Meet the Pros – Nancy Nowak

Meet The Pros – Nancy Nowak

Nancy Nowak

Nancy Nowak

Nancy has had the privilege of playing with one of the best instructors in the country, Deb Harrison. Together they are a force to be reckoned with. Enjoy!

Deb Harrison and Nancy Nowak - Huntsman World Senior Games

Deb Harrison and Nancy Nowak – Huntsman World Senior Games

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

2013 World Huntsman Senior Games: Gold Mixed Doubles (60-64) with partner Dick Scott
          Silver Women’s Doubles (60-64) with partner Deb Harrison
2009 USAPA Nationals: Silver Women’s Doubles with partner Judie Kelly

What paddle do you play with and why?

My paddle of choice for the past 2 years has been the Paddletek Bantam EX-L. This paddle provides nice pop but also allows control. I’m currently trying some of the elongated paddles as they have become the new craze.

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

I retired and bought a home in The Villages, Florida in 2004. A golf friend introduced me to the game. Being a former racquetball and badminton player, the game came naturally to me. Since then I have been addicted.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I prefer outdoors. We have 180+ courts in The Villages with open play every day. Lighting seems to be an issue indoors for me.

Nancy Nowak and Dick Scott

Nancy Nowak and Dick Scott

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles both women’s and mixed. Like teamwork concept of doubles. Deb Harrison and I often partner for tournaments, and when you play with same person you know and sense each other’s next move.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

Lake Miona Recreation Center is my favorite place to play as the competition is great there. These courts attract mainly 4.5 and 5.0 players.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I am known by my pickleball friends as Nasty Nancy due to 3 shots I use to pull my opponent’s out of position. These shots are a cut drop, bump lob off dink and inside out cut to sideline. These shots can be seen on Picklepong Deb’s U-Tube video.

My tip for players is to form practice groups where you work on different aspects of the game and then try to implement them as you play.

What is your day job?

Retired and enjoying life.

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

I usually play 6-7 days per week for 2-3 hrs. Sometimes twice a day if I have the opportunity. Also, for the past 10 years I attend a Weekly Advance Women’s PB Clinic led by Deb Harrison.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

No, not really.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

I have friends in their 70’s & 80’s who are still enjoying this game so my goal is stay healthy and keep my skills sharp so I can continue to play for several more years.

Nancy Nowak and Steve Butler

Nancy Nowak and Steve Butler – playing in the 2018 US Open.

Tres Palapas Pickleball Resort to Host First Mexican Championship in April

Paul Bland and his wife Sally Meecham manage Tres Palapas Pickleball Resort in Los Barriles, a well-integrated community located in Mexico’s Baja peninsula. This popular vacation spot and snowbird destination features gorgeous scenery and a wonderful pickleball program.

Tres Palapas is excited to announce the first Mexican National Pickleball Championship running from April 28 – 29. It will be preceded by a 4-day clinic with pro player Matthew Blom on April 20 – 24.

Tres Palapas Mexican National Tournament

Matthew is a USAPA Nationals gold medalist and is sometimes referred to as pickleball’s “Zen Master.” His clinic takes a holistic approach that will help players improve their mental game and identify improper habits while also covering the more technical aspects of form, ball control and body mechanics.

Tres Palapas is a pickleball paradise to locals, and the resort has great appeal for part-time residents and visitors looking to play the game while surrounded by beachfront beauty. Over 30 locals play at the club every week, and many others enjoy participating in the club’s drop-in play, tournaments, casual round robin play, workshops and other events.

Tres Palapas

The large core group is primarily made up of 3.5 to 4.5 level players. Tres Palapas’ lesson program features three primary instructors: Tony Krause, Jon Smalley and Emmanual Pickleball. In addition to their own clinics, they also provide lessons from pros such as Matthew’s upcoming clinic. Scott Moore and Tyson McGuffin have also recently stopped by the resort to share their talent.

If you’d like to enjoy some sun and fun, there are three hotels near Tres Palapas you can stay at along with a property management company which can help you find accomodations. Visit the Tres Palapas site for more information.

Pickleball Getaways also organizes pickleball-focused trips where people play at Tres Palapas and stay at lodging arranged by their team.

Pickleball in Mexico

Los Barriles is a great location for hiking, fishing, mountain biking and kiting, so don’t just stick around for the clinic and tournament if you head out to this gorgeous hideaway! Give Tres Palapas a look to improve your game and outlook today.

Meet The Pros – Carol Lindow

Meet The Pros – Carol Lindow

Carol Lindow

Carol Lindow

Carol is an ambassador for both pickleball and tennis. She does not believe a player has to give up one for the other! Enjoy!

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

2017 USAPA NATIONALS -Gold, Women’s Doubles 5.0/Age with Jackie Faegre
       -Bronze, Mixed Doubles 5.0/Age with Randy Bourne
2017 US OPEN-Gold, Women’s Doubles Age with Jackie Faegre
      -Gold, Senior 5.0 Women’s Doubles with Jackie Faegre
2016 NATIONALS-Gold, Women’s Doubles Age with Jackie Faegre
2015 NATIONALS- Gold, Women’s Doubles Age with Jackie Faegre
2015 NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES- Gold, Women’s Doubles Age with Jackie Faegre
-Silver Mixed Doubles Age with Skip Houghton

2014 HUNTSMAN WORLD SENIOR GAMES- Gold, Women’s Doubles Age
-Bronze Mixed Doubles age

What paddle do you play with and why?

Manta Extreme Point 5 and Manta Cobra Lite. These paddles give me great control and power when needed. Also, I seem to get a more consistent 3rd shot and great touch. I am a Manta Sports Sales Representative and member of the Manta Pro Team. I love being sponsored by Manta. They are a good up-and-coming company.

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

I have always loved racket sports and started playing pickleball 5 years ago when I retired and was looking for something new to do with my time. As a former Physical Education teacher, I taught pickleball, but did not realize it had become so popular until I retired and started playing and competing in it. I love the quickness, strategy and variety of shots involved in the game. Plus, the people that play it have so much fun that it is hard to stop playing.

“ One more game,  OK…”

Duel in the Desert 5.0 65+ - Jim & Yvonne Hackenberg, Gold; Carol Lindow & Randy Bourne, Silver; Marsha Freso & Murph Murphy, .Bronze

Duel in the Desert 5.0 65+ – Jim & Yvonne Hackenberg, Gold; Carol Lindow & Randy Bourne, Silver; Marsha Freso & Murph Murphy, .Bronze:

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I only play doubles mostly for this reason: I have had bilateral knee replacements and I want them to last for a long time. The lateral movement of  singles would be much to demanding on my replacement knees.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

My favorite place to play outdoors is at the Palm Creek Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona, where I spend my winters. There are 32 individually-fenced, premier courts here. This is a place I refer to as “pickleball heaven” for active adults. In the summer I play in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where there also are numerous, designated-outdoor pickleball courts with a very active pickleball community.

carol Lindow angle shot

Great Angled Smash Shot!

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I feel having a wide variety of shots is the key. I don’t want to be predictable and I like trying to take away my opponent’s type of game style with various shots that can throw them off. I feel being consistent, keeping the ball in play and not making mistakes is the key to success. I like to play percentage pickleball and not give away “free points”. I try to keep a calm disposition and not get upset when my opponents gain momentum in the game. When I get behind, I tend to concentrate better and always believe we can win the game or match no matter what the score might be. So much of this game is mental. I also enjoy “setting up” the point for the offensive lob or angled smash shot which I would say are my favorite shots. 

What is your day job?

I am a retired PE Teacher.  

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

“One more game” is my motto, which means I play every day, endlessly! 

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really. I just try to focus. I don’t get nervous because it is so much fun. A ritual would probably make me nervous. 

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

I have met most of my goals to win gold in all the major tournaments. Of course my goal now is to stay healthy and encourage tennis players to play both sports because one game helps the other. I don’t believe you have to give up one for the other. One of the big resistances among tennis players is that they might want to quit tennis because they fall in love with pickleball, but there are so many folks that do both. Many folks who play tennis at Palm Creek, where I live in the winter, have warmed up to the game. So I also “ambassador” for the game of tennis for the pickleball players, because they can do both. I might consider going abroad to play pickleball as long as they have Age categories. Madrid may be a possibility. 

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

I am fortunate to have good partners. A good partner is a fine player you can have fun with, like Randy Bourne, who shares the court with you and who encourages their partner. 

Carol Lindow and Randy Bourne

Carol Lindow and Randy Bourne

How to Play Pickleball Mindfully

Playing game after game of pickleball is a good way to get a workout, but it’s not necessarily the best way to improve. If you swing away without thinking about how you’re maneuvering and responding to different circumstances, then you may find yourself stuck in a rut over time. Don’t let bad habits take hold!

In truth, it’s fairly simple to keep a few things in mind during games that will help you to better your play and determine what you can work on during practices. Here are a few questions to ask:

1)  How are you holding your paddle?

Unless you’ve taken lessons before, you may not even think about grip style and how it affects your game. Do you hold your paddle like a tennis racquet? Place a finger against the back of the face? Grip it near the base of the handle?

All of these methods have different pros and cons, not to mention their usefulness varies depending on the type of paddle you use. If you find you’re responding too quickly or slowly to shots, you might want to experiment with different grips to see if you can get better control and placement with your paddle.

2) How fast are you moving to the kitchen?

Generally speaking, after the serve/return of serve, you want to get to the kitchen line as soon as possible. A lot of newer players tend to hover near the baseline and make it harder for themselves to cover the court.

It can be intimidating for some players to step up close to the net when it feels like the action gets more frenzied in these instances, but you’ll be able to defend against a wider variety of shots and react much faster this way. If you find yourself standing around the middle of the court, step up a few paces and watch your skills improve.

Pickleball near the kitchen

(Credit: Chad Ryan)

3) Why are you missing balls?

Sometimes missed shots are inevitable, but if you can keep track of the reasons why then you’ll be on the right path to improving your play. Were you out of position? Not watching your opponent’s eyes/hands? Maybe you managed to hit the ball, but slammed it too hard and sent it outside of the court.

If you’re consistently making the same mistakes, take a look at what’s causing them and how you can make appropriate tweaks moving forward.

Other great ways to improve your game are to practice good techniques by drilling or learning from a more practiced partner/teacher. Have you ever had a “light bulb” moment when it came to correcting your play?

Who’s Your Pickleball Hero? Hall of Fame Accepting Nominations for 2018

Last year PickleballCentral, the USAPA and IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association) created the Pickleball Hall of Fame and welcomed the first inductees into pickleball history.

It’s now time to recognize a whole new host of superstar pickleball heroes to the Hall of Fame, from volunteers to pro players and big-hearted community leaders. If you know of someone who’s offered significant contributions to the sport and made the world of pickleball a brighter place, now’s the time to nominate them for this year’s vote.

To do so, you’ll simply need to visit the Pickleball Hall of Fame and provide a few details regarding your nominee.

There are two different forms available for use: one for competitors (high-level players who have impressive achievements and shown top sportsmanship) and one for contributors (individuals who have grown pickleball’s reach and reputation).

Pickleball Hall of Fame 2017

The Pickleball Hall of Fame would love to hear from you and ensure that all of our community’s top representatives have a shot at gaining more widespread recognition.

Nominations will be open until April 1, 2018, so be sure to get your applications in soon!

If your nominee successfully makes the cut, they will then have the opportunity to be selected by the committee’s vote to be inducted into the Hall of Fame itself. Inductees are introduced at the USAPA Championships and will have plaques presented to them to honor their accomplishments.

Pickleball Hall of Fame Inductees

We look forward to hearing more about all the wonderful people that make our pickleball community so great. Visit the Hall of Fame site to submit your nominees today.

If you’d like to take a look at last year’s finalists and resulting inductees, simply visit the links shown here.

The Top Pickleball Snowbird Destinations

Hang around the pickleball community long enough and you’ll probably hear the term “snowbird” pop up as the winter chill sets in. This endearing phrase refers to picklers who pack their bags to stay in warmer climates during the frosty seasons.

Now that spring is nearly here many snowbirds are making return trips home, but if you’re curious about the most temperate and active pickleball hotspots, we’ve compiled a list so you’ll know the best locations to escape to.

Florida

Pickleball in The Villages

Without a doubt, FL is the world’s number one activity hub for pickleball, and it just so happens to boast beautiful beaches and sunshine throughout the year. The most famous place for pickleball is The Villages, a retirement community in Sumter County.

It’s a true pickleball paradise. The Villages host over 150 courts, free drill clinics held by 5.0 players, opportunities to be coached by the best (such as Coach Mo, Deb Harrison and Lydia Willis) and of course, tons of opportunities to play pickleball at every skill level.

Other popular pickleball destinations in FL are Naples (home of the US Open and its corresponding Pickleball Academy run by Simone Jardim), Vero Beach and Delray Beach.

Arizona

Is dry heat more your style than the humid haze of FL? Arizona is known as the pickleball RV capital and provides plenty of warmth with its desert beauty. The Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande has over 30 dedicated courts, free clinics, traveling pros and hosts the USAPA National Championships.

Other popular but smaller pickleball parks are the Voyager RV Park and Happy Trails Resort (with lessons taught by Bob Youngren). Both have 14 courts, mentoring and structured play.

California

Bobby Riggs Pickleball

California may be called the land of milk and honey, but did you know it’s also a solid choice for pickleball? In Encinitas the Bobby Riggs Tennis Center has made way for pickleball with various leagues and active drop-in play. Many of the players at this location went home with medals from the US Open.

There are also many areas in Palm Springs and Palm Desert to play, such as Demuth Park and Thousand Trails.

International Pickleball Destinations

In addition to these sunny retreats in the U.S. there are also several international locations that have become popular for pickleball.

Spain

Check out the Pickleball Spain page to find several courts, particularly in Madrid. The Spanish Open/Bainbridge Cup will be taking place in September for those looking to get in on some extra competition.

Thailand

Thailand has grown in its pickleball passion of late, with the first Bangkok Open occurring in May last year. The next competition will be happening soon in April, although you can play with locals anytime at the Santisuk English School.

Mexico

Tres Palapas

Baja is home to a much-loved pickleball resort called Tres Palapas. While it may not be financially feasible to stay there for an extended period of time, it makes for a great hideaway when you’re craving some more Vitamin D.

They host basic and advanced workshops in addition to specialized training with champion Matthew Blom (coming up this April).

Do you have a favorite warm weather pickleball destination? Share it with us in the comments!

Meet The Pros – Marsha Freso

Meet the Pros – Marsha Freso

Byron and Marsha Freso

Byron and Marsha Freso, center, welcomed to Stevenson park in Friendswood, Texas

Marsha Freso and her husband Byron are well known in national pickleball circles. She is very humble about her level of play, but she has competed with the best and rides the Onix Bus, so she’s a pro in my eyes. Enjoy!

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

2017 USAPA Nationals :  Silver – Mixed Doubles 65+/5.0 with Mark Friedenberg
              Bronze Women’s Doubles 60/+5.0 (with Dalonna Cooper);
              Bronze Women’s Singles 65+/5.0
2017 Huntsman World Senior Games:  Silver – Mixed Doubles 65-69 with David Killen
             Bronze – Women’s Doubles 65-69A  with Carolyn Bagley;
            Bronze – Women’s Singles 65-69A
2017 Grand Canyon State Games:  Silver – Women’s Doubles 65+ with Carol Lindow
           Silver – Mixed Doubles 65+ with Tim Murphy
2016 USAPA Nationals:  Silver – Women’s Doubles 55+ with Linda Kauss
           Bronze – Mixed Doubles 60+ with Gary M. Miller
2016 Huntsman World Senior Games:  Gold – Mixed Doubles 60-64A with Gary M. Miller
2016 US Open Championships:  Gold – Mixed Doubles 60+ with Jim Cetlinski
           Silver – Women’s Doubles 60+ with Denise Boutin

 2015 Huntsman Sr. Games, Marsha Freso, Larry Moon, Gold; Sheila Schoonover, Steve Paranto, Silver, Bill Propert, Cookie Drake, Bronze

2015 Huntsman Sr. Games, Marsha Freso, Larry Moon, Gold; Sheila Schoonover, Steve Paranto, Silver, Bill Propert, Cookie Drake, Bronze

2016 Grand Canyon State Games:  Silver – Women’s Doubles 60+ with Dee Rochel
           Bronze – Mixed Doubles 60+ (with Troy Horton)
2015 USAPA Nationals:  Silver – Mixed Doubles 60+ with Al Hager
2015 Huntsman World Senior Games:  Gold – Mixed Doubles 60-64A with Larry Moon
           Gold – Women’s Doubles 60-64A with Sheila Schoonover Bronze – Women’s Singles 60-64
2015 State Games of America:  Gold – Mixed Doubles 60+ with Byron Freso
           Gold – Women’s Singles 60+; Silver – Women’s Doubles 60+ with Barbara Wintroub
2015 National Senior Games:  Silver – Women’s Doubles 55+ with Linda Kauss
           Silver – Women’s Singles 60+

What paddle do you play with and why?

I’ve been playing with the Engage Blade for about the past two years.  It took me about a month to get comfortable using an elongated paddle. The Blade gives me extra reach, which definitely helps me get to more balls.

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

I found pickleball in 2011 when my husband and I moved to the Tampa Bay area in Florida from Atlanta, Georgia. Our community had four dedicated pickleball courts at that time and all our new neighbors said we had to learn to play pickleball. Of course, our response was the proverbial “What is pickleball?” After we played the first time, we were hooked! It wasn’t long before we started playing in tournaments in search for additional competition. We now travel the country in the “Onix Bus” — what fun that is!

The Onix Bus

The Onix Bus

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer playing outdoors, but indoors is fun too.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like them both. I enjoy the workout that the singles game offers, but I also like the challenge of working effectively with a doubles partner.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

The courts at Pine Nursery Park in Bend, Oregon are unique in color and blend perfectly with the surroundings. I find it very soothing to play there.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I don’t have a “secret sauce.” I just try to get the ball back over the net and in the court. My primary tips are “have fun” and “spread the joy.”

Referee Marsha

Referee Marsha, photo provided by Sarah Ansboury’s blog

What is your day job?

I have been retired for over 13 years, so my day job is having fun and being kind to others. Pickleball is usually on my daily to-do list.

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

I average a few hours of play every day. Remember—I’m retired, so I can play whenever I want to!

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Nope. I don’t look at the draw; I just show up when I’m called to a court. It’s less stressful for me that way.

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

As a true super senior player (age 65+), my ultimate goal is to be the “last one standing.” I want to compete as long as I’m physically able.

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

I LOVE PICKLEBALL! I’m definitely not a pro player, but I am proud to have won or medaled in a good share of the tournaments I’ve played in.  The sport has truly changed my life and my husband’s by allowing me to make new friends everywhere and to be more physically active at this stage of my life than I ever dreamed.