Meet the Pros – McKenna and Kendall Hastings

Junior Champions – McKenna Hastings and Kendall Hastings

McKenna and Kendall at USAPA Nationals

McKenna and Kendall Hastings at the 2016 USAPA Nationals

 Sisters McKenna and Kendall Hastings are junior pickleball players making a name for themselves in pickleball. McKenna (age 14) and Kendall (age 12) are the youngest members of an active pickleball family residing in Sequim, Washington. They started competing in pickleball tournaments three years ago, and often partner together in doubles and compete against each other in singles. Occasionally McKenna and Kendall also partner with one of their parents or grandparents when they play in tournaments.

McKenna and Kendall Hastings at Pickleball Station with their winning medals

McKenna and Kendall Hastings at Pickleball Station in Kent, Washington, with their winning medals

McKenna and Kendall have already accumulated an impressive collection of medals. Both girls have played twice in Nationals. Kendall played in her first tournament when she was just nine years old. At age ten she was the youngest participant at Nationals. Kendall and McKenna visited PickleballCentral last week so we had an opportunity to talk about their pickleball story.

How were you introduced to pickleball?

 McKenna: We first started playing tennis with our parents a few years ago when I was 11 and Kendall was 9, but that wasn’t very competitive so we switched to pickleball. It was our dad that first introduced us to pickleball.
Kendall: At first when we tried pickleball we didn’t like it because we were so used to the feel of tennis. But we started playing more and getting the feel for it. Our family moved to a new house where we built a pickleball court, which we’ve had for four years. Also I have small hands and used a two-handed backhand in tennis which worked well for me in pickleball.

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

Kendall and McKenna at Centralia

Kendall Hastings, McKenna Hastings, Wendy Sofiak, Sharon Carter, Lorraine Subtelny and Eileen Dowell – Women’s Doubles 4.0 winners at the Int’l Indoor Tournament

McKenna: At USAPA Nationals we won gold in Junior Doubles for 14-under. Our most meaningful recent medal won was at the Indoor International Tournament in Centralia, WA this past May. We won Silver in Women’s 4.0 Doubles. We came all the way up through the loser’s bracket after having lost to the Gold winners in our first match then playing against them again in the finals and winning silver.
Kendall: Another meaningful tournament medal for me was the 2016 USAPA Nationals, Junior Singles. I beat Rachel Elliott (then age 14) then Rachel worked her way back up and we played against each other again in the finals; Rachel won Gold and I won Silver. We went to three games, 12-10. It was a real nail biter! I love playing against Rachel.

Kendall Hastings, Rachel Elliott and McKenna Hasting

Kendall Hastings, Rachel Elliott and McKenna Hastings at 2016 USAPA Nationals

How many tournaments do you play in per year? Do you have a favorite?

We can’t play in very many since we are in school during the school year. We play in about six per year. Our favorites are the USAPA Nationals and the USAPA Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament in Bend, Oregon.

What paddle do you play with and why?

Kendall: We both play with the Selkirk Power Core Pro S1G. This paddle works well for my two-handed backhand. McKenna sometimes does a one-handed backhand and sometimes two-handed and she likes it too. It’s a good paddle for power and touch.

 What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

McKenna and Kendall: Outdoors!

Do you prefer playing singles or doubles?

McKenna:  Doubles.
Kendall: Singles, because you have no one else to blame. All the shots go to you.

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

McKenna: Watch your opponents during the warm-up. Try to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, who is the stronger or weaker player. Look at their mobility to see if lobs might work well.
Kendall: Have a good inside-out shot to keep people on their toes. Isolate and play to your opponent’s weaknesses.

Kendall Hastings at the USAPA Nationals

Kendall Hastings at the USAPA Nationals

How many hours a week do you play?

McKenna and Kendall: As much as we can with all of our other sports. We play with family and friends and do drills with our dad.

 Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

 McKenna: No, but we should start one!

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

 McKenna: I want to become a 4.5 by the end of this year.
Kendall: I would like to become a 4.5 by the end of this year. I also want to work on my sportsmanship and being more positive while I play.

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

Kendall: Pickleball is so great because it’s a way that I can bond with my family. It means the world to me that my grandparents can still play with me. Two years ago I played with my grandpa against my sister in a bronze medal match. It’s such a good family sport.

International Indoor Pickleball Tournament Kendall and McKenna

International Indoor Pickleball Tournament: Wendy Sofiak – Sharon Carter Kendall Hastings – McKenna Hastings Lorraine Subtelny – Eileen Dowell

Well said Kendall! We have no doubt that your grandparents and parents agree.

Building Your Own Pickleball Court Can Be An Easy DIY Project

Building Your Own Pickleball Court Can Be An Easy DIY Project

Randy Futty home court

Randy Futty home court

For years, pickleball players on a tight budget who wanted to build a pickleball court were forced to buy whatever exterior grade paint the counterperson at the local home improvement store recommended. Since the paint products sold in the consumer marketplace do not hold up to the foot traffic and UV degradation that pickleball courts experiences on a daily basis, this created many unsatisfying results.

When the USAPA asked California Sport Surfaces if they could formulate a ready-to-use, do-it-yourself, pickleball surface that homeowners, church groups, and pickleball clubs could use to turn their driveways, parking lots and patios into playable courts, California Sports Surfaces challenged their chemists to create a consumer-ready, easy to apply, and long lasting textured coating. The result was PicklePave Court Surfacing, the Official Do-It-Yourself pickleball court surface of the USAPA.

Randy Futty, VP of California Sport Surfaces, felt it was important to personally test out the new formulation when it was first created, so decided to use his own driveway as his “petri dish.” Together with his wife, he spent a weekend turning their driveway into a beautiful emerald green pickleball court.

Driveway prep

Driveway prep

Since a 22’ x 40’ pickleball court wouldn’t fit in their space, Randy scaled down the court’s playing lines to 16’ x 26’. To create the court, they first treated and scrubbed two oil spots from the asphalt.  A solution of Dawn dishwashing liquid and a stiff scrub brush did the trick. Then they power-washed the area to be coated, allowing the driveway to dry overnight.

First coat of paint

First coat of paint

The next morning they located the corners of the court and snapped chalk lines for the sidelines, service line and kitchen. After following the PicklePave mixing directions, they poured out some of the ready-to-use acrylic paint and rolled the first coat onto the court.

Final Coat and Lines

Final Coat and Lines

After applying a second thin coat and letting it dry overnight, they re-marked the playing lines with a chalk line,  then taped and trimmed the line tape, added a coat of Line Rite Tape Sealer, and hand-painted the playing lines. The only thing left was to peel up the tape around the lines and the court was complete!

While not tournament approved, the court turned out beautifully and has provided countless hours of fun for Randy’s family, friends and neighbors – so much fun that after playing on his court, two other nearby families installed driveway courts of their very own.

Picklepave Court Surfacing is an excellent surface for any pickleball court, whether indoors or outdoors. Pickleball Central’s sister company, Pickleball Station, selected a commercial version of PicklePave called PlexiPave for our four state-of-the art indoor courts. Since opening in May 2017, Pickleball Station’s courts have received excellent reviews from the many players making Pickleball Station their home court of choice.

Pickleball Station courts

Pickleball Station Courts

For people looking for a pristine, smooth, and perfectly level court, Randy recommends working with a certified court builder. But for those looking to create a place to play the game you love on a tight budget, you can quite easily turn your driveway into a pickleball court. To watch a video showing step-by-step instructions for how to surface your own courts, visit our PicklePave court surfacing product page to learn more.

 

The Engage Elite Pro Pickleball Paddle Is Not Just For The Pros

Engage is a well-established manufacturer of pickleball paddles with a successful line-up including the popular Encore series. Recently Engage launched their new Engage Elite Pro pickleball paddle, which turned more than a few heads at the 2017 US OPEN, many of them belonging to pros.

Out of the 48 pro level medals won at the US OPEN, 21 were taken with Engage paddles.

The new Elite Pro was responsible for 9 of them. 

What makes the Engage Elite Pro different?

The Engage designers emphasize three key features that make the paddle unique: the paddle’s skin, shape and positioning of the sweet spot.

“Liquid Graphite” Skin

The Elite Pro was developed using their new “chemically bonded skin” (they call it “liquid graphite”), created to enhance playability, touch, power, control and spin.

This special composite fiberglass skin works well with all types of balls and court surfaces, whether playing outdoors with a Dura ball or indoors with a Jugs ball. With such performance and versatility, players enjoy a versatile paddle they can be used in any situation.

Longer Shape, Bigger Sweet Spot

The shape of the Engage Elite Pro is another distinguishing characteristic. The size of many previous Engage paddles was 15.5 x 8.25 inches. At 16 x 8 inches, the Elite Pro maximizes the USAPA size requirements, providing more length and a taller sweet spot.

The sweet spot was also moved higher on the paddle face, providing more power while still offering control. We’re hearing that this paddle provides a “feel” like no other.

Quiet Core

The Engage Elite Pro is constructed with a polymer core and engineered to create less vibration, helping to keep players healthy and minimize injuries such as tennis elbow. It is also designed to pass the most stringent community noise requirements. It has a 4.25 inch grip circumference, 5″ grip length and comes in a weight range of 7.8 to 8.3 ounces.

Created with input from top players, the initial idea for the Engage Elite Pro paddle began as the signature paddle for pros Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova. Matt and Lucy, along with pros Brian Staub, Ben Johns and many others, are using the Elite Pro with impressive results.

The Engage Elite Pro is currently available in red and white as well as the Lucy Kovalova edition (white with maroon fade) and the Matt Wright edition (navy with yellow fade).

Recreational players shouldn’t let the paddle’s name convince them they can’t use it. The Engage Elite Pro is designed for everyone–the touch player, the power player and those who just want to have fun with a high quality paddle.

Comment from our in-house pros at PickleballStation

“The Elite Pro is definitely a great paddle. It has a lot of power but still feels ‘soft,’ making it easy to control balls and counter slams.”

For more information about this innovative and versatile paddle, see the Engage Elite Pro technical specs.

Whether You Want Power Or Touch, The New Onix Evoke Pro Paddle Does It All

Like many of us who’ve caught the pickleball bug, the folks at Onix are dedicated pickleball fanatics. Since 2005 they have been creating high quality paddles that incorporate several innovative designs and technologies. Designed by players, for players, Onix pickleball paddles have been instrumental in advancing the sport to higher levels.

Evoke Pro Pickleball Paddle

The Evoke Pro Pickleball Paddle

Onix launched their Evoke series of paddles a few years ago, focusing on high performance polycore paddles that were lightweight. The original Evoke paddle came in two shapes, in a tear drop and an oversize shape. With its wide body style, the new Onix Evoke Pro paddle extends and maximizes the paddle’s sweet spot. In addition, the Evoke Pro is designed with the maximum allowable surface roughness, helping players put spin on the ball, while maintaining great touch for dink shots.

We recently asked Zach Scheller of Onix to share with us what Onix had in mind when designing the Evoke Pro and what sets it apart from other paddles.

PBC: What makes the Evoke Pro different from other paddles?

Onix: The Evoke Pro takes what’s great about a variety of different paddles and styles of play, and combines all of it into one paddle. We retained the great balance and touch of the Evoke series while adding increased pop and additional spin. This way, players (especially those who change out paddles throughout a game) don’t have to choose between what style they’re going for – they get it all in a single paddle.

Our team of Onix professional players were critical in the development of this product, providing us direction and input on what is required for a true “players” paddle. In particular, Onix player ambassador Byron Freso, was instrumental in dialing in the performance of the Evoke Pro paddle.

Sara Ash

Pro player Sara Ash was a fan of the original Evoke Paddle

PBC: Is there a particular player type the Evoke Pro is designed for?

Onix: Our focus with the Evoke Pro was to make a high performance polycore paddle with a composite face that delivers the perfect balance of control and pop. Our target audience was the top-tier players who want to take their game to the next level. The surprising thing is how wide an audience the Evoke Pro appeals to; examples are players who favor the power game, as well as those who prefer to win with great touch at the net – both types are converting to the Evoke Pro.

PBC: What is unique about the Evoke Pro grip?

Onix: The original Evoke paddles had a 4.5” grip, which helps provides strength and balance to lighter paddles, but can be cumbersome for some players, especially those with smaller hands. The Evoke Pro comes with a 4.25” grip, which feels a little more natural to the majority of players and will not affect the balance or strength of the paddle.

PBC: Why might tennis players switching to pickleball prefer the Evoke Pro?

Onix: Tennis players converting to pickleball understand the power game, and to be successful, are required to learn the dink game played at the net. With the Evoke Pro, players are able to keep the power and spin they had in tennis combined with a generous sweet spot and great touch for the net game.

Jotham Darrin

Jotham Darrin and his gold medal with the Evoke Pro

PBC: Are there any pro players using the Evoke Pro?

Onix: A lot of our Onix pro team has switched over to the Evoke Pro. What is interesting is seeing players who prefer different paddles and styles, such as Dave Glendenning (who used the Z5) and Sara Ash (who used the Evoke Tear Drop) who have found common ground in the Evoke Pro. I believe Jotham Darrin holds the honor of the first to win gold with the Evoke Pro at PebbleCreek back in February.

PBC: Anything else you would like to mention about the Evoke Pro?

Onix: We’re excited to get the new Evoke Pro out to the public – there have been so many requests for these that we’re glad to finally get them in the hands of players at the court level, especially because we know how it will improve their game.

With the Evoke Pro, Onix has scored a win with a highly versatile performance paddle that builds on the successful features of its predecessor and deservedly appeals to a wide range of players. Want to learn more? See these details about the Evoke Pro paddle’s technical specs.

New Pickleball Paddles Launched At US Open

Big tournaments like last month’s US Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, FL are exciting times for the launch of new pickleball products. The best of the industry gathers together and the manufacturers put their best foot forward with new products.

Several companies showed off new paddles at the 2017 US Open including Paddletek, ProLite, Onix and Gamma Sports. If you were fortunate enough to be in Naples you might have gotten a glimpse of some of these hot new paddles in person. We would like to share a summary of the newly launched paddles we were excited to see at the US Open and have been having fun trying out.

Three new paddles introduced by Paddletek include the Paddletek Phoenix Lte, a lighter weight paddle with well-balanced weight distribution and touch, a great choice for newer players.

For those seeking greater reach, the Paddletek Horizon’s elongated shape and 17-inch length is a compelling design, featuring a polymer honeycomb care with composite face, weighing in at about 7.3 oz.

Younger players (and their parents) will be pleased to see the Paddletek Ranger, the first paddle designed for youth 12 and under. The lightweight Ranger features a slim profile, longer handle (helpful for little players who like to use two hands), broad face and large sweet spot—a great paddle for kids to have fun and success playing pickleball.

Another longer-handled paddle that got a lot of attention at the US Open is the new ProLite Supernova. The second release in their Black Diamond series, the ProLite Supernova follows its predecessor the Titan. This cutting edge paddle was designed to the specifications of ProLite Pro and National Champion Simone Jardim, a Triple Crown Winner in the 2017 US Open.

The ProLite Supernova incorporates many of the Titan’s features with a stunning 100% carbon fiber surface and durable QuadCore polymer honeycomb core. The 5-1/4″ handle allows double-handed backhanders like Jardim enough length to fit both hands on the handle, and the balance and heavier weight appeal to power-hitting tennis players transitioning to pickleball.

Prolite’s new CRUSH PowerSpin paddle stands out with its great looks. It features a light head, textured surface, large sweet spot, QuadCore™ with Spintact fiberglass face. The CRUSH comes in three colorful designs with beautiful graphics and an edgy style, a fitting choice for athletes who play hard and want to look good while they’re at it.

The new Onix Evoke Pro paddle has a polymer core and composite face that delivers fine touch and helps with spin. Thanks to a slightly wider body it provides a generous sweet spot. The 8-1/6“ width, medium grip size and 7.8 – 8.3 oz weight suit a wide range of players.

Gamma Atomic and Phaser Pickleball Paddles

Gamma Atomic and Phaser

Gamma added to their paddle line up with the launch of six new paddles that offer something for every player type. The Gamma Phaser 2.0 features a wider 8-1/8” graphite face, Nomex core and smaller grip. For a heavier option, the Gamma Atomic 2.0 paddle has a textured fiberglass face, Nomex honeycomb core and flush edge guard that helps to prevent mishits.

We have been having a great time trying out these new paddles and know that you will too. You can learn more about all of these paddles on our site. We will be sharing more detailed reviews for the Onix Evoke Pro and new Paddletek paddles in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for updates.

 

ProLite’s New CRUSH Paddle Shows Where Pickleball Is Going

Some Paddles Are Designed For Looks, Some For Performance – ProLite’s CRUSH Powerspin Delivers Both

The market for pickleball paddles is diverse. Core and face materials, paddle shape, size, weight, grip and other factors all contribute to the diverse options available. With their launch of the ProLite CRUSH Powerspin, veteran paddle manufacturer ProLite has created a new paddle that is truly unique.

Crush PowerSpin Paddles
ProLite has a long and well established history producing innovative paddles. They were the first company to use aerospace composite honeycomb materials in the construction of paddles. Originally founded in the Seattle area, ProLite’s founders experimented with interesting materials that revolutionized paddle design and are used in most paddles on the market today.

Decades later, ProLite continues to innovate. With the CRUSH Powerspin, their innovations incorporate new materials as well as leading edge graphic design. The CRUSH is built on ProLite’s most successful paddle shape – the Magnum. However, unlike the Magnum, which has a graphite face and nomex core, the CRUSH interior is constructed of QuadCore™ Power Polymer honeycomb, covered with ProLite’s new SPINtac™ fiberglass panels.

The result is a highly durable and quiet paddle with an oversized face that provides plenty of power, great control, and spin when you want it. To top that off, the CRUSH is made in three colorful great-looking graphic styles (called Skate, Snow and Surf) appealing to players with style who like to play hard and look good while they’re at it. Each design is truly unique, with a coordinated brightly colored No-Slip Thin Grip.

We recently spoke with ProLite’s President Neil Friedenberg and Vice-President Lisa Wehr about the CRUSH. We thought our readers would like to hear what Neil and Lisa had to say about this exciting new paddle.

PBC: “We know you designed the new CRUSH Paddle with an eye to serving the younger players, or simply players who are young at heart. What can you tell us about the type of player you are trying to serve with the new Crush Paddle?”

ProLite: “The CRUSH is geared toward a player who values relative proportion in the important aspects of their paddle – balance, power, touch, spin – versus dominance of a particular aspect. This one has plenty of all four. This, along with a sense of style as well.”

PBC: “There are over 100 models of paddles in the marketplace, what makes the Crush truly unique?”

ProLite: “A couple of things. First, the new process for applying graphics to the face has allowed us to enhance ball spin capabilities without exceeding USAPA specs – we’ve named this new surface SPINtac(TM). Next, we opted to create three different designs incorporating stylish colored grips rather than different colors of the same design. All three skew toward a younger (mindset) player with a little bit of attitude included.”

PBC: “The visual design and colors of the new CRUSH models are striking. Are you trying to appeal to a specific type of player with the graphic design of the paddle?”

ProLite: “ProLite recognized the homogenous look of paddles several years ago. Because of the large surface area we have to work with versus other sports like tennis and racquetball, we feel an obligation to create a way for players to express themselves – break out – stand out. It may not improve the performance of the equipment but maybe it lends a little something to the player ego. After all, we’re playing a sport and athletes enjoy distinction. You’ll notice that in all of our paddle graphics.”

PBC: “As you went through the process to select the core and face materials for this paddle, what was your thought process?”

ProLite: “The Magnum shape has been our most popular shape and top performer for many years. It’s always been Nomex and graphite so we felt compelled to utilize popular materials such as polymer and fiberglass to appeal to a different style of player using this highly preferred shape. The Polymer core is a quiet, strong, durable choice. It holds up and adds absorption contributing to touch. The new SPINtac fiberglass surface is cutting edge and to our knowledge, has not been used before on paddles.”

PBC: “For players who are used to playing with the Magnum, what kind of differences would they notice if they pick up the Crush and use it?”

ProLite: “Players will notice a difference. Because the CRUSH is made of 1/2 inch polymer core, it’s thicker. It’s also Green Zone approved for quiet communities where the Magnum’s Nomex/graphite combination is not.”

PBC: “You shared that you thought this paddle served a number of distinct player types including Juniors and Women players. What makes this paddle well suited for various player types?”

ProLite: “The Crush is well suited for any player who is looking for a balance of the four performance elements we discussed earlier. It has the Magnum’s smaller grip size, it’s lightweight and edgy looking. And because of the balance, it should help younger players develop a solid, well-rounded game. For the same reasons, we think women looking for a smaller grip paddle will love the CRUSH’s performance, and the holographic look of the Snow design will likely appeal to more women – the design and color palette.”

For players looking for a paddle that combines an ideal balance of performance features with a healthy dose of color and style, the CRUSH delivers it all. To get all of the details on this hot new paddle, see the CRUSH Powerspin technical specs.

Learn More About CRUSH PowerSpin paddles