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
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.
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
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
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.