Meet The Pros – Scott Burr

Meet The Pros – Scott Burr

USAPA Senior Men’s Open - BRONZE- Del Kauss-Steve Cole. SILVER- Tony Tallengar-Mike Gates GOLD Scott Burr Steve Kennedy

2017 USAPA Senior Men’s Open – BRONZE- Del Kauss-Steve Cole. SILVER- Tony Tollenaar-Mike Gates GOLD Scott Burr-Steve Kennedy

We like to hear about pickleball success stories – Scott Burr proves himself to be a master on the court, and he gives back to the community as well. I call that a success story! Enjoy!

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

2017 USAPA Nationals – Sr. Open Men’s Doubles with Steve Kennedy – Gold
50+ Men’s Age/Skill Doubles with Jay Rippel – Gold
50+ Men’s Age/Skill Singles – Gold
2017 SoCal Classic – Sr. Open Men’s Doubles with Roberto Donati – Gold
2015 SoCal Classic – Men’s Open Doubles with Marcin Rozpdski – Gold

I also have multiple silvers and bronzes from other Nationals and TOCs.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play doubles with the Engage Encore Pro because it has great feel for dinking and plenty of pop for power. I play singles with the Engage Blade because it has the most power of any paddle I’ve tried.

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

I was working as the Director of Golf at Monterey CC in Palm Desert when USAPA Ambassador Chris Thomas came to our tennis facility to give a demonstration to our members. I was hooked after 5 minutes! It brought me back to my childhood playing paddle tennis at the beach all day.

What’s your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

Definitely outdoors. For 8 months of the year we have the best weather in the world in La Quinta, so how couldn’t I prefer outdoors! We do have an indoor facility here in the desert that we use a little during our brutal summers, but I’d still rather play early morning outdoors.

Morgan Evans, Marcin Rozpedski, Aspen Kern, and Scott Burr, with the future of Pickleball

Morgan Evans, Marcin Rozpedski, Aspen Kern, and Scott Burr, with the future of Pickleball Gerald Ford Elementary in Indian Wells

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love both but would give the edge to doubles. The social aspect, trash talking and camaraderie are what make it so great. Singles is great for personal satisfaction and fitness but takes a toll on my bones.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

For tournament play, Nationals hands down. The atmosphere, prestige and aura are unequaled. For rec play, I am very fortunate to have great playing partners at various clubs in the desert that have beautiful pickleball facilities.

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

I found the magic of drilling this year. I spent a lot of time drilling with my mixed partner, Kim Jagd, and Hall of Fame volleyball coach Andy Banachowski. They designed a number of drills that mimic game situations for realistic and repetitive practice. I also play most of my rec games with Marcin and Morgan. You know you’re getting good practice if your rec partners are known by their first names only!

What’s your day job?

My wife, Andrea, and I own a restaurant in Indio called Your Pie. It’s a pizza restaurant and we get great support from the pickleball community. I was a golf pro for 25 years before deciding to go into business.

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

Once or twice a week. If I’m getting ready for a tournament, I’ll try to get out 3-4 times a week. It’s tough to find the time while trying to run a restaurant and raise two girls, but I have family that really supports my mid-life crisis hobby!

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Just having the habit of picking good partners! And eating popcorn during tournament day!

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

After last year, I set the goal of winning gold at Nationals this year. Fortunately, I was able to achieve that goal and will now set new ones for next year.

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

I truly feel so fortunate to be able to play this game at the time when the sport is exploding. It’s so fun to compete with the great players/people that we do and to be part of the exponential growth that we are experiencing. I’m a kid all over again!

Meet The Pros – Suzee Millar Anderson

Suzee Anderson with Ernesto Cardenas – Spanish Open

Meet The Pros – Suzee Millar Anderson

Suzee Millar Anderson gives back as much as she gets playing this wonderful game called pickleball. Be sure to watch the video from France where she helped give a pickleball clinic along with Kyle Yates, Daniel Moore and Hilary Marold. Enjoy!

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

2017 US Open Women’s Doubles (WD) 35+ with Susan Schneider – Silver
2017 US Open WD Skill 5.0 with Susan Schneider – Silver
2017 Spanish Open Madrid WD PPF/Elite Division with Hilary Marold – Silver
Spanish Open Madrid 2017 Mixed Doubles PPF/Elite Division with Mills Miller – Bronze

Spanish Open: Hilary Marold,/Suzee Anderson, Silver

Spanish Open: Hilary Marold,/Suzee Anderson, Silver; Irina Tereschenko/Christine McGrath, Gold; Carolyn Stevens/Jenny Butler, Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Bantam TS-5. I love the light weight combined with the touch of this paddle. It’s my all-time favorite!

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

I found pickleball at our local rec center. My husband had learned the game before me and spent a few months trying to convince me to come and try it out. I was always attending a masters swim workout at the same time pickleball was being played, but one day the swim coach wasn’t there for practice and my husband convinced me to play. It was hands down the funnest game I ever played. I never went back to another swim workout again, and within 3 months I had sold my triathlon bike and dedicated all my extra time to pickleball!

What’s your preference, playing indoor or outdoor?

I really love outdoors. I love to be outside in the sunshine. I also prefer the outdoor surface and ball.

Suzee Anderson in action

Suzee Anderson in action

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles. I like the strategy and team play of doubles.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I love to play anywhere! Pickleball has taken me to some amazing places this last year: London, the south of France, Spain, as well as a few great places in the USA. I have been fortunate to meet amazing players wherever I go and I really love the community of pickleball that exists all over the world.

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

I’m not sure I have any secret sauce, but I have come up with a clever idea to help myself stay patient at the kitchen. I have a tendency to want to speed the ball up too soon sometimes and that is where the idea was born. I call it Red, Yellow, Green Light. The idea is that any ball that’s below your waist is a red light. This is a no go for being aggressive. Use your patience and keep dinking it.

Balls at your waist height are a yellow light. Proceed with caution! Keep dinking these too and when it is just right you can push it at your opponent. Be aware that the trajectory of a push from this height is going to be flat and not down at their feet. The likelihood that this will come back at you hard and flat is high unless you catch them off guard.

Anything shoulder height or higher is a green light and is a go for being aggressive! When the ball is high you have the ability to get down on it and a better chance at a clean put away at your opponent’s feet.

What’s your day job?

I am a commercial photographer and mom to 2 awesome kiddos.

Suzee Millar Anderson, Photographer

Suzee Millar Anderson, Photographer

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

I play 6-10 hours a week and make sure that 3-4 opportunities to play are scheduled into my busy life each week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I like to eat the same things on the morning of and during a tournament. I usually overnight oats in a mason jar. I’ve been teased for carting my jar and oats all over the world with me. I always have a peanut butter and honey sandwich packed to eat in between matches.

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

One of my favorite parts of my pickleball experience is the amazing community of the sport. I have been privileged to meet the kindest, most generous people all over the world who are associated with this sport. I am so grateful for the friendships I have made in the pickleball community.

Meet The Pros – Kevin Booth

Meet The Pros – Kevin Booth

Kevin Booth and Kris Anderson

Kevin Booth and Kris Anderson

Can you list for us your major wins, so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
In the pickleball world I’m fairly new to the game. Some of my wins include:
            2017 Tournament Of Champions, Sr Open Mixed Doubles with Kris Anderson – Gold
2017 PPF Desert Championships, Senior Mixed Doubles with Kris Anderson – Gold
            2016 So Cal Classic, Men’s Doubles 50+ with Steve Dawson – Gold
In Outdoor Racquetball I was a 5-time National Champion in Men’s Pro Doubles and 7-time winner in the 40+ division.  

What paddle do you play with and why?
I use the Paddletek Tempest Wave. I like how soft and responsive the paddle is and the accuracy it gives me.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
After retiring from racquetball, I needed a new sport and a friend told me about pickleball. I was hooked from the first day I played.

What’s your preference, playing indoor or outdoor?
Well, although I only played indoors once at the Simi Valley Pro Tournament and placed 4th and loved it, I really only play outdoors. Who wouldn’t rather be outdoors if possible?

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
Doubles really. There is so much more going on mentally. The way you have to play with and compliment your partner just makes it more fun. I’ve never played singles yet, but plan to in 2018.

Kevin Booth and Kris Anderson

Kevin and Kris – Winning Doubles Partners

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
I guess I would have to say center court at the USAPA Nationals. It was quite a buzz and fun to play in front of a crowd that is into the match and only watching you. Very exhilarating. I could have played for another 2 hours!

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
Beyond the Tempest Wave Paddle, I would have to say a combination of patience and creativity. Master the soft short game and the rest will come.

What’s your day job?
We own New Life Cryotherapy in Rancho Santa Margarita in Southern California. It’s a Whole Body Cryotherapy and Wellness Center. I also market BEMER devices for increasing micro-circulation and wellness.  

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
Probably around 9 hours. We have a great group of 5.0 players here in Orange County, and oh yes, my wife lets me play!

Lon Krantz and Kevin Booth

Lon Krantz and Kevin Booth – Bronze, Senior Pro Tournament at Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
Not sure I would call them “lucky,” but I believe in making sure my body is free of any excess inflammation and that my micro-circulation is properly functioning. 

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
Play as much as I can, travel if possible to some of the other larger tournaments and stay healthy!

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Ha, “best in the world”…  I guess we were “best” last Saturday for about 12 hours! Play, have fun, find a good partner and stay hydrated!

Meet The Pros – Lucy Kovalova

Meet The Pros – Lucy Kovalova

Lucy Kovalova

Lucy Kovalova

A tennis pro turned pickleball pro – what’s not to like about Lucy, who keeps a delicate balance going between the two sports?  She feels fortunate to be part of the best of both worlds. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2017 USAPA Nationals: Open Mixed Doubles with Matt Wright– Gold
        Open Women’s Doubles with Irina Tereschenko  – Silver
        Open Women’s Singles – Bronze
2017 Tournament Of Champions (TOC): Mixed Doubles Pro Open with Matt Wright- Gold
        Women’s Singles Open – Silver
US Open 2017: Mixed Doubles Pro with Matt Wright – Gold
        Women’s Doubles Pro Open with Irina Tereschenko – Silver
        Women’s Singles Pro Open – Bronze
2016 USAPA Nationals Open Mixed Doubles with Matt Wright – Silver
        Open Women’s Singles  – Silver
2016  TOC  Women’s Singles Masters – Open – Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with my signature paddle, the Elite Pro “Kovalova” made by Engage Pickleball. I really love this paddle because it produces a lot of power and spin, while it has control as well. I think the paddle is one of the reasons for my latest success.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
My pickleball story is relatively short compared to other pros. I started probably two years ago when I transitioned from tennis through paddle tennis to pickleball. The Wichita Country Club, where I work, introduced pickleball to its members so we tried it and loved it. After a couple of months, my pickle group, Matt Wright and Jack Oxler, decided to go and play at the 2016 US Open and I think we did much better than we expected. After that great experience, we decided to play more and more tournaments and I’m so happy we made that decision.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
I don’t mind playing outdoor or indoor but I probably prefer playing indoor. I think it is easier to play without any sun and wind, especially in Kansas. (Haha!) 

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
When I started, I preferred singles because it fit with my tennis game better. Now I prefer doubles and mixed doubles much more. I think it took a little time to get use to the strategy but now I think it’s way more fun.

2017 USAPA Nationals Open Mixed Doubles

2017 USAPA Nationals, Open Mixed Doubles – Daniel Moore/Simone Jardim – SIlver, Lucy Kovalova/Matt Wright – Gold, Wes Gabrielsen/Sarah Ansboury – Bronze

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
Even though I haven’t seen all the venues yet, I would say that my favorite place to play is Naples, Florida. Mostly because it was where I played my first tournament, so I will always have those great memories. Another great place is Casa Grande because we just won the Mixed Doubles Open there.

Lucy Kovalova Bronze USAPA Nationals 2017

2017 USAPA Nationals, Open Women’s Singles: Irina Tereschenko – Silver,Simone Jardim – Gold, Lucy Kovalova – Bronze

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
I don’t really know what my secret sauce is but I think it is my power. I can hit a ball pretty hard, especially on my forehand side. One tip for players: Don’t be scared to drive the third ball once a while.

What’s your day job?
I’m a tennis coach at the Wichita Country Club and full time student.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
My job is very physically demanding so I don’t really have that much energy left for pickleball on a daily basis. I’m trying to play at least once a week. When we play, it has to be early morning before everyone goes to work or during the weekends.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
I don’t think I have any rituals, I just need to have my breakfast, coffee, a good paddle and I’m ready to go! 🙂

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
I would like to keep being on the medal stands at major tournaments, and hopefully I can win few more golds in the future.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
It’s a great experience! It’s not only about pickleball, it is about the people, the atmosphere, the whole pickleball community. Everyone is very supportive and even though we compete and fight during the event, at the end of the day we’re all friends. And of course, it feels great to win! 🙂

Meet The Pros – Michael Epp

Meet The Pros – Michael Epp

Michael Epp

Michael Epp and family

Michael Epp is a family man. He is also like a phoenix reborn after suffering knee and shoulder injuries in other sports. He loves that he found pickleball and can continue being competitive. Enjoy!

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

2017 Alberta Provincial Championship, Men’s Singles 5.0 – Bronze,
Men’s Doubles (MDB) with Chris Kay, 5.0 – Gold

2017 Kamloops Open MDB with Chris Kay, 5.0 Silver, Mixed Doubles(MxDB) with Roberta Meakin, 5.0 – Gold
2016 Penticton MDB with Pat Fosbery, 5.0 – Gold
2016 CDA Classic, MDB with Daryl Nap, 4.5 – Silver
2015 Canadian Nationals, MDB with Mark Lowe, 4.5 – Gold, MxDB with Nancy Stern, 4.5 – Silver
2015 USAPA Northwest Regional, Bend, Oregon 4.5 Singles – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?  

I play with the Selkirk Maxima 21P MXO Composite paddle. I prefer the elongated paddle and really like the weight of the Maxima.

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

After two knee surgeries and a habitually sore shoulder from years of badminton, I never thought I would play competitive racquet sports again. Pickleball has given me a new lease on sporting life.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Outdoors is preferred, and we try and stretch the outdoor season as long as possible. We have been known to play in pretty nasty weather: wind, light rain and fading light. We draw the line at snow and hail!

Michael Epp in action

Michael Epp in action

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Although I really enjoy singles, it is exceedingly difficult to play against young players with boundless energy and great court coverage. Doubles is very enjoyable overall with lots of strategy mixed in.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Michael Epp - Bend Oregon

Michael Epp – Bend Oregon

Living in the Okanagan we have seen tremendous growth in the number of players and the number of dedicated courts. Kelowna and Bend both have exceptional venues and a 12-court venue in Vernon promises to be a great place to play when construction is completed.

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

I’m not sure I have any but one thing that helps me is when things aren’t going the right way, change tactics and mix it up. Staying on a path that isn’t working will guarantee failure.

What’s your day job?

I own an auto dealership in Kelowna. I have also recently developed a structural handle system for paddles, Grip Guard, that I am marketing to paddle manufacturers.

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

I do not play as often as I should, only averaging about 3 hours a week. In preparation for a tournament I will increase to 6 hours a week.

Michael Epp

Michael Epp in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Green tea from Starbucks! Not sure if that helps but I sure do enjoy it. Plus, it has a calming effect which is always a bonus before pre-tournament jitters creep in.

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

I wish I had learned about this sport years ago! A more immediate goal is to visit and participate in a tournament in India in 2018. As I approach 50, my goal is joint preservation and to become more fit. I hope to compete in the US Open and USAPA Nationals in Senior open events in 2020 and bring some hardware back to Canada.

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

Enjoy the competitive spirit, be fair and have fun!

Meet The Pros – Ken Crocker

Meet The Pros – Ken Crocker

Ken Crocker

Ken Crocker

Ken Crocker is a class act – he loves the game, he loves the community and he is generous with his admiration and accolades. Enjoy!

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

2017 Int’l Indoor Championships, Men’s Doubles (MDB) 50+ with Paul Porch – Gold
2017 Oregon Sr. Games, MDB 50+ with Scot Edwards – Bronze
2016 WA State Sr. Games MDB 50+ with Glen Peterson – Silver
2016 Int’l Indoor Championships, MDB 55+ with Justin Smith – Silver
       Mixed Doubles (MXD) Kathy Rambousek – Bronze
2015 Jim Ringler Memorial, Sr. MDB with Glen Peterson – Gold
2015 OR State Games, MDB 50+ with David Shieber – Silver
       MXD  19+ with Sarah Ansboury, Silver
       MDB with Ron Johnson – Gold
2015 Willamette Valley Spring Rally, MDB with Glen Peterson – Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

I use the Selkirk Pro S1G Polymer Graphite paddle. For my game, the S1G paddle provides a great blend of power and touch and I’m expecting to switch to their new S2 AMPED Composite paddle for the same reasons. I love the larger paddle face and bigger sweet spot that the shorter handle allows. I also love Selkirk’s products and that the company was founded by two brothers in their early 20’s, Rob and Mike Barnes, who are truly nice young men.

I’ve enjoyed watching them as they marry, have kids and how their families are a part of the business. They represent exactly the kind of company I like supporting and are the reason I enjoy being sponsored by and representing them.

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

I had given up tennis, among other sports, due to rotator cuff and knee pain. Marty Burns, who single-handedly got pickleball going throughout our Southern Oregon region, puts on free clinics for new players. About seven years ago I saw a sign for Marty’s clinic at our local Y and was instantly hooked. I had forgotten how much I enjoy fun competition and whacking a ball! I also appreciated the openness, connection, and community that form around pickleball.

What’s your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Given a choice, I prefer outdoors. I love both though, and hey, if there’s a court, fun people to play with, paddles and a ball, who cares?

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Sarah Ansboury and Ken Crocker

Sarah Ansboury and Ken Crocker, Silver, 2015 OR State Games

I love the nuances, strategies, teamwork and sense of comradery that doubles provides, and I love the raw physicality, pure 1-on-1 competition and the feeling of a good workout that singles provides. Unfortunately singles is punishing on my body so I limit how much I play. I have to mention though, I really love skinny singles (where you play singles using one half of the court). The strategy is the same as doubles, it’s a good workout, a great way to drill and you get to hit every ball!

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I love the creek side feel of our Lithia Park home courts in Ashland, Oregon, and I also love the opportunity to travel, play with good players and meet new people.  I don’t think I’ve ever played on a court where I wasn’t able to have fun!

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

I’m always working on what I call slowing time down even as the ball speeds up. Three or four years ago I realized there were times during a fast exchange where it felt like the ball was moving in slow motion and other times where I felt I was barely keeping up. I love figuring out the different things I can work on to allow playing in a relaxed state where it doesn’t feel rushed, even when hard shots are flying back and forth. I’ve come to realize that good mechanics, footwork, shot selection and the mental game can all be constantly improved to give myself the feeling of having more time. 

Compact blocks and strokes are imperative and split steps before my opponent hits are also critically important. I also strive to quiet my body and sense a pause as my paddle waits for the ball. When I feel that, I know everything is falling in place. I’ve also found that has been important for developing a good and consistent soft game. I just wish I could slow down the passing of my birthdays too!

What’s your day job?

I’m retired, so I finally have time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I also volunteer with various climate change related organizations and efforts, including serving as board chair for the Geos Institute (www.GeosInstitute.org). The more I learn (and worry) about the severity of climate change, the more I realize how important exercise, sense of play and the friendships that pickleball provides are to my well-being.

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

I usually play about three times per week for 2-4 hours. I especially appreciate when I’m able to drill and work on my game.

Glen Peterson and Ken Crocker, Silver - 2016 WA State Senior Games

Glen Peterson and Ken Crocker

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Along with getting enough sleep and eating well, I just remind myself why I’m playing in the first place.  Maintaining perspective works best for me – I also play my best when I’m having fun! One of my favorite memories was partnering with Glen Peterson before we got bumped to 5.0.

We were in the gold medal match, it was approaching midnight, and we were mentally and physically exhausted (at least I was). The score was 3-9 in the second game and I realized how much I was feeling the fatigue and the pressure. I paused, looked at Glen, smiled and said, “This is really fun, we’re playing pickleball!”

Both of our faces softened, we smiled at each other and came back to win gold. I don’t know if that moment made a difference for Glen, but connecting with why I was on that court in the first place and the comradery of partnering with such a good friend allowed me to feel a renewed sense of energy and to drop into that relaxed place where I have the most fun and play my best.

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

I’m working on peaking to win gold at the 2055 nationals in men’s doubles, age group 95+.

Shayne Johnson, Ken Crocker, Bonnie, Enrique Ruiz, Chris Goettling

Shayne Johnson, Ken Crocker, Bonnie Williams, Enrique Ruiz, Chris Goettling

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

LOL – I have to say I don’t put myself in that category. This game is evolving fast and the highest levels of play are truly extraordinary. As the game continues to evolve and divides into recreational vs. professional play, I hope we can maintain that same sense of openness and community that I experienced in my first tournament playing 4.0. I was in awe watching the 5.0 players, but was also taken by how approachable and friendly players like Wes Gabrielsen and Enrique Ruiz were.

This is a unique sport due to the community that forms and the fact that we can have players that are two to three generations apart engaged in fierce competition while all having fun together. I hope we can find a balance between supporting the emerging elite levels of exciting play while holding on to the many qualities that make this such an attractive sport for people from all walks of life. This sport originated as a family game after all!

An Exciting Recap of the 1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship

1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship – An Event to Cherish
Please enjoy this report on the 1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship presented by Manish Rao:

1st Indian Open Pickleball Championships

Many of us dream of playing pickleball at the highest level among the best competitors. This is exactly what we Indian players got to experience on October 28-29 at the 1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship held at the Jamnabai Narsee International School in Juhu, Mumbai.

This event, hosted by the All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) and organized by event managers, Sports Wizards, saw many firsts in Indian pickleball. It was the first time Indians had a chance to witness international players at a tournament in their home country. Both groups had an amazing time interacting with each other and sharing their love of pickleball.

The biggest attraction was the squad from Bangkok, Thailand, captained by the group’s passionate mentor, Steve Cable. There were also participants from the USA and UK. We had the pleasure of hosting one of the kindest pickleball souls in the world during the tournament: the one and only Elaine Shallcross from the UK. She’s such an inspiring lady that even at the age of 64, she gave every player a run for their money!

Teaming up with the iconic Atul Edward of India, Elaine bagged the coveted gold in the Mixed Doubles category. She not only showed us her pickleball skills, but her people skills! Elaine’s positive attitude brightened every player’s day. Even for those who didn’t medal, interacting with Elaine felt like being showered in gold dust.

I have to throw out a mention to Emmett Williams from Alaska as well, a gentleman on a business trip to India who stayed back to play at the Open. In spite of the extreme heat and humidity, Emmett was amazing. He freely shared his enjoyment of the game with his Indian partner, and that’s what pickleball is all about! It’s not just the win or the loss, it’s playing to inspire others.

Footage from the Men’s Doubles semifinal featuring Nikhil Singh / Prashant Kalani (Rajasthan) vs Mayur Patil / Ajay Choudhari (Maharashtra)

It’s not easy to conduct back-to-back matches in the extreme heat of Mumbai. We made sure every match had a referee, scorer and linemen for all matches, including the league match. We required many dedicated and skilled volunteers to give their best throughout the event regardless of the tough conditions. The fact that everyone held out is a demonstration of the power of pickleball and the passion surrounding the sport in India.

The event was supported by many sponsors, including PickleballCentral. The national TV channel, Doordarshan, recorded all the finals and were aired a week later. The venue itself was an icon! We appreciate the Jamnabai Narsee Trust for providing us with a world-class facility where setting up 3 courts was possible. It took the event to the next level. Thanks to Mr Sujay Jairaj, the Indian Open saw some amazing competition and great friendships formed.

Every match was on schedule due to the great team effort from Tournament Director Rahul Wani and company. Each event had 16 teams with 4 groups each, meaning a total of 96 players took part in this inaugural event.

The highlights include –

Men’s Doubles:

This was a fight between the traditional rival states of Rajasthan & Maharashtra. Nikhil Rajput / Prashant Kalani beat Manish Rao / Bhushan Potnis 11-7, 5-11,11-5 in a cliffhanger which went to 3 sets. The young and energetic Rajasthan duo kept their nerve and got the better of the “Old Fox” duo from Mumbai. Pickleball itself was a winner too; the match was carried out in a cordial manner off the court while all cylinders were firing on court.

2017 India Open Championship Men's Doubles

2017 India Open Championship Men’s Doubles: With Manish Rao, Mk Pickleball, Bhushan Potnis, Nikhil Singh Rajput and Ajay Chaudhari.

Mixed Doubles:

Atul Edward (India)/Elaine ShallCross (UK) beat Steve Cable/Suprarat (Thailand) 9-11, 11-0, 6-11. After winning the first set, Atul and Elaine let their guard down to be rolled over by Steve / Suprarat 11-0 in the second set. The 3rd set was an amazing contest of skill and mental toughness. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, and that’s what Atul / Elaine did by utilizing clever tactics and closing on the kill. What a match, with a standing ovation to Elaine for her grit!

2017 India Open Mixed Doubles

2017 India Open Mixed Doubles

Women’s Doubles:

Suprarat & ThitiWorada (Thailand) beat Karishma & Rutuja (India) 11-9, 11-8. The “Smiling Assassins” and “Thailand Duo” showed the importance of teamwork and made the win look easy. The Indian women were overawed by the occasion but still put up a great fight.

The Indian Open was not just about winning or losing. Every participant and organization involved in the planning of this event was a winner. Pickleball has been in India for the last 10 years and this tournament has shown the world that we have arrived in style.

To pull off an event of such magnitude shows that Indian pickleball is in right hands. Our passion and persistence is paying off and we hope to host many more international events!

Mixed Doubles semifinal with Atul Edward (Mumbai, India) / Elain Shallcross (UK) vs Ashwani Kumar Wadhawa & Geetam Sharma (Jaipur, India)

The bar has been set extremely high for the next Indian Open tournaments. We are well on our way to becoming the top pickleball event in Asia. We’d love to welcome even more competitors the next time around!