Meet The Pros – Lucy Kitcher

Meet The Pros – Lucy Kitcher

Lucy Kitcher

That Lucy Kitcher SMILE

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

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

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

What paddle do you play with and why?

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

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

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

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I usually only play outdoors.

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

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

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

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

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

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

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

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

What’s your day job?

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

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

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

Meet The Pros – Jay Rippel

Meet The Pros – Jay Rippel

Jay Rippel and Glen Peterson

Jay Rippel and Glen Peterson, International Indoor Pickleball Tournament, Sr. Men’s Doubles  – Gold

One of Jay’s goals in life is for his doubles partners to say he is a “really good partner.” If you ask Glen Peterson, he would say Jay Rippel is an outstanding doubles partner. Enjoy!!

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

2018 International Indoor Tournament, Sr Men’s Doubles, Open with Glen Peterson – Gold,
       Mixed Doubles with Kim Jagd – Silver,
       Sr Singles Open – Silver
2017 and 2018 Canadian Nationals Tournament SR Open Mens Gold, 2018 Gold Sr mixed open
2017 Lakes tournament (1st ppf event)  Silver Sr Open Men’s Doubles
2017 USAPA Nationals, Men’s Doubles, age 50-54 with Scott Burr – Gold
2017 International Indoor Tournament, Mixed Doubles with Julie Haney, Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I’m currently a member of “Team Selkirk” and play with the Selkirk  “Amped Omni” lightweight paddle. I love the touch and feel it gives me without sacrificing the power that my original Omni had. I play with the lightweight version and this has helped me tremendously with my “paddle speed” at the net when playing doubles. I feel I return a lot more balls with this paddle that are hit hard at me.

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

I was introduced to pickleball way back in 1992 at a 24-Hour Fitness Club in Bellevue, Washington by a gentleman named Ewol. It was played on carpet with the old Cosom ball. I was instantly hooked. There really weren’t any tournaments back then, but a group of us played several times a week until the club was shut down. Unless I’m injured, I have played pickleball weekly for the last 26+ years.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I really prefer to play outdoors with the Dura ball, since its such a fun ball to try and master.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

When I was in my 30’s and 40’s, I preferred to play singles since its such a challenge to compete, especially against the younger players. Now that I’m in my 50’s, I prefer men’s doubles to everything else. I will occasionally play singles, but usually in the bigger tournaments. I also enjoy mixed doubles and have been lucky to find some amazing ladies to partner with.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I think my style of play is a bit more aggressive than a lot of players. I’m always trying to create shots for my partners and keep opponents guessing on where my shot will be placed. I think with the way the game is evolving, my advice to new players is to not be too predictable, like always playing one style. I think everyone who plays tournaments and wants to compete at a high level should also look to add some sort of “offensive” shot to their game. Communication with my partners during a match is crucial to the success of our game.

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

Jay Rippel

Jay and daughters Caitlin and Mackenzie

I’m able to play pickleball on a regular basis. I have a fabulous support system of my wife, Leigh and two great daughters, Caitlyn and Mackenzie. I play usually 3-4 times a week with a great group of pickleball players. Each session is usually 2-3 hours and mainly consist of doubles. Sometimes we will drill before tournaments.

What is your day job?

When I’m not playing, my day job is in the field of “financial services” and with stock market hours.

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

My goals for pickleball are pretty simple. I would love to win a “Sr OPEN” Gold medal in one of the major tournaments (USAPA Nationals, US Open, Tournament of Champions). I’d like to stay healthy and pain free, and I’d like players to think that “yes he’s a pretty good player”; he is also a “really good partner!”

Meet The Pros: Nick Williams

Meet The Pros – Nick Williams

Nick Williams

Nick Williams

Pickleball Pro Glen Peterson says: “I believe Nick is the best player in Washington state right now. It is safe to say Nick is one of the top 20 players in the nation in men’s open doubles.”  He sounds like one serious contender. Enjoy!

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

Gold at Yakima Classic, Quarters at US Open, Semis at SoCal Classic, matching wins against McGuffin/Goebel, Evans/Campbell, Johns/Siebenschein, Farias/Dawson. I also have multiple losses to many of these players so I certainly haven’t gotten the better of any of them.

What paddle do you play with and why?

I have been using the Selkirk PRIME S2 for most of my time playing pickleball. The paddle allows me to feel the ball on the paddle face as well as create spin.

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

I have a tennis background and played for the University of Washington in the mid 1990’s. My brother convinced me to try pickleball during the summer of 2016. I’ve been playing regularly since.

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I much prefer outdoors on a sunny day. When the conditions are more difficult with wind, sun or shadows the game is more interesting. It’s harder to line up balls perfectly and play pure power. A ball out of round will drive me crazy though.

2017 International Indoor Pickleball Championships: Men's singles Open. Tyson MacGuffin (gold) Nick Williams (silver) Rob Cassidy (bronze)

2017 International Indoor Pickleball Championships: Men’s singles Open. Nick Williams (silver), Tyson McGuffin (gold) and Rob Cassidy (bronze)

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I preferred singles in the beginning as the transition from tennis was easier. I now prefer doubles after learning some of the nuances. There are similarities between pickleball and tennis with singles but doubles is a completely different game, which I like.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

The first time I actually played games was on a court tucked away in a small park in Bellevue, WA. It’s probably the best outdoor court in the area and is still my favorite place to play.

What is your secret sauce?

I try and stay mentally in the moment. Games are quick and momentum changes often. It can be costly to let negativity carry over from point to point.

Any tips for players?

After watching various levels play, I commonly see issues with court positioning/coverage. Teams shouldn’t get beat down the line or through the middle. Hitting hard with a cross court angle shot is very difficult in pickleball and teams should make opponents try and beat them with the most difficult shot.

What is your day job?

I work for Boeing as a Financial Analyst.

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

I usually play twice a week for a total of about 5 or 6 hours a week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I am not superstitious, but I do try and break a sweat with a good warm up before the first match.

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

I would like to experience playing against the top players at as many of the major tournaments as possible. I have a wife and 6-year-old twins, so finding the right balance will be the challenge.

Nick Williams with his twins

Nick Williams with his twins

Meet the Pros – Walter Knestrick

Meet the Pros – Walter Knestrick

Rex Lawler and Walter Knestrick

Rex Lawler and Walt Knestrick

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

My partner Rex Lawler and I won Gold for Mens’ Doubles over 80 in the April 2017 US Open Pickleball Tournament in Naples, Florida.  We repeated our Gold win there in April 2018. Then Rex and I won Gold for Mens’ Doubles over 80 again in June 2018 at the St. Jude National Indoor Classic Pickleball Tournament in Cartersville, GA. This was a USAPA-sanctioned event, where I also won Gold with partner Anne Harrington for Mixed Doubles over 80 and Bronze for Singles over 80.

What paddle do you play with – and why??

I am presently playing with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. The grained surface on the paddle helps me get more spin on my serve and return-of-serve than the Paddletek Bantam EX-L which I used last year. It is very important for me to be able to put extra spin on my serve, away from my opponent’s backhand.

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

I played tennis and racquetball most of my life, but in the end both sports took a toll on my back, and it was just too painful to continue playing. Six years ago I was introduced to pickleball by a neighbor in Florida where we spend our winters.  I fell in love with the sport and the friendly way we organized play in our residential development.  I found the game easy to play—but hard to master, and I loved the challenge!  To my surprise, playing doubles for two hours five or six times a week did not bother my back—in fact, I believe the sport has not only helped my back but added years to my life!

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

I enjoy playing outdoors—when the wind is less than 20 mph and the temperature is between 50 and 85 degrees! When you are over 80, the lighting on most indoor courts can be a problem—but when outdoor conditions are bad, I am happy to play indoors!

Anne Harrington and Walter Knestrick, Gold

Anne Harrington and Walt Knestrick, Gold

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I enjoy doubles more than singles and that is what I play most of the time. In August 2017 I got a new hip and was told not to play singles—but I played singles in the Cartersville tournament with no pain and won bronze. Pickleball, either doubles or singles, is just too much fun not to play both.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I really don’t have a favorite place to play. I play wherever there is a good group! Close by my home I love playing at Lipscomb University, home of the “Nashville Pickleball Club.”  They have over 100 members and offer clinics for new players almost every week, led by volunteers like Nicole and Rick Hobson. I also often drive 30 minutes or more to play with younger and better players, which really helps my game. At our Florida residence there is play for various skill levels going on all day every day. We have four courts there now for our 300+ players, but this year that will expand to six. Good places to play continue to increase as pickleball becomes more and more popular.

Walt Knestrick and Rex Lawler - Gold

Walt Knestrick and Rex Lawler – Gold

What is your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?

Learn the “dink” game! It is important to be able to make this shot from anywhere on the court. Slamming the ball at two opposing players at the net will not work against good players.

Meet The Pros – Dave Fleming

Meet The Pros – Dave Fleming

Dave Fleming action

Dave Fleming – Photo Credit to Pickleball Photos

Dave Fleming loves pickleball, loves a good laugh and loves his family!  He’s an all-around good guy. Enjoy!

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

2018 –  Cedar Park Championships Mixed Doubles with Helen Wilhelm
2018 –  US Open 35+ Men’s Doubles with Adam Stone – Gold, 50+ Mixed Doubles with Helen Wilhelm – Bronze
2018 –  USAPA Mid-South Regional 5.0 50+ Gold in Singles and Men’s Doubles with Scott Baker
2017 –  USAPA National Championships 4.5 50+ Men’s Doubles Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

I currently use the Engage Elite Pro, but I’m testing several others to find the perfect combination of power and control… more to come.

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

In December of 2016, a friend on my 5.0 tennis team invited me to play pickleball at his church gym where his wife is in charge of the rec programs. So I show up and laughter ensues. We serve and volley. We charge the net. And then we started learning the rules. And the strategy. And we entered tournaments. And it was (and is) glorious.

My tennis rackets have not left the bag since September—and I love tennis. But, I am all-in on playing pickleball.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Outdoors for sure. Having played tennis since I was 5, I am used to and enjoy the challenges that the elements present.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Dave Fleming and Adam Stone

USOPEN GOLD – Dave Fleming and Adam Stone

Doubles. The camaraderie of having 4 people on the court, competing but also laughing, is the best. I love the strategy required to complement my partner’s game. And the thrill of winning a big match with a partner is tremendous. My 2018 US Open experience is why I love doubles—I played with 3 awesome players (Steve Dawson, Adam Stone and Helen Wilhelm) against some extraordinary competition, battling for hours each day, and it was truly the best pickleball can be.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I love playing anywhere there is good competition and always pack my paddle when I travel. If I had to choose just one, it would be the Bobby Riggs tennis and paddle center which is owned and operated by two phenomenal people and pickleball players: Steve and Jennifer Dawson.

The competition is great, the location is amazing, and after a day of great pickleball, it’s a short drive down the hill for a stunning and colorful California sunset. I’m going back to play two tournaments there this summer.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My two-handed backhand. Very few guys use it. I can blast drives, hit cut dinks with extreme spin, and disguise volleys with both placement and pace. Tip: Don’t listen to people who say you can’t play a certain way or can’t use a certain shot in pickleball. Pickleball is great because people come to it from a variety of different backgrounds—mold your game to use your strengths, no matter where they come from.

Dave Fleming bronze

2018 Cedar Park Paddle Battle: Helen Wilhelm/Dave Fleming – Bronze, Darija Klaic/Steve Kuhn – Gold, Natali Pouchet/Daniel Toureilles – Silver

What is your day job?

I run the Dallas office of the global ad agency We Are Alexander. I was also voted the number 2 corporate comedian in the US by CBSNews.com—I perform an 80-minute comedic one man show about corporate America called Man vs. Office.

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

I try to get to 15, with one outing focused solely on drills. It’s a priority in my schedule and always a great workout.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I am known for always wearing black and gold (I am a huge, diehard fan of the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates). I always hold the same side of the grip, so I have 4 dots on the paddle face, representing my family, that are always face up. I also crank “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi before the first match of every day.

Dave Fleming: Steelers Fan

Dave Fleming: Pittsburgh Steelers Fan

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

Keep improving and adding new shots to my arsenal. Play with and against the best players in the world on a consistent basis across the country. Grow the game at all levels here in Dallas and wherever else I can.

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

Truly anything is possible if you are passionate about it. I hope you can feel the love I have for this sport through these words and answers. I will never stop learning. I encourage everybody at all levels to embrace a weekly session where you only do drills. Take a goal to the court every time you play a rec match. And never stop laughing. That’s what makes this game so great. Thank you very much for the chance to share my pickleball story.

Meet The Pros – Jose (Joey) Farias

Meet The Pros – Jose (Joey) Farias

Joey Farias

Joey Farias, credit to Partovich Photography

Jose Farias loves to play and teach tennis and pickleball. You have to admire a tennis instructor who falls in love with this game. Enjoy!

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

2016 US Open Men’s Doubles 5.0 – Gold with DJ Howard
2016 US Open 19+ Mixed Doubles – Bronze with Catherine Parenteau
2017 Southwest Regionals Men’s Doubles 5.0 – Gold with Sean Rickard
2017 Southwest Regionals Mixed Doubles 5.0 – Silver with Miok Lee
2017 US Open Men’s Doubles Pro – Bronze with Ben Johns
2017 US Open 30+ Men’s Doubles – Gold with Rafael Siebenschein
2017 US Open 30+ Mixed Doubles – Silver with Lee-Anna Camper
2017 Northwest PPF Bend Men’s Doubles – Gold with Ben Johns
2017 So-Cal Mens Open Singles – Bronze
2018 Southwest Regionals Mens Doubles 5.0 – Gold with Sean Rickard
2018 Southwest Regionals Mixed Doubles 5.0 – Bronze with Miok Lee
2018 US Open 30+ Men’s Doubles – Bronze with Chris Miller
2018 US Open 19+ Mixed Doubles – Silver with Catherine Parenteau 

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Gearbox GX5. I really enjoy the new paddle; I was able to put a lot of my input on how the paddle should feel and play, making it tailored to my preferences. It has plenty of pop and is soft enough for me to really control my shots around the kitchen.

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

I was a full-time tennis coach when I was introduced to pickleball in Lansing, Michigan, while working at a club that had 4 pickleball courts. I was introduced to the sport by Dan O’Toole and DJ Howard. I had a great group of “new players” who were learning at around the same time and they were Corrine Carr Siebenschein, Simone Jardim and DJ Howard.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I enjoy playing outdoors more because that is what I am most familiar with and I sometimes have trouble seeing indoors. 

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles because of the strategy behind it and how different it is from tennis. Pickleball strategy is one of the reasons I fell in love with the game. My tennis background definitely helps with singles but it is a little too close to tennis to pick it as my favorite. 

Jose Farias in Michigan

5.0 Singles Finalist -Jose Farias Bronze (left), Simone Jardim Gold (center), Brandon Schmeling Silver in Williamston, Michigan.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I would pick East Naples Community Park and the US Open to be my favorite place to play. I enjoy the atmosphere of the tournament and the courts there are world class.

Jose Farias with friends at the USOPEN

Jose Farias with friends at the USOPEN

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I would say my secret sauce would be my deceptive shots, my one-handed backhand drive/roll and consistent dinks, especially from the right side of the court. If I could give one tip to players it would be to get as low and balanced as you are physically capable of and take more dinks in the air. 

What is your day job?

I was a full-time tennis pro but about a year and a half ago I became the Director of Pickleball at a Tucson Country Club in Tucson, Arizona and am now full time pickleball. I am an IPTPA-certified Pickleball Instructor and I travel all around doing clinics. Its a rough life, haha! 

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

I practice about 4 hours a week, but I do teach close to 30 hours each week so I get plenty of dinking practice you could say. Since I do pickleball full time now I have plenty of time to practice, but in Tucson it’s the lack of practice partners that I have to deal with. I have another 5.0 in town named Sean Rickard who I try to drill with when his schedule allows.

Joey Farias for the win

Joey Farias for the win – fueled by chocolate milk

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I don’t know if I would call it lucky, but something I tend to do before playing in a tournament is drink chocolate milk the morning of the event and possibly have a cookie.

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

My pickleball goals would be to help grow the sport in any way I can and to be a positive role-model on and off the court to up-and-coming juniors. I would also like to medal in a pro event in all three majors by the time I am done playing. 

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

My experience being one of the top pickleball players has been amazing because I get to meet players from all over the world and travel. I now get to do what I love for a living, and it is such a blessing. 

Meet The Pros: Tiener-X Nguyen

Meet The Pros – Tiener-X Nguyen

Tien Nguyen

Tiener-X Nguyen

Tiener-X Nguyen is an extreme strategist! I say this because he turned down chances to play in order to deeply study this game of pickleball before stepping onto the court. It is clear to me that he loves this “inclusive” game and he is in it to win it. Enjoy!

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

2017 State Games of Oklahoma (first tournament): Gold – Mixed Doubles 50+
     Gold – Singles 50/55+, Silver- Doubles 50/55+
2017 USAPA West Regionals: Gold- Mixed Doubles 4.5 50+
2017 State Games of America: Gold- Singles 5.0 50+
     Gold – Mixed Doubles 4.5 50+: Bronze- Doubles 4.5 35+
2017 OK Senior Games – Gold in three disciplines
2017 USAPA Nationals: Gold – Doubles 4.5 50+
     Bronze- Mixed 4.5 50+, Bronze, Singles 5.0 50+
2018 State Games of Oklahoma: Gold-Singles 5.0
     Gold- Mixed Doubles 5.0 50+, Silver- Doubles 5.0 50+
2018 Hawaii Senior Games – Gold in two disciplines
2018 USAPA Mountain Regional: Silver- Mixed Doubles 5.0 50-59
***All but two medals won in the Mixed division was with my wife, Moira Roush, as my partner***

What paddle do you play with and why?

Pro S1G

Pro S1G

I play with the Selkirk Pro S1G+; I like the overall feel and balance of the paddle. The paddle has been discontinued so I plan to upgrade to the newer AMPED models soon. I am a part of the Selkirk Team.

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

I first encountered pickleball during a TDY (temporary duty) near Surprise, AZ, in 2007. I saw from afar what appeared to be very small tennis courts. I returned that evening and saw how the game was played. It was enjoyed by both genders on the same court, young and old competing alongside and/or versus each other… camaraderie and “fun” filled the atmosphere. After watching for about an half hour, I pondered to myself what a great sport it was to give everyone across the spectrum an avenue to stay fit and still compete if desired. At the time, I didn’t lift a paddle or pursue pickleball any further.

In September 2016, I was exposed to pickleball again at a local gym through a friend’s invite. I watched and absorbed the game as I saw her play. I stayed a couple of hours to “let it dink in” (pardon the pun). I noticed how much fun as well as the “friendly competitiveness” everyone experienced. I did not partake, although I was asked. I did this two more times just to get a better understanding/knowledge of the game. On my fourth visit I participated and brought my own paddle, a wooden one.

I really enjoying playing sports, especially ones that hold my interest. I try to be a “student” of the game. A couple months later, I introduced pickleball to my wife. We’ve continued to play ever since.

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer outdoors where you have to learn to play the elements (sun, wind, shadows, etc). Those who can adjust their games better to the elements will normally come out ahead. In the Oklahoma City (OKC) area, there is only one outdoor place where everyone plays. It’s at Stephenson Park, where four pickleball courts are painted on one slightly dilapidated tennis court. There is a need for more outdoor courts in Oklahoma.

Tien Nguyen 2017 USAPA Nationals

Tien Nguyen 2017 USAPA Nationals

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like both, perhaps a slight edge toward singles, because in singles you “can’t not” stay focused during a point. When you do, you have given your opponent the advantage. In singles, I get to hit the ball every other hit.

I also enjoy doubles because everyone likes being a part of a team. I like setting up my partner as she/he knows when I have hit a better than average shot to gain a team advantage. When fatigue comes into play, doubles is a great alternative.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

Little Valley Pickleball Complex, Ogden, Utah

Little Valley Pickleball Complex, Ogden, Utah

Little Valley Pickleball Complex in St. George, UT. It is a great 24-court outdoor facility with lights, benches, restrooms and shade pavilions. It is open to the public and FREE to play. If OKC had a place one-quarter the size of St. George’s, it would assist with the “obesity” problem. The staff & volunteers in St. George run a great Regional Tournament.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I don’t have one but may go to one in the future: two hands on both sides in kitchen exchanges. I had to change my tennis strokes by hitting two hands on both sides due to two elbow surgeries.


Tips: Concentrate more on the easy put-aways. It is the point you have earned and/or set your team up to win. Don’t be so nonchalant and lose focus when executing it. It’s the easy points that you/your team must win, not the difficult ones.

What is your day job?

I am a Telecommunications Engineer for Tinker Air Force Base. I am a civilian who has been on five deployments: Qatar, Djibouti, & Cuba. If I had known about pickleball back then, I would have made a valiant effort to introduce it to our men and women overseas. I plan to introduce pickleball to Tinker Air Force Base personnel this summer.

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

I play 8-10 hours per week; I would like to do more drilling but there are not enough courts, so play takes precedence. I play mostly after my work day is finished and on weekends. Most times my wife and I are together, whether it is to play or drill.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I like to eat duck feet. (Just kidding…making a Swedish joke). None.

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

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

I would like to play the top seniors in singles to see where I stand and what areas can improve. I got a chance to play a few at USAPA Nationals last year. Also, I would like to bring pickleball to other countries, especially Vietnam (my birth country). In Asian countries I have witnessed exercise regimes in the form of walking, badminton, Tai Chi, swimming, etc.  I see where pickleball would be a great addition to their fitness routines.

I would like to venture into the “Have Net, Will Travel” pickleball lessons concept. Something along the lines of my wife and I driving to provide lessons to individual(s)/couples/families/peers. Yes, you can watch videos and read all you want, but most people are visual/hands-on oriented. With us being present, the learning potential would be much greater. Anything within a 7 hours’ drive would be considered.

Oh yeah, and I enjoy cooking!

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

Pickleball has been the only sport where I have witnessed a great-great grandpa playing/competing with his great-great grandson… filled with smiles, being competitive and continuing to make life-long memories. I do have a “Barrel List” (like a Bucket List):

  • Play on the same court with a person from each of the 50 States.
  • Play a tournament in all 50 States
  • Play in all 6 continents

I have “Sour Dills” (like pet/pickleball peeves): In pickup play, when an opposing team avoids hitting to the better player. This tells me 0-0-2 things:

(1) You would rather win versus improving your game… really… win a “pickup game”?
(2) You are preparing (for your upcoming tournament) to beat teams that are “inferior” than yours. Thus you need to work on that game strategy.

I plan to take advantage of free lessons and tips.