Ben Johns' $2.5m salary 🤑

National crime spree. Winners of MLP Atlanta.

“I wanna play every second of every day.” We all know the feeling.

The game’s newest converts, actors Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, provided some less-than-shocking news announcing that they have finally taken up pickleball.

Now Dax can join the rest of us Armchair Experts making line calls from the living room instead of Championship Court.

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In This Issue:

🃏 Play it Close to the Vest
💰 The $2.5 Million Dollar Man
⚡️ Shocking Start to the MLP Season

Monday, Bloody Monday.

Don’t Show Them Your Cards

The element of surprise is a big part of pickleball strategy. With a short distance between players and limited time to react, hiding your intentions from your opponent can be extremely valuable.

The latest example of this comes from Tina Pisnik, who had one of the best performances at MLP Atlanta. Pisnik does something special with her dinks that most players don’t do.

Pisnik almost exclusively plays the right side. Because of this, she is frequently engaged in forehand cross-court dinking.

But when Pisnik wants to break the pattern and dink down the line, it’s hard to predict.

  • Pisnik does not open the paddle face to dink straight ahead like most players.

  • She keeps the paddle face pointed cross-court and then brushes the side of the ball, pushing the dink straight ahead by following through to the right side of her body.

  • Watch her move both opponents to opposing sidelines before ending the point with a counterattack.

This gives her opponent little to no indication that the ball is headed their way. Why does this matter?

  • This helps keep the left-side player (usually the better/more offensive player) in check. They can’t freely creep into the middle of the court if they can’t read Pisnik’s dink.

  • It reduces the erne threat. With no paddle turn, it’s hard to know a ball is coming down the line and therefore more difficult to erne.

The tactic is subtle. It’s not going to show up on SportsCenter’s Top 10. But Pisnik finished No. 3 in the player standings in ATL and has multiple PPA medals this year. Whatever she is doing, it’s working.

Keep an eye out for tells in your game. You might be giving away more than you think.

Wear What Winners Wear

Do you ever feel like your outfit just doesn't keep up with your game? Well get ready to elevate your style with the Selkirk Pro Line Collection.

This line isn’t just for show; it's for every pickleball player out there, featuring zip Henley shirts and shorts for men, and tank tops with high-waist shorts for women. Complete your outfit with a cozy hoodie and the Pro Line Team Bag, and you're all set to hit the courts.

The $2.5 Million Dollar Man

The Tour Wars of 2023 sent pro pickleball player contracts into the stratosphere. Last year, the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball were in a battle to sign top talent, and it was a player’s market.

For the first time ever, players were offered multi-year contracts worth more than any single prize in pickleball history. That led to people asking, “If this player is making $100,000, how much are they paying Ben Johns?”

Most estimates were north of the $1 million mark. Thanks to a report from CNBC over the weekend, we learned that Johns is making $2.5 million in pickleball salary this year alone.

That is 10x his 2021 compensation and 50x the $50k he estimates he made in 2018. The $2.5 million number puts him closer to the NFL and NHL average for player salaries.

On top of this salary, Johns has also lined up endorsement deals and sponsorships, like his lifetime paddle deal with JOOLA. Eat your heart out Bobby Bonilla.

Crime Ring Sweeping the Nation?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me - you can’t get fooled again. Sadly this is the third time we are reporting on pickleball thefts.

What seemed like isolated incidents in Las Vegas and Colorado might actually be part of a larger pickleball crime ring. As of last week, paddle bandits have officially reached the East Coast.

Tennis Topia in Rockville, Maryland, is the latest victim of paddle theft. Again, the same ploy was used. A decoy distracts the employee at the front of the store and two women conceal paddles in their clothing in the back of the store.

Store owner Marco Impeduglia said the bandits made off with over $4,500 in merchandise and added, "Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I'd have to lock up pickleball paddles."

So the next time you’re looking to snag a paddle off the rack, you might ring a special bell, have someone let you behind the glass, and follow a seven-day waiting period.

The Bright Stuff

Coming into last weekend’s MLP Atlanta event, the St. Louis Shock were thought of as a young team that could be a real threat at the end of the year or even next season.

An Electric Start
The Shock stand atop the leaderboard after the first event. They won four of their five matches over the weekend. Anna Bright finished 10-0 and No. 1 overall in point differential. And their biggest question mark, Kate Fahey, showed she has what it takes to thrive at the Premier Level.

Everything is Made Up and the Points DO Matter
A win is no longer just a win. A 4-0 or 3-1 win is worth three points, but a Dreambreaker win is only worth two. That’s why, despite a 3-0 record, The 5’s sit in fifth place. All of their wins came in a Dreambreaker.

On the other hand, the D.C. Pickleball Team went 3-1 on the weekend but finished with eight points. They currently sit in second in the team standings.

Need A Little More Hustle
The NY Hustlers had the least success in Atlanta. They were one of the most exciting teams to watch but won only one of their four matches. Jack Sock will have to go back to the drawing board if they hope to make a run at the playoffs.

The next MLP event is only a month away and it will be the first time D.C. has a chance to host. MLP D.C. is scheduled for June 13-16.

Prepare for Battle

Pickleball is more than a game; it’s about the gear that enhances your play. Enter Warstic— the ones who know a thing or two about winning gear.

They’re now making waves in pickleball with paddles that make every shot count, gloves that improve your grip, and bags that don’t just carry your gear but flaunt it. No matter your level, Warstic has something to step up your game.

Check out Warstic’s pickleball gear and use code DINK for 10% off all their pickleball products.

Simone Takes Two

She’s still got it. Simone Jardim brought home not one, but two gold medals this weekend in Cincinnati.

Jardim capped off her singles run with a win over Amanda Hendry to begin Championship Sunday. She and Allison Harris followed that up with a well-earned, three-game win over Jill Braverman and Emily Ackerman.

First Time Gold
Brandon Lane captured his first career APP Gold alongside Susannah Barr in mixed doubles. It certainly isn’t Barr’s first time atop the podium, but it is surprisingly her first in 2024.

In more surprising news, it was Ryler DeHeart’s first time topping an APP podium as well. He and Rob Nunnery linked up to bring home the men’s doubles title.

Grayson Goldin also landed his first career APP gold in Cincinnati. Goldin was pushed to three games in the final by Zane Ford.

The APP’s next stop is a big one. They will make their third annual stop at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the New York City Open over Memorial Day weekend.

Headlines & Quick Hits

Highlights

APP Vlasic Classic Cincinnati Results

A review from the Dink Fam...

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