Riley and Lindsey Newman are a rockstar brother and sister duo (still working on their team name but kicking around ‘Newman Squared’ and ‘Newman Nation’; if you have any other ideas, they are open to suggestions!) They were born and raised on Whidbey Island, Washington, a beautiful island just north of Seattle known for amazing seafood and miles of hiking and biking trails. Riley and Lindsey are just two of the seven Newman siblings, all of whom have a knack for sports and competition. Riley and Lindsey have taken their pickleball a bit more seriously, last month winning Mixed Doubles at the USA Pickleball National Championships in Indian Wells 2021. Riley is currently ranked Top 3 in the world in Men’s and Mixed Doubles, and plays with set partners Tyson McGuffin as well as big sis Lindsey.
We sat down with Riley and Lindsey to talk about their backgrounds, what it’s like playing with your sibling, their NEW signature paddles from GAMMA Pickleball releasing at PickleballCentral January 25, 2022, and much more!
When did you start playing Pickleball and what is your sports background?
Riley: I started playing pickleball in the summer of 2017 in Seattle, WA, my hometown. I played all sports growing up. I was fortunate to receive college scholarships in basketball and tennis. I ended up finishing my college career at Seattle University where by my senior season I was playing #1 Singles & #1 Doubles.
Lindsey: I started playing pickleball late in the summer of 2017, a little over four years ago. I grew up playing any and all sports – basketball, tennis, volleyball, softball, soccer, etc. I played basketball, tennis and volleyball in high school. I played basketball and tennis at a two-year school and then I played tennis at a Division 1 university (Seattle University). I was also officiating college basketball at the time when I picked up pickleball.
What is the best and hardest part about playing with your sibling?
Riley: The best part is the chemistry on and off the court. We are super close so anything that Lindsey is thinking during the match I’m already thinking it too. A huge asset is I know what shot she’s going to hit before she even attempts it. This helps tremendously with anticipating the next shots from your opponents. The hardest part can be losing a really close match in a tournament and the car rides home can be fairly quiet. We are both so competitive by nature, so we want to win by doing whatever it takes.
Lindsey: There are several “bests” about playing with Riley. For me, I think he’s the best mixed doubles partner out there so I’m super lucky he’s playing with me. It’s also great because we can be brutally honest with each other without worrying about the repercussions. I can also roll my eyes after he does something dumb without worrying about him getting his feelings hurt – he most likely knows I’m doing it whether he sees it or not. The hardest part would have to be the car rides back home or to the hotel after a loss… there’s not a lot of smiling or happy talk then.
Do you think playing with your sibling has advantages?
Lindsey: Absolutely! I think it has more advantages than disadvantages by far. I’d never play competitively with my husband like some people do but with a sibling is totally different and way easier.
Who would win in a singles match?
Riley: I would definitely win in a singles match! Especially if we play when Lindsey is seven or eight months pregnant 🙂 (At the time of this post Lindsey will be about seven months pregnant – congrats!)
Lindsey: Probably Riley but that’s because he’s faster and remembers the score. I always forget the score and I swear he fibs on it sometimes! (That sounds like a very sibling answer to us!)
Do your other siblings (family members) play pickleball?
Riley: A lot of our other family members play pickleball, but don’t take it as serious as Lindsey and I do. It’s more for fun that we can all do together when we meet up at family gatherings. Seven Newman siblings playing pickleball at once…now that’s intimidating if you ask me!
Lindsey: Yes! Our younger brother, Kody, plays and is really good. We also have a sister, Hayley, who plays and is great. Our other siblings play but they need a lot of help… our parents don’t play but they are always eager to give us feedback whenever Riley and I are done playing and we lose.
Great duos always have great nicknames – what should Team Newman’s nickname be?
Riley: I personally loved ‘Newman Nation’ but it sounds like that has been trademarked by a nascar driver. Whatever people want to call us for a nickname, I’d be good with!
Lindsey: Newman Squared
We saw you win at Nationals in 2021. Can you talk about how you trained and prepared?
Riley: Not much different training or preparation led into 2021 Nationals. Playing so many tournaments in a calendar year, you get into a routine. For me, what I tried to do differently when I was playing mixed doubles was to keep a positive attitude even if things weren’t going our way. I believe Lindsey and I play our best when we both focus on the task at hand and remain calm and cool under pressure. I believe this made a huge impact when we played the final game to 15 in the gold medal match. We sat down and positively talked through a great strategy to make sure to get the job done!
Lindsey: Riley and I played in a tournament the weekend before in Arizona and I ended up tweaking my left groin so the only training we did on court together before Nationals was the day before we left. I didn’t want to do anything to make it worse. Mentally though, I think we both just kept telling ourselves that we could do it and that it was our turn to be on the winning end. We had been in a few really tough gold medal matches previously and lost them, so we felt we were long overdue for a big win on the biggest stage in pickleball. Getting to the gold medal match at Nationals in 2019 and losing a heartbreaker like that was definitely huge motivation for us. Plus, there was no way were going to let our fans down again.
Are you holding any training camps in 2022?
Riley: In 2022, Lindsey and I will be teaching a total of seven Never Stop Playing Pickleball Camps by GAMMA. Also I teach a couple of my own Newman Pickleball clinics.
Lindsey: Yes! We are teaching a handful of two-day GAMMA- Never Stop Playing Pickleball camps all over the west coast. We also will be doing some teaching under our own brand, Newman Pickleball. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop!
Do you have any pickleball advice you’d like to share?
Riley: The best pickleball advice I could give is to watch video! I believe when you are able to watch and review your negatives and positives after a match you can learn a lot – what you did well to keep doing in the future, what shots did you repeatedly miss or leave ‘high’. This also helps you notice your court positioning on each point.
Lindsey: Just get one more ball back.
We are excited to play with your signature paddles! Can you talk us through them – Paddle technology? Style? Aesthetics?
Riley: Designing my Riley Newman 206 signature paddle took a great deal of energy and effort! Not only did I get to select the colors, paddle name, but every spec of the paddle was designed by yours truly. I wanted this paddle to be great for all intermediate players. What do these players need? A paddle with incredible control but also the power to put shots away. The core is thicker, around 16mm, which allows for a greater feel and big sweet spot while contacting the ball. The 206 has both of these attributes, and the ability to use spin. Also, I wanted to create a paddle with an extended handle for players looking for more reach or those who have two-handed backhand. To answer the question – what is the relevance to the numbers 206? And why those colors? 206 is the three-digit area code of Seattle, where I first picked up my paddle, and the city I grew up in. (Well, technically Whidbey Island, WA but you get the idea). The colors on the paddle reflect the new NHL Seattle hockey team- the Kraken! I hope everyone reading this gives the 206 a try because you won’t be disappointed and the paddle will take your game to the next level!
Lindsey: My signature paddle is legit epic! The Havoc features GAMMA’s Neucore technology, and a 25% thicker large-celled core which helps with having a softer, more responsive feel. The textured composite face of the paddle helps generate lots of power, spin and consistency from anywhere on the court. The handle is a little longer for players with a two-handed backhand, and the paddle colors are like nothing else on the market, so you’ll stand out while playing with it. My paddle is great because anyone at any skill level can play with it and be successful. Give it a try!
What can we look out for from you two in 2022? Training/tournaments/goals/products etc.
Riley: In 2022, you will see me playing in most PPA tournaments across the country! I’ll be playing in about 20 tournaments and will focus on my training in between tournaments to keep up with a long grueling pickleball season! I’m looking forward to playing at the highest level. I finished the 2021 season being ranked #2 in men’s doubles, so my goal is to reach #1 by end of 2022!! Thank you to my sponsors – Takeya USA & GAMMA Pickleball. Takeya has designed a 64 oz. Newman Pickleball stainless steel water bottle, which is great for long successful days on the court! GAMMA Pickleball has given me the tools to succeed – an awesome signature paddle with sweat absorbing over grips. I’m extremely grateful to this USA-based family-owned pickleball company! Feel free to follow and keep up with all my updates in 2022 – I’m on Instagram (rileynewmanpb), and Facebook (Riley Newman). See you all on the courts!
Lindsey: I’m playing in about 8-10 tournaments and teaching about eight GAMMA camps in addition to teaching under our Newman Pickleball brand. I’m also expecting my second child (a girl!) at the end of March so 2022 is going to be pretty chaotic and busy for me, both on and off the court. My goal for 2022 is to make it to 2023 while having a ton of fun, laughter and good times in between!