Meet Mike Hess – Global Ambassador of Pickleball

Meet Mike Hess, the founder of the Spanish Pickleball Association and long-time global ambassador of the sport. Mike, a native of Southern California, has been living in Europe for the past 28 years. He founded the Spanish Pickleball Association in 2012 and served as President until 2018, laying the groundwork for the growth pickleball is experiencing in Spain today. He also served two years as president of the International Pickleball Federation (IFP) where he presented the sport in many countries such as China. We connected with Mike to hear how he got started with pickleball, learn how he took it to Spain and to find out how the sport is continuing to develop in “Espanya.”

How did you get started with pickleball?
In 2009 I was working as Director of Basketball for the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) and some of the athletes told me about pickleball. It wasn’t an official sport of the Senior Games yet, but I was intrigued and decided to check it out. I had to search to find courts back then, but after watching a few games and observing the players’ interactions, I was drawn to the sport and decided to get involved. I started collaborating with the USA Pickleball Association to improve understanding of how to increase participation and I’ve been working on growing the sport ever since.

Mike setting up pickleball courts in Madrid, Spain
Mike setting up pickleball courts in Madrid, Spain

What is your background in sport that led you to promoting and developing pickleball?
I’ve always been active in sports. I played many growing up and earned a Division I basketball scholarship to the University of California, Irvine. After playing four years I stayed on as an assistant coach for two years while earning an MBA and then received a contract to play professional basketball in Germany so I moved to Europe. When my hoop-playing days were over, Adidas hired me to work at their headquarters in Germany. I ran the European marketing division for basketball and later worked on global promotion strategies for Adidas-sponsored events like the Olympic Games.

Mike presenting pickleball at the World Sport Summit in China along with the other International Sport Governing Bodies
Mike presenting pickleball at the World Sport Summit in China along with the other International Sport Governing Bodies

How did you get involved with pickleball outside of the US?
I’ve been living in Europe for the past 28 years. I left Adidas to do a PhD in Business in Barcelona and have been living in Spain for the past 24 years teaching business courses at CUNEF University in Madrid. I spent my summers in the US working with NSGA and USAPA to promote sport participation and decided to initiate pickleball in Spain and Europe where I lived most of the year. In 2012 I founded the Spanish Pickleball Association (SPA) and was president until 2018. I helped several other European countries introduce pickleball and was eventually elected president of the International Pickleball Federation (IFP).

Mike along with team members of the Spanish Pickleball Association
Mike along with team members of the Spanish Pickleball Association

How has the sport evolved in Spain?
Pickleball’s growth in Spain has been terrific. I remain in close contact with my former SPA team who now run the Association, and they tell me that membership is consistently increasing. Spain has sunny, warm weather and an amazing history with tennis and padel (a sport similar to platform tennis). With tennis legend Rafa Nadal and new star Carlos Alcaraz, racquet sports are part of the Spanish lifestyle. An increasing number of permanent pickleball courts is enabling Spaniards as well as travelers visiting Spain to play throughout the country. Growth of pickleball in the US continues to propel the growth overseas, and we’ve had several pickleball ambassadors and pros visit us to share their expertise, among them Jennifer Lucore, Marcin Rozpedski, Irina Tereschenko, Daniel Moore, Dave Weinbach, Jeff Shank and Kyle Yates.

Pickleball Clinic in Spain led by Pro Marcin Rozpedski
Pickleball Clinic in Spain led by Pro Marcin Rozpedski

What type of pickleball events and organizations are there in Spain?
We started the Spanish Open Pickleball Championships in 2015 which is held every September and this year will be part of the APP tour. It’s an international event that draws players from around the world. The SPA has done a great job expanding the sport by establishing regional associations. Every year there is an increasing number of places to play, trained coaches, clubs, tournaments, school programs, ambassadors and media coverage. The SPA has also initiated a program with the European Union called “Pickle4all” to promote pickleball as an inclusive sport in multiple European countries. It’s exciting the see the sport expand in so many ways since we began in 2012.

Medal winners of the Spanish Open Pickleball Championships
Medal winners of the Spanish Open Pickleball Championships

Tell us about the pickleball tours you’ve organized in Spain.
For years pickleball players from the US and Canada asked me to organize pickleball vacations in Spain so they could come and enjoy the incredible sites, history and culture of Spain, as well as play plenty of pickleball on the trip. It was a unique opportunity to combine two of my greatest passions – Spain and pickleball. In 2014 I began organizing tours in Madrid and Barcelona for players of all levels. People from all over the US and Canada have joined the tours and had an amazing experience.

Mike with travelers enjoying the sites on one of the Pickleball Spain Tours
Mike with travelers enjoying the sites on one of the Pickleball Spain Tours

Are people traveling to Spain again?
Fortunately Spain has fully reopened for travel and tourism is booming right now, so I’m excited to finally offer tours again and have two scheduled for September of 2022. Our next pickleball tour is in Southern Spain, the region called Andalusia. It’s a unique part of the world with great weather and incredible sites to explore. All of the tour details are available at www.pickleballtourspain.com.

Now that you’re no longer president of the association, how are you involved?
I talk regularly with Roberto Perez, the current SPA President, about opportunities they’re involved with and considering. Because I travel frequently between the US and Europe, I offer a unique perspective on pickleball’s development. I’ve learned that outside of North America, a key factor impacting pickleball’s growth is the availability of referees. Spain and Europe simply don’t have trained referees and this severely limits their ability to host sanctioned tournaments. This year I obtained my referee credentials from USAPA so I can start training referees in Spain and Europe. My trainer was Teri Carter, the USAPA Certified Referee Coordinator for the West, and she was amazing. Now I’m working with the SPA to develop a pool of referees with training and on-court experience, and I look forward to expanding that base in other European countries as well. I also completed the PPR instructor course this year to improve my coaching skills. I learned a lot from both training programs. It can be challenging to teach in different languages, but I’ve learned that sport is a universal language, and pickleball is a great platform for bringing different cultures together.

Mike receiving his referee credentials from trainer Teri Carter, USAPA Certified Referee Coordinator for the West
Mike receiving his referee credentials from trainer Teri Carter, USAPA Certified Referee Coordinator for the West

Why Play In A Pickleball Tournament

The past few years has brought many new players to the sport of pickleball. We love seeing the new players at our local courts and around the globe taking up the game! While many are perfectly content to come out on the weekend to play with friends, others enjoy competing in tournaments. If you’ve never played in a tournament and think that they are only for the pros, you might want to reconsider. Tournaments are a great way to further your enjoyment of pickleball, and bring many benefits to your pickleball game and social life.

Why you should sign up for your first pickleball tournament

Friendship & Community

One of the wonderful things about pickleball is the community. People often comment on how friendly and fun pickleball players tend to be and it’s true! Going to tournaments expands your pickleball community even further – you get to meet and play with other people from many different locations, which often develop into long term friendships and future partners at other tournaments.

Fun

In addition to the extra level of fun that competing in tournament matches brings, one of the most fun things about tournaments are the pick-up games that happen in the evenings after tournament matches conclude. People hang out on the courts and meet new friends as they play in matches with others of different skill levels from different regions. Often it’s a pickleball party atmosphere, with music playing, lots of happy people sharing in their love of the game, and of course opportunities for apres-pickleball outings. The tournament atmosphere is so much fun that some people go to tournaments just to spectate, watch the pros, cheer on their friends, and play in the evening rec games, even if they don’t sign up for tournament competition themselves.

Pickleball Tournaments are FUN!

For many people, playing in tournaments becomes a main focus of their recreational travel. Planning vacations around tournaments provides a fun way to select new places to visit. There are tournaments all over the country throughout the year, with many in appealing sunny locations such as AZ, FL and Hawaii, which make for a great winter vacation. Or how about a pickleball tournament vacation in Italy, France, Spain or Jamaica – all countries that have held tournaments or will be hosting them in 2022.

Range of Skills & Competition

Players who are newer to pickleball or who have not played other sports competitively might think that tournaments only for top level players. In fact, most tournaments offer events for all skill levels including beginner and intermediate, and many also offer events for different age levels combined with skill levels so that players of all ages/skills can find appropriate events. There are even some tournaments that are for beginners only, particularly among the smaller local tournaments. Also, some tournaments are structured as “Round Robin” format, which means you get to play matches against every other doubles team (or singles player) in your division.

Reasons to sign up for your first pickleball tournament
Test your skill level at a pickleball tournament

Improve Your Game

Another benefit of playing in tournaments is how much you can learn from playing with and watching other players. Tournament play exposes you to many different types of shots, strategies and teamwork that you won’t necessarily see from just playing with the same people at your home courts. Also, at tournaments you can learn from watching other players, especially higher level players and pros if you go to some of the bigger events where pros play. It’s educational and exciting to watch what they do on the court. You’re likely to see shots and moves you’ve never seen before, which is inspiring and motivating.

Setting Goals

Playing in tournaments also helps you improve your game by setting goals. If you know you have a tournament coming up you are likely to want to work on practicing with your partner, identifying areas you want to work on, and establishing some goals you hope to achieve. With each tournament come new goals, which provides a great way to stay motivated on continuing to improve your skills, technique and mental game.

How To Find Tournaments

PickleballTournaments.com is the best place to look for upcoming tournaments. If you go to
Future Tournaments” you can search on keywords, state, city, country, etc. to look for tournaments in a particular area. When looking through the list of options, you’ll then see a list of tournaments by location with the dates. From there you can click on “View Details” to explore each tournament and learn what skill levels are offered, registration dates, how many players are registered, costs, and more information.

How to find a pickleball tournament near you

If you’re just starting out with tournament play, looking for smaller tournaments could be a good place to start. But even the larger tournaments, such as those that are part of the PPA (Pro Pickleball Association) and APP (Association of Pickleball Professionals) pro tours, offer events for beginners and intermediate players, so don’t rule those out just because they are also for pros. In fact the pro tour events can be a great way to gain competition experience at whatever level you are currently, while also getting to watch and follow the pros which adds a whole new level of excitement and interest to the sport.

Whether you play in tournaments or not, keep your paddle up and keep having fun!

What’s Your Pickleball Horoscope Personality?

Whether you love poring over star charts or roll your eyes when someone shares their lucky number, horoscopes can be a fun way to analyze your personality and provide inspiration for the day. In honor of pickleball’s welcoming spirit toward players of all stripes, we’ve put together a list of every sign’s characteristics and what their “eccentricities” may be.

pickleball horoscope

Capricorn HoroscopeCapricorn – Practices for hours every day and completed a year-long travel itinerary for their upcoming tournaments 6 months in advance. Happy to discuss technique but mysteriously disappears to another court whenever someone says they’re “just playing for fun.”

Aquarius HoroscopeAquarius – Loves brainstorming ideas for quirky charity tournaments complete with embarrassing costumes, throwback music and actual pickles. Will launch into a strategic explanation of the latest drills to improve your game if you mention you’re feeling down about a recent loss.

Pisces HoroscopePisces – Frequently misses shots because they’re distracted by the sun, the spinning ball, other players’ attire and their own breathing. Discovered pickleball during a spiritual retreat and now dreams of owning a pickleball cruise line and herbal supplement brand.

Aries HoroscopeAries – May have broken a paddle once or twice in an uncontrollable fit of rage. Sprained ankle attempting an ATP before their feet were properly positioned and continued playing out of spite for the next 3 matches. Always yelling at other players whether complimenting or criticizing.

Taurus HoroscopeTaurus – Saw that your line call was incorrect and will spend the next 30 minutes explaining why. Doesn’t understand why people are bothered by their practice balls scattered across the court. Naps instead of spectating and is always down to get lunch after a game.

Gemini HoroscopeGemini – Obsessed with practicing a particular drill or technique for about a week then gets bored and goes back to smashing. Still has surprising natural talent on the court. Ready for impromptu games whenever but will flounder hopelessly if you ask them to nail down the details.

Cancer HoroscopeCancer – Feels attacked and sobs with abandon when doubles partner offers gentle tips for improvement. Runs a small business selling handmade art using cracked pickleballs, court tape and glitter. Great at helping newbies feel welcome and solving disputes.

Leo HoroscopeLeo – Shows off a different tournament medal every time you see them. Carries around a bag full of expensive paddles and will probably lend you one if you compliment any aspect of their game. Drags unsuspecting passersby onto the courts to extol the joys of pickleball.

Virgo HoroscopeVirgo – Skips practice to analyze match replays and agonize over lost points. Has developed a proprietary system for their club to organize wait times, skill levels and player rotation. Frequently references a vision board full of pros, swanky court complexes and motivational quotes.

Libra HoroscopeLibra – Spends weeks trying to decide which new paddle to buy only to choose the one they were originally considering. Constantly surrounded by a posse of players and thrives on courtside gossip. Enjoys sharing funny tournament stories and coordinating club uniforms.

Scorpio HoroscopeScorpio – Feels betrayed when their usual partner plays with someone else for a tournament they can’t make thousands of miles away. Possesses an uncanny ability to predict your next move during matches and will forever remember that one time you incorrectly referenced the rules.

Sagittarius HoroscopeSagittarius – Has played pickleball in foreign countries and introduced it to rural villages in several others. Tells you a comeback is still possible when you’re down 0-10 and explains you just need to work on mindfulness, positive visualization and deep breathing when you lose.

Do you identify with your sign or are your little oddities all your own? Let us know in the comments!

The Sweetest Presents for Your Pickleball Valentine

Whether you have a life partner, a pickleball partner or both (lucky you!), Valentine’s Day is a great time to take a moment to appreciate the people we love. We have a number of gifts at PickleballCentral which are sure to spread those fuzzy feelings, so if you want to find something special this time of year, take a look at these charming ideas.

Jewelry for Valentines

Jewelry

This one is a classic for a reason: Most people love to receive gifts with a bit of shine. From high class silver to functional pewter or glitzy crystals, we have something for everyone. Bedazzle your loved one(s) with pickleball-inspired jewelry to show you appreciate their style, but also their dedication on the courts. Why settle for a generic piece of jewelry when you can combine it with one of their favorite hobbies?

If you’re shopping for someone who isn’t the jewelry-wearing type but feel they’d still appreciate the look, you can always remove the charm from one of our necklaces to turn it into a keychain or zipper pull.

Passion Shirt

Apparel

For a useful gift that still expresses affection we recommend our Passion Shirt. This image features a heart-shaped pickleball and reflects a love for the game and the world at large. You can have this printed on a number of designs so it’s perfectly suited to the recipient, whether they’d appreciate moisture-wicking material or soft and comfy cotton.

If you don’t think that would be a hit, then we still have over 40 designs you can choose from to create a shirt your partner would enjoy. Nothing says “thoughtful” quite like a custom-made gift! If you’d like a few other suggestions, additional relationship-centered designs are our Circle of Friends and Pickleball Pride shirts.

Accessories

Accessories

Another practical yet considerate route you can take is getting your partner a pickleball accessory. If their grip is looking a little worn or they’ve been complaining about losing hold of their paddle, a new overgrip could be just the thing to fix their concerns. If you want to help them keep their gear in top condition, they could make use of a paddle cover. Maybe they could use a better bag to carry their equipment or a glove to defend against the cold outdoors.

All of these are helpful to their game, plus they’ll be reminded of you whenever they use them.

At the end of the day your continued love and support is all that a partner needs, but getting them a little reminder of that affection is a nice gesture too. We hope everyone has a wonderful V-Day whether it’s romantic or spent with friends.

Health & Wellness Studies on Pickleball Support Positive Effects

Anyone who has played pickleball knows its benefits firsthand, from the physical perks of engaging in cardio exercise to the mental buzz of socializing with a positive community.

Sometimes it’s nice to see these effects confirmed via more formal methods, however, especially if you’re trying to convince someone to give the game a shot or sway a council to support local courts. When you need more than anecdotal evidence to support your enthusiasm, the following studies prove that pickleball really is all that!

The Acute and Chronic Physiological Responses to Pickleball in Middle-Aged and Older Adults
International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology (2018)

A study followed fifteen women and men who played pickleball 3 times a week for 1 hour. After the course of 6 weeks, the participants had better blood pressure and fitness levels. The researchers state that pickleball is a “feasible alternative to traditional exercise… that improves cardiorespiratory fitness… and positively modifies key cardiovascular disease risk factors.”

Serious leisure and depression in older adults: a study of pickleball players
Leisure Studies (2018)

Over 150 pickleball tournament participants were assessed, and it was found that “serious leisure” and depression were inversely related, meaning individuals who are focused on competitive leisure activities (such as pickleball) have lower levels of depression as older adults. This is partly believed to be because of the social connections made through games. The Minto US Open Pickleball Championships helped these researchers collect their data.

Pickleball high five

(Credit: Darryl Kenyon)

The Effects of a Novel Sport-Based Intervention on Lower Body Muscle Function in Older Adults
All Graduate Plan B and other Reports (2019)

A Utah State University researcher examined the effects of 6 weeks of pickleball (playing twice a week) on participants’ lower body muscle power and performance. The players experienced a 18.7% increase in knee extensor power and 7.5% increase in vertical jump height in this relatively short period of time. Another benefit noted was that people have a greater likelihood to adhere to a schedule for physical activity when it uses a sport-based model instead of basic exercises.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Experiential Date Nights: A Qualitative Study
Marriage & Family Review (2016)

This fun study wasn’t solely focused on pickleball, but it was included as part of a set of activities that were used to determine how “experiential” dates impacted couples. The findings showed that the participants’ main reason for attending these sessions was mostly to have fun, but in addition to that the couples “experienced a positive impact on their relationships after the event, such as improved communication, increase in affection and gratitude, or spending more time together.” Couples that pickle together, stick together!

Psychological Connection to Pickleball: Assessing Motives and Participation in Older Adults
Journal of Aging and Physical Activity (2017)

This study wasn’t done to show pickleball’s benefits per se, but it was used to determine the common reasons players took up pickleball and which were most “connected” to the game. It was shown that fitness and socialization were the most popular motives people had for playing pickleball, although those who were most involved also highly rated competition and skill mastery, showing the sport offers plenty of depth and opportunities to challenge oneself.

 


We’re sure pickleball will continue being a focal point for studies as it gains positive press and more people are exposed to its strengths. Let us know if you’ve seen any other studies showing all the great rewards it can bring!

What Makes a Good Pickleball Partner?

Doubles is even more popular than singles in pickleball, and there are plenty of great reasons why. Teaming up with a partner helps you play longer and more safely since you only need to cover half the court. The game also becomes more exciting and tactical when you have a partner covering your back.

You share the wins, the losses, and best of all, the fun!

Many players enjoy partnering with a friend or family member, and while this is a great place to start, you may be surprised to find that tensions can run high even during casual games.

Everyone wants to be a supportive partner, but at times it can be difficult to remember the original reasons you decided to play when you’re down several points and caught up in the moment—especially if you’re in a competitive tournament.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind to support your partner on and off the courts:

Consider Your Partner’s Goals

Is your partner actively looking to improve their game, or do they just use pickleball to blow off steam at the end of their day? If they are interested in learning new skills, do they appreciate constructive feedback during games or prefer to hear from you in a more relaxed environment?

It’s important to find a balance between your own goals and those of your partner. Most players certainly want to win games when possible, but everyone has a different level of competitiveness and shouldn’t be forced to constantly evaluate their play if they’re just looking to smack a few pickleballs.

If you and your partner have largely different reasons for playing the game, it may cause trouble down the road, so it’s important to ensure you both have the same goals in mind. Otherwise, try to be considerate of what they’re looking to achieve and how you can support their aims.

Stay Positive

Remember that every game is a learning opportunity, even when you’re losing. Try to consciously take in as much of the action as possible so you can replay the points in your mind later. Doing this helps discover areas for improvement and come back even stronger later on.

Sometimes players can get frustrated when they’re at a clear disadvantage. At times like these, it’s important to remember why you started playing pickleball in the first place. Even for those who are competing at high levels, we’re all engaging with the same game… and the goal is fun!

Don’t let an “off” day bring you down. The fact that you’re getting to run around on the courts in the first place is cause enough for celebration.

Smile

(Credit: WithoutFlns)

Also consider how your mood affects your partner. When you’re frustrated, they’ll likely pick up on this and their attitude or play can end up suffering as well. On the flipside, if they’re getting down, a kind word or two can do wonders to bring a smile back to their face.

Know Your Team’s Strengths and Weaknesses

We all have our natural strengths. Maybe you have a powerful serve or can out-dink opponents for days. The same goes for your partner. Consider what they’re good at and how you can best leverage their play style. Depending on how your abilities mesh, you can work together to come up with tactics that play to both of your abilities while shoring up any weaknesses.

It can be helpful to read up on tactics like stacking and poaching when you’re ready to give more advanced techniques a shot.

Communicate

Communication makes a huge difference for everyone involved. It’s nice to be heard! Whether it’s as simple as calling “mine” or “yours” during a lob or center shot, or you’re examining ideas off the court, make sure you’re constantly keeping your partner in the loop.

While the best teams seem to share an almost telepathic connection, you can bet that many hours of practice and discussion have gone into smoothing out their play. You should be allowed to rely on your partner as much as they rely on you, so make sure you go to them if you have any concerns, whether it’s regarding your play or just feeling tension before a game.

Picklers playing together

(Credit: Chad Ryan)

Remembering these points will not only help you stand up to the competition, but have a wonderful experience playing pickleball every time you tackle a new challenge. Your partner will thank you and everyone will walk away happy.

An Exciting Recap of the 1st Indian Open Pickleball Championship

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

1st Indian Open Pickleball Championships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The highlights include –

Men’s Doubles:

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

2017 India Open Championship Men's Doubles

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

Mixed Doubles:

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

2017 India Open Mixed Doubles

2017 India Open Mixed Doubles

Women’s Doubles:

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

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

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

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

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

Pickler Gives Back by Putting Recyclables to Work

 

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Mona Wheeler, a charter member of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club, raises money for local causes by recycling bottles and cans left on the courts.

It’s difficult to pick our favorite thing about pickleball, but if we had to choose it’d be hard not to say it’s the caliber of people the sport attracts. Case in point? Mona Wheeler of Lincoln, California. A tireless retiree, Wheeler spends her free time raising money to benefit others—and the environment.

It started a few years ago when Wheeler, a member of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club, got a pretty great idea: gather all the cans and bottles left around the courts and start trading them in for cash. “I just saw all these used drinking containers going into the trash can and I thought, “That’s a lot of money we’re throwing away and a lot of waste going into landfills,’” said Wheeler. “There had to be something better we could be doing with all that waste.”

So she set up a blue collection bin for recyclables next to the courts and started encouraging people to throw their bottles and cans in it instead of the trash. Whenever the bin filled up she took it down to the state collection center in exchange for $.05 per can or bottle.

The idea caught on and within a year Wheeler had raised $500. She turned the money over to the board of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club with instructions to donate it locally, and the board decided to distribute it to foster kids who had aged out of the system and were attending a nearby college.

Word spread and Wheeler’s second year of gathering recyclables was even more successful, with her efforts bringing in $1200 that was distributed between Placer County Food Bank, Lincoln Hills Foundation, Lincoln’s Discovery Center, and pickleball coaching at a local elementary school.

This past year, Wheeler’s efforts resulted in three scholarships of $500 apiece for seniors graduating from Lincoln High School. The recipients were Alejandra Ceja, Penelope Garcia (class valedictorian), and Aaron Jackson.

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Three seniors from Lincoln High School were recipients of $500 scholarships each from the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club: (from left to right) Alejandra Ceja, Aaron Jackson, and Penelope Garcia.

“These days I collect an average of about $150 a month,” Wheeler said. “So we’ll see what we bring in for next year’s donation.”

Wheeler’s hope is that the money will eventually be able to be used to help grow the sport in the city of Lincoln. “We’re working on getting public courts here and when we do, I’m hoping to use the money to help introduce new players to the sport by providing free paddles and pickleball clinics and other things like that for families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.”

The pickleball community has rallied around the idea, and now many people bring recycling from their homes down to Wheeler’s courtside collection bin. “I even have a few neighbors just drop off bags of recycling on my porch,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler has been playing since 2007 and is a charter member of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club, which plays on courts within the retirement community of Sun City Lincoln Hills. “We started with 30 members playing on basketball courts with portable nets,” she said. “Now we have 500 members sharing six courts. You can see why we’re eager to help the city of Lincoln embrace the sport and catch up with demand.”

According to Wheeler, court construction talks are underway and the hope is that she and her fellow residents will be able to enjoy new public courts in Lincoln within two years. Until then, she’ll keep collecting recyclables from her pickleball cohorts and using the money to donate to the community in the name of pickleball.

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.

provo-city-rec-center

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.

 

Chicken N Pickle: Food, Fun and Pickleball All Under the Same Roof

Many players speak in awe of Chicken N Pickle, the “do-it-all” restaurant/entertainment complex hybrid that’s taking the pickleball world by storm. For those who haven’t heard of it yet, it’s time to remedy that so you can start booking a trip down to Kansas City, Missouri!

Chicken N Pickle Complex

The fantastic Chicken N Pickle complex

Chicken-N-Pickle consists of an incredible 8 courts (4 indoor and 4 outdoor), a beer garden with a shack serving 25+ canned beers, full bar and sandwiches.

There’s also a 5,600 sq. ft. restaurant featuring wood fire rotisserie chicken with all-natural healthy ingredients, 30+ TVs, a rooftop bar, courtyard with a jumbo TV and yard games that opened last November.

Maybe if we ask nicely we can live there?

Thanks to Kellen Mumm, the VP of Operations, for kindly taking the time to share new details about this wonderland and how it got started! [Note: This interview was conducted last year and so all mentions of specific dates were for 2016.]

How was Chicken N Pickle conceived? Or: What came first, the Chicken or the Pickle? 

Chicken N Pickle was born over a couple of beers. David Johnson, the owner, was the first to bring up the idea. [Want to know something really weird? David Johnson is the owner of PickleballCentral, but he’s a different David… weird coincidence!]

He saw pickleball and was amazed by the social aspect of the sport. It was incredible to see 30+ people all hanging around these courts talking and having fun. He played with some friends for the first time in AZ and (just like everybody else) played one game and was hooked.

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

He knew we needed this in Kansas City and his first thought was to add a restaurant. One of his favorite restaurants in the Grand Cayman Islands is called Chicken! Chicken! So he thought, “Why not a rotisserie chicken place?” Bill Crooks was brought on as a consultant because of his experience opening over 30 restaurants nationwide, and he’s helped us find some incredible talent such as Bill Koning as General Manager and Alex Staab as Chef.

Since that initial meeting, our idea has grown into the giant complex you see today.

Do you play pickleball personally? Where did you first discover the game and what are your favorite parts of it?

I first played pickleball in high school, but I didn’t know it was called pickleball at the time because my PE teacher decided to name it after himself! I rediscovered it (this time under the right title) when CnP was born and have been playing ever since. Since we opened I play 5-6 times per week and I like to think I’m getting pretty good.

Chicken N Pickle Indoor Courts

Chicken N Pickle indoor courts

I love how easy it is to get started, and it’s the only sport that you can play with anyone regardless of age, gender and athletic ability. It’s a great family sport and a great date night sport. Since I’m very competitive by nature it’s fun to compete at, and it’s humbling when someone twice my age runs me around the court and doesn’t let me score a point…

Your group seems to use a lot of Selkirk-branded paddles – is there are partnership between you two? And if so, how did that come about?

I was introduced to Andy Gensch, who is one of the few 5.0 players in the Kansas City area. He then introduced me to Selkirk and they’ve just been amazing to work with. We use the Selkirk 20P-XL as our rental paddles so our customers get to play with top-of-the-line equipment. We want everything at CnP to be tournament-grade pickleball and Selkirk helps us achieve that. I personally play with the 300A-XL and love it.

Andy Gensch

Andy Gensch

What are your eventual goals with Chicken N Pickle? Would you like to expand to more locations or are you concentrating on building your first location for the time being?

We would love to bring Chicken N Pickle to other cities across the country as we feel pickleball is growing faster than it can handle and we want to help that cause. We are focusing on making this first one work; there have been and will be more lessons from this prototype that will help us bring our concept to many locations.

What has the local response been like? Do you find yourself getting customers who are already picklers, or more newcomers to the sport who get hooked after visiting?

We’ve taught pickleball to more people than I can count. It’s been amazing! The local picklers and newcomers stop by because there’s no place like it and CnP has this atmosphere of fun. We have a lot of leagues going now and I would say 50% are people that have started playing at CnP in the past 2 months.

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

Andy Gensch seems to help out with teaching at Chicken N Pickle, and you have classes coming up with other pros as well. Are you looking to do outreach to develop other events like this?

Andy has been amazing and I have the testimonials from his lessons to prove it! He has been a big part of bringing people like Enrique Ruiz and Dee Davidson in for clinics, which were huge successes. We also have Dave Wienbach coming for a clinic and he’ll play in our October tournament.

Andy loves pickleball and has been instrumental in growing the game. We both love the fact there are so many new faces. The clinics and lessons he provides are going to make the sport that much more competitive. We do beginner clinics and advanced clinics as much as we can to help give our players more resources.

You host food trucks in addition to your rotisserie offerings. How did that idea develop and do you find it adds another layer of fun for visitors? It seems like you use a lot of nearby stores to give people a locally-flavored experience.

We are huge on everything local. Local produce when we can, local beers (we plan to have 28 taps with all local flavors). People in Kansas City love  supporting their neighbors and we’re no different.

David Johnson of Chicken N Pickle

Bill Crooks, primary Chicken N Pickle consultant

Is there anything in particular you’d like to say to our PickleballCentral readers?

I would invite anyone passing through Kansas City to stop by and play a game and give me feedback! We want to grow pickleball as much as possible. We also have events every month, such as: Oktoberfest on September 1st, Halloween on October 2nd and our first ever pickleball tournament Oct 20 – 24. Sign-ups have been going fast.


You can find out more about Chicken N Pickle on their site and find out what events they have coming up at their blog. Everyone visit if you can, and send them some love to let CnP know you want to see MORE of their facilities in the near future!