Land of the Sky Tournament information can be found by clicking on the button above.

Newcomers to the site should note the pickleball book "chapters" in the left column and the repository of expert articles and videos in the right column.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Transylvania Senior Games 2016 Results

Transylvania County has published the results of its pickleball competition for its Senior Games. I have attempted to summarize it in the clearest format I could imagine. 

There are some interesting results that I'm not sure I can explain. For example, there are 3 first place players in the Men's Doubles age group 55-59. I am going to speculate that such results occur when players participate with a partner of a different age group. In this example, Michael Wiltsek's partner was Dan Dorfman in the 50-54 age group. By participating in and winning that group, Michael was a first place winner but remains in his own age group for individual placement.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Today is not a day for writing or reading about pickleball. Today is about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to create and sustain the freedom that allows us to play games. So, whether you are grilling hot dogs or playing pickleball today, take a moment to think about and thank our fallen heroes. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Offbeat Sunday: The Doubles Glossary

If you need a laugh - we mean a real laugh - you have to read this. If you've seen it before well... a little reminder never hurt anyone. Here goes!

Following is
 a glossary that every doubles player will want to memorize to keep the peace with both partners and opponents:

“Yours!” Translation: I closed too tight to the net and if I try to back up, the twenty extra pounds l’m carrying will make me tip over like Humpty-Dumpty.

Mine!!!” Translation: You missed the last four overheads so I’ll trample you if you don’t get the heck out of my way!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

New Player Ratings System

There has been a lot of talk among USAPA ambassadors about a potential new player ratings system. Players are currently rated using a number system starting at 2.0 and rising in 0.5 increments to 5.0. Many clubs have rating evaluations to assign appropriate levels while other players self-rate. The reality of rating accuracy becomes apparent when players enter tournaments against experienced opponents.

The lack of transparency and consistency across regions as well as little differentiation between players at the same level has led to several proposals to develop a new system. This post highlights a system that can be found at They have over 13,000 players rated on a scale from 0-3,000 based on performance as reported through their system uses an algorithm based on wins and losses against other players as rated in their system.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Suncoast Pickleball Boot Camp

All of you 4.0 players or higher wanting to ramp up your game, Suncoast is bringing you the opportunity. During the week of September 25th thru the 30th, some of the top instructors will assemble at beautiful Montreat College in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Visit the following link for registration information.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

An Inside view of the Georgia Mountain Spring Pickleball Classic

I played in the subject tournament last weekend. Friday was scheduled for Men's Doubles and Saturday was Mixed Doubles. My partner in the Men's bracket was Sandro Francioni, a friend and Hendersonville resident with whom I play regularly. My partner in the Mixed bracket was Suzanne Pell, also a Hendersonville resident but a player with whom I had rarely played. Both partnerships proved successful with a silver in each event. But this post isn't about the play. It is about the tournament.

The Georgia Mountain tournament is similar to the Lowcountry tournament in scope. The tournament had 260+ players from at least 14 states, with the longest trip from Colorado. The tournament is competitive because it separates the brackets into both skill level and age groups. For example, I played at the 3.5 skill level in the 60-70 age bracket. I won't list all the brackets, but the Men's Doubles gives a good idea of the competitive breakdown:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Call me Crazy

Sunday mornings - a time to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast while reading the newspaper and talking with one's spouse. At least most Sundays. But not last Sunday. Not for a pickleball player with an addiction and a chance to play a competitive match. That player instead joins his playing partner before sunrise for a 2+ hour drive to play 1 game plus a few points...and then drives 2+ hours back home. That was my Sunday on May 22. But the story starts on Friday.

The Georgia Mountain Spring Pickleball Classic started Friday with Men's and Women's Doubles scheduled. Saturday was Mixed Doubles day. Sunday was reserved for any play unfinished due to rain. My Men's Doubles partner, Sandro Francioni, and I watched the weather closely all week as rain was definitely in the forecast. As Friday neared, we were optimistic that the morning play would be completed. That would be good for us since we were scheduled first at 8:30 and neither had plans to stay into Sunday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Georgia Mountain Spring Pickleball Classic Photos

The Georgia Mountain Spring Pickleball Classic was completed on Sunday. 

Lots of western North Carolina players were participants. I will have several posts on the tournament during the week but today's post is a selection of photos of our local players and some well-known pickleball personalities. I tried to get everyone but missed several who were either my teammates (Suzanne Pell and Sandro Francioni) or playing at the same time (Beth Corn).


Dee and Rick Ezrol of Crosswalk

Monday, May 23, 2016

Pickleball Event at Brevard Health and Racquet Club

Brevard Health and Racquet Club 
Pickleball Social Event
Thursday JUNE 2,   3 PM-5PM

Guest clinician Deb Richter

FREE Clinic, Play, and Refreshments

For those attending the clinic:  we offer to join Brevard Health and Racquet Club as a Health Club Quarterly Member -waiving the joining fee if one signs up before June 6.   

An individual health club quarterly membership is $155.  (3 months)

Our Health Club Membership now includes Pickleball!  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Skinny Singles

Pickleball players come in all shapes. Some are skinny. Others, like me, not so much. My body shape luckily doesn't prevent me or anyone else from playing a new version of singles. In fact, skinny singles is meant for those who cannot or choose not to cover the entire court. It sounds interesting. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

In Pickleball...Movement is Not Optional

I have frequently mentioned footwork and movement in my posts. It has been a while, though, where a post was devoted solely to what is likely the single most important factor in pickleball. It was several months ago when I posted Moving at the Kitchen Line and Split Step. A couple of recent videos highlight the importance of focusing on movement and are worth discussion.

Mark Renneson's video Pickleball You Move You Win uses clips from top players' matches at the recent US Open to show the value of movement. Mark shows the players' movements to position their bodies for the optimal shot. But, beyond the positional movement, he emphasizes the high energy of staying light on one's feet with athletic stances and active feet. The dynamic movement of small quick steps allows the adjustments needed to get properly positioned.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Is the "Formality" Phase Dead?

I recently posted a series of articles about the various phases of a pickleball rally, including The Basic Overall Strategy of Doubles - Phase 1, with Phase 1 called the "Formality Phase". The essence of the post was that the first 2 shots of a rally, consisting of the serve and the return of serve, are not used as scoring opportunities but are used to set up the rally.

Mark Renneson has a new article that supports this view based his experience at the recent US Open. His article is below. I will add my commentary at the end.

It’s official: the return of serve has now become a key shot in pickleball. While some old-school coaches and players may still refer to it as the shot you have to play before the “real” game starts, watch any advanced players and you’ll quickly discover that this just simply isn’t so. Increasingly, the return of serve is used to gain an advantage against the serving team and to give the returners better opportunities at the net. Here are a few ways in which they do it:

  1. Return Deep. Pinning your opponent behind the baseline does a few things to make your life at the net easier. First, it means that they have the ball to you from a longer distance. Since the baseline to the net is 29 feet and you’re (presumably) seven feet beyond that at your own kitchen kitchen, that means they have to hit 36 feet -- at least! -- the get the ball back to you. That gives you a lot of time to get ready for their shot. Conversely, if you return short and let them move inside the baseline to hit the ball, you’ll have less time to get prepared.
  1. Aim for a Weakness. Don’t just hit anywhere but aim for a spot that will annoy your opponents. This could mean hitting to a particular person (see this video about picking on the weaker opponent) or it could be just aiming for a backhand. Is there more risk? Of course. But there is also great reward to be had.
  1. Use Spin. Whether it is topspin, sidespin or backspin, hitting your return with spin can cause your opponent to play a less-than-ideal shot. It gives them one more thing to worry about as you approach the net for the volley.
  1. Take Away Time. Whether it is because you are hitting the ball hard or hitting on the rise, give your opponents less time to prepare for the third shot. This will put them under pressure and can cause them to make bad decisions. Just make sure you give yourself sufficient time to get to the kitchen!

Of course, whenever you attempt to make a higher quality shot you risk a drop in consistency. But with a little deliberate practice and some patience, you can turn your return of serve into a shot that sets you up to win more points rather than being a meaningless shot that lets your opponents off easy.


My earlier post included these sections:
"The return of serve is also rarely a scoring shot. It is normally directed down the middle or toward the weaker opponent. A deep return is ideal but many players also hit it high. Either shot accomplishes the goal of pinning the service team deep. A short return, in contrast, allows the opponent to get to the net. The Return of Serve discussed this in more detail and was confirmed in Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Return of Serve."
"In conclusion, phase 1 (The Formality Phase) consists of only 2 shots - the serve and the return of serve. Points are rarely scored in this phase. They are only strategic in nature with the goal of gaining advantage in later phases."
Sounds just like Mark's experience, right? Well, close. I would de-emphasize his points 3 and 4 for anyone below the top levels of the game. Lower level players have many more parts of the game to develop than a spin shot that intermediate level players can handle. Also, a hard shot provides less time for you to get to the kitchen. A consistent, deep, and slow shot that exploits weaknesses remains the best choice in my opinion.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Power Vs Control - Under-use of Power

Yesterday, I introduced a video from Joe Baker called Doubles Pickleball Strategy 102 - Smart Pickleball Vol. 2, Power in my post Power Vs Control - Over-use of Power. If you have not read that post, I would recommend doing so before going further. As can be deduced from the titles, yesterday's post discussed the misuse of hard shots when soft shots would be a better option. Today's post covers the opposite type of shot - the times when a shot must be hit hard.

The time for powerful shots is when the "fast shots" phase is entered (see The Basic Overall Strategy of Doubles - Phase 4 and series). The fast shots phase begins with a mistake, a shot that is high enough for a player swing downward and pound the ball. When this phase starts, a hard shot should be so hard that it ends the rally by defeating reaction time. Under-powering these shots allows the ball to come back, often harder than it was sent. A player should never provide an opponent with a ball in the air unless it is a lob or a high-power shot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Power Vs Control - Over-use of Power

Many, if not most, players misuse power when playing pickleball. This is especially true of beginning and intermediate level players who get enamored with power, likely because they are able to overwhelm equal or lower level teams. The reality is that advancing skill players use less power. There is one simple reason for playing a softer game - it provides more control...and more control helps to prevent the # 1 reason for losing a rally - an unforced error.

Joe Baker has a video (Doubles Pickleball Strategy 102 - Smart Pickleball Vol. 2, Powerto explain the proper use of power. Joe provides some of the best pickleball instructional videos I have seen, mainly because he goes further into the depths of strategy than most. I have used 2 of his videos in my posts - Doubles Strategy and The Basic Overall Strategy of Doubles. The Doubles Strategy post includes Joe's video Doubles Pickleball Strategy 101-How to Play Smart Pickleball, Ten Tips that is recommended viewing before proceeding through this post on power. I will cover the over-use of power portion in today's post and the under-use of power in tomorrow's post.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Habitat of NE GA Pickleball Tourney

One aspect I love about playing tournaments is the opportunity to meet new people and expand my network of fellow pickleball fans. The tournament director for the subject tournament was a playing opponent at the Low Country tournament in April. She contacted me to ask if I (and others) would have interest in playing. The tournament is in Cleveland, GA on June 10-12 and played on indoor courts. It benefits the local Habitat for Humanity. Also of importance is to maximize the participation as a request for outdoor dedicated pickleball will soon be reviewed by local government. The goal is to reach 150+ players. 

The tournament flyer is shown below.

The registration can be found at

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Top Pro is Another Tennis Convert

Simone Jardim was a 2-time All-American tennis player in college. Last week she won the Women's Pro championship at the US Open Pickleball Championships, stating "I got that pickleball bug. It’s hard to not play anymore."

Article from the Naples Daily News:

 big week in Naples ends

Nicholas Idler, Naples Daily News 2:06 p.m. EDT May 2, 2016

(Photo: Naples Daily News)

It had been more than a decade since Michigan State women’s tennis coach Simone Jardim picked up a racket and actually competed on a high level. Her “glory days” as she called them, date back to 2001-02, when she became a two-time All-American doubles player at Fresno State.

Jardim stepped back on the court again on Sunday, but it wasn’t a tennis court. And, she traded her racket for a paddle.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Spectacular Point

The US Open in Naples featured some outstanding play. The finals to be telecast by CBS Sports on May 20 will be sure to include some of that. But nothing can top the play in the following video. Generally, an around-the-post is spectacular in itself. Wes Gabrielsen gets the opportunity to do so and his shot is followed by an unbelievable return from Sarah Ansboury. It has to be watched in slow motion to be believed. The video comes from Pickleball Channel and is called Multi-Camera Breakdown of an Around the Net Post Shot with Spectacular Return.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Groundstrokes with Sarah

I have written several posts on the groundstroke, including The Forehand Ground Stroke, The Backhand Ground Stroke, Strengthening the Backhand Ground Stroke, and Backhand Ground Stroke - New Video. These posts cover the entirety of the swing, discussing weight shift, backstroke, follow-through, eyes, contact point, etc. Sarah Ansboury has a video called Groundstrokes focusing on a couple of these points .

Sarah first discusses the tendency of many people to ignore the body when hitting groundstrokes. Instead, these players use only their arms, a technique that will provide some success at lower level of play but will limit their success as they advance. Note the open stance in the below photo. This allows only the arm to be used in hitting the ball.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pickleball goes Big-Time

I have written a couple of posts about the US Open Championships held last week in Naples, Florida. There were over 800 participants in the tournament, easily making it the largest ever. There was a "Pro" division for the first time and a new format associated with the high level play. Some of the changes were controversial as the sport seems to be reaching a crossroads. But that is a discussion for another day. Today's post isn't controversial. It is fantastic news for fans and players of the game.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Think "Forward"

Late last year, I posted a video from Deb Harrison on being aggressive in the volley game in an article called Proactive Volleys. Deb has followed up with a new video that takes a little different look at volleys in a video she calls Forward Dynamic of ALL VolleysThe difference in the videos is that the earlier video emphasized body position (lean forward) while this video adds the dimension of the forward stroke.

The first point of the video is relatively obvious but is necessary to understand the need for forward motion. The ball must cross the 7-foot non-volley zone before it can drop below the top of the net. This requires the aggressive body position of "nose over toes" and the forward, rather than downward, motion of the paddle on all volleys. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pickleball Clinics in PA

I had an opportunity to visit family and try to get a pickleball movement off the ground near my hometown. I was surprised to see the number of players who had either played or seen pickleball and had an interest in beginning a program at the local YMCA. No pickleball exists within a reasonable driving range of home so I expected little to no experience among attendees. What I underestimated was how the national appeal of the sport got these folks intrigued from their visits to Florida and Arizona.

The sport is truly exploding in popularity.

Here are some photos from the first clinic.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Brevard Rec Center Schedule Update

Some future dates the gym will be closed from John Jessen:






Friday, May 6, 2016

Hendersonville Gym Schedule Update

From Julie and Ken:

The Henderson County Athletic Center Gym is closed for Pickleball play the following days in May:

Friday, May 6 (Closed for Senior Games Pickleball Event. Good luck to all those who are playing!)

Wednesday through Saturday, May 11 through May 14 (Senior Games Event - Silver Arts and Open House)

Monday, May 30 (Closed for Memorial Day Holiday)

The HCPRD Open House is a Free Event, which you are welcome to attend. There will be games, prizes and performances. The Open House is Friday, May 13, from 5:30 - 7:30 PM.

For your information, as a nice alternative for the warmer months, there are four tennis courts at Jackson Park that have been marked with boundaries and are available for Pickleball play. There are no longer any nets, so you would need to bring your own PB net. There are outdoor pickleballs available for loan at the gym.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pickleball Rules Summary

A good summary of pickleball rules issued by the South Carolina Senior Games.

The Game

1. Singles Play: The serve is from the right side when the score is even and from the left side when the server’s score is odd.

2. In Doubles, both players on the serving team are allowed to serve, and a team shall score points only when serving. A game is played to eleven points.

3. The server must keep both feet behind the baseline during the serve with at least one foot on the court surface at the time the ball is struck. The serve is made underhand. The paddle must contact the ball below the waist.

4. The serve is made diagonally cross court and must clear the non-volley zone. The non-volley line is a short line for the serve (the serve is a fault if it hits the line). All other lines are good at all times. Only one serve attempt is allowed, except in the event of a let (the ball touches the net on the serve, and lands on the proper service court). Let serves are replayed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When does Gamesmanship Cross the Line?

Gamesmanship: the art or practice of winning games by questionable expedients without actually violating the rules. 2 : the use of ethically dubious methods to gain an objective.

- Merriam-Webster Dictionary

As competitors
, we play games to win. We fight and strain for every point with the goal of winning. But no game is worth the loss of one's integrity. This is especially true in pickleball, where one of the biggest draws is the friendly competition and camaraderie of playing with people we enjoy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2016 US Open Local Player Results

The US Open tournament was held last week in Naples, Florida. 

Three local players participated with the results shown below.

Joyce Baila of Connestee Falls and Susan Ingalls in Womens Doubles 3.0
- Defeated Amanda Harman and Tory Brock 11-3, 11-4
- Defeated Cynthia Conroy and Valerie Fucci, 11-3, 11-8
- Defeated Holly Goldsmith and Cathy Carlson 11-9, 11-7
- Defeated Gail Jenkins and Nance Buonopane 10-12,11-3,11-6
- Lost to Chris Morrell and Julie Bosch 11-13,11-7,11-4
- Defeated Jenkins,Gail-Buonopane,Nance 11-3,11-4
- Lost to Chris Morrell and Julie Bosch 9-11,11-7,11-13,15-13(by Forfeit)

Monday, May 2, 2016

2016 Transylvania Senior Games Photos

The pickleball competition of the Transylvania Senior Games took place on Friday, April 29 at Connestee Falls. I have yet to find the results of the tournament and will print those when available.

Instead, here are some random photos from the event.