Let’s Help Spread the Pickleball Love to Japan!

Exciting news today as USAPA Nationals medalist Daniel Moore begins a crowdfunding campaign to bring pickleball to Japan. If you’re looking to share the gift of pickleball with international fans this season, this is a great place to start!

Pickleball players of all ages in Japan

What some people don’t know is that Daniel lived in Japan for 16 years growing up and currently serves as a tour guide for visitors through the organization Walk Japan. Japan has an aging population with many indoor gyms equipped with badminton courts that could be utilized for pickleball.

According to Daniel’s campaign, there are currently 2 locations that regularly play pickleball in Japan with a third arriving in January. He explains:

“The locations have around 15-20 players each… An additional three locations have played pickleball before but we haven’t had the time or the funding to continue supporting them so they don’t have any balls or paddles. Most importantly, they don’t have someone there to explain the rules, coach and teach… which is what will get people playing.”

Senior picklers in Japan

The funds will primarily go to the Japan Pickleball Association headed by Moore so that the group can travel around the country to provide clinics and demos. They are also planning to register the JPA as an official non-profit organization and put together local/national tournaments to coincide with Daniel’s annual pickleball Japan trip.

The campaign only needs $10,000 to be successfully funded, and if you make a donation above $25 you’ll receive a Japan Pickleball t-shirt!

Daniel and Japanese pickleball players

Please consider donating if you like the sound of a pickleball-crazy Japan and would enjoy visiting in the future, or if you just want to share the joy of pickleball around the globe. Click here to donate today.

Meet The Pros: Pothen Varughese

Meet The Pros: Pothen Varughese

Pothen Varughese winning silver in the Men's 80+ at Nationals!

Pothen Varughese winning silver in the Men’s 80+ at Nationals!

Dr. Varughese is new to the USAPA Nationals competition and brings a life-long love of tennis to his experience on the pickleball court. Enjoy!

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

In the past 5 years, I have won gold medals in singles and men’s doubles in my age group at the Senior Games in Tucson, AZ, and singles and mixed doubles in the Ohio Senior Games and singles in the Pennsylvania Senior Games. Of Course, this year I won a Silver medal in singles and Bronze in the doubles at the USAPA Nationals at Palm Creek.

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Rally Graphite Power Paddle

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Rally Graphite Power paddle made by PickleballCentral. The weight of the paddle is light enough for me which helps prevent elbow problems. I like the feel of it when the ball strikes the paddle and it generates good power on the serves and volleys. It also gives me good control on my dinks.

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

When I retired in 2005, a friend of mine invited me to visit The Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, AZ in the winter of 2005. My wife and I spent 10 days there during Christmas vacation. Pickleball is a very popular game at the Voyager Resort and I was introduced to it there. Since I had been a tennis player for most of my life, it was very easy for me to learn the game of pickleball.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I play both indoor and outdoor and I enjoy both, but my preference is to play outdoors.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I play mostly doubles and occasionally singles. In my age group, it is difficult to find players who want to play singles.

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Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, Arizona

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place is the Voyager RV Resort in Tucson. I spend 5-6 months there in the winter. There I can play with a lot of different men and women who are highly skilled and give me very challenging games. A number of Canadian players also vacation there and I enjoy the international atmosphere.

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

My secret sauce is returning the serve with a heavy under-spin deep in the backhand corner. My advice to players is to be patient, patient, patient! Many good players miss an easy shot because they are impatient and rush the return.

What’s your day job?

I am a retired college professor and I enjoy reading books on religion, history and politics when I am not playing pickleball or tennis. I am also a track & field enthusiast and have competed regularly in Senior Olympics and won numerous gold medals over the past 10 years.

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

I play pickleball about 3 hours each day, except Sundays. Since I’m retired, I have plenty of time available. Generally, I play 2 hours of tennis in the morning and then 2-3 hours of pickleball. Then in the afternoon, it is time for me to read my favorite book. I also go to the gym and work out for about 90 minutes twice a week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I’m not superstitious so I don’t have any particular rituals, but I do like to stretch my leg and arm muscles for a few minutes before a match.

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

My goal is to win a gold medal in pickleball singles and doubles and mixed doubles at the National Senior Olympics to be held in Birmingham, Alabama in June 2017.

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

Playing pickleball keeps me healthy at the age of 80. Participating in various tournaments gives me the opportunity to meet new people and players and increase my circle of friends. Pickleball friends are the best people in the world.

Introducing Pickleball as a Competitive Sport: Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston, Texas

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Activity Center at Trinity Episcopal School, Galveston

I heard it by the grapevine that some great things were happening in one school PE program in Galveston, Texas.  Here is some of their story, shared by Anne Hyatt, Program Director at Trinity Episcopal School. ENJOY!

We are in our 4th year of playing pickleball at Trinity Episcopal School, and I jokingly say that I have a group of little addicts. They are always asking me if they can play during PE, get more court time, when our next tournament is, etc. They are nuts about pickleball! I’m our school’s Program Director, and coincidentally also in my 4th year here. I was charged with creating after-school and extra-curricular activities in our new athletic facility, and in my first year I stumbled upon pickleball in an equipment catalog and thought we should give it a shot. We practice once a week, on Fridays, from 3:00pm-5:30pm. When I started, we played on Fridays for the spring semester. We are now up to every Friday from September – March, and I know they’re going to ask me for extra practices in April. 

 

The first year wasn’t as successful as we’d hoped. We only had about 18 students in 2nd – 8th grade, and a lot of them didn’t stick with it. The second year I had more students (20) in the same age range, but I tried to change our dynamic: we had holiday parties, a separate practice for the older kids and hosted our first “tournament.”

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Students playing pickleball at Trinity Episcopal

I think there were only 6 students registered, but at that point they finally had a grasp of the rules and it was awesome to see this competitive spirit come out of them during tournament play. I also added pickleball into my PE curriculum. I think it was a combined effort of students getting better and me getting better too. I was more confident in the rules and how to play the game and it helped the kids be more confident as well.

Last year the program took off; I had 30 students registered for after-school pickleball, with an even split of 15 2nd-5th graders and 15 6th-8th graders. We extended our season and played from October – March, and 20 of the 30 students participated in our 2nd annual “Spring Swing Tournament.”  

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Trinity Episcopal medal winners at Mid-South Regionals

I took 10 students to the USAPA Mid-South Regional in May of 2016 to compete, and everyone medaled in either doubles or singles (or both). We were the only Juniors registered, but we don’t mention that. 😉 Last year’s group was so large that I had to enlist the help of a couple parent volunteers, and we also hosted a family night where parents could play with or compete against their students.

This year the program is at an all-time high. I have 37 students playing after school, 18 2nd-5th graders and 19 6th-8th graders, and they are insane about the sport. Every week my younger kids learn some part of the court, the game or the rules of play and we practice basic techniques like forehand shots, volleys and serving. We end almost every practice with a game called “Defender” – sort of like King of the Court – and they all groan when I say time is up. My 6th-8th graders work on skills and strategy. They play as many games as they can during the hour and half practice. I’ve literally had to blink the lights on them to get them to quit and go home.

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2016 Spring Swing Tournament Participants

We really are a pickleball school, as silly as it sounds. When my players traveled to Louisiana in May to compete, it was the farthest any of our athletic teams had ever traveled to compete. I have kindergarten parents stop me and tell me that they can’t wait for TWO years from now, when their child can start playing pickleball. One of our biggest challenges is that they don’t have the opportunity to compete against other students, or they aren’t really welcomed to enter in the 19+ division of tournaments. They are crazy about pickleball, and it’s so cool to see their development and growth in the sport. I love what the sport has done for our students and for our campus as a whole.

Thank you Anne for sharing how a program like yours can grow pickleball athletes!

Meet The Pros – Tyson McGuffin

Meet The Pros: Tyson McGuffin

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Tyson McGuffin – First Time at the 2016 USAPA Nationals

I heard it through the grapevine that Tyson is one of  the TOP 5 tennis players in Washington State. What better person is there to convert to the pickleball way of life! Tyson was featured on the local news, KIMAtv.com in July. Check out the video here. Thanks Tyson for giving our readers your enthusiastic story of how you became addicted to this wonderful pickleball community! Enjoy!

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

2016 USAPA Nationals – Men’s 19+, Singles – Silver, Men’s Open Singles – Silver
2016 Int’l Indoor Pickleball Championship – Men’s Singles Open – Gold
2016 So Cal Summer Classic – Men’s Singles Open – Gold
2016 Coeur D’Alene Classic Pickleball Tournament – 5.0 Men’s Singles – Gold,
5.0 Men’s Doubles – Bronze with Jay Rippel

What paddle do you play with and why?

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Enrique Ruiz Signature 30PXL Epic paddle

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Maxima Composite 21PMXO Paddle

I am sponsored by Selkirk Sports. I started playing with the Enrique Ruiz Signature 30P-XL Epic paddle. I also just started playing with the Maxima and love it. It totally suits my game. It is a good shape paddle for someone like me coming from playing tennis. It’s got that extra length going for it.

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

I live in Yakima. I’ve been teaching tennis for a long time, and have competed extensively in tennis tournaments. I met this older guy, Bill Chotts, who used to play tennis but messed up his knee, and who had switched to pickleball. He kept bugging me to try it. One day he dragged me over to the YMCA to play. At first, I hated it. I couldn’t figure out how to score in doubles. I had trouble with being on a gym floor with thousands of lines. It was hard to adjust to the game and I couldn’t make sense of the dinking game. I love to smack the ball hard, so pickleball just didn’t seem to suit my competitive nature.

When I entered my first tournament, I found I could get a good cardio workout. My competitive nature was satisfied, and I got the extra added benefit of a big pickleball family: great people who will fight for the win on the court and then go out with you after for a beer or dinner. Everyone I’ve competed against is now a best friend. I love how the older, veteran players welcome newcomers. This is not how it is on the tennis circuit.  You compete, and then you leave. You don’t stay to socialize. 

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I love to play outdoors, especially when it is 95 degrees out, where I am at my best and can grind my opponent down. I fell in love with this game at the 2016 USAPA Nationals this year. I was there the whole 10 days and when I wasn’t competing, I was playing pickup games with some of the other players. I was a court rat, playing with 5.0 players all day, like Brian Ashworth, Chris “Mills” Miller, Dalton Vavra and Irina Tereschenko and loving it!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Singles play is my SPECIALTY! My tennis game gives me my advantage in Singles. I started learning with doubles, but struggled with the 30-40 ball dink. The singles game in pickleball is a better match for my tennis background. I also love the workout I get with the singles game.

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Daniel Moore, Marcin Rozpedski, Tyson McGuffin, winners of the 2016 Open Men’s SIngles

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I love to play in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. I am sponsored by Selkirk Sports of Hayden, Idaho, and loved playing at the Coeur D’Alene Classic Pickleball Tournament. It is a dream area for the sport!

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

I come from a wrestling family. My dad and oldest brother were both wrestling coaches. I wrestled in college and love the individual and mental aspects of competition. Mentally, I am a warrior, and competing is all about survival of the fittest. My advice is, when the going gets tough, just hunker down. Stay tough and it will eventually turn around in your favor.

What’s your day job?

I am a full-time tennis instructor in Yakima, Washington. 

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

I play 5-8 hours, whenever I can.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really. I’m not superstitious. With 2 cups of coffee, a good breakfast, plenty of electrolytes and bananas, I’m good to go.

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

I want to start training to be a certified pickleball trainer. I want to win big in 2017: USAPA Nationals, Tournament Of Champions, the Canadian Nationals and the US OPEN tournament for the  1st time. In 2025, I want to win gold in Men’s Doubles with my son Ty!

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

tyson-with-his-inspiration

I’m engaged. I have a 3 year old son, Ty. He is my inspiration! I love pickleball, the whole scene. Pickleball totally sells itself. Pickleball is a game anyone can play. I am a full-blown pickleball addict. I can’t live without this game. I want to encourage people to play the fastest growing sport in the world. Pickleball has the best community of any sport I know; it is the best social scene anybody can find. 

 

PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: The Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club, Penn Valley, California

PickleballCentral likes to acknowledge pickleball clubs who give back to the community. We extend our appreciation and our All Heart Award to the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club for their efforts to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness month.i-love-pickleball1

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On October 1, 2016 the Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club supported the fight against breast cancer with their 1st Annual “Go Pink & Dink” Pickleball Tournament.

Trophies for the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

Trophies for the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

 Aren't these awards adorable?

Aren’t these awards adorable?

 

Tournament action on the courts

Tournament action on the courts

They had 55 teams enter, and raised over $6800 for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Barna and Colleen Coke, 1st Place, Mixed Doubles

Barna and Colleen Coke, 1st Place, Mixed Doubles

 

Pickleball Gals at the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

Pickleball Gals at the Go Pink and Dink Tournament

All In Good Fun!

All In Good Fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

100% of the proceeds went to support the Breast Imaging Center at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley, CA. This organization has the recognition of being in the top five centers of excellence for breast cancer treatment in the nation!

Kimberly Parker speaking to the Go Pink and Dink tournament participants.

Kimberly Parker speaking to the Go Pink and Dink tournament participants.

Kimberly Parker, from the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, was presented with the amount the club raised.  She was amazed!

Presentation of the Breast Cancer Awareness check to Kimberly Parker

Presentation of the Breast Cancer Awareness check to Kimberly Parker

Everybody wins at this kind of event. They plan to expand the tournament to 2 days next year. Thank you, Lake Wildwood Pickleball Club, for reaching out to your community in such a fun and rewarding way.

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Meet The Pros: Clare Grabher

Meet The Pros: Clare Grabher

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Roxanne Pierce, Silver, Clare Grabher, Gold and Debbie Mascarin, Bronze, USAPA Nationals Women’s Singles 55+

A relative newcomer to the pickleball pro scene, Clare is another professional tennis athlete turned pickleball fanatic. Enjoy, and keep your eye out for her next year! She is a force to be reckoned with.

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
Well, I just discovered pickleball back in January, so I haven’t played a huge amount of tournaments yet. However, I did just win the 55+ Singles – Gold in the 2016 USAPA Nationals in Casa Grande, AZ  (really fun!) over the summer. I won Gold in the Atlantic Regional Women’s Singles and the Maine & NH Senior Games Women’s Singles plus Gold in Women’s Doubles (NH) & Mixed Doubles (ME).

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. I love it because it’s relatively light and takes the spin that I like to put on the ball.

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

I was a British professional tennis player in the late 70s and early 80s. I won the British junior championship and played at Wimbledon. My husband and I have had an adult tennis camp in New England called the New England Tennis Holidays for 29 years. We also had a company that offered country inn/guided hiking tours (New England Hiking Holidays) in North America & Europe for the past 32 years and we just retired from that.

With retirement, I suddenly had more free time in our off-season in Vero Beach, Florida, and I was looking for an active, social sport. Someone mentioned pickleball, so I drove down to our local park and was immediately taken under the wing of our local Pickleball Ambassadors Ken Roberts & California Bill. That was mid-January this year, and I have played every day that I have been able to since!

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

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Clare’s other passion is hiking

Outdoor – no question.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Singles right now as my tennis background lends itself to singles. Working very hard on the soft game, though, and love the finesse of it.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Pocahontas Park in Vero Beach, Florida, where I discovered the game, and up north in Maine at the Falmouth House of Pickleball (FHOP) and in Pickleball Ambassador Linda Einsiedler’s back yard!

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

Mix your game up. Don’t get too obsessed with one kind of shot, whether it be the dink or going for the winning shot. Keep your opponent guessing.

What’s your day job?

I run our office for our New England Tennis Holidays adult tennis camp.

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

I play 2 -3 hours every day that I can sneak away and it doesn’t rain!

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Daytona Pickleball – Clare and a friend

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Breathe when feeling tight. A beer always helps in that regard too, but I probably shouldn’t say that!

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

I really want to get better at doubles and compete for medals on a national level in women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

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

Pickleball is still in its infancy in many ways, compared to other professional competitive sports. I still meet people who have never heard of it. That is going to change…and, as my husband reminds me, “It’s going to hurt our tennis business!”

We hope to hear you will be giving pickleball clinics soon, Clare… there’s no end in sight to the popularity of this game! Thank you for sharing some of your pickleball story with our readers. 

Indian Pickleball Continues to Grow at the 4th National Tournament in Jaipur

AIPA’s (All India Pickleball Association) hard work and effort has clearly gotten the pickleball rolling as more Indian players take up the competitive mantle. On November 11 – 13th at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium in Jaipur, the 4th National Pickleball Tournament was a rousing success.

Kavita and Ashwin of Rajasthan

Kavita and Ashwin of Rajasthan (Runners-Up in Mixed Doubles)

Of the 29 states in India, 12 teams were present from 10 states to show off their pickleball talent, with observers from two additional states in the wings. The participating states included:

Bihar
Haryana
Jharkhand
Kerala
Madhya Pradesh
Maharashtra
Pondicherry
Rajasthan
Sikkim
Uttarakhand

The West Bengal and Tamil Nadu visitors expressed interest in throwing their hats in the ring for next year’s tournament in Uttarakhand.

AIPA Nationals 2016

Maharashtra Sets the Standard

The winners this year were actually repeat champions from 2015, with Team Maharashtra once again claiming victory! Rajasthan still made an impressive showing on their home ground, often coming in silver just behind the winners. At least the other states know who they have to knock off the podium when the next opportunity arrives!

In Men and Women’s Singles players from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh actually overcame the Maharashtra pros, but Doubles was a sweep. The Maharashtra pairs didn’t offer any quarter as they defeated opponent after opponent and claimed gold in all three categories.

Team Maharashtra 2016

Team Maharashtra 2016

Manish Rao and Bhushan Potnis of Maharashtra won the Men’s Doubles title by defeating Dr. Bharat Ram and Prashant Kalaniair from Rajasthan. Somewhat ironically,  in the 3rd national tournament held at Panipat last year, it was Ram/Kalaniair who defeated Rao and Potnis. Can you say “sweet revenge”? The final scores were 11-5 and  11-7.

Manish Rao and Bhushan of Maharashtra

Rao/Bhushan vs Bharat/Prashant in the Men’s Doubles

Similarly, Atul Edward and Natasha Beig from Maharashtra won the mixed title by defeating Kavita and Ashwini Wadhwa of Rajasthan. It wasn’t as easy of a battle, however, as the Wadhwas managed to hold the game until the 3rd set when Edward/Beig won the final. The scores: 11-1 , 5-11 and 11-6.

Atul and Natasha vs Kavita and Ashwin

Edward/Beig vs the Wadhwas in the Mixed Doubles

The Women Doubles gold medal went to Maharashtra’s Karishma and Rujuta who beat Rajashthan’s Madhulika and Garima. It was something of a rout with the final match scores coming in at 11-2 and 11-3.

Karishma and Rujuta vs Madhulika and Garima

Karishma and Rujuta vs Madhulika and Garima in the Women’s Doubles

Hard-Won Singles Matches

Moving on to the singles: the Men’s title was won by Nikhil Singh Rajput of Rajasthnan, who was presented with a tough fight from Aniket Durgawali,  a younger player from Maharashtra. The thrilling match lasted 3 sets and continued for an impressive 50 minutes!

Nikhil Singh Rajput from Rajashtan

Men’s Singles Winner Nikhil Singh Rajput from Rajashtan

Could you stand the heat? Nikhil managed to overcome the stress by putting his 5 years of pickleball expertise to work. The scores: 11-5, 8-11 and 11-2.

As expected, the Women’s Singles title was won by the defending champion from Madhya Pradesh, Shubhi Vyas. She handily won her gold by beating her rival from Rajasthan, Rekha Chowdhary, with scores of 11-5 and 11-3.

Shubhi Vyas

The Women’s Singles champion for the 3rd year in a row: Shubhi Vyas!

Pickleball in India Gaining Fans

This is the 4th consecutive year where AIPA has organized a national-level open tournament. Pickleball continues to gain wider acceptance in India, with players from across the country gathering to witness this event.

Playing the tournament at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium was something of a dream in itself for many players, with the location being one of the most prestigious sports arenas in the country. The Rajasthan State Pickleball Association made special efforts to book the world-class facility, with top quality housing and food arrangements as well.

There were 4 courts in the spacious indoor hall where nearly 130 matches were conducted in 2 days.

India National Tournament 2016

The Hidden Champions

Special thanks go to Mr. Karan Singh and Ms. Neetu Sharma, who took great pains to make the tournament a grand success. Mr. Raghu Raj, the President of Rajasthan State Pickleball Association, was also a major force in establishing a high-quality event.

The Chief Guest for the closing ceremony was the Commissioner of Police from Jaipur City, who was very impressed by the game of pickleball. He believes that pickleball will be an added attraction for tourists who visit Jaipur and suggested that a public court should be designed in the heart of the city.

Maharashtra at Jaipur National Tournament

Will Team Maharashtra be unseated next year? Who knows… for now, they celebrate!

Image credit goes to the Rajasthan State Pickleball Association and AIPA.