Better backhands. Aussies growing the game. New MLP teams.
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In this issue:
- Building better backhands
- Aussies know how to grow pickleball
- New MLP teams
- The pros' new paddles
A More Confident Backhand
For most players, 'the backhand' is a sore subject. Everyone wants a better one but no one wants to work on it.
The best way of course is drill it, sun up to sundown. But who has the court time, hopper of balls and feeder to make that possible?
An obvious but under utilized way to get more reps in is to volley back and forth with a partner. This can be done off-court, at home, or while waiting for your next game. Check out the Johns brothers taking advantage of a rainy day by working on the backhand volley.
The goal is to become more comfortable with the anatomy of the shot, building muscle memory in the shoulder and forearm for a motion that is not typically used off the court.
Start 8-10 ft from your partner and 'pepper' the ball back and forth (shout out to Casey Patterson and all of the volleyball converts). On the first attempt, the ball is likely to be flying all over the place, so it's wise to keep a backup or two in your pocket ready to go.
You're not trying to win the rally, but rather to work on control. If you and your partner can string together 100 straight backhand volleys, you'll be in rare company. Time to get to know your backhand like...well...the back of your hand.
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Pickleball is rapidly growing in Australia, and the country is welcoming it with wide open arms.
In fact, according to The Age, “the game has surged there from virtually nothing five years ago to a boom sport, growing 20 percent a year.”
This article didn’t speculate on the impact of Aussie tennis pro Nick Kyrgios’s recent investment in pickleball, but we have to assume it helps.
Something we think is especially intriguing about the sport’s development Down Under: it’s not competing with tennis.
“Tennis Australia is planning to offer [pickleball] at clubs around the country,” the article says, explaining how the situation is very different in the US, where it seems like grumpy tennis people are actively trying to take pickleball out.
Apparently, tennis clubs there recognize that offering pickleball is a way to preserve and expand their membership.
“To emphasize that spirit of cooperation, pickleball just made its debut on hallowed tennis turf at Kooyong, with a demonstration court set up behind the famous center court during the Kooyong Classic, a warm-up event for the Australian Open.”
Two More for MLP
St. Louis and Orlando: you can now say you’re represented in Major League Pickleball.
With less than two weeks until the first MLP tournament of the year, the association announces two final teams for the year: Orlando Squeeze and St. Louis Shock.
Even though none of its matches have kicked off yet, MLP has been busy so far in 2023.
This news comes soon after it was announced that New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. bought into the DC Pickleball Team.
Owners for these two new teams include business leader and philanthropist, Richard Chaifetz, with his son, Ross Chaifetz (The Shock) and sports executive and philanthropist, Ryan DeVos (Squeeze).
Side note: is Orlando Squeeze’s logo the best of the MLP? We think it’s pretty hard to beat. But then again, look at our mascot…
Meanwhile: the Tennis Channel wants in, too. The cable channel has agreed to broadcast MLP's premier level semifinals and finals in Mesa, Arizona, and will make all the tournament's matches available for streaming.
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First Day of School
Imagine it's the first day of second semester and everyone is subtly showing off their brand-new kicks, backpack and gear. In the pickleball world, the first tournament of the year is the time to show off your new paddle.
At the PPA Masters last weekend we saw multiple pros sporting a new weapon:
- Catherine Parenteau made a big move to Selkirk and was rocking the Power Air.
- Triple crown winner Ben Johns carried a mystery paddle that was revealed to be a new Perseus model from Joola.
- Zane Navratil built suspense for his new paddle allegiance during the off-season. Last weekend, he debuted a signature carbon stick from ProXR.
- Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova, known for carrying the white Onix Premiere Pro, rocked new black carbon fiber paddles.
Speaking of the PPA Tour, in a press release Wednesday, they unveiled new major milestones for 2023:
- $5.5 million prize purse; Largest single-season purse in professional pickleball
- 25 Tour Events; Largest schedule across professional pickleball
- Six new cities including Nashville, Seattle and Boca Raton
- Broadcast partners including: ABC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, Tennis Channel, Amazon Prime and Fanduel TV
For some, the days of scraping by to chase a hobby are over. The release indicated that on average PPA touring pros earned $96k from tour payouts last year. That number is expected to increase 63.9% this year.
What do you want to be when you grow up? How about a professional pickleballer?
Selkirk's Tour bag, one of the most popular in the game, now looks a little different.
An insulated food/drink pouch, ventilated shoe compartment, easy access through the top and the front, a laptop sleeve, larger mesh bottle pockets, room for two paddles, and a hard EVA top which stores your cell phone...all wrapped in a new polyfiber performance material.
Click here to learn more about the Selkirk Regal series: pickleball bags with no compromise.
Headlines & Quick Hits
- Kings of the court? As pickleball grows, tennis players worry about getting edged out
- He quit firefighting to grind out a pro pickleball career. Will it pay off? (paywall)
- What happens when pickleball is 'over' and the city just has these courts lyin' around?
Somebody get me a net. Stat. This court is too clean and in need of some mediocre pickle.
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