HBO Adds Fuel to the Pickleball vs Tennis Struggle

WSJ weighs in on pickle. It is legal to reach over the net. Picklebowl goes to the Gators.

Everyone wants to level up their game. You can't leave the courts without obsessing over what you'll do differently during your next session. Sometimes we lose track of small wins that come from consistent play. 

Mr. Burger is a prime example of how pickleball is changing lives throughout the country. Trips to the court are making players healthier and happier.

Yeah, it is kind of a strange game, but an impact like this means more than wins and losses.

In Defense of Ben

Ben Johns flawlessly executed a maneuver at the PPA n2grate DC Open that few players have ever seen, and there’s some question as to whether it was legal.

Spoiler: it was. 

An over-the-net put-away. Brutal. But how do we know it was legal? Time to crack open the 2022 USA Pickleball rulebook.

Rule 11.I.1 reads "Exception: If the ball bounces into a receiving player’s court with enough backspin or wind aid to cause it to return to the other side of the net, the receiving player may cross the plane of the net (over, under or around the net post) to hit the ball."

The ball clearly crossed to Ben’s side of the court - and back over - before he reached over the net for the put-away, so no fault there. Also, he did not make any visible contact with the net itself. So every part of this shot was clean.

The rule does include two unique scenarios. The words under and around suggest two other options for Ben.

Technically he could have reached his paddle under the net to contact the ball. He also could have gone around the net and contacted the ball from the side of the court. If you find yourself in the same scenario, end the point like Ben, then be ready to break out the rulebook.

The Ultimate Pickleball Training Bundle

Rhino Pickleball is giving away a training bundle to kickstart your pickleball journey. Take the game wherever you go with your own personal court setup. Up your fitness game and stay tournament ready with a collection of training accessories. Find out more here.

Picklebowl Lights the Competitive Fire

Celebrities, athletes and pickleball pros descended upon Georgia's Sea Island Resort Wednesday evening for Picklebowl '22. The host, 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel, stole the show with the help of fellow UF Gator Kyle Yates. 

The event was a fundraiser for Desire Street Ministries, an organization that Wuerffel has supported for years. It was also one of the first events to warrant a cease-fire in the tour wars: the APP Tour, PPA Tour, and MLP all helped broadcast the event. 

Fans witnessed competitive pro-am play in the semifinals and finals. One of the most entertaining guests was HBO's Entourage creator Doug Ellin, whose on-court commentary provided generous comic relief.

The final match ended with US Olympian Casey Patterson across the net from Wuerffel. The Gators came out on top with a 16-14 finish. Be on the lookout for a sequel next year, plans for Picklebowl '23 are already in discussion.

Real Sports Obsesses Over Dink Noise

Remember the HBO Real Sports pickleball segment we previewed earlier this week? Would you be surprised if we told you it was laughably skewed? From start to finish, the reporting focused almost entirely on the noise complaint problem.

We could understand if they researched decibel levels and community impacts of the sport's growth...but instead, they interviewed a grumpy comedian and some very paranoid tennis players.

To be fair, they also gave MLP owner Steve Kuhn and pickleball evangelist Steve Manolis some airtime. But Manolis' wife said in a subsequent Facebook post that she felt the show only aired questions that fit a skeptical noise narrative.

We take back what we said about "any press is good press." The segment made it seem like pickleball is bloodthirsty in its quest for expansion at the expense of everyone else. Only the first half of that is true.

Read more about it here.

APP Hilton Head Open Singles Recap

The APP Tour made a stop along the Atlantic coast at the infamous Palmetto Dunes Resort. In a stacked men's singles field Julian 'Andiamo' Arnold emerged through the winner's bracket a victor. 

He will face Hunter Johnson on Championship Sunday. Johnson accomplished the rare feat of beating number one seed JW Johnson twice in the same day. Hunter won in the quarterfinals and again in the bronze medal match.

Salome Devidze and Anna Bright collided in the winner's bracket final. Eyes will be on the lines come Championship Sunday. There were a number of disputed line calls in the three-game match between these two. Bright will face Devidze for gold on Sunday. 

APP Alabama Classic Champion Ewa Radzikowska added more big names to her hit list with wins over Lauren Stratman and Mary Brascia. She finished the day with bronze.

Mixed doubles action starts today. Last week's gold medalists Vivienne David and Thomas Wilson will defend their Houston Open title.

Watch the pro pickleball action live from South Carolina on APP TV.

FitAid

The Wall Street Journal Talks Pickle

The Wall Street Journal podcast 'The Journal' featured pickleball in their October 25th episode. Host Ryan Knutson and WSJ’s Sara Bosworth discussed the pickleball origins and how recent investments changed the fate of the game.

Frank Pritchard, son of the game's co-inventor Joel Pritchard was asked "Did your family make any money off of this?" Frank's answer, "No.

Back then, the thought was "Well, there's no way to monetize this thing because the equipment's so cheap." But with the current influx of players, the paddle market is quickly racing up toward $250MM. A whole lot has changed since the first dink in 1965.

You can find the full episode here.

Battle at Dreamland

Did you miss the cut for Major League Pickleball? Players just outside of the top 48 will have a chance to compete in the first rendition of Minor League Pickleball this weekend. 

How does it work? The collective DUPR of each four-person team cannot exceed the respective division total cap (22 or 20). Teams will compete in matches featuring the 4-game MLP format with the potential of going to a singles Dreambreaker tiebreak. The event is meant to be a pilot for a potential rollout to future MiLP events and possibly serve as a 'feeder' league for MLP. 

Catch the semis and finals live on the MLP Youtube on Sunday.

Headlines & Quick Hits

Highlights

Homecourt Havens

How do you feel about the gray on gray court setup? It's a clean look but tough to resist dropping in a splash of color. Another homecourt win in Utah.

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