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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Meet Jerry Peterson

I met Jerry Peterson last winter while playing at Crosswalk. I knew Jerry was a great player by watching him on the court, but I had no idea how great he was until I saw an article about him in the Pickleball Central blog. One reason for my lack of awareness is that Jerry is a very unassuming guy, giving advice freely and blending into the Crosswalk group.  Jerry spends only his winters in Hendersonville as he lives primarily in Minnesota. 

I followed Jerry's play in the USAPA Nationals last fall where he won gold medals in both singles and doubles. The first time I saw Jerry after that event, I greeted him at Crosswalk in January with a "Congratulations!".  In line with his unassuming personality, Jerry's response was "Its good to be old". Needless to say, Jerry's strength is in his play, no matter how much he chooses to downplay it.

Please find below a copy of the Pickleball Central article.  It gives a good feel of who Jerry is in the pickleball world.  But my searching also came across another article from a Minnesota newspaper that discusses Jerry's real world and why pickleball should be part of any active person's life.  I won't copy it here but will provide a link to it.

National honors for pickleball champ

The article from Pickleball Central:

Meet the Pros: Jerry Peterson

posted in Meet the Pros by elizaled

Jerry won Gold this year at the USAPA Nationals, Men’s Singles 70+. He’s pretty humble. He thinks someone like Glen Peterson should be considered first. But we think if your still playing in your 70’s, your are one heck of a great pickleball player. Enjoy!

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

I have won more than 70 medals in all events, including 6 times at the Minnesota games, earning Gold in both singles and doubles. I play about six tournaments a year. Also,

2015 Nat’l Senior Games – Gold, singles
2015 Huntsman World Sr Games – Gold in both singles/doubles with Marc Rinehart
2015 USAPA Nat’l Tournament – Gold in both singles/doubles with Marc Rinehart

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with a Paddletek paddle in singles as I like the power and feel for ground strokes. I play with the POP paddle for doubles as I feel it gives me better touch for dinking and the soft game.

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

I was introduced to pickleball after I retired. A good friend brought it back to Minnesota from Arizona where he wintered. I had played a lot of badminton when younger and thought I would like Pickleball. I actually submitted the rule change for serving after I started playing, which copied the badminton rule. I started playing tournaments 6 yrs ago, and began competing at the Nationals and Huntsman Senior Games five years ago. At one of my first tournaments I played with Steve Wong, and we won Gold in the tournament. I teased him that he was young enough to be my son! He has called me “Dad” ever since. He convinced me to go to the Huntsman Senior Games that fall where I won silver in singles, losing to Pat Kane. From then on I was hooked on competing.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I enjoy both indoors and outdoors – both are necessary in Minnesota! That way, any day is a “Great Day” for pickleball!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I have always enjoyed singles best – you either do it or you don’t! The singles game is more physical and a great conditioner. It also may fit my strengths better.

I also enjoy doubles because of the relationships that form and the fun of playing as a team. I do enjoy the “cat and mouse” part of doubles and am working hard to improve on that part of the game.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I enjoy both the Huntsman Senior Games and the USAPA Nationals because the more people there are to compete, the greater the chance to see the most friends from all over. Relationships and friendships are a very important part of pickleball for me.

Jerry Peterson at USAPA Nationals 2015

What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?
I’m not sure if there are any “secrets.” Hard work, determination, practice and not giving up are keys to success in anything. Keeping the ball in play, being patient and adjusting to your opponents strengths and weaknesses are very important. Play to win and avoid playing NOT to lose. Remember there are over two billion people in the world that don’t even know we play – yet!

What’s your day job?

I am a retired teacher/ hockey coach. I taught for 35 years. I have owned a seasonal miniature golf course in Minnesota for 20 years. Yes, I am a life-long athlete.

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

We have a group of players in Minnesota who play 5 days a week, 2 – 3 hours a day outside from April to Nov. I spend the winters in North Carolina, and play four days a week indoors. I play with Paul Coletta, who moved there from California, and he was a big part of my participating in the bigger tournaments.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
I met my pickleball goals this year! I wanted to win gold in three big tournaments in 2015, and I did:

Nat’l Sr Games in Minneapolis this summer
The Huntsman World Sr Games in Utah
The USAPA Nat’l tournament in Arizona

I feel lucky to have won singles in all three and doubles in both Huntsman and Nat’l USAPA. My ultimate goal is to be National Champion in the 90-94 age group! Everything else is just practice!

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

The greatest experience has been all the fantastic people I have met and the relationships that have developed. Physical activity, and people to enjoy it with, are keys to healthy living. Pickleball people are awesome and every day is a Great Day for Pickleball.

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