Meet The Pros – Michelle Esquivel

Meet the Pros – Michelle Esquivel

MIchelle Esquivel

MIchelle Esquivel at the 2018 Margaritaville USAPA National Championships – photo credit to ProPickleball

No doubt about it, Michelle Esquivel is a fierce competitor and dedicated instructor who is totally in love with pickleball. Enjoy! 

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

2018 USAPA Margaritaville Nationals, Women’s Singles 5.0 19+ – Gold
2018 Tustin Winter Classic, Women’s 5.0 Doubles with Lisa Naumu – Gold
+ Mixed 5.0 Doubles with Jeff Warnick – Gold
2018 International Indoor Championships, Mixed Open Doubles with David Wage – Silver
+ Women’s Doubles Open with Lindsey Newman – Gold
2018 SoCal Classic, Women’s Doubles Open with Gee Gee Garvin – Gold
2018 Engage Golden State Championships, Women’s Doubles Open with Lindsey Newman – Silver
+2018 Mixed Open Bronze with Jeff Warnick
2018 Las Vegas Open, Women’s Doubles Open with Gee Gee Garvin – Bronze
2018 Western Regional, Women’s Doubles 5.0, 19+ with Kris Anderson – Gold
+ Mixed Doubles 5.0 19+ with Jeff Warnick  –  Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

I love playing with the Engage Poach Advantage! It has the perfect combination of control and power I need for my game.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

While coaching tennis at Orange Coast College in 2015, my fellow colleague text me and invited me to play pickleball over at the courts in Tustin, CA. That was the first time I had ever heard of the sport and I even laughed and asked, “What the heck is pickleball?” Just like most, I was instantly hooked and addicted to the sport. I remember playing my first tournament at the 2016 SoCal Classic in Oceanside, CA, where I fell in love with competing. I knew I wanted to take my game to the next level after last year’s USAPA Nationals. Since then, I’ve been able to show some great results and compete against the top players in the game. It’s been such a blast so far.

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I love playing pickleball both indoors and outdoors, but if I had a preference I would rather play outdoors. I come from a Southern California tennis background and love being outdoors as much possible. If not, playing indoors is just as great.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I definitely enjoy playing doubles more but love the physical & mental challenge of singles.

Michelle Esquivel Mixed Doubles

Michelle Esquivel and Rob Cassidy in Mixed Doubles at 2018 USAPA Nationals

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I really loved playing at Nationals this year at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. I grew up watching the tennis pros play at the same venue during the PNB Paribas Open and never thought I’d be competing there for pickleball. It’s an amazing facility for both spectators and players. It was so much fun playing for the fans.

What is your secret sauce?

My tennis background really helps, especially with my footwork and positioning for doubles.

Takako Tourangeau, Lee Whitwell, Michelle Esquivel, Tracie DeJager, Bonnie Williams and Lindsey Newman

Takako Tourangeau, Lee Whitwell, Michelle Esquivel, Tracie DeJager, Bonnie Williams and Lindsey Newman

Any tips for players?

Work on your weaknesses! I personally love driving the ball and hitting hard, so I tend to focus and work on third shot drops and dinks as much as possible. In rec games, I’ll intentionally play balls I would usually feel uncomfortable hitting, so they become easier in tournaments. I also recommend challenging the stronger player on the court during practice games. I know winning is fun, but you’ll only get better by getting out of your comfort zone.

What is your day job?

I just changed career paths from being a tennis coach to teaching pickleball! I was just hired as a teaching pro at the Pickleball Zone Bend in Central Oregon. The brand-new indoor facility just opened a week ago right before Nationals. I’ll be teaching clinics, lessons and setting up events with Lisa Palcic who is the Head Director of the Oregon Pickleball Academy.

Lisa Palcic and Michelle Esquivel

The Oregon Pickleball Academy-Pickleball Zone Bend, with Lisa Palcic and Michelle Esquivel

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

If there’s an opportunity to play, I’ll always take it. I’m at a point where I can’t get enough pickleball. I make it a top priority to routinely drill and set up games whenever I can. I try to get in 12-15 hours of games per week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t have any luckily rituals before a big tournament, but I prepare myself as much as I can by getting enough rest, making sure I hydrate and stretch.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

I’ve accomplished one of my top goals by medaling at Nationals this year. I’m working hard to earn a place on the podium at the US Open and Tournament of Champions for next year.

Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Pickleball has surprisingly changed my life in such a positive light. I never thought I’d be so passionate about it. I love teaching it, competing and being a part of its unique community. I admire and respect all the ambassadors, volunteers, tournament directors and people who’ve made the sport what’s it’s become today. I also appreciate all the fans and pickleball addicts who just can’t get enough. We can all relate! Without all of you, it wouldn’t be the same, so a sincere THANK YOU

Meet the Pros – Moira Roush

Meet the Pros – Moira Roush

Moira Roush

USAPA West Regional Moira Roush/Tiener_X Nguyen

Moira Roush is one of the best who plays with the best. Enjoy!

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

2018 Hawaii Oahu Tournament, Mixed Doubles with Tiener_X Nguyen – Gold
2018 Great Plains Regionals, Women’s Singles 5.0 Age – Gold
Mixed Doubles 5.0 Age with Nabil Merhi – Silver
2018 Oklahoma Senior Games, Women’s Singles, Age – Gold
Mixed Doubles with Jack Thomas – Bronze

2018 USAPA Mountain Regional, Mixed Doubles Skill with Tiener_X Nguyen- Silver
Women’s Doubles Skill with Vivian Edwards – Silver
2017 USAPA Nationals Women’s Singles – Silver
Mixed Doubles 4.5 Age with Tiener_X Nguyen – Bronze

2017 State Games of America, Women’s Singles – Gold
4.5 Mixed Doubles with Tiener_X Nguyen – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

I am honored to be sponsored by Selkirk. I play with the new Invikta mid-weight paddle. I love the feel it gives me for dinking and the response I get when I need power. The extra length is also helpful at times.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

My husband began playing pickleball and told me I had to try it. He played for 3 months before I tried it. Each time he went he played longer and longer so I decided if I wanted to see more of him I needed to start playing! Once I played, I saw why he was so excited about the sport.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer to play outdoors. I like the surface and the light is better. Unfortunately, in Oklahoma City we don’t have many outdoor venues.

2018 Hawaii Oahu Tournament – Tiener-X Nguyen-Moira Roush Gold

2018 Hawaii Oahu Tournament – Tiener-X Nguyen-Moira Roush Gold, Lori Tokutomi-Pete Bresciani Silver and Chris Why-Jimmy Lowe, bronze

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I play both singles and doubles. In singles I enjoy out-thinking the other player and the workout that it provides. Playing doubles, I enjoy the teamwork and the challenge to create openings to put the ball away.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I loved playing at the North Georgia Pickleball Club in Atlanta. Beautiful setting and lovely courts. Also love to play in St. George, Utah.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

No real secret sauce, I just try to remember to keep my grip light and bend at the knees. That would be my advice to others besides watch the ball!

What is your day job?

I am lucky that my day job is teaching pickleball! I’ve gone from being a certified tennis instructor to certified pickleball instructor. I love helping people improve their games and have more fun on the court!

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

Nahola Fitness Center Pickleball Clinic taught by Moira Roush

Nahola Fitness Center Pickleball Clinic taught by Moira Roush

I play 15-20 hours a week in addition to the time I spend teaching/drilling with students.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

My pickleball goals are to compete well in the major tournaments and continue to improve my game. As an ambassador I also want to grow  the sport by introducing it to others as a sport they can play at any age and ability level.

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

My favorite part of pickleball is the people I have met all over the country. As we age it’s harder to meet people but pickleball makes it extremely easy and that makes life better!

Meet The Pros – Devin Shoquist

Meet The Pros – Devin Shoquist

Devin Shoquist

Devin Shoquist

Pickleball put a smile on Devin Shoquist’s face from day one.  If you are in the neighborhood, Pickleball Station in Kent, WA, you may just catch his smile. Enjoy!

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

2018 Pickleball Station Pre-Nationals Tournament, Mixed Doubles with Lynn Syler – Gold
2018 Blue Hole Bash in Sequim, WA, Mixed Doubles with Lynn Syler – Gold
2017 So Cal Men’s Doubles with Rob Davidson Age – Gold
2016 Oregon State Games, Mixed Doubles with Camille Schermerhorn– Gold
2016 International Indoor Championship, 4.5 Mixed Doubles with Shonda Schallenberger – Gold

Lynn Syler/Devin Shoquist - Gold

Bryce Ogren/Julie Haney – Silver, Lynn Syler/Devin Shoquist – Gold, Allison Hastings/Douglas Hastings – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk Amped Maxima. I like the reach and feel of the paddle and it gives me the ability to create top spin on my shots.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I played tennis in high school. I’ve played other racket and paddle sports, including ping pong. Fast forward to 7 years ago, I saw pickleball being played at the local YMCA. I talked to a couple of guys about it and found out how many folks were playing. I just stepped into the action one day and haven’t looked back. I started competing 3 years ago.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

 I like them both. I like singles because it’s a challenge and I am the only one responsible for the results.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

Devin Shoquist with Rhonda Smith at Pickleball Station

Devin Shoquist with Rhonda Smith at Pickleball Station

I enjoy playing at Sehmel Park, Gig Harbor, WA and Pickleball Station in Kent, WA. 

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce is Hammer Gel, espresso flavor, and my tip for players is to do everything you can to keep the ball in play.

What is your day job?

I am a psychiatrist.

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

I play 12-15 hours a week, 3-4 times a week. I make time to play because I find the game to be good exercise and great stress relief.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

As a 35+ and 50+ player, I hope to win gold at one of the National Tournaments.

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

Pickleball has been an excellent way to have fun and meet new people.

Meet The Pros – Riley Newman

Meet The Pros – Riley Newman

Riley Newman and twin sister Lindsey Newman

Riley Newman and Lindsey Newman, photo credit to Pickleball Channel.

Riley Newman hit the floor running in this auspiciously named sport, and has been a force to reckon with ever since, especially paired up with his sister, Lindsey. Enjoy!

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

Riley and Lindsey Newman

Pickleball Station Riley with Sister Lindsey – Gold

2019:
-The Lakes Spring Fling, Men’s Doubles Open – Silver
Men’s Singles Open – Bronze
-2019 Minto US OPEN, Mixed Doubles – Bronze

2018:
-Canadian National Indoors in Chilliwack, BC – triple crown winner 
-National Indoors in Centralia, WA – Mixed Open Gold with my sister Lindsey 
-Columbia Basin Classic in Kennewick, WA – Men’s Open Singles Gold, Mixed Open Gold with Lindsey
-Pickleball Station Pre-Nationals Tournament in Kent, WA – Men’s Open Doubles Gold 
2017:
-Frontier Days Pickleball tournament in Sun River, OR – Mixed Open Gold with Lindsey Newman 

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk Amped Epic. This paddle gives me the most power but also steady control at the kitchen line. I highly recommend it!

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I was introduced to pickleball by a great friend in Seattle, Mark Cook (4.5 soon to be 5.0 player). He knew I had played Division 1 tennis and felt if I gave the sport with a funny name a shot I would fall in love. Sure enough, he was right! He took me to a local YMCA where I was clearly the youngest player by many years, not knowing how to keep score or what the heck a “dink” was. But everyone in the pickleball community has been so welcoming to my sister and I, even though we were just a couple of “tennis players.” We entered our first tournament 3 days later and ended up taking home gold. We have been hooked ever since that weekend!

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Growing up on Whidbey Island, Washington, the weather wasn’t always the greatest for playing pickleball outdoors. Now that I live in Southern California I can play outdoors anytime I want, which has helped my pickleball game tremendously!

2018 Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic. Riley with Kurtis Campbell, Bronze

2018 Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic. Riley with Kurtis Campbell, Bronze

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

So far in my young career I have played on the US Open center court in Naples, Florida. It was a great opportunity and an amazing venue.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic, Riley and Lindsey Newman, Gold

Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic, Riley and Lindsey Newman, Gold

I’d say my secret sauce is my two-handed backhand. I am confident from that side whether I want to speed it up with my opponent or dink all day. The tip I would recommend to any beginner or tennis player would be just to play! Go out and play lots of practice games with all sorts of different players and skill types. Receiving coaching is great, but I have learned that being in a competitive environment where you can learn what works and what doesn’t is most beneficial to the learning process.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

My dream is to referee Division 1 Men’s college basketball. This works great with pickleball because my basketball games start at 7 pm, so during the day I can play pickleball. When I’m not on a pickleball court, you can find me on the basketball court! My pickleball goal for 2019 is to win a major tournament: the US Open, USAPA Nationals or Tournament of Champions.

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

I would like to thank my family for their continued support, especially my sister Lindsey, and also Paddletek for being an amazing sponsor that has provided me with an opportunity to grow in this great game!

Meet The Pros – Ted Meyer

Meet The Pros – Ted Meyer

Ted Myer

Ted Meyer and Jenny Butler

Ted Meyer is very philosophical about the game of pickleball. He is in it to win it! Enjoy!

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

  2018 U.S. Open, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Jim Hackenberg, Gold
  2017 USAPA Nationals, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino, Gold
                   Men’s 65+ Singles, Silver
*2017 National Senior Games, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Jim Hackenberg, Gold
                   Mixed 65+ Doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Bronze
*2017 U. S. Open, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Ernie Tomlinson, Gold
                   Mixed 65+ Doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Bronze
*2016 USAPA Nationals, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino, Gold
                   Men’s 65+ Singles, Silver
*2016 Huntsman World Games, Men’s 65+ Doubles with Lenny Chimino Gold
,                  Mixed 65+ doubles with Diane Baumgartner, Silver
                   Men’s 65+ singles silver medalist
*2016 U.S. Open, Men’s 65+ doubles, bronze
                   Mixed 60+ doubles, bronze
*Super senior slam –  men’s 65+ doubles (all 4 majors in 8 month period)

Ted Myer Jenny Butler Gold

2018 USAPA Great Lakes Regionals: Debbie Mascarin-Dan McLaughlin Silver; Ted Meyer-Jenny Butler, Gold; Yvonne Hackenberg,-Jim Hackenberg Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Tempest Wave Paddle because it gives me the most feel on my dink shots and third shot drops.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I started playing pickleball in 2012 at The Villages, FL. But the first year I was there (like many others), I was essentially just playing tennis on a pickleball court. So, I always tell people I’ve only been playing for 5 years the right way.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer to play outdoors. Like many of us at my age, we can see the ball much better outside.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer to play doubles. I only play singles at the national tournaments. For me, singles is fun for the first few matches, then after that it becomes a lot of work.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce is not really a secret, but you would be surprised to know how many don’t utilize it. My philosophy is not to feed to your opponent’s forehand. Hit 90% of the shots to their backhand. Make them beat you with their backhand. Also, when dinking, make sure your shot bounces in the kitchen so that your opponent cannot attack it.

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

Since I’m retired, I play 4 times a week, 3 to 4 hours at a time. Playing that much does require me to schedule an hour nap in my daily routine, however. (Lol.)

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t have any lucky rituals before a big tournament. I got severe leg cramps in my last match on the first day of the first U. S. Open. Since then I do make sure I stay hydrated with plenty of water and Gatorade.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

My goal is to stay healthy enough to play competitively for another 5 years.

 

Meet The Pros – Kale Klein

Meet The Pros – Kale Klein

Kale Klein and Randy Coleman

Kale Klein and Randy Coleman

Kale is SERIOUS in his commitment to the game! Enjoy!

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

Riverton, Utah Bronze 4.5
Star Valley 5.0 Men’s Doubles with his Dad, Kyle Klein, Gold 4.5 mixed doubles
Logan Bridgerland Cash valley  5.0 Men’s Doubles with dad
Farmington Summer Classic 4.5

Kale Klein

Kale Klein in action

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Amped S2. It has the biggest sweet spot for me and has the best control and power of any paddle I have tried. I have a lot of respect for the Barnes family and how they have been so kind to me, offering their sponsorship through their company, Selkirk Sports.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I started 7 years ago, at age 6. We visited my grandparents in Sun City. Playing pickleball was okay when I played the first time. The second time, I really got into it. We went home and drew lines to start playing pickleball. I started competing in tournaments at age 8. I love a good rally. I’m strong in the net game. I like it when the points are longer with more rallies, and I enjoy all the nice people I meet.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?
Definitely outdoors!

2018 Star Valley - Nick Galanis/Matt Dimock - Silver; Kale Klein/Kyle Klein - Gold; Jevan Weeks/Jesse Roberts - Bronze

2018 Star Valley – Nick Galanis/Matt Dimock – Silver; Kale Klein/Kyle Klein – Gold; Jevan Weeks/Jesse Roberts – Bronze

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I haven’t medaled yet in singles, but I like both!

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is the Brigham City courts – it’s about 30 feet from my house.

Brigham City Sports Complex - Pickleball Courts

Brigham City Sports Complex – Pickleball Courts

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I like to look like a little kid when I come out on the court.

What is your day job?

 I am a student in 8th grade.

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

I try to play 4x weekly. I play pickleball in school. Not a lot of younger people to play with outdoors.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

My ritual is to make sure I match head to toe with Selkirk gear.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

I’m very competitive. I’m in it to win it: USAPA Nationals, Fall Brawl, etc. I have a goal to BEAT BRIAN ASHWORTH!

Brian Ashworth

Brian Ashworth

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

I am thankful for this sport. It has helped me to be a better player. I have learned how to talk and partner with older adults and how to be a good competitor.

Meet The Pros – Nancy Jensen

Meet The Pros – Nancy Jensen

Nancy Jensen, Takako Tourangeau

May, 2017 Timberhill Spring Fling @ Corvallis, OR Gold WD 4.5 Nancy Jensen, Takako Tourangeau

Nancy Jensen is one of our favorite local Pros. I love Nancy’s story, especially the part about Joel Pritchard coming to her school and Nancy’s use of pickle juice to re-energize during a tournament. Enjoy!

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

In May of 2016 I began competing regularly in tournaments. In June of 2017 I received notification that I would be rated as 5.0. Takako Tourangeau & I decided to delay that change until after Nationals in Nov. since the 4.5 category would now be included. For 2018 I have played in my 5.0 Legacy rating, but my rating under the new system will now be WD – 4.5, MXD 5.0, WS- 4.5.

I have been lucky enough to play in quite a few tournaments with different partners since I started playing competitively two years ago. My tournament experiences below lists many of the medals I’ve won in the skill categories 4.5 and 5.0. I’ve also competed in the age groupings of 35+ through 70+. My hope is that I can continue to be considered a competitive tournament player who can play and find partners in these skill and age groupings at future local or national tournaments.

2018 Coeur d’Alene Classic Silver Women’s Singles 4.5
2018 SoCal Summer Classic  @ Encinitas, CA Mixed Doubles 60+ Bronze with Gregg Whitfield
2018 Pickleball Station 4.5 & 5.0 – Kent, WA Gold Women’s Doubles  with Mary Sigmen
2018 Pickleball Station 4.5 & 5.0 — Kent, WA  Silver Women’s Doubles with Takako Tourangeau
2018 Grand Canyon @ El Mirage, AZ Gold Women’s Doubles 5.0 Age 70+ Audrey Sherfey
2018 Cougar Classic Gold Women’s Doubles 5.0  with Takako Tourangeau
Gold Mixed Doubles 4.5 Ages 60-70+ with Jim McMillan
2017 USAPA Pacific NW Regional @ Bend, OR Gold Women’s Doubles 4.5 Ages 19-35+ with Takako Tourangeau
2017 Canada National @ Kelowna Gold Women’s Doubles 4.5  with Takako Tourangeau
2017 International Indoor @ Centralia Gold Women’s Doubles 4.5 with Takako Tourangeau
Silver Sr. Women’s Doubles with Che Cui

Pickleball Station Gold with Mary Sigmen

 What paddle do you play with and why?

I have played with various paddles produced by Paddletek. I thought I was playing well with the Bantam until this year at the Grand Canyon Tournament when Chris Miller had me try his red & white Paddletek Tempest. He thought with my game, I’d like the touch & feel of this paddle and he was absolutely right. I’ve been tempted by other paddles but prefer playing with the Tempest. Like in tennis, I need to stay with a paddle that fits my game and not be tempted by the latest & greatest new paddle.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I began teaching High School PE in 1972 and during a fall sports clinic, Joel Pritchard presented a brief workshop on pickleball. He handed out a 2-page rule sheet which included a template for making paddles from 5/8 inch plywood. My fellow PE teacher purchased the wood & cut out the paddles. We sanded them down, placed athletic tape around the handles as grips and then purchased wiffle balls. At the end of our badminton units we would incorporate a pickleball unit. At that time I was teaching, coaching and playing competitive tennis, so I didn’t like pickleball. The paddles were too heavy and the handles cut your hands. In 2014 I found pickleball listed at a Seattle Rec. Center and saw for the first time how much the sport and equipment had changed since the 70’s. Injuries had prevented me from continuing with tennis, so I was eager to finally find something I truly enjoyed as much as tennis.

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I love playing outside when the courts are dry, temperatures are above 50 degrees, the wind is below 10 mph and the Dura-40 ball is being used. But because I choose to live in the PNW and I want to play, drill & improve my game, I have to play inside on hardwood or a tennis court. During the rainy season, I’m just happy that there are now indoor pickleball courts available. For tournaments, I prefer outdoor play with all it’s varied locations and the diverse natural elements which add additional challenges to this extremely enjoyable game.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I’ve always enjoyed playing a singles game characterized by more net play and fewer groundstrokes. Right now I feel I can still be competitive at the 4.5 skill level in the 35+ and 50+ divisions. At my age singles takes a toll on my body very quickly and I don’t want it to negatively affect my doubles play in the days which follow this event. My hope is that the smaller tournaments will begin using a 15-point format with 2 out of 3 games reserved for the finals. This change, I think, would encourage more women to begin or continue playing in the singles event.

I love the doubles game mostly because I can more fully utilize my aggressive serve & volley skills developed when I played tennis. They transfer almost seamlessly to pickleball shots and strategies. Of course, the dink shot has proven to be a challenging exception. I believe a successful doubles team requires finding a partner whose game both complements and contrasts with your own. Finding a partner, and then working together to develop the skills, team strategies, competitive temperament, and thereby the team chemistry needed to compete successfully, is one of the hidden rewards to be treasured in the doubles game.

Jan. 2018 Cougar Classic @ Vancouver, WA Gold WD 5.0

Jan. 2018 Cougar Classic @ Vancouver, WA Emy Williams/Lynn Syler, Silver, Nancy Jensen/Takako Tourangeau, Gold, Sheila Schoonover/KimBessling, Bronze Women’s Doubles 5.0

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I began playing at various rec sites in Seattle, Mercer Island and the ARC located in the International District. Each time I changed location it was to move to a higher level of play where I thought I could now compete and also learn more advanced skills. Since I prefer to play against a variety of players, my favorite locations in Seattle are now: Pickleball Station, Yost Park, SeaTac Rec. the Highline Athletic Cemter in Burien and also the Eastmont Public Parks in East Wenatchee.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Be sure you’re having fun and that you are continually striving to learn. Find a player who is as addicted to the game as you are and is willing to drill. I was fortunate that when I started to play competitive pickleball I meet and partnered with Takako who was developing a similar addiction to the game. We continue to drill & play to help each other improve our individual skills and games strategies.

What is your day job?

For 31 years I taught in the Highline School District. I began teaching PE & coaching tennis at Highline High School in 1972. For 4 years I directed the WA State Girl’s Invitational Tennis Tournament until the event was recognized by the WIAA and became an official State Tournament. In 1980 I joined the Business Dept. at Highline teaching computer programming, Info Tech & Computer Apps, and Web Design. In the 1990’s I moved to Mt. Rainier High School’s Business Dept. and taught there until I retired in 2004. After 31 years of teaching, I retired. In Seattle it’s an extreme joy not to have a daily 30-45 minute commute.

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

During the summer I usually play between 3 to 4 days a week for about 2-3 hours. One or two of those days are focused on drills. During the rainy season, it has become more difficult to find facilities that aren’t overly crowded. However, I can still play 2 times a week but I also try to find times, facilities & players who are available to drill in the mornings or midday.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t have any rituals that I know are lucky. To prepare my body and mind, I do focus on hydrating with electrolyte drinks several days before the tournament. I also keep a supply of pickle juice handy in case a more concentrated supply is needed during the tournament. I continue to follow the preparation activities I used for tennis. This includes mentally practicing my shots & strategies, reviewing mental & physical notes I have about my opponents, try to determine what the best individual/team strategy might be against some opponents, and deciding how the court and playing conditions will determine which option I’ll prefer if I win the toss. My most important ritual is: “Always go to the bathroom before taking the court, so you’re sure to have your complete attention on the game!”

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

Skills I’m currently trying to develop are: blocking and digging out smashes from the mid-court with a soft drop shot into the kitchen. Footwork remains a constant area of work and focus because it has such a major positive impact on my consistency and success when I move efficiently and get into position early. I just received an incredibly appropriate t-shirt for my birthday. It states:

“Dink Responsibly,
Don’t Get Smashed”

I am told that I’m a bit too aggressive in my play and need to develop “patience.” “Easy” as Brian Ashworth has frequently said, should be my mantra.  Unfortunately after about 3-4 dinks a little voice shouts in my ear, ”Attack.” Now my goal is to regularly hit 5-6 dinks in a row and maybe someday get to 10 dinks before I hear “Attack!”

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

First, I am not one of the best players, but I think being in Seattle has allowed me to watch and play against some of the best. Many of these players have been very willing to give me tips and help me develop my game. Realizing that I don’t have that many competitive years left, I knew I needed a more concentrated and focused approach to improve my game. I decided to take a few lessons, something I never did for tennis. The private lessons from Peter Hudachko has been a immense help in improving my skills in both dinking and blocking, while also making my footwork patterns more efficient.

Youtube videos have allowed me watch the skills and analyze the strategies used by the BEST. Although my previous experience in tennis is a help, I was slow to realize that pickleball really isn’t tennis. I need to continually analyze, modify and/or develop my shots and strategies. Recently I viewed a video of my competitive match play. Although not a pretty thing to watch, it clearly shows you what you have not corrected, the errors or poor techniques you’re continuing to use, and the poor footwork or court positioning that has returned and must again be corrected. I think most players would improve their skills & court positioning if they could arrange to have a video made of their match play. This visual feedback provides you with the critical information you need to realize your progress and also determine your new goals in pickleball.

 

AMBASSADOR SERIES – Ron Tugwell, North Virginia, Fairfax County

Ambassador Series – Ron Tugwell

Location: North Virginia, Fairfax County

Ron Tugwell, Home Plate Awards

56th Annual Home Plate Awards Banquet, Ron Tugwell, organizer on the left,

Ron Tugwell is a life-long sports enthusiast and coach. We are glad to have him in the pickleball “family” now! Enjoy!

How did you get into pickleball?

I’ve been involved in sports all my life. I coached baseball. My son played professional baseball. I played tennis, but I’ve had 2 knee replacements in 4 years. After the last knee surgery, I tennis-ed out, and started playing golf. It was tough to learn and hard on my knees. Then about 7 years ago I visited my parents who live in a retirement community. They played pickleball and I started hitting around with them. I got hooked, went home and found places where it was played. I play pickleball now 4-5 times a week. My wife and I both play. We get to know people better playing pickleball than when we played tennis. We enjoy organizing pickleball parties and we travel with it. I played at Naples (US Open). It’s nicer traveling with pickleball than with golf. Pickleball is my passion. The appeal of the game is that it is easy to learn and fairly inexpensive.

Why did you become an ambassador?

I was approached by Helen White, Asst Regional Mid-Atlantic Director, outside DC. She’s great! She asked for help with the Mid-Atlantic Tournament, so my wife Peggy and I jumped in and helped. Peggy and I like to travel and play together, and we like to help, so we jumped at the chance to become ambassadors. We work together as co-ambassadors. We handle a lot of calls and have a lot of visitors to the places that have pickleball.

Highlights of being an ambassador? Accomplishments?

Helen, Peggy and I work together to get more people playing pickleball. Two years ago, 20% of folks who took our classes stayed with it. Today, every class is full, and they often have played already and have already bought a paddle. The growth includes younger folks ages 30-50. Pickleball is also being introduced in public schools.  We introduce pickleball at local middle schools for the first-time last year. 

We just finished hosting a City Open Tournament in DC. We also had the 10 best pickleball pros, like Tyson McGuffin, Irina Tereschenko and Joey Farias, come to do exhibition play. Three stayed around after to do clinics. We filled 260 slots for a 3-day clinic.

Pro clinic

Clinic participants and the Pros – Tyson McGuffin, Irina Tereshenko, Joe Farias in the cente, row did you get into pickleball?

What challenges have you encountered in getting pickleball into communities?

I know pickleball will grow. My wife and I are both educators, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth. I’ve learned that the game is 80% practice and 20% play. Most folks are 3.0 level and not seeking to improve much. It’s sometimes hard to get folks to do skills and drills.  

Peggy Tugwell

Tyson McGuffin and Peggy Tugwell

We are behind on providing enough facilities for the demand for the game. There are no dedicated courts within 50 miles except Fredricksburg. Pickleball is big in pockets of Maryland. In the DC area, there are more indoor courts. We have heavy competition with other activities. Fairfax County wants all facilities to be multipurpose. A number of facilities are small and some have tile floors, like one site near Arlington which is not so good for pickleball. There are 220 tennis courts in Fairfax County, and only 20% are being used. We are looking into one perfect location, easy access in the DC area. It has 11 tennis courts that no one uses, with 2 that have pickleball lines. We are working hard to convince the county athletic board to consider expanding pickleball in this location.

Ambassador Series – Meet Mary Barsaleau, USAPA Ambassador, Coachella Valley, California

AMBASSADOR SERIES – Meet Mary Barsaleau

Rosie Garcia, Vincente and Mary Barsaleau

Referee clinic with Rosie, Vincente and Mary – what a TEAM!

Mary Barsaleau loves getting EVERYONE into the game. Her love of the sport is clearly apparent by all the work she is doing to promote the game of pickleball. Enjoy!

Mary Barsaleau in Action

Mary Barsaleau demonstrating at the L.A. A.P.E teachers clinic

How did you get into pickleball?

I started teaching and coaching after I finished the teaching credential program at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1983, after playing tennis, basketball and softball in college.

I was introduced to teaching pickleball at the Cal Poly workshop in 1984. It was a blast, and we had mini tournaments after classes. I incorporated pickleball into my physical education curriculum at Francis Parker, and in the Grossmont and Tustin Unified school districts. I coached both the boys’ and girls’ varsity  and J.V. tennis teams for 7 years at Tustin High, and even my tennis team loved pickleball!

Before we had courts, I used the service boxes on the tennis courts and dropped the volleyball nets on the volleyball courts, at first using tennis balls and hard plastic paddles. The kids loved it!

I ran summer tennis camps for 12 years and did “pickleball Wednesdays” from 2002-2015 in Tustin. They wanted to play pickle more than tennis!

In 2012 I joined a P.E. workshop friend who told me they were playing competitive pickleball at Crown Valley middle school. Bill Smith and Jane Porphir as well as many others took me under their wing, told me to quit “playing like a tennis player,” and encouraged me to enter some tournaments. After joining Phil Dunmeyer’s early morning Tustin district employee gang (aluminum nets and taped lines) I played my first tournament at the Palm Springs Senior Games in 2013. After recovering from back surgery, I moved from 4.0 to 4.5 and became a USAPA ambassador in 2015.

Refs in Training Mary Barsaleau

What a great bunch of Refs in Training

Why did you become an Ambassador?

I love pickleball, love teaching others and wanted to start a program that did not conflict with sanctioned tournaments and social play at Tustin. I had run many events as an athletic director, and thought that the round robins which Cyndi Glavas and Phil Dunmeyer first organized at Tustin were the way to go.

Patriotic Pickle Round Robin participants at Tustin

Patriotic Pickle Round Robin participants at Tustin

My first round robin was the Summer Sizzler in the summer of 2015, and I just hosted Summer Sizzler 4! The round robin format is a great way to meet people, socialize, practice for tournaments and not worry about being eliminated. I have run about 20 events at Tustin, and 5 in Palm Springs. That is my major ambassador contribution, and I hope to continue to run these events everywhere. 

Montana School Demonstration Mary Barsaleau

Mary and youth at the Montaras School Demonstration

Highlights of being a USAPA ambassador? Accomplishments?

I finished the IPTPA training to be an instructor in July. I plan to attend the Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) certification program in September at Seal Beach, so I can compare the two teaching programs. PPR is a subset of the Professional Tennis Registry, of which I have been a member for years. They provide certification and insurance for instructors.

Mary Barsaleau, Garcia with Montana School Students

Mary Barsaleau, Rosie Roper with Montaras School youth

Rosie Roper and I ran two clinics for L.A. Unified in June, for both students and APE teachers. I recruited Jeanie Garcia, Doug Nichols and Gary Rogers to help, along with Bev Vigil, who works for LAUSD. San Clemente ambassador Manny Romero is working to schedule an inservice for his teachers this year, after we ran a senior center demonstration along with Phil Dunmeyer earlier this year. I am working with Steve Riggs to start the program in Irvine when the Portola facility is completed. I recently changed my ambassador registration from Tustin/Long Beach to the Coachella Valley and hope to run more round robins, in-service workshops and school district programs in the desert.

Dean Mangione, USAPA ambassador in Palm Springs, has worked hard to promote pickleball in a variety of programs, and has been my mentor. Along with Rosie Roper, we ran a free clinic during Spring break that had over 45 kids! He and his wife Nancy have worked with the city, and have offered free youth programs indoors at both Demuth and JOJ community centers. Along with Vicki Oltean with the City of Palm Springs, and Dave Paquette, I have run 5 round-robin tournaments during the season, with great success. Hank Reimer is running referee clinics and training in the Palm Desert area, and I am working with him to become a certified referee.

Challenges to getting pickleball into communities?

We need to work cooperatively with the tennis community and offer free programs to introduce our sport in camps, after school programs and schools. Senior center demonstrations, Back to School Night or Open House demonstrations, and off season leagues for high school girls and boys tennis teams are only a start.

When we get them playing, they will push their communities to build more courts. Sponsorships from businesses will help with funding, and corporate Health and Wellness is a great place to offer pickleball to get employees active and exercising. I would like to see everyone on the courts!

Meet The Pros – Lucy Kitcher

Meet The Pros – Lucy Kitcher

Lucy Kitcher

That Lucy Kitcher SMILE

Lucy Kitcher, originally from England, loves pickleball and she loves the people she meets wherever she plays. She is GAMMA’s first pickleball pro! Enjoy!

Can you list for us your recent wins so we can correctly introduce you?

2018 Great Lakes Regional, Mixed Doubles 5.0 with Ernesto Fajardo – Silver and
            Women’s Doubles 5.0 with Bobbie Phoumy – Silver
2018 Gamma Pickleball Classic, Pro Women’s Doubles with Bobbie Phoumy and
             Women’s Singles Open Pro – Silver
2018 SoCal Summer Classic, Mixed Doubles age with Tao Thongvanh – Gold
2018 Minto US Open, Mixed Doubles age with Ty Petty – Gold and
             Women’s Doubles age with Mary Helen Atkins, Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

Gamma Mirage – it has great touch so I can dink with accuracy and the Gamma Needle.

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

About three years ago I was taking my daughter, Rebecca, to soccer practice at Bamford Park in Davie, Florida. A friend posted on Facebook to try pickleball. As luck would have it, pickleball courts were at the same park where my daughter was practicing. I dropped her off at practice and hunted around for the courts. The people at the park were so friendly, they gave me a paddle and allowed me to join in. One game and I was hooked! After that, I went to play pickleball three times a week when I took Rebecca to soccer practice. It wasn’t long before I was playing pickleball even on the days she didn’t have soccer practice!

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I usually only play outdoors.

US Open Women's doubles Lucy Kitcher and Maryhelen Atkins win Gold

US Open Women’s doubles Lucy Kitcher and Maryhelen Atkins win Gold – with Jodi Elliott and Geegee Garvin.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Doubles!! I never played tennis and singles is more like tennis. Doubles is more about strategy and shot choice and placement.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

After this weekend my new favorite is Chicken n Pickle. There are outdoor courts which are covered so you can play even in the rain. There is also a restaurant right at the courts. My local courts are at Bamford Park in Davie, Florida.

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

Slowing down the game. Especially when playing against players who love to hit the ball hard.

What’s your day job?

Pickleball. I run tournaments and trips through my company Zero Zero Stay. I also attend lots of tournaments!

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

I currently play about five days a week. I was playing every day but decided to try some other exercise such as Zumba and Pilates to keep me in shape.