PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Galax Rec Center Picklers

The Galax Rec Center Picklers 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.

Congrats to all!

Meet The Pros: Manish Rao

Meet the Pros: Manish Rao – #change is inevitable #Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change

playing pickleball in Bangkok, Thailand.

#proliterebel #reverethegear #bangkokopen #bronze with My partner Sachin Mandrekar All well that ends well — playing pickleball in Bangkok, Thailand.

We are always on the lookout for good news stories about the game of pickleball.  Manish Rao is very happy about pickleball coming into his life.  He posted on Facebook recently:

This (Facebook) post is not about ego-boosting or self-marketing, it’s just a post to show gratitude to people who have made a big difference in my life. In 2011 I was reduced to minimal activity due to my back issue, sciatica. It kept me away from all sports and thus resulted in a huge weight increase, and signs of prosperity by means of hair loss. I was living in the world of fooling myself and kept saying I can’t change as it’s destiny. But its not destiny which has to change but the mind has to. Will power is important, but more important is to find the right people in the walk of life who can make this change happen through their positive thoughts.

In March, 2014 one lazy Sunday evening I met Sunil Valavalkar, who, along with his team, gave me a demonstration of an unknown game called pickleball. At that time I didn’t know that my life would change so drastically because of that Sunday. My great friend Ravi Shetty and I took the demonstration of this sport to our building and since then this sport has become my life. Its been 2-3 years that I have been playing this sport and this sport is responsible for me being happy and healthy, along with that it has given me friends all across the world. I am totally indebted to sir Sunil Valavalkar and pickleball. Not only the mental agility has increased but my physical ability is at an all time high. Sports can elevate self-confidence to a level which cannot be imagined. I am thankful to all these people in my life who were there for me at the right time and hence my life changed for the better. If not for all those people who have been a part of my wonderful journey, I would have been a Mr. Nobody sulking in life and just existing in life and not living life. I am not saying that I am the happiest person in life and no worries or stress at all. All I am saying is that my life is much better than what I had expected. Today I have a great family, a lovely sports career and a bunch of great friends. #bepositive #nevergiveup

There is always more to the story, so we asked him the following Meet The Pros questions. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major tournament wins?

Gold : Men’s Doubles  : Atlantic Regional ( Portland Maine) June 2016 : Partner Ravi Shetty ( New York ) 3.5 level
Gold : Men’s Doubles : 2016 : Nationals  winner : Venue : Jaipur : Partner Bhushan Potnis

 Silver : Doubles : 2015 : Nationals : @ Haryana , Panipat : partner Sachin Mandrekar
Gold :  Mumbai Open : 2017 : Jan : Partner Bhushan Potnis
Gold :  State Open : 2016 : Partner Bhushan Potnis
Gold :  Mumbai District : 2015 : Partner Sachin Mandrekar
Silver: Mumbai District : 2016 : Partner : Bhushan Potnis

Rebel PowerSpin

Rebel PowerSpin

What paddle do you play with and why?

Early on I used to play with the Paddletek Bantam EX-L. In 2016, I shifted to  thePro-Lite Rebel. I’m loving it for the balance and spin control. I totally feel like a Rebel with this paddle and can’t imagine playing pickleball with with anything but this piece of art. #proliteproud: #Rebel  I really am thankful to Pro-Lite for providing me with these amazing paddles.

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

In my childhood I used to play a modified sport kind of like pickleball in our building premises. We played the game with a tennis ball and handmade paddles on the badminton court. So when we participated in the demo of this sport in 2014, we were totally hooked on the game immediately. It’s been almost 3 years now since I started this game and I’m a total addict; on days I don’t play pickleball I get withdrawal symptoms. We’ve made a dedicated court on our building premises, so every day is pickleball day!

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I love playing outdoors!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I am a doubles player and love the doubles game as its a game of strategy and planning unlike in single. I love the patience involved in the doubles game and the bonding with the partner makes it special, hence I always prefer the doubles game.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Manish withbuddies

Pickleball buddies Sachin Mandrekar, Saumitra Korgaonkar, Bhushan Potnis, Sunil Joshi, Abhijit Madbhavi and Ashutosh Madbhavi.

My favorite place to play pickleball is my Home Court @ Mumbai, Mangal Kripa. This has been my residence since childhood and to have a dedicated court for this amazing sport makes it special. I love playing on this court as we are a group of highly passionate pickleball players under one roof.

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

The secret is nothing but just love of this sport and having a passion for the game. Once the passion is there it’s just a matter of time to master the game. The main thing about this game is to have patience. This game is like chess, its more mind work than power. The less the errors, the more wins.

What’s your day job?

I am the CEO of my own Business of Security Automation systems, Electromech Automation Pvt Ltd. I have been involved with this firm for the last 25 years.

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

I play approximately 7 to 9 hours in a week. We play in the evening every day after work on week days from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm, and on weekends we try to play twice a day.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t believe in luck much; however, the harder I work , the luckier I get! The only ritual before the tournament is to FOCUS and not get distracted!

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

Personally, the only goal I have for pickleball is to see this game grow in India exponentially. I want to play in the USOPEN in 2018 and every year after that! That’s a goal I want to fulfill. Personally this game has given me immense pleasure in life and changed my complete outlook for life! 

Anything else you’d like to share about your pickleball experience?

Oh, this is very tricky question; I can go on and on about my experience of pickleball. I will try to give a few.

I always was a sports man, but in 2010 an injury to my back got me into lazy mode resulting in putting on lots of weight. It has changed only by the addition of pickleball into my life. I got back to sports as this sport is non-invasive and easy on the body initially. The addiction of this sport gave me the will power to over come my back injury and made my goal to lose weight fast. Totally I have lost 14 kilograms in one year, all due to pickleball!

I am a short-tempered person, but I can safely say that due to this game and its very nature of requiring patience with the shots, especially dinks, it  has worked wonders with my temperament. I am much more relaxed and generally don’t lose my top over silly things! My confidence level is at the highest level nowadays and the interaction with the younger generation for coaching of pickleball gets me energized. I am also happy to be the First Indian Player to be officially in a sports gear contract for Pickleball in India, thanks to team PROLITE! This has been a real boost to me to make this game grow more and more. This game has been a game-changer for me and for my family. I am happy that my wife Ashwini and my daughter Tanya are a avid pickleballers too.

Thank you Manish for sharing your enthusiasm for this wonderful game of Pickleball.  See you at the USOPEN in 2018!

 

Provo City Fire and Rescue Are Great Pickleballers

Provo City Fire and Rescue Are Great Pickleballers

A while back we posted a video by Scott Anderson on our PickleballCentral Facebook page. It featured the Provo City Fire and Rescue team playing pickleball in full firefighter gear.  

We decided to ask Scott for more of the story on how they got into pickleball. Enjoy!

Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson

Tell us about playing pickleball in the firehouse. How did you get started?

The Provo City Fire and Rescue Station was introduced to pickleball at the Provo City rec center, which has 3 indoor courts and 8 outdoor courts. If we don’t get calls during our PT time in the mornings we often play after working out. We have a blast playing pickleball at the firehouse. We don’t play in full gear often, so that day we did we made sure to record it. 😁

Does everyone play? Why do you play?

Not all the firefighters play, I’d say maybe half of our department. Those of us that do love the competition and how fun it is. Some just play for fun on the days they work, a few like me participate in tournaments when we can. 

Have you ever been playing pickleball and have the fire alarm go off?

Yes, we’ve been playing and had the alarm go off! We carry our radios with us so we can just drop our paddles and be ready to go! It’s weird playing pickleball one minute and the next minute you could be in your fire gear going on a call.

What kind of paddles and balls do you use?

We have mostly Paddletek paddles and Onix Pure 2 Balls.

Do you ever compete in tournaments?

I’m one of the few who play in tournaments. I remember my first tournament was with my friend and captain. We entered our first tournament a few years ago not having any clue what level we were. We had only played a few times and tried the 4.0 level and found out quickly we shouldn’t be in that division. We did win one match though! I’m a 4.5 level player now.

Do you ever compete with other firehouses?

I’m wondering if there are any full time firefighters out there that are 5.0’s? 😬 We haven’t competed with other firehouses yet. I can see that happening soon though.  Yes, we play away from the firehouse when we’re off duty too.

Do you play pickleball away from the firehouse, when you’re off duty?

I introduced my wife to pickleball and she played with me for a while, then passed me up and reached the 5.0 level. So I’m trying to catch up to her now! We love it and look forward to playing it every chance we get.

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Provo City Recreation Center

Thank you Scott, for sharing more of the Provo City Fire and Rescue pickleball story with us. Here’s hoping you find other fire stations nearby that will join you in some friendly competition.

 

Meet The Pros – John Moorin

Meet The Pros: John Moorin

 

john-moorin-usopen

John Moorin won Gold, Men’s Singles Age 50+, at the US Open last April. He played singles 3-4 times and doubles 10-15 times before the tournament. Is this guy lucky, or just incredibly talented? You decide…

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

I have only played one pickleball tournament in my life: the US Open in Naples last year. I was fortunate enough to win it. I’ve had some decent wins as a tennis player though.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Bantam EX-L. I chose it by looking up what lots of players used and what my friends that I play with suggested. I really like it.

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

I was introduced to pickleball about 8- 10 weeks before the tournament by Rick Witsken, Matt Schiller and Chris Zeilinga in Indianapolis. Rick is a former Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) pro and Matt and Chris are 5.0 – 5.5 rated tennis players with the National Tennis Rating Program. We play tennis together and they needed a fourth to try this new game. It was so fun. I played singles 3-4 times and doubles 10-15 times before the tournament.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

We play mostly indoors in Indianapolis because of the weather, but I think I like outdoors better. I like being outside and I think you can hold your shots longer before you commit.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love singles for the exercise but I like the trash talking that happens in doubles with my friends. I play with guys who can beat me in tennis but I’m really more competitive in pickleball. So they tell me how old I am and how bad I am in tennis now. I tell them I can’t see who is saying those things to me because the light from my medal is shining in my eyes. It tends to work.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is The Retreat in Indianapolis. Rick Witsken does a great job getting players together and it is a fun atmosphere. The park in Naples where the tournament was held is a close second. Great weather and the courts are nice.

john-moorin-reduced

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

My secret sauce is probably my racket background. I played college tennis in the Big Ten and have won some decent events. I also was nationally ranked in squash. I think that helped me develop pretty good hands at the net, which is really helpful in pickleball. One thing I believe that may have also helped me is riding and training on  a road bike. It helps you keep your legs as the match wears on, especially in heat. The US Open was really hot and I played multiple events and matches in a day. Having my legs at the end was a definite plus.

What’s your day job?

My day job is that I own a medical distributorship. We distribute orthopedic devices and regenerative medicine products. It’s stressful but pretty interesting.

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

I probably play over the course of a year about an hour a week. Usually sneak one in during lunch or one on the weekend. I try to play enough to keep my feel.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

No lucky rituals, but I get really nervous. I always think I’m going to lose in warm up. I need to learn how to change that. Once the match starts I tend to get better as it goes on.

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

My goal for pickleball is to play more. I think I have a lot to learn. The game is so young and I think it will look different in 10 years. Strategies and techniques will change as the equipment and players develop. I would like to evolve. That’s my goal.

Thank you John for sharing your pickleball story with our readers. We look forward to seeing more of your talent on the tournament medals list next year!

Meet The Pros: Tyler Wren

us-open-tyler-wren-action

Tyler Wren at the US Open

USAPA Ambassador John Gullo of the Ogden, Utah area, gets the credit for introducing pickleball to Tyler Wren. Enjoy!

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

us-open-tournament-tyler-wren

US Open Tyler Wren/Oliver Strecker Gold, Daniel Moore/Brian Ashworth Silver and Matt Staub/Rob Elliott Bronze

Gold 2016 Fall Brawl Mixed Doubles (Christine McGrath)
Gold 2016 US Open Tournament Men’s Doubles 25+ (Oliver Strecker)
Silver 2016 LeMaster – Davison Classic Mixed Doubles (Christine Barksdale)
Gold 2016 Southern Utah Pickleball Shootout Men’s Doubles (Randy Zbinden)
Gold 2015 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Gold 2015 Tournament of Champions in Mixed Doubles (Christine McGrath)

Gold 2014 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Gold 2014 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Gold 2013 Northern Utah Indoor Championships Men’s Doubles (Larry Moon)
Silver 2013 Singles 19+ at USAPA Nationals
Gold 2012 Singles 19+ at USAPA Nationals

What paddle do you play with and why?

Paddletek Tempest for doubles and the Bantam EX-L for singles. I love the touch of the Tempest and power of the Bantam. I played with other paddles in the past but they would break down after 6 months of hard play. They started to dent from hitting the ball. I’ve never had a problem with Paddletek paddles and I love the way they play.

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

I have a tennis background. I was waiting at the courts one day to meet my friend who was running late (as usual). John Gullo called me over to the newly built courts at Mt. Ogden and told me I should give it a try. I got hooked pretty quickly. I met Kyle Klein soon after and he convinced me to start playing tournaments. I’ve been playing competitively ever since. 

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Outdoor for sure. 

fall-brawl-tyler-wren

Tyler wins Gold with Christine McGrath at the Fall Brawl

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I’ve always preferred singles but it’s not easy finding opponents since most prefer doubles. I would love to start practicing singles more. But I’ve really grown to love both men’s and mixed doubles.

toc-2015-tyler-wren

TOC Gold with Christine McGrath

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I loved the venue at the US Open last year in Naples, Florida. The Championship Court was amazing. But you can’t beat the views at my home court here in Ogden, Utah. 

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

Serving and returning deep is a huge key. That will help set up the entire point. I’m also not known for my patience. 🙂 I like to get the party started by hitting hard shots or lobs to keep my opponents on their toes. 

What’s your day job?

I’ve worked in wholesale for most of my career. I sell products to all the major retailers in the country. I also love real estate investment and own a few other side businesses. 

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

Probably 5 – 10 depending on the time of year. We’ve been meeting at 5 am to play for a few hours before work.  

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Tyler at Tournament of Champions

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

tyler-wren-nationals

Tyler at Nationals

“In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.” But it takes me quite a while to get into the game, so I make sure to have an extra long warm up and play practice points before I start a match. Having a super awesome partner that carries you helps a little too!

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

I’d love to practice singles more this year so I can be more competitive. It’s been super fun watching new tennis players entering the sport.

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

 I have twin daughters that are almost 2 years old. I can’t wait to start teaching them the sport. I’m sure they’ll be a top women’s doubles team in about 15 years. 🙂 

Meet The Pros: Patrick Williams

Meet The Pros: Patrick Williams

patrick-williams-usopen-2016

2016 US Open – Gold 40+ Mixed Doubles Jack Oxler/Lynn Syler, Silver Emily and Patrick Williams

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

My wife, Emily, and I placed 2nd at the US Open last year in 40+ doubles (defeated Robert & Jodi Elliott).

Rob Davidson and I defeated Chris Miller/Dalton Vavra, Kurtis Campbell/Brian Ashworth and Tony Tollenar/Doug Hastings before losing to Wes Gabrielson and Kyles Yates at the Rally in the Valley (Albany, OR).

Steve Paranto and Patrick Williams garner gold while Shayne R. Johnson and Bigchris Seekingknowledge

Steve Paranto and Patrick Williams garner gold while Shayne R. Johnson and Bigchris Seekingknowledge get silver at the Thousand Trails Pickleball Tournament in Sunriver/Bend, OR.

What paddle do you play with and why?

In the past, I played with the Selkirk Pro S1C+. Great touch, large sweet spot and ability to hit with topspin and slice. I just switched to the Selkirk Maxima 21P MXO paddle and love it.

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

I was introduced to pickleball at a Young Life fundraiser tournament 5 years ago. I was the girl’s tennis coach at West Albany HS at the time. I teamed up with the boy’s tennis coach. We raided the PE department and found some wooden paddles.

We won the tournament easily but had no idea about strategy (dinks, 3rd shots, etc). At the event, we were introduced to Bob VanderLinden, a local USAPA ambassador. He encourage us to join the local pickleball club and enter the Timberhill Spring Fling in Corvallis, OR. We entered the tourney at the 4.0 level and were the only players in the tourney with wooden paddles! Had a great time anyway and I was hooked.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I enjoy playing both, but overall I like indoors better for two reasons. The gym floor is easy on the body, so I can play for 3 or 4 hours, multiple days in a row.  And the slower game doesn’t require as much drilling to groove your shots enough to have fun.

 Steve Paranto, Randy Bither, Robert Davidson, Patrick Williams and Shane Denning.

Steve Paranto, Randy Bither, Robert Davidson, Patrick Williams and Shane Denning.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles. I’m 45 now and enjoy covering 1/2 the court more and more with each passing year. The first couple of years I played both singles and doubles in tournaments. I eventually made it to the 5.0 level in singles. To play singles well, you have to be in great shape. To play doubles, it isn’t as important.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Eleanor Hackleman Park in Albany, Oregon. It’s the home of the Albany Pickleball Club. I spent a good part of my first two summers working on skills and strategy with Craig Poole, Sarah Gaines and Bob VanderLinden. The last couple of summers I’ve spent time there drilling with Wes Gabrielsen and my wife, Emily.

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Daniel Moore, Patrick Williams Wes Gabrielsen and Steve Paranto

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

Grind, baby, grind! I’m usually not the tallest or most athletic player on the court. I try hard to neutralize my opponents strengths.  In most cases, this involves patience, low dinks and hitting high percentage shots.

What’s your day job?

I’m a high school math and science teacher at Baker Web Academy. It’s an online charter school run out of Baker City, Oregon which provides free, public education for students all across Oregon who are interested in an alternative to the brick and mortar option.

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

I try to play twice a week for about 3 hours each session. This fluctuates greatly depending on the availability of other 4.5/5.0 players in the area.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really. I just make sure to take a couple of ibuprofen before the tourney starts and make sure to know where the mustard packets and/or pickles are located.

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

My goal is continue to enjoy pickleball and get my son, Luke (13), and daughter, Kate (10), into it.

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

The pickleball community is so open and inviting. I really enjoy meeting new people and making close friendships through the sport.

Meet The Pros: Rafael Siebenschein

Meet The Pros: Rafael Siebenschein

Rafael with some of our favorites: Brian Ashworth, Daniel Moore an Dave Weinbach

Rafael with some of our favorites: Brian Ashworth, Daniel Moore and Dave Weinbach

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

2016 Tournament Of Champions – Mixed Open with Simone Jardim, Silver
2016 US OPEN – Mixed Doubles Pro Event with Corrine Carr– Bronze
2015 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Doubles Open with Simone Jardim  – Gold
2015 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Age 19+ with Gigi LeMaster –  Silver
2015 USAPA Nationals – Men’s Doubles Age 19+ with Rob Elliott – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

The Engage Encore. I think it’s got the best surface for former tennis players to allow for optimal balance of power, touch and topspin.

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

I started playing in Grand Rapids, MI, in spring of 2013. There was a park with pickleball courts just down the hill from a place I moved to and my landlord suggested I give it a try when I told him I missed playing tennis. I also met my wife, Corrine Carr Siebenschein, through pickleball.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I definitely prefer playing outdoors. Indoor pickleball is often tricky due to the different ball(s) and having to deal with multiple drawn lines and the glare of a wooden court.

Pickleball in the Triangle photo

Pickleball in the Triangle photo with Corrine Carr Siebenschein, Rafael Siebenschein, Dennis Brennan, Kelly Wiggins-Gen

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like them both. Coming from tennis, I enjoy playing singles every now and then as it’s very fast and a great workout. It’s quite hard to find people to play with though. Overall, I do prefer doubles as the rallies last much longer and require a lot of patience and finesse.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I really enjoyed playing at Belknap Park in Grand Rapids. The facility has come a long way and it’s fun playing with the people who introduced me to the game. I also enjoy the big tournaments – the US Open, TOC, Nationals – as they generally attract all the top players and the facilities are getting better each year!

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

I think the combination of a tennis background and the Engage Encore Paddle enable me to hit with more topspin than most players. This enables me, especially on my forehand, to hit the ball at a high speed with relatively short travel distance.

And patience! For players from a racket sport background, I would recommend finding some top-level players to play against. Playing against weaker players, many tennis players think that the key is to hit as hard as possible. For me, practicing with Kyle Yates and Matt Staub in The Villages back in the day for the first time really was an eye-opener. I recognized the importance of dinking and being able to keep the ball in play while waiting for the opportune time to be aggressive.

What’s your day job?

I am working in IT as a Systems Developer and Analyst.

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

Since we’ve moved to West Virginia this past summer I hardly get to play – mainly due to difficulties finding outdoor courts and time constraints. Ideally, I would like to play once a week or so for maybe 2 hours.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Tennis players are often superstitious and have rituals they go through before every match. However, I don’t think any of these have transferred to pickleball for me. Generally, I try to just eat as much as possible for breakfast as tournament days are usually quite long with little time to grab food between matches.

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

Become more patient and consistent. And play more than once every couple of months!

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

One of my favorite things about the sport is the pickleball community. In tournaments, everybody fights hard and competes against each other. But at the end of the day, people hang out, get a drink and have a blast together. In rare instances, you may even get to listen to Daniel Moore sing karaoke. I’ve had fun at every tournament I’ve traveled to, even when not performing as well in an event as I had hoped! I’ve met many amazing friends through the sport – including my wife. 😉