who play a lot more, but sometimes life gets in the way. I believe it’s important to have quality play over quantity so I feel like my game isn’t ever regressing.

Int'l Indoor Pickleball Championship Men's Doubles age 35+ winners: Shane Denning, Nicklaus Williams (gold). Tim MacVinnie, Patrick Williams (silver). Hillbilly Spivey, Sugar Shayne R. Johnson (bronze).

Int’l Indoor Pickleball Championship Men’s Doubles age 35+ winners: Shane Denning, Nicklaus Williams (gold). Tim MacVinnie, Patrick Williams (silver). Hillbilly Spivey, Sugar Shayne R. Johnson (bronze).

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

As far as personal goals, I really want to medal in a Nationals/State level tournament in the US. There are so many good players and deep draws in the bigger tournaments that medal in one of those would be a great accomplishment.

2017 Canadian Nationals Men's Doubles Open: Bronze, Tim MacVinnie/Marco Jankowiak

2017 Canadian Nationals Men’s Doubles Open: Bronze, Tim MacVinnie/Marco Jankowiak; Silver Tyson McGuffin/ Mat Goebel; Gold Ben Johns/ Kyle Yates

Meet The Pros – Matt Schiller

Meet The Pros – Matt Schiller

US OPEN Gold - Matthew Schiller and Chris Zeilinga

US OPEN Gold – Matthew Schiller and Chris Zeilinga

Found on Facebook, July 17: “Big thanks to Matt Schiller for putting together the Rumble tournament yesterday. I was thoroughly ‘rumbled’ and humbled with so many great games with awesome players. Lots of fun! Thanks to John and Matt for your hard work and to all the players who made it happen! What a fantastic social game we play – Cindy Carlson!”

Matt Schiller is another tennis pro turned pickleball pro. He knows how to put on a great tournament and he has a good sense of humor. Enjoy!

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

I finished 3rd in the 5.0 US Open last year with Rick Witsken, and we both had just started playing before the event. It was a great event and we really were just learning the rules and strategy as we were participating in it. This year I finished first in the U.S. Open 35 with Chris Zeilinga in his first tournament and my second. I’m new to the scene but hopefully can place well in the future.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Tempest. I saw Dave Weinbach hit a shot with it that I hadn’t seen come off the paddle, so I thought I’d try it. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to replicate his shot! But I like the paddle. It’s light and has some extra feel.

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

I was introduced to pickleball last year by Rick Witsken, John Moorin and Chris Zeilinga, all of whom are excellent players in the Indianapolis area. I played for about six weeks before the 2016 U S Open, then did not play again until near the beginning of this year because I also compete nationally in tennis. We have a great group of players 4.0 and above in Indy and I have since played more regularly.

What’s your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I think there are more dimensions and variables outdoors so I enjoy the challenge.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Definitely doubles. Singles is just a faster version of tennis and I’m not as fast as I used to be.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I have only played a few tournaments. My first one was the US Open in Naples, Florida, which is hot with a ton of players, but there is a feeling of excitement in the air which makes it fun. Another plus is that the beach is close by. The Atlanta “Get off your… and play pickleball” tournament in May has a great venue as well.

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

Just to stay relaxed when yo’are out there and compete hard. Sometimes easier said than done.

What’s your day job?

A pickleball pro! (I wish.) I am a personal injury lawyer and have several offices throughout the Midwest and am lucky to have a great support team of 7 attorneys and 15 admin.

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

In the winter, maybe 8 hours a week. Summer not as much because I try to play some tennis too.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I try to be nice to my partner so they can carry me. 🙂 

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

I would like to compete at a high level with some of the better guys. I am patient with my game and this is my first year of competing but I intend to do my best.

Matt schiller, rick witsken chris zeilinga and john moorin

Indy Pickleballers: Rick Witsken, Chris Zeilinga and John Moorin and Matt Schiller

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

I just love the game and hope I can keep improving and stay young enough to compete at a high level. I think the game is changing, and it’s nice to be a small part of it.

Meet The Pros – Scott Moore

Meet The Pros – Scott Moore

Scott Moore is amazing on the pickleball court. He has the love, fear and respect of pickleball players all around the world. We are honored to share some of his pickleball story. Enjoy!

Scott Moore and Natasha Redd Tilley

Natasha Redd Tilley and Scott Moore at the 2017 Erich Schuette Memorial -PTSD awareness Tournament

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

2016 USAPA Nationals
   Men’s Doubles with Scott Clayson – Gold
   Men’s Singles 50+ – Gold
   Mixed Doubles 50+ with Mona Burnett – Gold   
   Senior Open Men’s Doubles with Glen Peterson – Gold
   Senior Open Men’s Singles – Gold
   Senior Open Mixed Doubles with Kris Anderson – Gold
2016 Tournament of Champions
   Men’s Doubles Legends Open with Scott Clayson – Gold
   Men’s Singles Legends Open – Gold
   Mixed Doubles Legends Open with Hilary Marold – Gold
2016 US OPEN Mixed Doubles 50+ with Alex Hamner – Gold

Scott Moore with Hillary Marold

Scott Clayson/Alex Hamner, Silver, Hillary Marold/Scott Moore, Gold and Mona Burnett/Larry Moon at 2016 Tournament of Champions

I have won 12 gold medals at the USAPA Nationals, including all 6 events last year, and 7 in a row in the Senior Open divisions. I have won 6 gold medals in a row at Tournament Of Champions, as well as Senior Open Gold in Singles and 50+ Gold in Mixed Doubles with Alex Hamner this year at the US Open. My favorites though may be winning the 5.0 Open Doubles in 2016 and the 19+ Doubles titles in 2016 and 2017 at the Grand Canyon State Games against the young guys. 

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play doubles with the Paddletek Tempest because I believe it has the most feel and control of any paddle in the game, which is invaluable in doubles. I recently changed to the elongated Paddletek Horizon for singles, as I like the extra reach and additional pop I get from that paddle.  I needed something to keep my edge, as the competition keeps getting tougher and tougher every year.  

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

I am extremely grateful for having been introduced to pickleball by my buddy John Foss and to have been given opportunity and the health to truly enjoy it! I got into pickleball about the time our youngest son, Stephen, headed to college, leaving us as empty nesters, and I was feeling pretty down and out about it honestly. The past 4 years of making numerous pickleball friends (from my little buddy Wilsy who is now 9, to several friends that are in their eighties), and all ages in between I have truly been blessed beyond what I could have imagined!  

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I only play outdoors. I always say I am “1 and done” indoors. I played and won the singles in Centralia in 2015, but felt like I had to work twice as hard to get a point, and am getting too old to work that hard. 

Scott Moore in action

Scott Moore in action

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Until last year I would have said that I liked singles better, as that came very intuitively to me. I love the physicality and speed of the singles game.  But over the past year or so I have grown to love doubles as well, as it is so incredibly strategic. I enjoy more than ever having a partner out there to share the court. So now I probably would say that I probably prefer doubles, especially since it has also been a means of making lots of new friends and I don’t feel as much pressure.   

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is a difficult question, as I have discovered some amazing places to play over the past few years, including the only dedicated court in all of Australia, outside of Brisbane, an improvised court in the south of Portugal, a couple of beauties in Big Sky, but my sentimental favorite would be Palm Creek, where they have 32 dedicated courts and I have won every match I have played over the past 9 national events there (haven’t counted but would guess that is about 45 matches in a row).

Scott Moore at Tournament of Champions

Scott Moore at Tournament of Champions

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

My secret sauce is probably that I thrive on competition and tend to play better under pressure. My tip for players would be to play your heart out, never give up, fully engage mentally, and remember it is only a game and at the end of the day it is all about the relationships, not the wins and losses.  

What’s your day job?

My day job is being somewhat of a serial entrepreneur. I have a couple of businesses in or related to Japan, where we lived for 16 years, including an import company in Tokyo and a consulting business. We also have a decorative concrete business in Colorado Springs, which is perfect as we shut down for the winter every year, so I can travel and do more pickleball related stuff in warmer places during the winter. Lastly, we have a pickleball family business, you can find info about at pickleballtrips.com where Daniel and I conduct intensive camps, and clinics as well as take people around the world on pickleball adventures.  

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

I struggle at times finding enough time to play, and probably do more off court than on court training. On average, I play 6 to 8 hours per week.  I have a couple of guys in Colorado that I train with so I try to schedule the time with them early in the week in order to make sure it happens. 

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I am not big on luck so no rituals other than making sure I really hydrate, eat, and sleep well before big tournaments.  

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

Last year my biggest goal was to win 5 gold medals at the USAPA Nationals. Thanks to some amazing partners I was able to win 6 which was really just a dream.   For 2017 my primary goal would have to be to try to repeat and win 6 at the USAPA Nationals again, as now I realize it is possible.   My other goal would be to beat Simone Jardim in the Battle of the Sexes match that we are playing at Bobby Riggs on October 7th.    

She is truly a fabulous athlete and player, but I plan to rise to the occasion and win one for the old guys. We will have some special entertainment at the event and we will have a doubles battle as well. One more goal will be to make this Battle of the Sexes event the best event of the decade (see pickleballtrips.com for how to watch it live).  

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

Becoming one of the best players in the world, and everything that goes with it has been more fun than I ever thought it could be! “Pickleball has enhanced my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined.  The fact that I got to watch my son Daniel become the best player in the world, and now get to work with him some is truly indescribable. I am blessed beyond what I deserve and often feel like I am living a dream!”    

 Scott Moore, Carl Brumley, and Daniel Moore

The Moore’s have the Midas touch! Three generations of gold at the 2016 #USAPA Nationals. Left to right, Scott Moore, Carl Brumley, and Daniel Moore.

 

Meet The Pros – Andy Gensch

Andy Gensch at 2016 USAPA Nationals

Andy Gensch at 2016 USAPA Nationals

Meet The Pros – Andy Gensch

Andy is committed to this wonderful game of pickleball.  Mention Chicken N Pickle and he will beam with pride as he tells you about the best place in the country to play.  He is the Head Pro pickleball instructor at one of the first International Pickleball Teaching Professionals Association (IPTPA) Testing and Training facilities in the U.S. and takes pride in his work. Enjoy!

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

2015 USAPA Nationals – Men’s Doubles 50+  Silver
2015 National State Games of America – Mixed Doubles 50+ – Gold
2015 National State Games of America – Men’s Doubles 19+ – Silver
2015 National Senior Games – Mixed Doubles 50+ -Silver
2015 National Senior Games – Men’s Doubles 50+ – Silver
2014 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Doubles 50+ – Bronze
2014 Grand Canyon State Games – Mixed Doubles 50+ – Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

30P-XL Epic

30P-XL Epic Polymer Power Core Graphite Paddle

I am a sponsored Selkirk player and play with the first version of the Selkirk 30P-XL Graphite.  It provides the most feel of any paddle that I’ve played with which is the most important thing to me. All 5.0 players can generate the power they need, so finding the right paddle that supports the finesse aspect of your soft game is key.  It’s like the putter in my golf bag, I need to have the utmost confidence when standing over that 6 footer to win a $20 Nassau!  As a Selkirk player, I find their paddles to be of exceptional quality and the support the company provides its players and all customers to be second to none.

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

Four years ago I was introduced to the sport by a friend. Having played tennis through high school but having been away from it for 30 years, I was considering getting back into it when I found pickleball. I was hooked the first night and have not thought once about getting back into tennis.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I enjoy playing outdoors because of the speed of the game and all the challenges that the elements of weather offer. Growing up in Kansas, we experience four distinct seasons and we get a lot of wind so I am used to the elements, particularly from golf.

Andy Gensch celebrating with Rachael Kroog after a Silver medal

Celebrating with Rachael Kroog after a Silver medal at the 2015 National Senior Games in Minneapolis, MN.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I play mostly doubles and enjoy it by far. However, I will occasionally play some singles after a doubles workout for conditioning purposes.  You hit so many different shots in singles such as ones on the run. It’s great training and always a good workout. All the strategic aspects of doubles make it challenging and the most fun to me. Working with a partner to make adjustments during a top tournament is what I enjoy most.  It’s like a chess match!

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

The entrance to Chicken N Pickle with Stephanie Lane

The entrance to Chicken N Pickle with Stephanie Lane, Inaugural Tournament Oct 2016

I’ve had the pleasure to play on many great courts including the Zing Zang Championship Courts at the US Open, Palm Creek, Festival Melba Bishop, Bobby Riggs, Surprise City Courts, Brigham City, Casa de Brambila, Horseshoe Hall of Fame and Weinbach Court….. but my favorite courts are at Chicken N Pickle in Kansas City as there is no place like it and it is home! It’s a one-of-a-kind entertainment facility with 4 indoor courts, 4 outdoor courts, a bar and restaurant plus many other amenities. I’ve had the pleasure of consulting with the leadership team before Chicken N Pickle opened and now am the Teaching Pro there. We cracked the code on a new and fun way to accelerate the growth of Pickleball!

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

We all have natural playing styles, but striving to play smart pickleball and ever-improving your consistency takes practice, commitment and a plan. Be a student of the game, always learn from your experiences and always keep it fun!

What’s your day job?

I am the VP of Sales for a Military Brokerage firm. I manage a team of reps that call on every U.S. Military base worldwide.  We represent Nike and some other great apparel lines. Our business philosophy is that we support some of the most important customers you will ever have, our nation’s servicemen and women and their families. It always fascinates me when I visit a base and see the great commitment, discipline and work that is done at each base. It has given me a whole new level of respect and appreciation for what is done around the world to protect our freedom in this country.

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

I play 10 hours per week on average but also manage my International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) teaching duties at Chicken N Pickle, so I am on court quite a bit. As the head teaching pro at Chicken N Pickle, one of the first IPTPA training and testing facilities in the country, I have taken great pride in creating our Skill Development Program and in conducting clinics, lessons and tournaments. These responsibilities take a great deal of time and can cut into my playing time, but I really enjoy it. I find great pleasure in sharing what I’ve learned!

Andy Gensch at Casa de Brambila

This is what it’s all about… fun night at Casa de Brambila with Bill Ritchie, Shirley Johnson, Jamie Knoph, Dave Weinbach, Stephanie Lane, Kyle Yates and Lavon Major

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

No lucky rituals, but I do try to prepare at least one month before big tournaments with an increased practice regimen, good rest, hydration and nutrition. I believe success occurs when preparation meets opportunity.

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

I’m blessed with athleticism and still enjoy playing several different sports competitively.  I do have the following pickleball goals:
1) Stay healthy so I can continue to play for the next 20-30 years,
2) Always keep it fun. It’s very easy to get consumed with the sport, tournaments, practice and teaching so I strive to keep balance in my life,
3) Always give back – some special people taught me that we are all ambassadors of this great sport and we need to do our part to help grow and evolve Pickleball,
4) Last but not least, never stop improving or evolving my game.

I’ve had the privilege of standing on the podium twice at USAPA Nationals which I believe is our top tournament, but have not come away with Gold… I would like to change that!

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

I’m not sure that I am one of the best pickleball players in the world when I look at the long list of major titles that some of my friends and other pickleball greats have earned! I feel very fortunate to have had the success I’ve had in my first 4 years playing the game and the opportunity to fulfill my competitive needs playing a new sport. However, the best experience I’ve had is meeting so many great people around the country that compete so hard during the tournament day and then enjoy dinner and a beer together in the evening!

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!