Huntsman Pickleball Golds Won in Registration

Like many, I stayed up till midnight on Tuesday to register for the Huntsman World Senior Games. It was a competition in its own right, and some walked away winners.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.

Huntsman World Senior Games

A note: I have nothing but respect for the wonderful people running the Games, and this is no reflection on them. I just had to take a moment to lament a missed opportunity and share my tale of woe!

The Huntsman Games provided detailed instructions on how to register for pickleball. It was my opportunity to get into the world’s largest multi-sport event for 50+ athletes, and with them celebrating a 30th anniversary no less, I wanted to be prepared.

Beginning months before the deadline, I studied the “how to register for pickleball” formula with engineering precision—hey, I am an engineer!

But alas. I’m no software engineer, and that night I found my technical skills lacking.

I sat on the couch for hours past bedtime watching World Tennis, thinking I was as prepared as Djokavic when he trounced the 47th player in the world.

Woman watching TV

Not so patiently waiting (Credit: Eric Driggers)

My mental list checked out: Both partners identified. Both partners had Huntsman accounts and athlete numbers. My USAPA membership number was active and ready. Credit card prepared. Even my lodgings were booked.

When the Athlete Registration countdown screen flashed to zero, I took off. Enter, enter enter!

By 12:02, after hitting the enter screen many times, I was ushered onto the sacred registration screen. I had completed the registration entries for all four pickleball events. The only difficulty I had was entering my skill rating. The screen would not accept my entry for about 20 seconds.

With every entry filled, I hit the “Continue Registration” button at 12:03. I clicked it again. And again.

After 5-10 minutes and countless clicks, I was rewarded with the next screen. But something seemed off. I owed $199 for 12 events? No time to question it, just pay!

I entered my credit card number and its expiration date. The date worked, but I could only enter four digits for the number.

Who has a four-digit credit card!?

Frustrated

Why me? Why now? (Credit: rumolay)

The instructions required payment for registration, so I backed up and started from the beginning. I tried entering only men’s doubles, even though the instructions explicitly said to list all partners and events on the registration screen.

Enter! Yet I still couldn’t submit my credit card number.

I got an email at 12:10 saying I was waitlisted for men’s doubles. Back on the registration screen, all events were full except singles.

I frantically tried to register just for singles, but six attempts later, I’d found no success. As soon as singles showed full I tried my luck one more time for the road, but was again told I was waitlisted.

I may have won in the Grand Canyon State Games four days ago with Larry Moon, but I lost big time Tuesday night.

If only my technical prowess was up to snuff!

Sad baby

My mood today (Credit: Donnie Ray Jones)

Maybe somebody was able to game the system, or maybe I gamed myself. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Anyone else miss out and want to commiserate?

Meet The Pros: Scott Lennan

Meet The Pros – Scott Lennan

Scott Lennan is a force to be reckoned with on the pickleball court, according to our own Brian Ashworth. He also has an interesting “habit” for keeping his attention on the game: He sings! Enjoy!

scott-lennan-action2

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2016 USAPA Nationals VIII Men’s Doubles 55+ with Jim Hackenberg – Gold
2016 USAPA Nationals VIII Mixed Doubles 55+ with Roxanne Pierce – Gold
2016 USAPA Nationals VIII Senior Mixed Open Doubles with Roxanne Pierce – Bronze
2016 Huntsman World Senior Games Men’s Doubles 55-59 A with Jim Hackenberg – Gold
2016 Huntsman World Senior Games Mixed Doubles 55-59 A with Roxanne Pierce – Gold
2016 Huntsman World Senior Games Men’s Doubles 5.0: 50+ with Jim Hackenberg – Gold
2016 Fall Brawl Mixed Doubles 50+ / 5.0 with Roxanne Pierce – Bronze
2016 USAPA Southwest Regional Men’s Doubles Skill/Age 5.0: 19+ with Jim Hackenberg – Silver
2016 USAPA Southwest Regional Mixed Doubles Skill/Age 5.0: 50+ with Yvonne Hackenberg – Silver
2015 USAPA Nationals VII Men’s Doubles 55+ with Jim Hackenberg- Gold
2015 USAPA Nationals VII Mixed Doubles 55+ with Roxanne Pierce – Silver
2015 USAPA West Regional Men’s Doubles Skill/Age 5.0: 50+ with Doug Koch – Silver
2015 USAPA West Regional Mixed Doubles Skill/Age 5.0: 50+ with Roxanne Pierce – Gold
2014 USAPA Nationals VI Men’s Doubles 35+ with Tony Tollenaar – Bronze
2014 USAPA Nationals VI Mixed Doubles 55+ with Roxanne Pierce – Gold
2014 USAPA Nationals VI Senior Open Men’s Doubles with David Redding – Silver
2013 USAPA Nationals V Men’s Doubles 50+ with Jim Hackenberg – Gold
2013 USAPA Nationals V Mixed Doubles 50+ with Roxanne Pierce – Gold

pop-xl-pickleball-paddleWhat paddle do you play with and why?
I’ve been playing with the POP Aluminum XL Paddle for three years. It gives me tremendous power and spin as well as a long reach.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I saw employees playing pickleball at work. They let me play and I loved it immediately. 

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
Outdoor! All of the medals listed are outdoor tournaments. I love the Dura 40 Ball.

2016 Fall Brawl St. George, UT! Gold - Gigi LeMaster/Tyler Sheffield, Silver - Scott Clayson/Laura Ogden Fenton Kovanda, Bronze - Roxanne Pierce/Scott Lennan

2016 Fall Brawl St. George, UT! Gold – Gigi LeMaster/Tyler Sheffield, Silver – Scott Clayson/Laura Ogden Fenton Kovanda, Bronze – Roxanne Pierce/Scott Lennan

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I like doubles better than singles. There’s more strategy in doubles and it’s not as physically demanding as singles.

scott-lennan-action-1What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
I like to play at Redmond Community Center and at Palm Creek in Casa Grande, AZ. There are 32 individual dedicated courts. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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

  1. Change the pace on most of your shots. Hit different speed serves, volleys and ground strokes. If you’re predictable you will have a difficult time winning. Also play with great partners like I have! 
  2. Play against better players if you want to improve. Take your beatings. Learn from them.
  3. Practice dinking and third shots. Any team can be beaten by keeping the ball low. Also, have lots of patience.
scott-lennan-at-huntsman-2014_01

Scott Lennan at 2014 Huntsman World Senior Games

What’s your day job?
I test and repair ultrasound systems for Philips Healthcare.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
Approximately 10 hours a week. I play after work and on the weekends.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
While I’m playing, I sing parts of songs to keep my brain from thinking about shots to hit. I’ve practiced enough before the tournament and know what shots to hit and when.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
To win a gold medal at the US Open in 2017.

2016 Huntsman Senior Games - Gold: Roxanne Pierce/Scott Lennan Mixed Doubles 55-59, Gold: Jim Hackenberg/Yvonne Hackenberg - Mixed Doubles 65-69, Bronze: Ron Chang/Bonnie Williams - Mixed Doubles 50-54

2016 Huntsman Senior Games – Gold: Roxanne Pierce/Scott Lennan Mixed Doubles 55-59, Gold: Jim Hackenberg/Yvonne Hackenberg – Mixed Doubles 65-69, Bronze: Ron Chang/Bonnie Williams – Mixed Doubles 50-54

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Find someone that will practice with you. Don’t just get the ball over. Have a purpose for every shot. Develop an overhead shot. This will keep your opponents from lobbing every shot. Work on your game if you want to be on the podium. Watch teaching videos by Joe Baker, Mark Renneson and Deb Harrison.

Chicken N Pickle: Food, Fun and Pickleball All Under the Same Roof

Many players speak in awe of Chicken N Pickle, the “do-it-all” restaurant/entertainment complex hybrid that’s taking the pickleball world by storm. For those who haven’t heard of it yet, it’s time to remedy that so you can start booking a trip down to Kansas City, Missouri!

Chicken N Pickle Complex

The fantastic Chicken N Pickle complex

Chicken-N-Pickle consists of an incredible 8 courts (4 indoor and 4 outdoor), a beer garden with a shack serving 25+ canned beers, full bar and sandwiches.

There’s also a 5,600 sq. ft. restaurant featuring wood fire rotisserie chicken with all-natural healthy ingredients, 30+ TVs, a rooftop bar, courtyard with a jumbo TV and yard games that opened last November.

Maybe if we ask nicely we can live there?

Thanks to Kellen Mumm, the VP of Operations, for kindly taking the time to share new details about this wonderland and how it got started! [Note: This interview was conducted last year and so all mentions of specific dates were for 2016.]

How was Chicken N Pickle conceived? Or: What came first, the Chicken or the Pickle? 

Chicken N Pickle was born over a couple of beers. David Johnson, the owner, was the first to bring up the idea. [Want to know something really weird? David Johnson is the owner of PickleballCentral, but he’s a different David… weird coincidence!]

He saw pickleball and was amazed by the social aspect of the sport. It was incredible to see 30+ people all hanging around these courts talking and having fun. He played with some friends for the first time in AZ and (just like everybody else) played one game and was hooked.

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

Inside the Chicken N Pickle restaurant

He knew we needed this in Kansas City and his first thought was to add a restaurant. One of his favorite restaurants in the Grand Cayman Islands is called Chicken! Chicken! So he thought, “Why not a rotisserie chicken place?” Bill Crooks was brought on as a consultant because of his experience opening over 30 restaurants nationwide, and he’s helped us find some incredible talent such as Bill Koning as General Manager and Alex Staab as Chef.

Since that initial meeting, our idea has grown into the giant complex you see today.

Do you play pickleball personally? Where did you first discover the game and what are your favorite parts of it?

I first played pickleball in high school, but I didn’t know it was called pickleball at the time because my PE teacher decided to name it after himself! I rediscovered it (this time under the right title) when CnP was born and have been playing ever since. Since we opened I play 5-6 times per week and I like to think I’m getting pretty good.

Chicken N Pickle Indoor Courts

Chicken N Pickle indoor courts

I love how easy it is to get started, and it’s the only sport that you can play with anyone regardless of age, gender and athletic ability. It’s a great family sport and a great date night sport. Since I’m very competitive by nature it’s fun to compete at, and it’s humbling when someone twice my age runs me around the court and doesn’t let me score a point…

Your group seems to use a lot of Selkirk-branded paddles – is there are partnership between you two? And if so, how did that come about?

I was introduced to Andy Gensch, who is one of the few 5.0 players in the Kansas City area. He then introduced me to Selkirk and they’ve just been amazing to work with. We use the Selkirk 20P-XL as our rental paddles so our customers get to play with top-of-the-line equipment. We want everything at CnP to be tournament-grade pickleball and Selkirk helps us achieve that. I personally play with the 300A-XL and love it.

Andy Gensch

Andy Gensch

What are your eventual goals with Chicken N Pickle? Would you like to expand to more locations or are you concentrating on building your first location for the time being?

We would love to bring Chicken N Pickle to other cities across the country as we feel pickleball is growing faster than it can handle and we want to help that cause. We are focusing on making this first one work; there have been and will be more lessons from this prototype that will help us bring our concept to many locations.

What has the local response been like? Do you find yourself getting customers who are already picklers, or more newcomers to the sport who get hooked after visiting?

We’ve taught pickleball to more people than I can count. It’s been amazing! The local picklers and newcomers stop by because there’s no place like it and CnP has this atmosphere of fun. We have a lot of leagues going now and I would say 50% are people that have started playing at CnP in the past 2 months.

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

The Chicken N Pickle outdoor courts duting construction

Andy Gensch seems to help out with teaching at Chicken N Pickle, and you have classes coming up with other pros as well. Are you looking to do outreach to develop other events like this?

Andy has been amazing and I have the testimonials from his lessons to prove it! He has been a big part of bringing people like Enrique Ruiz and Dee Davidson in for clinics, which were huge successes. We also have Dave Wienbach coming for a clinic and he’ll play in our October tournament.

Andy loves pickleball and has been instrumental in growing the game. We both love the fact there are so many new faces. The clinics and lessons he provides are going to make the sport that much more competitive. We do beginner clinics and advanced clinics as much as we can to help give our players more resources.

You host food trucks in addition to your rotisserie offerings. How did that idea develop and do you find it adds another layer of fun for visitors? It seems like you use a lot of nearby stores to give people a locally-flavored experience.

We are huge on everything local. Local produce when we can, local beers (we plan to have 28 taps with all local flavors). People in Kansas City love  supporting their neighbors and we’re no different.

David Johnson of Chicken N Pickle

Bill Crooks, primary Chicken N Pickle consultant

Is there anything in particular you’d like to say to our PickleballCentral readers?

I would invite anyone passing through Kansas City to stop by and play a game and give me feedback! We want to grow pickleball as much as possible. We also have events every month, such as: Oktoberfest on September 1st, Halloween on October 2nd and our first ever pickleball tournament Oct 20 – 24. Sign-ups have been going fast.


You can find out more about Chicken N Pickle on their site and find out what events they have coming up at their blog. Everyone visit if you can, and send them some love to let CnP know you want to see MORE of their facilities in the near future!

 

Throwing Our Hat Over the Wall – PickleballCentral is Moving!

“Three people were on a journey. They had walked thousands of miles across the country when they came to their biggest obstacle – a solid brick wall. Instantly one man threw his hat over the wall, so he had no choice but to climb it.”   – Old Irish Adage

new-warehouse

The new home of PickleballCentral is FOUR TIMES the size of our current location.

We signed the lease yesterday – our figurative, “hat over the wall.” PickleballCentral is moving to a warehouse/office space that is FOUR TIMES the size of our current location.

The new space will have four indoor pickleball courts. The courts will be open to the public every day of the week from early morning to late at night. The new space will host pickleball clubs, pickleball tournaments, pickleball lessons, pickleball pro-tours and pickleball parties!

The new space will also have a big retail store that will provide customers an opportunity to touch, feel and demo paddles on the courts and try-on pickleball clothing!

Finally, we are extremely proud to announce that the new space will be home to The Pickleball Museum! Pickleball is an American Original. It was invented a short ferry ride from Seattle on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

The sport of pickleball likely would not have left Bainbridge Island if it weren’t for one man, Barney McCallum.  Barney and his friends the Pritchards and Bells invented the game by accident in the summer of 1965.  Their kids were bored and they didn’t have equipment to play badminton, so they used what they had on-hand to play “badminton”, a whiffle ball and table tennis paddles.  They lowered the net and voilà pickleball was born!

Barney started making wood pickleball paddles by hand for friends. In 1972, to keep track of the accounting and taxes, Barney started a small business in Seattle called Pickle-ball Inc. Barney already was a very successful businessman with his own big company, McCallum Envelope. He didn’t need to start another business, but thank goodness, he did! Pickle-ball, Inc made paddles, balls and net systems and the sport grew. Other pickleball equipment manufacturers emerged in the Seattle area – ProLite Sports and S-Type Sport, now called Onix Sports. Today, thanks to Barney McCallum, pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the world!

With our acquisition of  Pickle-ball Inc. last fall, we are excited and honored to create The Pickleball Museum as a place where people can learn about the history of pickleball and learn about Barney’s extraordinary contribution to the sport.

barney

Barney McCallum is one of the inventors of Pickleball and founder of Pickle-ball Inc.

For years my husband, David, has collected pickleball artifacts. We have some of the first paddles made, an old pickleball hole drilling machine and other items. If you have a pickleball item that you think belongs in The Pickleball Museum, please contact David Johnson, David@PickleballCentral.com.

sunny-new-space

New home of PickleballCentral, Pickleball Inc. and The Pickleball Museum.

We move in early April 2017. Come check us out when you are in town! Our new address is 22330 68th Ave. S., Kent, WA 98032.

 – Anna Copley, founding partner, PickleballCentral.com

Meet The Pros: Steve Kennedy

Meet The Pros – Steve Kennedy

steve-kennedy-1

Steve Kennedy has achieved the perfect balance between tennis and pickleball. He is passing it on to his younger tennis students as well. Way to go, Steve! Enjoy!

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

I’m new to pickleball tournaments and have been fortunate to medal in each one I’ve played last year:
2016 USA Masters Games – Doubles Gold with Steve Rose and Mixed Doubles Silver with Lucy Kitcher
2016 Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic – Silver with Joe DiMauro
2016 Kentucky Senior Games – Singles Gold and Doubles Gold with Jeff Carlson
2016 Geezer Meister – Doubles Silver with Scott Tingley
2016 USAPA Nationals – Singles Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Engage Encore Pro paddle with added head weight. I love the touch, control and power that the Engage paddle gives me. Jodi and Robert Elliott are great to work with and helped me to find the perfect paddle for my game.

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

I discovered pickleball totally by accident while sitting on the soccer field watching my son practice in Davie, Florida. I kept hearing a loud popping noise and walked over to investigate. When I realized that pop was the sound of the pickleball hitting the paddle, I was intrigued. I was immediately offered a wooden paddle by a super friendly group of people and I was hooked.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Living in Florida allows me to play outdoors all year long but I enjoy playing indoor as well. It’s nice to mix it up.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love the strategy and teamwork associated with doubles. Because of my prior professional tennis career, I also like singles because I’m guaranteed to get every ball, where in doubles, there are times I rarely see one.  In singles it’s all up to me…all of the mistakes are mine and so are the winners.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Davie, Florida is my pickleball home. It’s where I discovered the game and it’s where I play with the greatest people in the whole world. I’d like to give a shout out to every one of them but I have too many pickleball friends to list. I’ll just say that Davie Pickleball people are the best and if you’re in Florida we’d love to have you join us.

Steve Kennedy with some of his tennis summer camp kids hitting pickleballs — with George English Tennis Camp, Engage pickleball and Steve Kennedy Pickleball.

Steve Kennedy with some of his tennis summer camp kids hitting pickleballs — with George English Tennis Camp, Engage pickleball and Steve Kennedy Pickleball.

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

I’m a power player so I have to say that it’s OK to play with power, however, you must develop a proficient dink game and be able to turn on your finesse at any moment. I like to be unpredictable and switch up my game at unexpected times, keeping my opponent confused.  My tips are simple:
     Don’t let your game become predictable.
    Drill, drill, drill and spend 80% of your practice time on your dink game.

Gold with partner Neil Friedenberg, Englewood CA

Gold with partner Neil Friedenberg, Englewood CA

What’s your day job?

I’ve been teaching tennis at Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in Fort Lauderdale for 26 years. I’m also an IPTPA-certified pickleball instructor which allows me to share the sport that I love by teaching others to play. I love both tennis and pickleball, but pickleball is new and exciting and the rapid growth is exciting as well. I encourage all of my tennis clients to try pickleball. It’s great to have a variety of physical activities to choose from and pickleball is conducive to fun for the whole family.

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

I typically play 4 or 5 days a week for about 2 hours a day. I live a couple of miles from Davie Pickleball so I hop on my bike or my scooter and head over late afternoon. My wife loves to play and travel with me which makes my pickleball life a lot easier!

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

We all feel the nerves before a big tournament. I try to just focus on having fun and relaxing. I do depend on a secret holistic spray for nerves given to me by my good friend Dan, and I chew gum, lots of gum, before I go on the court.

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

My goal is to continue to love playing pickleball in the future as much as I love it today while introducing the sport to as many people as I can.

Steve Kennedy and Charles Rose win Gold in Men's Doubles, USA Masters Games

Steve Kennedy and Charles Rose win Gold in Men’s Doubles, USA Masters Games

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

Wow, really, one of the best in the world? Thanks for that compliment! I’m so excited about playing pickleball because I have so much more to learn and I feel that I can continue to work hard and get so much better. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play and train with some of the very best players in the world here in Florida. I also have a group of South Florida Pickleball Club training partners here in Davie who spend a lot of time with me playing and drilling. They give me an unbelievable amount of support in practice and at tournaments. I owe a lot of my success to the people who have helped me with my game by just spending time with me on the court. Again, too many people to list but each of you know exactly who you are, so THANK YOU!

Pickleball Helps Keep Youth Active in Yavapai County Detention Center

We all know pickleball is great for stress relief, and who better to benefit than cooped up kids? Last year the Prescott Pickleball Association and its associates took the game to those who’d appreciate it at the Yavapai County Detention Center. The youth had a great time learning the game and getting to release some steam.

Listening for Opportunities

The idea was planted when former racquetball champion Jerry Northwood formed the Prescott Pickleball Association with members of his club, the Willow Hills PBC, and other interested players. The group was looking to construct eight outdoor courts at Prescott’s Pioneer Park and needed city council approval to move forward.

Before Jerry got a chance to speak with the council, a woman named Gay Staling from the Yavapai County Detention Center gave a presentation.

Yavapai County Detention Center Demo

From left to right: Ben Sialega, Jerry Northwood and J.T. Schulze demonstrates pickleball during a visit to the center

Jerry had never considered putting a program together for detainees, but was inspired by the thought and introduced himself to Gay afterwards. To his surprise, he didn’t have to overcome any logistical or security nightmares. In fact, the YCDC already had a gym on site!

With the help of fellow pickler Ben Sialega, Jerry visited the center and determined what would be needed to arrange a 2-hour clinic for 11 boys and 11 girls (one hour for each group). Members from the Willow Hills PBC donated both equipment and time as volunteer coaches after going through a background check.

Sharing the Fundamentals

The clinics involved an introduction and history of pickleball followed by a demonstration using advanced players.

“We made sure to use both male and female players so that everyone could see it’s possible to be competitive regardless of gender. For those in the group who had experience with similar sports like racquetball, tennis or table tennis, we showed them how quickly they could pick up the game and start having fun.”

The schedule included a daily 1-hour visit over the course of a week to teach the kids all the basic rules, safety tips and warm-up exercises. After a positive response from the youth (ages 12-18) and the detention officers, they continued the program 1 day a week for 2 hours. The youth, staff and volunteer coaches all appreciate the new activity.

Yavapai County Detention Center Explanation

Jerry Northwood explains pickleball to youth in the juvenile detention center

“When a student is released from the facility I give them my card and encourage them to call me so I can set them up with a club in their area. Hopefully the desire to keep on playing will be a healthy distraction from other things they could get involved in,” Jerry says.

Rallying toward a Happier Future

In addition to the detention center, the Prescott Pickleball Association provides duplicate programs for the Boys/Girls Club of Prescott. They have one indoor court with approximately twenty youth, ages 12-15. They call the program “modified” pickleball as the ceiling is only 8’ high.

“Believe it or not, this actually works and the staff and youth love it! They are currently in the process of constructing three outdoor pickleball courts as part of a sport court. We are two months into this program.

Willow Hills Pickleball Club also has a program for youth ages 10-15. They have 3 indoor courts and run the clinic for 1-1/2 to 2 hours each week.”

The youth of the YCDC tapping paddles in the "good game" gesture

The youth of the YCDC tapping paddles in the “good game” gesture

“We have a ball machine we named Samson to help teach. Our primary objective is to have kids learn the sport so they can be competitive with adults. We did have complaints about balls ending up all over the place beforehand… for some reason, the adult players didn’t appreciate that! Now we have 11-year-old youths playing in adult tournaments.

Finally, we have a program for veterans and first responders to learn racquetball and pickleball. The vets live at the VA and in a VA program for PTSD, brain injury trauma and alcohol/drug abuse. This program is the first of its kind in the U.S. and has been going for over three years now.

It’s extremely rewarding to see lives changed.”

A great big “thank you” to Jerry and his associates for letting us share their story and for putting forth the effort to support people of all ages from all walks of life with the power of pickleball.

Meet The Pros: Cammy Ward

Meet The Pros – Cammy Ward

cammy-ward-underhand-shot

Cammy is a professional tennis instructor who happens to love pickleball, and she has some advice to all tennis players – it can improve your tennis game! Enjoy!

Can you list us your major wins? 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Doubles – Gold 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Women’s Singles- Gold 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Mixed Doubles – Silver
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Women’s Doubles Open –  Bronze
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Women’s 35+ Doubles –  Silver
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Mixed Doubles Open – Bronze 

 What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with the Engage Encore Pro Paddle. I like this paddle because of its power and control. I get good feel off the ball too. 

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I was introduced to pickleball little over a year and half ago by my tennis friends. They kept saying come try pickleball, you’ll love it. I’m thinking, “What the heck is pickleball?!” One night I went over to Bobby Riggs with my friends, Steve and Jen Dawson, and they started dinking with me and telling me all these crazy rules about pickleball. I thought, There’s no way I can think about hitting the ball, dinking the ball, 2 bounce rule, understanding the score! And why am I saying 3 numbers when I’m calling the score? This is way too much for my brain to process.” Well, me being competitive, I instantly got hooked within half a dozen times of playing. I started to understand all those crazy rules of pickleball and from then on, I have entered pickleball tournaments and am just having a blast.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
I live in San Diego, so outdoor pickleball is my choice.

cammy-ward-so-cal-classic

Cammy Ward at the So Cal Classic

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I have played both singles and doubles, mostly doubles though. I like singles. The only problem is it’s too hard on my body. So I stick to doubles; less court to cover and you have your friend next to you.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
I honestly have not played too much outside of California, except for the USAPA Nationals in Arizona and Tournament Of Champions in Utah. If I had to pick a favorite place to play, its Bobby Riggs in Encinitas, California.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
My secret sauce is this homemade sauce I have for my BBQ Ribs!!!

What’s your day job?
For my day job, I teach tennis at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I play pickleball maybe 2 times week. It kind of depends on my teaching day. After standing out on a hard court for 6 hours hitting tennis balls, sometimes I just can’t get my body to go play pickleball. I would rather hang with my dogs and a cold beer. Saturdays or Sundays I’m off, so if I’m going to play pickleball, those would be the days.

cammy-ward-action-shotAny lucky rituals before a big tournament?
No, I don’t have any lucky rituals before a tournament. I just go out and play and whatever happens, happens. I’m there mostly to have FUN!

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
Honestly, pickleball is just another game for me.  I am out there to have fun when I am playing.  This game is not my day job, it’s not going to pay my bills. I don’t set goals, I go out and play and the team that wins is the better team that day.

cammy-ward-action5

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
The one thing I constantly hear from tennis players who have also played pickleball is that pickleball is so much more social than tennis. This is what I love about the game!  Pickleball is such a fun game to play, and its the only game where you can get 16 people playing on only one tennis court! You can play 3 hours with people you have never met and next thing you know, you are exchanging phone numbers and having a cold beer with them. Very Cool!
One more thing, I am always hearing from tennis players who have never tried pickleball that it’s going to hurt my tennis game. This is SO not the case. To all tennis players out there, please try pickleball. If you are a doubles player in tennis, pickleball will help with your touch, reflexes, strategy and placement in tennis.