Simone Jardim is one of pickleball’s top players and has won over 70 gold medals in competitions like the USAPA Nationals. Normally you’d have to attend her Peak Performance Pickleball Academy in Florida to receive training from her, and that would only be if you were lucky enough to catch her between her busy tournament schedule… but now you can practice with her for free from the comfort of your own home!
Starting in late March this year, Simone started posting a series of drill videos on Facebook. She’s going to livestream another drill set tomorrow, Thursday 4/2 at 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT. Watch her in real time and you’ll be able to ask questions and comment as she demonstrates. Be sure to tune in if you have the opportunity!
In the meantime, check out her prior videos so you can get up-to-date on these useful techniques. Most of these drills can be done alone but some can be done with a partner as well. You can even watch how Simone stretches and cool down to ensure proper care of your body after practice. These videos are all 40+ minutes long so you’ll get to enjoy some meaty strategy talks and demonstrations!
Simone Jardim – At-Home Pickleball Exercises – Part 1
In this 2nd video Simone discusses the importance of positioning around the kitchen, how you can read your opponents’ movements and the best ways to respond to different shots. Some of the Q&A focuses on footwork and describes common mistakes players make so that you can move more quickly and efficiently across the court.
Make sure you’re taking breaks and drinking water, as some of these drills can be intense and require quick actions. Go at your own pace to avoid injury and grow accustomed to new movements.
Simone Jardim – At-Home Pickleball Exercises – Part 2
At the end of the third stream, Simone gave away a free Prince paddle—so all the more reason to watch her live tomorrow. That being said, if you watch this video you might hear about a special offer from Prince you can still use now…
Her warm-up in this video involves ladder work for your lower body and transitions into more wall drills that focus on placement and touch.
Simone Jardim – At-Home Pickleball Exercises – Part 3
If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s worth your time to explore the Electrum Pickleball revolution. This up-and-coming manufacturer has been making waves with their flagship paddle, the Electrum, thanks to a series of unexpected innovations and highly consistent play. Popular among both intermediate players and pros, many have sought to develop a paddle that satisfies a broad segment of the pickleball population, but Electrum just might have done it.
Run by serial entrepreneurs Moheeth Alvi and Mike Kazley out of the always state-of-the-art Silicon Valley, it may be this duo’s first foray into the pickleball industry, but their seasoned business backgrounds and love for the game have already made a mark. Having found its way into the hands of countless players at local courts and on a broader competitive stage, the Electrum is here to stay for good reason.
We had the opportunity to speak with Moheeth to learn about the numerous features that make the Electrum unique and what went into their design process. Find out how Electrum is setting themselves apart by reading on:
Why did you decide to enter the pickleball industry and what area of the market are you looking to address?
I discovered pickleball through Electrum’s co-founder, Mike. We started playing in Rochester, NY. We really enjoyed the game and went on a fascinating journey that led us to making a great product. Our main audience is any player looking to improve their game, whether they want to go from intermediate to pro or are already a high level player wanting to improve even further.
We tend to skew toward players who are around a 3.5/4.0 rating, but the Electrum Pro has seen success on a wide spectrum. Shellton JeanBaptiste is the highest rated pro player (5.0) on our team right now. He plays in the 25+ category. He’s really helped with distributing the Electrum Pro and has fully converted to using the paddle himself.
Another influential 5.0 player we have on board is Coach Phil Dunmayer. He’s been teaching for a long time, is a national champion himself, has authored books on pickleball and is overall a member of the game’s “old guard.” He’s done a lot to spread the sport and advocate for us.
Co-founder Moheeth Alvi with Terran Distefano at the West Coast Classic Tournament in Santa Monica
How did you come up with the Electrum Pro’s design?
When making a paddle, our goal was to find and use the best materials in the market. Even when it came to the grip, end cap and edge guard—we deeply considered all of these aspects. Another big ingredient was using data to find out what worked not only on paper, but in players’ hands. We analyzed hundreds of players to find out what parts of the face they used the most.
Our design is totally proprietary, and we’re based out of San Francisco. We felt positive about bringing the modern, uncompromising quality of the Silicon Valley tech industry to pickleball which has resulted in our current engineering.
Studying competitors was our starting point, so we made sure we were using something no one else was. People have a tendency to think graphite and carbon fiber are the same, but there is a difference. We have a good amount of manufacturing connections overseas that provided a solid supply backbone for the company and went through an iterative process of creating paddles with different features.
We had an edgeless version at one point, another that was only 7.2 oz in weight. As we continued to get feedback from players we arrived at our final design. Most companies have multiple SKUs; we just have the one. The reason is that once you’ve collected enough data, you can make a paddle that fits 80—90% of players’ needs. There are niche paddles out there with a head-heavy feel and so on, but we wanted to make something that would benefit the largest segment of players possible.
This doesn’t mean we won’t continue creating new products, but we were committed to making something with a broad appeal. We were at the West Regional Tournament and sold 100 paddles there to many different people: 3.0s, 4.0s, pros. The Electrum Pro has a wide face and so you might think that would limit its appeal, but no one has thought it’s unwieldy.
Co-founder Mike Kazley
Would you explain a bit more about how you analyzed those data points to create a well-balanced paddle?
Yes, we ended up finding that most players really enjoy a paddle that has an evenly distributed weight. Essentially, every part of the face should feel like you’re playing from the center so you don’t skew a certain direction or lose out on power due to a less than perfect shot.
Even if you’re hitting close to the edge with the Electrum Pro, it offers great pop. You can take any paddle and find where the middle is, set it on your finger and check whether it leans toward the handle or the head. With the Electrum Pro, you’ll find it stays at an even 180 degrees. It’s a very balanced paddle which makes it easy to maneuver.
Out of all the paddles on the market, what makes this paddle unique?
Toray T700 – The carbon fiber we use is Japanese made. It’s the best you can source and uses a special molding technology that gives it a nice, grainy texture. It’s right up against the USAPA’s roughness limit (which has to be within 40 micrometers), so you really feel the fibers. This texture produces very accurate shots with great touch, which results in a lot of control.
While we were iterating we didn’t explicitly mention this to players, but people noticed the paddle’s great handling and started calling this perk the “Electrum Spin.” We were happy to run with that! The carbon fiber also creates a look that stands out on the court. The simple, sleek design comes across quality-centric rather than needing to blatantly promote our brand. We figured: Produce a high quality paddle and it’ll sell itself.
Full Cell Core – At first we tried using Nomex for our core, and it is a stronger material than polypropylene, but you don’t get as much absorption to soften impact and it makes a lot of noise. We were willing to sacrifice a little bit of power for more touch and a reduction of the noise factor. The Electrum Pro still has plenty of pop because the cells are so strong, and in fact we only use full cells in the honeycomb.
With a lot of companies you’ll find there’s very little material near the edge guard, creating a weaker and less responsive feel when you don’t hit right in the center. With the Electrum, you get the benefit of whole cells near the edge and the guard is wrapped all the way around to create a consistent feel. We’ve basically created an “edge-to-edge” sweet spot. We don’t have images of our paddle with certain areas circled showing where players are supposed to hit, because we believe if you’re buying a premium paddle the entire face should be playable.
Carbon Fiber Handle – While the Electrum’s edge guard is plastic, our handle is also made out of carbon fiber like the face. This offers a high level of durability and much better feel as opposed to using lower quality materials. The handle has an ergonomic design with a grip somewhat similar to those produced by GAMMA, but the one we use was fully designed by us. It’s made using 100% leather so it won’t sweat in your hand easily, feels comfortable and takes longer to wear unlike synthetic materials. The 4-1/4” circumference makes it suitable for most hand sizes since it’s a good medium ground.
What should a player expect when using the Electrum?
This weight and responsiveness is such that you don’t have to put in as much work to get the power you want. Less is more. It only takes a couple rallies to get used to the Electrum Pro since it has such a great balance. The paddle feels light, responsive and intuitive.
Shellton JeanBaptiste reviews the Electrum Pro
We appreciate Electrum taking the time to share their knowledge and contributions with the pickleball community. To hear more from Moheeth, check out this interview from Golden Boy Pickleball. Moheeth summed up by saying:
“We want our customers’ end-to-end experience to be amazing; we know people will be satisfied with the Electrum Pro and want as many players to benefit as possible.
Our mission at Electrum is to be an asset to the pickleball community firstly through the creation of great products and then by making pickleball more accessible on a global scale. We’re looking forward to playing a part in the continued growth of the game and hope our current customers and new fans alike will help us share their love for this inclusive, exciting and versatile sport.”
The 2nd annual Texas Open was held September 12-15, where stalwart players braved the heat to test their skills at the Open Wagon Wheel Tennis Center in Coppell. Of the 747 participants that took part, 28 were juniors ranging from 7-18 years old.
These young players are a growing demographic which has only recently gained legislation needed within USAPA-recognized events to fully take part. While many picklers have expressed enthusiasm for the newer generation getting involved in the sport, the reality is that the journey toward full integration hasn’t been as cut and dry as grabbing a paddle and showing up.
Texas Open junior players with Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright
We recently spoke with Ashley Stone, mother to the winner of the Lone Star Award (Wyatt Stone). She was willing to illuminate some of the challenges the juniors have faced and overcome in addition to describing their experience at the Open:
“My son Wyatt has played in 12 tournaments and taken 18 medals since January 2019. When he first started playing, we had to ask tournament directors to lower the minimum age to allow him to play. He even pre-qualified for the American State Games, but they wouldn’t let him join due to their minimum age restriction last January.
“I have been adding junior events to the USAPA Junior Facebook page and website for a few months. In a short period of time (Jan-Sept, 9 months) we have seen the minimum age lower to include junior players in about 90% of all tournaments nationwide, excluding the senior tournaments. Pickleballtournaments.com just added a “junior” search feature to their toolbar this month as well. This is a huge milestone for the junior movement!
Texas Open juniors with Anna Leigh Waters and William Sobek
“In the first few tournaments, Wyatt would often be one of two or three juniors playing in the 19+ skill events. With each tournament we have seen more kids at each event. The Mansfield Summer Slam which was on September 7th had 6 junior players playing up in age 19+ by skill. The Texas Open is the only tournament in the mid-south to have enough kids to make junior brackets work.
“At the Texas Open, events were grouped by players 7-13 and 14-18 years old, a handful of which also played in 19+ age/skill events. The kids came from Texas and Oklahoma areas. Skill ranged from novice play to a 4.0 skill level. All of the kids have a family member who introduced them to the sport and are very passionate about it. They had a really good time and thought it was cool the mixed open events were happening on the same day as the junior events. The kids’ games were right next to pro players.
“One thing that was really great was the pro players (Joey Farrias, Lucy Kovalova & Matt Wright, Michella & Daniel DeLaRosa, to note a few) would stop to watch the kids and do a quick meet and greet. Some of the pro players even refereed junior games. Two I can think of were Gigi LeMasters and Anna Leigh Waters.
“There were also 2 junior pro players, Anna Leigh Waters & William Sobek, who competed at the pro open level. All the juniors lined up to watch at least one of their games.”
Ashley mentioned something many junior players would like to see moving forward is divisions separated by skill rather than age.
“The Texas Open (and all other USAPA-sanctioned tournaments) divide juniors by age. We have not yet attended a junior tournament in the US that has enough kids to divide by age and then further divide by skill. What I have seen is that ability doesn’t discriminate by age. In an event with kids ages 7-13 or 13-18 in the Texas Open, we had novices competing with advanced players. All the kids and their families unanimously agreed they would have healthier competition if they played in events by skill.”
It’s also exciting to note that a junior was chosen as the recipient of the Lone Star Award at the Texas Open, a recognition given to someone who has used pickleball to help build up their community and improve people’s health. The winner this year was Wyatt Stone, Ashley’s son.
“Wyatt completed the IPTPA level II certification in less than a month with the desire to teach as many kids pickleball as he could reach. He went to Oklahoma twice to volunteer with youth camps, ran the Andy Roddick Pickleball Camp in Austin, hosted monthly kids’ camps over the summer and set up (with the parks department) a free weekly pickleball clinic for kids that he will teach.
Junior boys’ doubles 1-12 (Gold: Ralph Chiu & Hollis Willson, silver: Aden Weimer & Zeus Andre Celedonio, bronze: Grant Wilton & Ryan Wilton) and Junior boys’ doubles 13-18 (Gold: Isaiah McAllister & Joshua McAllister, silver: E Ramm & Drew Warren, bronze: Dayton Bartman & Wyatt McAllister)
“The September classes have been booked up since last month. Wyatt volunteers working with his mentor May Laz at clinics, camps, challenges and tournaments on a weekly basis. He is also the USAPA Junior Pickleball Facebook editor and has more than organically tripled the followers since he took it over. He runs the Pickleball Facebook Junior forum and San Antonio IH35 to Austin Pickleball meetup where he organizes free competitive play.
“Wyatt is 14-years-old and had only been playing a a couple of weeks when he asked to go to the Texas Open as a spectator. After spending the weekend at the Texas Open, Wyatt wanted to learn how to play like the pros. Wyatt played in his first tournament in January, the Oklahoma State Games, and took 3 gold medals.
“He has been competing ever since, playing in 9 tournaments with 16 medals. He took a gold medal at the MT Regionals, earning a spot at Nationals which he will attend in November. He became IPTPA certified in June and added teaching to his rigorous training schedule.
Wyatt Stone receiving the Lone Star Award
“Wyatt did not have racket or paddle experience prior to playing pickleball and has come up through the ranks by working hard and earning his place training with local 5.0 players. He publishes a blog on his website with articles relevant to junior players and their families: WyattStonePickleballJunior.com
“Wyatt joined the Pickleball Rocks Team this past summer and accepted the nomination to lead the USAPA junior program as the USAPA National Junior Coordinator.
“He is thankful every day that he steps on the court and loves to see other kids getting involved in recreational and competitive pickleball.”
Mike Welter is an incredible athlete and has rightfully been named the 2017 Florida Senior Games Athlete of the Year. Sadly, Mike suffered a stroke on September 30th this year which will prevent him from playing in the 2018 Senior Games, but he currently plans to take about a year off then leap right back into the fray.
This former Marine Corps colonel shows no signs of slowing down despite the health scare. The stroke initially paralyzed Mike’s left arm and leg and he lost his sight, but he’s since regained the use of his limbs and is beginning to see more clearly. Mike explains:
“I’m walking a mile or more each day and my sight is improving. The doctors are taking good care of me and I’m trying to get better. I’m going to take a year off from pickleball, but I’m going to be Comeback Player of the Year when I return.”
We admire Mike’s determination and look forward to his return! At the Games last year he played in three medal events and placed in each for his 5th consecutive year. Mike partnered with Bobbi Little to win mixed doubles for the 3rd consecutive year, and also snagged gold in men’s doubles and silver in singles.
His win streak doesn’t stop there. Mike has won many medals in competitions across the world, even traveling with his wife to Mexico to participate in tournaments. He notes, “The game, when it’s played in big matches, can involve a lot of strategy, like a chess match. You have to put the ball in the right place.”
Here’s another interesting fact about Mike—did you know that he’s Kyle Yates’ uncle? That’s right; we not only have Mike to thank for his impressive personal records, but for getting one of the world’s best picklers into the game!
When Kyle was only a tender 15-years-old, he was convinced by his uncle to give the game a try. Mike noted (like many!) that Kyle initially thought that pickleball sounded stupid, but then “he picked it up in about one minute. He was very, very good, but I beat his butt (the first time). A week later he beat my butt, and he hasn’t looked back.”
Mike has been a big supporter of his local hospital’s wellness center in Cape Coral, having helped outfit the center with pickleball equipment so established fans and newcomers could play. He’s also been excitedly waiting for a new pickleball complex to be built by Lake Kennedy, which he’s certain will help spread the sport even further.
With this recognition from the Florida Senior Games, he’s become the first ever pickler to win the honor and the fourth from Lee County.
We appreciate all of Mike’s efforts to assist pickleball in reaching more participants and can’t wait to have him back!
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 / Corrine Carr
Sarah Ansboury / Christine McGrath
Irina Tereschenko / Lucy Kovalova
Christine Barksdale / Joy Leising
Tonja Major / Catherine Parenteau
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 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.
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
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
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 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!
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!
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
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 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!
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!
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.