BLQK Crowned Chaps. CNBC Profiles Growth. Eliminate Dead Dinks. PPA Recap.
Team BLQK is officially the first Pickleball Dynasty. On Sunday they secured their third championship in four MLP events, and their second Pritchard Cup this year.
More than 3,000 guests attended the event at the brand-new Pickle and Chill venue in Ohio. The newly improved stats and video review system enhanced the production of the event. Twelve teams competed over three days to award over $300k in prize money.
As Maren Morris said on Jimmy Kimmel Live, "Pickleball is life." The country star and Pickleball Magazine cover model shared her pickleball obsession in front of a national audience.
She says she and her touring crew have used the game for team bonding because there's 'no better way' to get to know people.
Not wrong, Maren. Not wrong. Let's do it.
Major League Pickleball - Columbus
From left to right, teammates Zane Navratil, Parris Todd, Rafa Hewett and Irina Tereschenko celebrate their 2nd 2022 MLP Championship in Columbus, Ohio.
PPA Round-Up Results
RIP Dead Dinks
Dead dinks no longer have a place in pickleball. A dink that bounces high and has no spin is called a dead dink. It's dead because it has no life, no action. It's like offering your opponent a gift-wrapped, silver-plattered bodybag. And guess who's going in that bodybag?
Ok, this section is getting a bit morbid, but hey, it's almost Halloween.
Eliminate the dead dink from your game. We repeat, if you are dinking without intention or simply to 'get it back over the net', then you are doing yourself a great disservice. And, news flash, your opponents love playing against you. Instead, dink with intention.
There are 81 different dink combinations at your disposal if you vary:
- Spin (flat, backspin, topspin)
- Speed (slow, medium fast)
- Depth (shallow, medium, deep)
- Placement (straight ahead, middle, cross-court)
Sometimes it's easier said than done, particularly in the heat of the moment, but here's an easy go-to that will help you avoid that dreaded dead dink: the push dink.
The push dink is a safe, but aggressive dink that will place some pressure on your opponent. The objective is to minimize the risk of error while also upping the ante with increased pace and depth.
To learn the push dink, Tyson McGuffin recommends a drop-and-hit drill with a ball in your armpit. Yes, your armpit. Holding the ball against your body forces you to keep your form compact, use your hips, and follow through from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock.
- Place a ball under the armpit of your paddle-arm
- Drop another ball in front of you with your offhand
- When it reaches its apex, perform a push-dink, focusing on “pushing” the ball toward that pressurized spot at the rear of your opponent’s kitchen line
- Keep your form tight, focus on using your hips to help push
- Repeat 10 times, then switch sides to backhand
Use the push dink as your default, and once you're in the groove, step it up with some variation in spin, speed, depth and placement. You’ll know you’re doing your job well if your opponent starts to pop the ball up out of indecision.
Watch the demonstration here.
Last Chance to Attend Nationals, On Us
We have teamed up with Selkirk to give one lucky member of the Dink Fam a trip to Nationals. See your favorite players in action at the state-of-the art Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Palm Springs, CA. Click here to find out more!
There's Nothing Else Like It
Major League Pickleball capped off its 2022 season with the championship match in Columbus Sunday night. BLQK faced off against the underdog Hard Eights for $100k and a chance to hoist the Pritchard Cup.
The Hard Eights went on a heater after a near elimination in the quarterfinals. They beat Florida Smash and the defending champ Ranchers to advance to the final, but their luck ran out in the championship as they succumbed to the talent and experience of MLP's first dynasty, BLQK.
BLQK has won three of the four MLP events and Irina Tereschenko has led the team for each title run. Rafa Hewett and Zane Navratil exhibit the right balance of enthusiasm and strategy to make a run through the MLP gauntlet. The MVP award went to Parris Todd who won nine out of her ten games on the weekend and finished with the best point differential in the field.
- The weekend saw the invention of a new shot, the Mary-go-Round, Mary Brascia's around-the-head block volley that took over social media
- Eight Dreambreakers (the singles showdown used to decide stalemates) were played over the weekend, including two in the quarterfinals
- The Mayor of Columbus popped in to see what the MLP hype was all about.
This event was the last of the MLP original format. Starting in 2023 the teams will be redrafted, four new teams will be added and the new format will go into effect. More big news is coming.
PS...for those also stumbling through every pronunciation of 'BLQK', it's a coffee brand and can be pronounced as "black."
Pickleball’s Growth in 5 Stats
CNBC recently dropped a video explaining pickleball’s success to the uninitiated, and as you might expect, their main points were that the sport is accessible, affordable, and has a fairly low learning curve - preaching to the choir. But the video also included some fascinating statistics.
Let’s recap some more impressive figures here:
- 40 million – number of predicted pickleball players by 2030
- +11.5% – average annual growth of players over the last five years (tennis grew by +4.2%, badminton actually went down by -3.7%; ping pong is down by -1.2%)
- 45.1% – of pickleball players make over $100,000 in annual income; 37.9% make between $25,000 and $74,999
- $256.2 million – predicted value of the pickleball paddle market by 2028; it was $152.8 million at the end of 2021
- 70 – number of countries pickleball is currently played in (to qualify as an Olympic sport, it needs to be played in at least 75 countries)
The stars of the PPA Tour shined bright in Frisco, TX over the weekend in the doubles-only event that was preceded by a celebrity athlete pro-am featuring Jordan Spieth, Dirk Nowitzki, John Isner, Scottie Scheffler and Tony Romo in the booth.
Inclement weather turned Championship Sunday into Championship Saturday and the mixed doubles final was not finished until after dark. Notable absences included Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns.
Riley Newman ended the weekend with two gold medals. He and Catherine Parenteau won a fiery duel against Jessie Irvine and Jay Devilliers.
Newman racked up his second gold medal with partner Brandon French in men's doubles. The pair went undefeated in their journey to gold and were gifted a victory via withdraw from Tyson McGuffin and Devilliers in the final match.
Wait, who is Brandon French? He's a 31 year-old Dallas attorney that rarely competes in sanctioned events. French is one of those guys that all the pros know; they've played him in rec, and he has a reputation. Described as a raw talent with a knack for upsetting some of the game's elite, French has been touted as the best player nobody knows about...until now.
Round-robin pool play established seeding for the single-loss elimination brackets for each event. Jessie Irvine and Lea Jansen went undefeated in pool play and continued the run straight to a gold medal. They faced Jansen's usual partner, Parenteau, and Meghan Dizon in the finals.
No time off for the PPA Tour, they are back on the grind in the nation's capital for the n2grate DC Open this week.
Headlines & Quick Hits
- Pickleball: Big business, or just big fun?
- Venus Williams gives her verdict on pickleball
- Need a fourth? Time to download the pickleplay app
- Tom Brady says Rob Gronkowski would be 'really good' at pickleball
∙ SharkTank is not here for your lies
∙ Deja Vu: It's risky to go ATP on Thomas Wilson
∙ Rafa Hewett pulled out the air guns after the winner
∙ Birdies or ernes, Scottie Scheffler can do it all