Pickleball ascends to the mountain tops of Utah this week. Upsets are aplenty at the Tournament of Champions and we say 'Brigham on!'
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How about some memes?
Matters of the heart doth permeate this morning's issue (*Shakespeare voice*). Media juggernaut Barstool Sports is swooning over one of pickleball's top dogs. Amateurs and pros are flirting between points. And one heart stopped altogether.
It's Friday, I'm in love.
The 'T' Marks the Spot
On Wednesday's singles broadcast, Ben Newell and AJ Koller were calling matches and talking strategy from the booth.
Newell mentioned a common strategy he abides by: aim for the 'T' on the sideline. The 'T' is formed at the intersection of the sideline and NVZ.
This target is well known from a doubles dinking perspective. It's an ideal spot to send aggressive dinks.
The 'T' is also effective in singles when hitting from the baseline. Unlike normal passing shots that whiz by at waist-level, this shot dips as soon as it crosses the net.
It puts the ball into a low, un-attackable position. If played out of the air, the opponent is forced to cover 10ft of distance to the sideline and contact the ball at ankle-height. Like a Steve Nash bounce pass in the NBA, it's tough to defend.
If played off the bounce, the defender is pulled off of the court. They're likely to still be recovering when you hit your next ball.
Hitting the 'T' from the baseline does not create ATP opportunities like it does when hitting it from the kitchen line. From this angle the ball is traveling deeper off of the court after the bounce, not wider. This leaves only a small window for an ATP.
It is, however, susceptible to ernes. And if you're playing someone flying into ernes in singles, then you might just be in for a long day anyway. Mix up the sideline you choose to hit to and hold your shot until the last second to keep them frozen in the middle of the court.
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The Most Electrifying Man in Sports
We've known for a while now, but the rest of the world is starting to notice, too. Tyson McGuffin might just be 'the most electrifying man in sports.'
Influential media company Barstool Sports published a piece on Tuesday awarding McMuffin the monicker. McGuffin's style and swagger peaked the interest of Barstool's top 'emerging sports' writer.
"You take one good look at this stallion and you know we're witnessing greatness. The mullet. The mustache. The tattoos. The henley. This dude has it all."
Barstool's viral content and massive influence in the 18-40yo crowd led to its acquisition (valuing the company at over $600m) by Penn Entertainment, announced yesterday. So if your kids or grandkids still think pickleball is only for the senior center, go ahead and click forward on this article.
Tournament of Champions
A Wednesday start at the PPA Tournament of Champions had some surprises for the Utah faithful. Tyson McGuffin and Catherine Parenteau both took losses in qualifying singles play, knocking them out of gold medal contention.
Dylan Frazier will fill the shoes of Tyson McGuffin on Championship Saturday. He will be taking on Ben Johns and unlike "the most electrifying man in sports," Frazier cracked the Ben Johns code once before. Frazier surprised the pickleball world with an upset over Johns at the first PPA event in 2022.
In mixed doubles, Utah native Callie Smith punched her way into Championship Saturday with the help of partner AJ Koller. Despite being one of the top teams on the tour this is their first time reaching the finals in 2022. They will face the Waters/Johns duo that has dominated the tour this year.
TOC continues today with gender doubles matches. The Championship Saturday broadcast will require some channel flipping so keep the remote handy.
- M/W Singles 12pm ET on PPA TV
- Anna Leigh Waters vs Lea Jansen | Ben Johns vs Dylan Frazier
- Mixed Doubles 6-8pm ET on Fox Sports 1
- Anna Leigh Waters/Ben Johns vs Callie Smith/AJ Koller
- M/W Doubles 8-11pm ET on PPA TV and Tennis Channel
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Heart Stopping Moment on the Court
NBC5 in Burlington, VT shared the story of a pickleball game gone wrong at the Maxfield Sports Complex. During a rec game in Hartford, VT Pete Tannini began experiencing sharp pains on the left side of his body.
He dropped to the ground suddenly. He was falling into cardiac arrest.
Lucky for Tannini, a few VA clinicians were playing tennis on a nearby court and came to his aid. The team from White River Junction VA Medical Center performed chest compressions on Tannini until EMTs arrived. The EMTs used an AED to restart his heart and rushed him to the hospital.
Tannini took six weeks to recover but is back on the courts playing pickleball today. He encourages players to always listen to your body and if something feels off, be sure to seek help.
Love is in the Air
Last week the New York Times covered the outbreak of pickleball weddings popping up across the country. And the trend does not stop there.
Pickleball has become the best way to make friends and find partners. It seems like everywhere you look there's a new couple that met playing pickle. Instead of what's your name, what's your sign? It's what level do you play?
Weekends are spent under the lights at a public park. And the best way to get a date is to make sure your paddle ends up in the right place on the rack.
There are plenty of examples of love through pickleball in the pro game and the list grows daily.
- Everyone knows pickleball's power couple Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright.
- Corrine Carr and Adam Stone recently celebrated their nuptials and shared about their Peruvian glacial lake plunge on the It Feels Right podcast.
- Yana Newell debuted her new last name at TOC. Her love story with Ben Newell started at Chicken N' Pickle.
PicklePlay has become the new Tinder.
- Profile: 40, single, right handed
- Seeking: Plays within a 20 mile radius, left handed, multiple medal winner
They're perfect. Tell your pickleball friends to get with my pickleball friends and we can be pickleball friends. Sh*t we can do this every weekend. Biggie Smalls, anyone?
Headlines & Quick Hits
- Meet the American who Founded Pickleball - Fox News
- Pickleball Is Becoming Big Business for Entrepreneurs - Entrepreneur
- Pickleball Courts Endanger Traffic Safety
- Louisiana's Fastest Growing Sport
- Salome Devidze was a handful on Wednesday
- Jessie and Jay go I-formation and it actually works
- Pickleball on the salt flats, looks dope
- JDub with the backhand dink straight out of the Ben Johns playbook
This brand new court couldn't be closer to home. It's the Briarpatch in North Georgia. Roll right out of bed and into a game. The epic indoor court only has one flaw, exposed industrial beams a little too close to the sideline. Any suggestions to improve safety?
If you’ve got this one beat or want to show off your own homecourt, send us an email at [email protected]