Six of the Most Exciting Women’s Open Doubles Teams at the 2016 Nationals

Twenty-two of the best women’s doubles pairs in the nation are registered to compete on Friday, November 11th in Casa Grande AZ at Nationals. Anticipate long rallies and brilliant tactics.

Women’s pickleball is fascinating to watch. For veterans in the sport, this is quintessential pickleball. If you attend Nationals or are live streaming, consider watching these six teams for extraordinary pickleball.

Simone Jardim and Corrine Carr

Simone Jardim and Corrine Carr

  1. Simone Jardim / Corrine Carr
  2. Sarah Ansboury / Christine McGrath
  3. Irina Tereschenko / Lucy Kovalova
  4. Christine Barksdale / Joy Leising
  5. Tonja Major / Catherine Parenteau
  6. Heidi Hancock / Stephanie Lane

The first three teams listed won gold, silver and bronze at the Tournament of Champions in Brigham City in September. Any one of these teams could win gold at Nationals.

Simone is arguably the finest player in pickleball right now. Her amazing two handed backhand is changing this fledgling sport. Combined with Corrine’s steady play and ability to drive balls consistently within an inch of the net, this pair is wonderful to watch. See if Corrine ever stops smiling, even when she loses a point!

Sarah Ansboury

Sarah Ansboury

Sarah is right with Simone in competing for the no. 1 ranking. She may be the steadiest player in the sport. And Christine, like Corrine, can drive beautiful winners from the kitchen line with another flawless two-handed backhand.

Irina and Lucy are the challengers with more talent and tennis instincts than any other team in the tournament. They are the Marcin and Morgan of the women’s bracket, and would likely beat them given the chance! Don’t expect a lot of long rallies from this pair. If you want to see aggressive pickleball at its finest, watch Lucy drive balls and Irina clean up at the net.

Christine Barksdale

Christine Barksdale

Any of the next three teams could break into the medal round. Christine and Joy are thrilling to watch and have played more doubles together than any other team in this bracket. Tonja and Catherine may be pairing up for the first time here. I have not seen Catherine play, but I’ve been the victim of Tonja’s smashes too often.

Finally, when Heidi and Stephanie get rolling, they can be formidable.Watch Heidi Hancock and Tonja Major to see how players with little or no tennis background have excelled at this funky sport.

I await your challenges to my picks! – Glen Peterson

Our Top Men’s Open Doubles Picks for Nationals in Casa Grande

Whether in Casa Grande or watching a live stream, here are eight pairs to keep an eye on among the 39 teams competing on November 11th this year.

If the Tournament of Champions played last month with the Onix Pure II ball is any indicator, Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates will be the top seed and favorite to win the USAPA VIII Nationals. Their patient, defensive strategy in the gold medal match against the Dawson brothers was nearly flawless.

Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates

Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates

Both Kyle and Wes were in the gold medal match at the US Open back in April, but on opposite sides of the net. Don’t expect fireworks from these two until provoked. Are they playing pickleball or performing some sort of synchronized dance? They will mesmerize and outlast any opponent. But watch closely—with two lightning quick forehands in the middle and a seemingly impenetrable defense, when the heat comes, sparks will fly.

And no team brings more heat than Marcin Rozpedski and Morgan Evans. With Morgan artistically striking Dura Fast 40 Balls from the baseline with his sword-like paddle and Marcin unceremoniously clubbing volleys from the eye formation, points rack up quickly. No dancing here, just raw athleticism. With sufficient consistency and just the right amount of patience, this team at their peak is unbeatable. Will they play an entire match without dropping points for receiving or serving in the wrong position?

Daniel Moore trophy

Daniel Moore (Credit: Daniel’s Blog)

Daniel Moore won Nationals in 2015 with Matthew Blom and took 2nd at the US Open with Wes Gabrielsen. He and Matt Staub swept the Tournament of Champions in 2015. If these two get into their rhythm early and maintain their patient, chess-like strategy all day long, enjoy watching them progress through the bracket. In their zone, these two never miss. Keep smiling, boys.

These are my top three picks. Other exciting teams to watch include Dave Weinbach and Enrique Ruiz; they each have tons of gold medals and perform well with the Dura Fast 40 Ball. Oliver Strecker and Matt Wright are relative newcomers but bring extraordinary talent as well. Can Oliver hit three soft kitchen shots in a row without striking? If he is on, watch out!

Brian Ashworth with Titan

Brian Ashworth (Credit: Dink Sports)

Also watch Brian Ashworth and Glenn Griffin. They’re two of the most humble players in pickleball, but oh can they move. Finally, check out the pairs of Chris Miller/Dalton Vavra or Kurtis Campbell/Matt Goebel if you would like to see great action combined with attitude.

These players are sure to keep things exciting. But with 39 teams and 78 players, anticipate surprises. Hey, this is PICKLEBALL!

Stay tuned for my picks in the other categories.

– Glen Peterson

Mickey Mouse Loves Pickleball

It’s no surprise that Disney is often associated with gifts. The gift of childhood, the gift of magical animation, the gift of… pickleball? While you might not think Mickey and friends have anything to do with the game, in truth, they’ve funded a new pickleball court at Tweila Reid Park in Anaheim, home of Disneyland!

Image courtesy of Pickleballmax, sharing pickleball with Disney power couple

Image courtesy of Pickleballmax, sharing pickleball with Disney power couple

According to the OC Register, the court was just recently completed with the good news announced on Oct 1st. During the talk, it was also revealed that five local parks would be getting new playgrounds as well. Never let it be said that The Mouse leaves out his biggest little fans.

The pickleball court was created thanks to a $200,000 donation that also supplied residents with a new soccer field and upgraded softball field.

Councilman Jordan Brandman added, “This pickleball court and field renovations came about as a result of input from the residents. They said they wanted more sports intensive activities at the park.”

You heard it here first: If you want more pickleball, all you have to do is ask. We recommend asking city officials or wealthy mice over Santa, since he tends not to have as much sway these days. (Santa, if you want to prove us wrong, our paddles are ready!)

We think Buzz's jetpacks would give him a slight advantage during a game... (Credit: Pickleballmax)

We think Buzz’s jet pack would give him a slight advantage during games… (Credit: Pickleballmax)

Remember that Disneyland’s big cousin, Disney World, is located in FL aka Pickleball Paradise. Why haven’t we seen more toon-supported pickleball action there? It was noted that many pickleball courts could fit in Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which was re-branded in 2010.

Is there any progress being made down there, Floridians? If not, get on it!

Steve Paranto Interview – Remembering the World’s First Pickleball Tournament

It is always wonderful to hear the stories of how pickleball got started and how it has grown over the years.  Anna Copley was able to catch Steve Paranto at the USAPA Nationals last November, for a brief conversation about the World’s First Pickleball Championship in Seattle, Washington.  Listen for Steve’s confession in this video.  Enjoy!

Video Transcript:

Anna: Here we have Steve Paranto and he was at the first pickleball tournament.
Steve: It was billed as “The World’s First Pickleball Championship” in a suburb of Seattle, at the Southcenter Athletic Club. It was either ’75 or ’76. It was the spring. And Joel Pritchard, one of the main inventors stood up on a chair and kicked the tournament off and told us the rules. Back then the matches were three out of five to eleven not two out of three. So it was a long match when you played singles and the surface was carpet and so the rallies were very good because carpet slows, kind of like clay court version of pickleball, so it was different because of that, it was and we had a blast. About 50-60, either they were tennis players that learned at their community college or high school or they were guys who worked at Weyerhaeuser, the company, because they had a private indoor court and they played every day at lunch time. And that was pretty much all the participants in that “World’s First Tournament”.

Anna: How many people do you think..?
Steve: There were about 60 to 70 players. My partner, Dave Lester won that, and I took second and we lost the doubles. So, I am the “World’s First Loser” of pickleball.  And I just talked to Matthew Blom, who is one of the great players of today. He was taught how to play by Dave Lester, my partner, who is the world’s first ever champion of pickleball. Dave Lester,… and he is teaching at a college, Concordia College in Minnesota, and that’s where Matthew Blom spent his time learning the game from my first partner.

Anna: Thank you Steve.
Steve: You’re welcome.