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Monday, September 26, 2016

Gigi LeMaster

I rarely post articles about pickleball personalities. I don't think that type of article fits the goal of this blog. But I got the opportunity to meet Gigi LeMaster at the Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic and quickly became a fan despite never seeing her play. She is the friend of a friend and I took the opportunity to introduce myself and have a short talk.

Gigi has a wonderful friendly personality and is a great representative for pickleball. That alone isn't enough to justify a blog post, but PickleballCentral coincidentally had a recent article on Gigi called Meet The Pros - Gigi LeMaster that gives some good background.

Gigi LeMaster is known as the “Queen of Dink”!  She loves the game, she loves the people and she’s tons of fun as a doubles partner.  Gigi is also a USAPA ambassador. She has designed and implemented a skill drill program and she gives lessons. Enjoy! 

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

2016 Canadian Champion Women’s Doubles Open with Sarah Ansboury – Gold
2016 Canadian Nationals Senior Mixed Open with Steve Dawson – Gold
2016 Int. Champion Women’s Doubles Open with Jennifer Lucore – Gold
2016 US OPEN Gold 45+ Mixed Doubles with Dave Weinbach – Gold
2016 US Open Gold 30+ Women’s Doubles with Irina Tereschenko – Gold
2016 US Open Silver Mixed Doubles Pro Division with Dave Weinbach – Gold

2015 Nationals Gold 19+ Women’s Doubles with Sarah Ansboury – Gold
2015 Nationals Open Women’s Double with Sarah Ansboury – Gold
2015 Nationals Silver 19+ Mixed Doubles with Rafael Siebenschein – Gold
2015 Fall Brawl Gold Medal Women’s Doubles with Sarah Ansboury – Gold
2014 Nationals Gold Mixed Doubles Open with Enrique Ruiz – Gold
2014 TOC Silver Medal Mixed Doubles Open with Enrique Ruiz – Gold
2014 TOC Silver Medal Women’s Doubles Open with Adina Jones – Gold
2013 TOC Gold Medal Mixed Doubles Open ( Highest $$ winner) with Enrique Ruiz – Gold
2013 TOC Gold Medal Women’s Doubles Open with Adina Jones – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

Blaster Graphite
I play with the Pro-Lite Blaster Graphite and Titan because of the feel they provide for my soft game. 

What’s your pickleball story?

It’s the story of The Little Engine That Could. I think I can…

A lot of hard work and positive attitude, never giving up. I was arguably the most unorthodox player when I started playing, with bad technique and even stranger shots but that did not deter me from reaching my goals.

Titan Pro Black Diamond
Graphite Paddle
How were you introduced to pickleball?

Once upon a time… while walking I heard this funny sound coming from the neighborhood basketball court. When I turned the corner I saw a group of players with these funny paddles hitting a yellow ball on temporary courts. It looked like a lot of fun and I asked if I could join them. The rest is history. I have been hooked ever since.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I love playing outdoors, but I like the indoor game as well because of how true the ball plays.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Doubles definitely! Singles to me is mini tennis; I feel pickleball was invented to be played as doubles.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Without a doubt, the city of Surprise’s public courts. I feel enormous pride whenever I pull up to the Surprise courts to play for having been a big part in getting them built. It’s a place where players of all ages and skill levels can come together, mix it up and work on their game. It’s where Wayne Muggli taught me how to dink, where Steve Wong and I spent countless hours drilling and playing, it’s where I became the player I am today. Great memories, good friends and fun games!

What’s your secret sauce?

It’s a combination of mental strength, strategy and patience.

Any tips for players?

Believe in your game and dinking is not a bad word, even if my spell checker tells me otherwise.🙂

What’s your day job?

Living life to the fullest! I am retired.

How many hours a week do you play?

I play on average 3 – 4 times a week.

How do you make time to play?

My husband and I are retired which gives me plenty of time to play.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

None. It’s a day like any other. Even during the tournament I am a social butterfly, I love to talk, walk around and watch pickleball, so most of the time I find myself running to the court, grabbing my paddle and water bottle on the way after I hear my name announced. No rituals except for maybe a few stretches.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

I’m very blessed to have reached all of my goals regarding tournaments I wanted to win and I am thankful to all of my partners for sharing and helping me attain those goals so now I have this short list with names of players I would love to play with.

Kyle Yates, I’m not getting any younger.😉 Hint!

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

It sounds pretty corny but for me it’s the people that make it all worthwhile. It’s seeing your buddies at tournaments, the camaraderie, it’s a smile on a student’s face when he/she hits a nice shot, teaching high school kids, the volunteers running tournaments, it’s about paying it forward. 

It’s also about pushing yourself to be better, keep challenging yourself. And of course it’s about being part of the pickleball revolution, knowing that you are a tiny part of pickleball history. How very fortunate we are!

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