Meet The Pros – Tony Girodo

Meet The Pros – Tony Girodo

Tony Girodo with Linda Dillon

Tony is a full-time RV’er, so he gets to play pickleball with folks from all over. He must have a fantastic array of pickleball friends. Enjoy!

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

2019 National Senior Games Mixed Doubles with Sandy Scanlan – Silver
2019 Wickenburg Ranch Men’s Doubles Age – Gold

2019 Grand Canyon State Games Mixed Doubles Skill/Age with Sandy Scanlan – Gold
2019 Robson Ranch, Mixed Doubles Skill/Age with Sandy Scanlan – Silver
2018 Margaritaville USAPA Nationals, Mixed Skill/Age Doubles with Sandy Scanlan – Silver
2018 US OPEN Men’s Doubles Age with Bob Costanza – Gold
            Mixed Doubles – Skill with Connie Reker – Bronze
2018 Happy Trails, Mixed Doubles Skill/Age with Sandy Scanlan – Gold
2018 Duel in the Desert, Men’s Doubles Skill/Age with Doug Cook – Gold
2017 Round Up@ Sun City AZ, Men’s Doubles Skill/Age with Bill Marshall – Gold

Tony Girodo Gold

2016 🌵🏅Duel in the Desert🏅🌵 Mixed Doubles Age/Skill Groups 65+: 4.0, GOLD Audrey Sherfey and Tony Girodo, SILVER Terry Saunders and James Saunders BRONZE Diane Hill and Donald Bangs

What paddle do you play with and why?

I currently play with the Tempest Wave. I used to play with an original Paddletek pickleball paddle, no model name, and had it for about 7 years.

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

Ten and a half years ago my wife and I started RV’ing. At our first stop in Palm Springs I kept hearing this “ping – ping – ping” sound and went to investigate. I was invited to play, and the rest is history. I have a tennis and racquetball background. My wife plays recreationally. Pickleball has turned out to be a great social sport. We’ve made a lot of good friends. No matter where we go, we find people who play pickleball.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Ninety-five percent of the time I play outdoors.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles. I may venture into singles at some time in the future.

Tony Girodo, bronze

Marriott Desert Ridge Holiday Classic December 1, 2017 Men’s Doubles 70+ 4.5: Gold: Barry Jeff Stone & Malcolm Derr, Silver: Jim Saunders & Brian Parkes, Bronze: Tony Girodo & Doug Cook

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

Indian Wells is my favorite place this year, also Happy Trails and Pebble Creek. The Surprise, Arizona area has 16 public area courts that are great. They may be expanding the number of courts in the future.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I have a supportive spouse, and that really helps. It also helps to get the right partner. Get one who plays like you or better. Make sure you drill all the time and seek to play with better, skilled folks. This builds confidence. It helps to use a Sports Tutor machine to practice drills.

What is your day job?

I am a full-time RV’er with my wife. Just recently visited Portland, Maine and the beach in New Jersey.

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

I play 2-3 hours a day, 15-20 hours a week. I usually take a day off during the week to let my body heal. Thankfully, I ‘ve had no major injuries.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I pet our dog “Mojo,” a schnauzer who gives me big “MOJO.” 

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

My current goal is to medal at the USAPA Nationals.

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

This is a great game to play and for meeting new friends. I keep playing to keep active. Eighty percent of my commitment to the game is so that I can continue to eat ice cream! I try to improve every day. I suggest working on 1 or 2 things at a time, like dinks, lobs and 3rd shot drops. That’s the best way to improve your game, in my opinion. 

Meet The Pros – Gregg Whitfield

Meet The Pros – Gregg Whitfield

Gregg is retiring so that he can TEACH PICKLEBALL! Awesome! And he brings his tennis techniques into the pickleball training equation. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2019 U S Open: Silver in Men’s 60+ Doubles with Joe Nguyen
Gold in Mixed 65+ with Hilary Marold, Bronze in 65+ Singles

2018 U S Open 65+ Mixed 5.0 Gold with Carolyn Bagley
Silver Men’s Doubles Skill 60+ with Steve Paranto

Steve Paranto and Gregg Whitfield

2018 US OPEN, Steve Paranto and Gregg Whitfield – Silver

2018 Pasadena Senior Games Gold in Men’s Doubles, Silver in Mixed, Gold in Singles
2018 So Cal Classic Gold in 60+ Men’s Doubles
2018 West Regionals Gold in Men’s Doubles 60+, Gold in Mixed 60+, Gold in Singles 60+
2018 Huntsman Senior Games: Gold in Men’s 65+, Gold in Mixed 65+, Gold in Singles 65+
2018 USAPA Nationals Bronze in Mixed 65+
2018 Southwest Regionals Gold in Men’s Doubles 65+, Gold in Mixed 65+, Silver in Singles 65+
2018 Grand Canyon State Games Gold in Men’s Doubles 60+
2016 Nationals 55+ 5.0 Mixed Bronze with Kathy Pederson

What paddle do you play with and why?

I’m a sponsored player with Paddletek and play with the Tempest Pro because it’s a great all-around paddle that allows for soft touch drop shots and still has power when needed.

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

My background was in tennis. I played through high school and college where I played #1 for Occidental College. I taught tennis under David Reed, who played with Arthur Ashe at UCLA, and Sven Davidson, who played in 4 Grand Slam Finals winning two titles. I became the head tennis pro at Altadena Town and Country Club in the early 1980s. In 2016 I found pickleball at a local club in Cambria, CA and became addicted to the sport.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer outdoor play as the visibility is better for me and I live in California where we have nice weather year round.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles because singles is so physically demanding, especially as we age. Doubles allows one to develop a soft game where you can play with players at all levels.

Gregg Whitfield

Gregg Whitfield

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

My home town of Cambria has 6 newer beautiful dedicated courts. The weather is great being 65 to 70 degrees year round. 25 miles to the east is Paso Robles where it can reach 105 during the summer. So I love my home town.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My advice is to learn the two basic spins that all top level players use: topspin and under spin. These 2 techniques are required for tennis teaching professionals. The two techniques are the basics of the drive and drop shots.

What is your day job?

I am retiring from a home painting contractor business and developing a website on teaching pickleball.

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

Being semi-retired allows ample time to play, so I get in about 20 hours per week.

Gregg Whitfield - Dink Drills

Gregg Whitfield – Dink Drills

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament? 

Train with drills in your weekly play and develop all of the shots from hard drives to soft drop shots.

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

One of my goals was to win gold at either the USAPA Nationals or US Open Pickleball Championships in the 5.0 division. I have medals in both with 2 gold medals at the US Open. Now my goal is to finish my training website which is focused on teaching different shots and strategies so players of all levels can play a better game and have fun with great friendships and exercise.

2019 US OPEN 60+ men's doubles: Ted Meyer/Gary Miller - Bronze, Jim Hackenberg/Dan McLaughlin - Gold, Joe Nguyen/Gregg Whitfield - Silver

2019 US OPEN 60+ men’s doubles: Ted Meyer/Gary Miller – Bronze, Jim Hackenberg/Dan McLaughlin – Gold, Joe Nguyen/Gregg Whitfield – Silver

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

My background in tennis was a great benefit. In tennis, the young guns could hit very fast serves where my skill set forced me to block the return of serve back. All top tennis players know how to have a very short backswing which allows a small compact technique to easily block the ball back and keep it in play. This technique is as simple as you getting to the ball and catching it with your hand. I start players out by hitting a serve to them and asking them to catch the ball with their hitting hand. First, that requires moving to the ball. Then, when catching the ball, there is no backswing and large follow through. From the basic skill, players quickly learn how to hit the ball back over the net and get it in play. Keeping the motion simple is the key to becoming a good player.

Meet The Pros – Dan McLaughlin

Meet The Pros – Dan McLaughlin

Dan McLaughlin Action

Dan McLaughlin

Dan McLaughlin is a platform tennis and paddleball convert who really is a team player. He loves the game and he loves the pickleball community. He also loves to win! Enjoy!

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

2019 US OPEN Men’s Skill/Age Doubles with Jim Hackenberg, Gold
Mixed Doubles with Jo Anne Russell – Bronze
2018 US OPEN Men’s Doubles Age 65+ with Seymour Rifkind – Silver
Mixed Doubles Age 65+ with Deb Harrison – Silver
        Men’s Skill/Age Doubles with Jim Hackenberg – Gold


Mixed Doubles Skill/Age with Deb Harrison – Silver
2017 US OPEN Men’s Doubles Age with Jim Hackenberg – Silver
Men’s Doubles Skill 50+ 4.5 with Pat Sinicki – Gold
Mixed Doubles Skill 50+ 4.5 with Nancy Robertson – Bronze
2017 Huntsman Senior Games Men’s Skill Doubles 4.5 50+ with Pat Sinicki – Silver
2014 USAPA Nationals, Mixed Doubles 65+ with Yvonne Hackenberg – Bronze

What paddle do you play with and why?

I am sponsored by Paddletek and I play with the TS-5 Pro. Paddletek is just an hour from where I live. I like the way the TS-5 Pro plays, especially the way the grip is rounder and feels more like a tennis grip.

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

I used to play tennis with Matt Wright at the University of Michigan. He was finishing his training and I was starting with the same coach. I knew Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg. years ago. They lived in Detroit, Michigan and I lived in Kalamazoo, where I lived for 35 years. They asked me to play pickleball, but I was into playing platform tennis and paddleball at the time. They didn’t give up. When I started playing in 2014 I was quickly hooked, and playing with the Hackenbergs put me on the fast track to being competitive at the national level.  I now live in Holland Michigan and winter in Naples, Florida. It is so easy to participate in the US OPEN each year.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Outdoors! I like being outside in the fresh air. I grew up in Southern California and loved the sun and the challenge of the wind.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles. Singles are too rough on me. I get too spent with little left to bring to the doubles match. I don’t want to let my doubles partner down by mixing singles and doubles in a tournament.

2019 US Open, Dan McLaughlin and Joann Russell - Bronze, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg - Gold

2019 US Open, Dan McLaughlin and Joann Russell – Bronze, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg – Gold

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

St. George Utah. Great courts and there are neat places to visit.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Get old enough to watch the competitive field thin out through attrition. Pick good partners and stay out of their way.

What is your day job?

I am a semi-retired root canal specialist, otherwise known as endodontist. Mention you know me, and you might get a discount… or not. I also do wildlife photography. I have traveled to Alaska and Africa on photography excursions. I also take pictures at pickleball tournaments.

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

I have no big goals. I have been successful at the last few US OPEN tournaments. I now play pickleball as a fun way to stay fit and I love playing with family and friends. I’m satisfied with playing at a high level and keeping in contact with mentors.

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

I have been given the privilege to know all the top folks in most of the country.  I’m surprised to be included in this category. It is an honor to be sponsored by Paddletek. I like Paddletek because they recognize good players at all levels and gave support to someone like him, a small fish in a BIG pond.

Meet the Pros – Paul Olin

Meet the Pros – Paul Olin

Paul Olin (Photo credit GAMMA Sports)

We love to hear about another tennis convert! Game On and Enjoy!! 

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

2019 US Open – Silver Men’s Sr Pro Singles
2019 The Lakes Spring Fling – Gold Men’s Sr Pro Singles
2019 Southwest Regional – Gold Men’s 5.0 50-54 Singles
2019 Southwest Regional – Silver Men’s 5.0 50-54 Doubles
2018 US Open – Bronze Men’s 5.0 Doubles
2018 US Open – Gold Men’s 5.0 35+ Singles
2017 Atlantic Regional – Bronze 5.0 Doubles
2017 Atlantic Regional – Silver 5.0 Singles
2017 US Open – Gold Men’s 4.5 Singles
2017 US Open – Silver Mixed 35+ Doubles

What paddle do you play with and why?

GAMMA RZR – soon switching to GAMMA Legend. Both paddles have really nice touch/feel, no dead spots and great power.

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

I was introduced to pickleball 3 years ago by my mother in-law Frann down at the East Naples Park, home of the US Open Pickleball Championships. Like everyone else, the addiction was immediate. I have a tennis background: High School National Champion and Division I in college. Haven’t played much tennis since my college days; that’s a really long time ago.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

Outdoors. More things to look at outside and the Durafast 40 outdoor ball is much more fun to play with.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Doubles, by far. Doubles doesn’t hurt like singles and the game is more interesting. I really like singles, but doubles is much more exciting.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

USAPA Nationals at Indian Wells. First off, the setting with the beautiful mountains and weather cannot be beat. Second, I wasn’t expecting much for a pickleball tournament in a tennis facility. I was completely wrong – USAPA went all out and nailed it. The courts were fantastic and the facilities were the best I have seen at a pickleball tournament. My results were not good, but the event itself made for a very favorable experience. I cannot wait until this November!

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

No secrets. I like to listen to everyone. Everyone has advice. Some of the advice will work for you and some of it will not. But when you find that golden nugget of advice, it helps a ton. My advice to anyone that will listen would be to work on your footwork and always get your paddle ready. Getting your paddle ready applies not only at the net, but also at the baseline and especially when on the run.

What is your day job?

I retired from the US Navy in 2011. I was a Naval Aviator and primarily flew the FA-18. My last job on active duty was the Commanding Officer of the US Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). Currently, I work for Northrop Grumman.

How many hours a week do you play?

Not enough! It varies. Most of the people I play with have a full time job, so getting a 4-some together is difficult. It usually works out to 2-3 times per week. Most of my playing time is spent drilling with Josh J Pickleball,(children’s book author extraordinaire.

How do you make time to play?

Plan ahead and hope for good weather. We will normally play before or after work.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Nothing specific. I try to get a good nights rest. But that is sometimes difficult. My biggest complaint with pickleball tournaments is that they do not release the draw until midnight. I’m not sure why – most other sports have the ability to do this. I have met some great tournament directors that release the draw early and they really do a great job of keeping the players informed. To all tournament directors – please release the draws at a reasonable hour! Rant complete : )

Paul Olin Silver Medal 2019 US Open

2019 US Open: Men’s Senior Pro SIngles: Paul Olin, Silver; Scott Moore, Gold; Dave Weinbach, Bronze

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

To win! I love competition, but winning is always my goal. I’m still learning this game, so I don’t have specific goals. Just do my best and the results will come.

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

I’m very far from one of the best players in the world. I still have a ton to learn. But that’s what I love about the game – there are many different ways to play and everyone in this game is super friendly and always willing to help out.

Meet The Pros – Sarah Yates-Parker

Meet The Pros – Sarah Yates-Parker

Sarah and Kyle Yates

Sarah Yates-Parker and Kyle Yates

Awesome! This is Kyle Yates SISTER! Enuf said. Enjoy!

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

2019 US Open 19+ Women’s doubles Silver with Katie McKee
2017 US Open 19+ Mixed Doubles Gold with Kyle Yates
2017 US Open 19+ Women’s doubles Silver with Rachel Elliot
2017 Atlanta Open 5.0 Women’s Doubles Silver with Lucy Kitcher
2017 Nationals 19+ Women’s Doubles Silver with Jessica Stout

What paddle do you play with and why?

I currently play with the New Tempest Pro by Paddletek. Absolutely love the company and their products.

What is your pickleball story? Who introduced you to pickleball?

I started playing some pickleball when I came home (Fort Myers) on various breaks from college in North Carolina (Pfeiffer University). My brother Kyle, mom Julie, step-dad Larry, and Uncle Mike introduced me to pickleball. I seriously started to play when I graduated college in 2014 and permanently moved to Winston Salem, NC. From there I met our great pickleball group in NC and my husband Daniel and I have worked hard to compete at higher levels.

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I totally prefer outdoors more than playing indoors. Anyone that knows me will tell you that! Haha. I blame it on the fact I learned outdoors in Fort Myers, Florida and that is what I am most comfortable with.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I have had a handful of knee injuries and surgeries so I do not play any singles (besides skinny singles against my husband, Daniel Parker). My favorite is women’s doubles.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is at East Naples Community Park for the annual US Open. The crowd and atmosphere at this facility is unlike any other.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce? I guess I don’t really have a secret sauce besides finding openings down the middle and between teammates to place the ball. HUGE tip for players is practice practice practice. Get a ball machine, or a really good friend to go out with you and practice all kinds of shots. Third shot drops are so important and being able to get up to the kitchen line to put pressure on your opponents.

What is your day job?

I actively work as a Registered Nurse in the Operating Room at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, NC. I work 3 12 hour day shifts through the week which lets me play some on my off days. I am also currently enrolled in my Masters Program for Nurse Practitioner so that takes up a lot of my time.

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

I really try to play 4-8 hours a week, whether it is rec play or even just drilling with my ball machine and/or husband on our own.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Sports Foam Roller

Foam Roller (photo credit Dicks Sporting goods)

No specific rituals. I faithfully use my foam roller before big tournaments and try to drill a lot on certain important shots weeks before a big tournament.

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

I really want to be able to compete with my brother Kyle again at a major tournament. Playing with a sibling or spouse can be very difficult, but I loved competing next to him and sharing that memory together.

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

This sport has brought so much fun, competitiveness, friendships, and memories to my life. I am fortunate enough to be healthy and have the ability to play like I do. People who know me, know that I do not give up, and strive to become a better player and person every day.

Golden Girl Jennifer Dawson – World Class Athlete, Professional Pickleball And Tennis Champion

As pickleball continues to grow and an increasing number of tennis players transition to the sport of pickleball, few have achieved the level of success in both pickleball and tennis as Jennifer Dawson. An amazing athlete with incredible power and grace on and off the courts, Jennifer continues to earn major titles in tennis and pickleball, now as a Senior Pro in both sports.

In 2017, Jennifer made pickleball history as the first ever Triple Crown winner at the Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships, winning gold in Senior Pro Singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. At the 2018 Minto US OPEN, she won gold in Women’s Senior Pro Doubles.

Jennifer Dawson

Jennifer’s titles at the USAPA Nationals Championships are equally as impressive, starting in 2015 with silver in Women’s Doubles 19+, then in 2016 gold in Women’s Doubles 35+, followed by two silver medals in 2017 in Women’s Senior Open Doubles and Singles. At the most recent 2018 USAPA National Pickleball Championships, Jennifer again won silver in Women’s Senior Open Singles, and another gold in Women’s Senior Open Doubles. She has also won several gold medals at the Tournament of Champions in both Senior Pro Doubles and Singles.

Jennifer’s pickleball achievements alone are beyond impressive. What makes her accomplishments even more remarkable is that she achieves such success while also competing and winning at an elite level in tennis. Jennifer recently spoke with Pickleball Central founder Anna Copley about her pickleball career, tennis background and highlights, and why she favors ProKennex paddles. Watch the interview with Jennifer here.

Jennifer Dawson Video Interview

Jennifer started playing tennis at age seven, and went on to play Division I collegiate tennis at USD. Then Jennifer Larking, she claimed the #1 Singles rank at USD in 1986, 1987 and 1988. After college, Jennifer played on the pro tennis tour for several years, racking up an impressive record. After taking some time off to raise a family she later returned to national and international competitive tennis, earning the number one USTA ranking in women’s 35, 40 and 45 age groups.

Currently, Jennifer plays at the highest level on the USTA Senior International Tennis Team, competing in dozens of tennis tournaments annually. On May 18, 2019 at the USTA National Women’s Senior Hard Court Tennis Championships in La Jolla, where the best players across the country compete for the coveted USTA Gold Balls awarded to the top national champions, she won not just one but two gold balls. The only double gold winner of the week, Jennifer won gold in both Singles and Doubles 50+ division.

Jennifer Dawson USTA team.jpeg

Jennifer and her husband Steve Dawson own and operate the Bobby Riggs Racket & Paddle Center in Encinitas, CA, where they are both tennis and pickleball pros. The BOOST Pickleball Training Camps at Bobby Riggs Center provide pickleball players an opportunity to train with and learn from some of the finest players in the world – Steve, Jennifer, their son Callan (an accomplished 5.0 pickleball player) and several world class visiting guest pros such as Simone Jardim, Irina Tereschenko, Corrine Carr and Cammy MacGregor.

Athletes like the Dawsons are understandably particular about the equipment they use. Steve turned to ProKennex years ago when he was suffering from tennis elbow. So impressed with the ProKennex Kinetic Energy system for how well it improved his injury symptoms in tennis, Steve began working with ProKennex two years ago to develop pickleball paddles using the same technology.

The first ProKennex pickleball paddle, the Kinetic Pro Speed, was introduced at the 2018 US OPEN Pickleball Championships and immediately won a staggering collection of medals (with a little help from Steve and Jennifer). The newest ProKennex paddle, the Kinetic Ovation Speed, with an innovative oval shape and unparalleled sweet spot, was just introduced at the 2019 Minto US OPEN, winning more medals for both of the Dawsons.

Thanks to the ProKennex Kinetic Energy vibration dampening technology, thousands of pickleball players are benefiting from the reduction or elimination of previous elbow, arm and wrist pain. Learn more about ProKennex pickleball paddles and gear here.

Meet The Pros – Barry Waddell

Meet The Pros – Barry Waddell

Barry Waddel and Dave Weinbach

Dave Weinbach and Barry Waddell – Gold, 2019 US OPEN

From his first game in flip flops to gold in the US OPEN, Barry Waddell has shown us what a professional tennis turned pickleball star can do. I think we could all learn a lot from him, on and off the court. Enjoy!

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

2019 US Open, Men’s Senior Pro Doubles with Dave Weinbach – Gold
2018 Texas Open, Senior Men’s Open Doubles with Steve Kennedy – Gold

2018 Atlanta Open, Men’s Senior Doubles Open Pro with Scott Moore – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

The Paddletek Tempest (Original). I love the soft touch and I can generate my own power. I use a bit lighter paddle (7.8 oz) and find it very maneuverable when getting into fights at the net. LOL.

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

I grew up in Miami, Florida playing football and baseball in the youth programs until the age of 13, when I discovered my true love of tennis. Within two years I was ranked in the top 5 in the state of Florida and top 50 in the nation. At 18, I won the Florida State High School Championships at the number one singles position earning many college scholarships. Attending the University of Illinois, I was ranked number one as a freshman and reached the finals of the Big Ten Championships. I then played professionally on the satellite tour in Europe and the United States.

After a brief professional tennis career, I returned to Florida to become the Director of Tennis at Casa Ybel on Sanibel Island. Continuing to play tennis tournaments, I was ranked number one in Florida in the Men’s 25 and Men’s 30 division and number two in the men’s open division. At the age of 47 and after many years away from playing competitive tennis, I found my new love of pickleball by chance one day when I was working out at the local recreation center.

I heard some noise coming from the indoor basketball courts and went inside. I saw people playing this strange game with a neon green ball (Jugs) and small paddle. Sitting on the bleachers, someone asked me if I wanted to play, but I was in flip flops and didn’t have a paddle. “No problem,” he said, “Here’s a paddle and flip flops will work fine.” From that moment on I was hooked. I started recreational play indoors for the first 8 years and then began outdoor tournament play in 2017.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I hesitated going outdoors for many years partly because my knees were bothering me and also because I didn’t think the game was going to grow into the sport that it has become. Boy am I glad that I got that wrong! The first year of playing outdoors, I was literally pulling my hair out because the game was so different from indoors, playing on wood floors with the soft Jugs ball. It was almost like two different games, but I stuck with it. Now after 2 1/2 years, I enjoy playing outdoors very much because of the unique challenges associated with outdoor play. Most tournaments are outdoors, but occasionally, because of weather, they move inside where I am VERY comfortable. ; )

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like singles and doubles but have decided because I don’t have too much time to practice it doesn’t make sense for me to compete. Singles is great for getting in shape and “skinny singles” is also great for doubles training!

Team Paddletek buddies, Barry Waddel and Stephanie Shouse Lane

Team Paddletek buddies, Barry Waddell and Stephanie Shouse Lane

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

The US OPEN is my favorite venue because of the open air venue and the ability to watch all the matches in close proximity. The Championship Court is also an incredible experience with an intimate and electrifying atmosphere.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I personally don’t believe that there is a secret sauce, although there is no substitute for good technique. Tennis players have an advantage in this category because of the many similarities to pickleball, but that doesn’t mean that other sports don’t contribute. Ping pong, racquetball, squash, platform tennis and badminton are all sports that have similar benefits to pickleball. My advice or tip would be to take lessons from a tennis turned pickleball player or pickleball players that have learned good technique and can clearly articulate those instructions. There is also no substitute for hard work and many hours of practice.

What is your day job?

Full time realtor with John R Wood in Lee County, Florida.

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

I try to play at least 3 or 4 times a week.

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

I am an IPTPA Certified Teaching Professional and have been teaching pickleball and tennis for over 40 years. I would like to share my experience with others and introduce as many people as possible to the incredible sport of pickleball.

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

Pickleball is a very unique sport which connects many different demographics and cultures. The younger players are starting to enter the game, which should only increase the exposure and bring the game to the next level. You can literally learn to play pickleball in a couple of months compared to tennis which takes a couple of years to achieve a similar status. Also you do not need to be Roger Federer to play the sport, as many different shapes and sizes compete well in this arena. I have a disability with my neck being organically fused, but I do not let it stop me from going out and playing the greatest game on earth!