Pickleball Station Featured on King 5 News

Last month our training and court rental/drop-in business, Pickleball Station, was featured on KING 5 News. The article and corresponding video discuss pickleball’s growth from its beginnings here on Bainbridge Island.

Edward on K5 News


You’ll learn more about the expansion of pickleball and a discussion on the various high-level players taking the game to the next level.

It also features interviews with our local friend, collaborative partner and top player Glen Peterson, along with pro Tyson McGuffin who grew up in Chelan, WA.

Check out the video to catch glimpses of our instructors Peter Hudachko and Brian Ashworth on the courts, in addition to our CEO Ed Hechter!



Seeing the Net as the Third Opponent

I was watching FIFA World Cup soccer with my wife, Paula, a few months ago. So many goal opportunities are lost when shooters sail balls over the goalposts. Great for field goals in American football. Not so much in European football.

When a shooter resolves to strike within the goalposts and force the goalie to make a save, good things happen. The same is true in pickleball when players resolve to keep the ball over the net and in play.

Pickleball nets

Nets can cause just as much trouble as opponents! (Credit: John Beagle)

When you and your partner resolve to hit every ball over the net and force your opponents to hit a winner, good things happen! Not every time, but more often than we think.

It may be helpful to think of the net as your third opponent. Do I subconsciously hit balls into the net rather than let my opponents hit a winner?  I play routinely with Nick Williams and notice that he can play entire games without hitting a ball into the net.

Pickleball is such a simple game. I decided yesterday to hit every ball over the net. It helped, but I sure failed a lot.

I would love to hear your thoughts on techniques to keep balls in play.

Military Tries Their Hand at Pickleball, Warrior Games May Add to Lineup

Our veterans have accomplished some amazing things, and now they’re adding pickleball to their lists!

We got word that Steve and Ramona Boone, Great Plains Region Directors of the USAPA, directed the first Warrior Games pickleball demo on June 3 and 4 this year.

Warrior Games 2018

The Department of Defense Warrior Games is a multi-sport competition whose participants are entirely made up of active-duty members and veterans who have sustained injuries or illness during their service. They were organized in 2010 as “a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, ill and injured service members and expose them to adaptive sports.”

Thanks to Steve and Ramona, pickleball is now being considered as an addition to the sports currently represented at the Warrior Games. For now, a variety of veterans from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Special Ops Command have had their first taste of the game, and many will be taking it back to their homes in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia.

Warrior Games 2018 Demo

The pair shares:

“Most of them had never played before, although a few had heard of pickleball. But they learned fast and had a ton of fun. Of course, having the Denver Bronco cheerleaders and mascot come out and play didn’t hurt!”

Each Warrior was given a paddle and ball (packaged in a PickleballCentral bag) and taken on the court with a team of instructors. Everyone had a great time and many said they would give it another go later on.

Warrior Games Playing Pickleball

This demo marks the initial step toward sharing pickleball with even more veterans in the future, and hopefully we’ll be seeing it represented in the Warrior Games soon!

4 Methods for Dealing with the Smug Lobber

One of the primary reasons tennis players migrate to pickleball is to avoid rotator cuff injuries related to the overhead smash. Additionally, lobbing in pickleball is relatively difficult compared to tennis because the court is so much smaller. So players with fantastic overhead smashes may not see a lot of lobs.

Pickleball overhead

Credit: Chad Ryan

While there are several effective strategies to counter the banger, there are fewer effective strategies to contend with the smug lobber. Have a shorter and less mobile player with a weak overhead smash get lobbed over and over again. Or lobbed and then dinked in turn repeatedly until they are exhausted.

Sort of a cat and mouse game. There is very little the exhausted player can do to erase the smug smile off the Cheshire Cat. Here are four options for dealing with the smug lobber:

1) Learn to leap like Michael Jordan and crash an overhead smoking into the corner. For some of us, this option is not viable. We have a hard time getting our shoelaces off the floor and we lack upper body strength.

2) Finish the game, tap paddles and never walk back in the court with that player on the opposite side again. This is not a bad idea for those of us whose frustrations mount when lobbed repeatedly. This is a better option then getting a concealed carry permit!

Overhead smash

Credit: Chad Ryan

3) The third option is to bear with it and simply hit overhead smashes back to the center line and try to endure. It may help to stand a couple feet behind the kitchen line to be better prepared for a lob. A corollary to this option is initiating the lob yourself. Unfortunately, most lobbers happen to have great overhead smashes and do so with glee.

4) Ask the lobber to desist. Not in the existential sense, but to simply stop lobbing. Tell him or her that it’s simply not fun.

Regardless of what route you take, don’t get discouraged. Pickleball is often a game of out-thinking and outlasting your opponent. Eventually the lobber may lose their cool, make a mistake or get tired of their own game. Wait for your opening to strike or work on sending those balls flying toward the baseline.

In the meantime, if you want to play pickleball that’s less a war of attrition, there’s nothing wrong with that either! Play the game that’s the most fun for you.

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.

Pickleball Joins the AAU and Brings Players of All Ages into the Fold

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is a multi-sport event organization that promotes programs across the U.S. It was recently announced that pickleball will be added to the group’s roster and more opportunities to play will spring up in the AAU’s 55 U.S. districts.

The AAU has around 700,000 members and 150,000 volunteers, and formerly served to establish global standards in amateur sports. It also helped prepare athletes for the Olympic games. In the 70’s, they changed their focus to promoting sports programs for both adult and youth participants “beginning at the grass roots level.”

AAU Logo

This is an incredibly exciting development for pickleball—not only will the AAU provide yet another burst of visibility to the game, but the USAPA will work in conjunction to co-brand a series of recreational pickleball leagues and tournaments.

Those who are already part of the USAPA will be able to enjoy a special membership through AAU website (in conjunction with a full AAU membership) in order to enjoy these new programs.

Partnerships like this will form the foundation of credibility that pickleball needs to be recognized as a viable sport on a global stage. The more support the USAPA gets from longstanding organizations such as the AAU, the more easy it will be for pickleball to find its way into schools, rec centers, and hopefully one day, the Olympics!

AAU Junior Games

AAU Junior Games Medalists

If you’re interested in taking part of these competitions, keep an eye on the AAU Pickleball site to see upcoming events.

The Junior Olympics took place on July 30, but the Indoor Nationals will happen August 13-19 while the Outdoor Nationals in Nov. 28 – Dec 2. Both will be taking place in Florida, where the AAU’s headquarters are located.

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!”