Machete wielding man disrupts pickle match

Let the MLP action begin. Popular serve return locations.

When a sentence starts with “A Florida man …” you never know how it’s going to end. The latest version involves pickleball, a machete, and four counts of aggravated assault. More on that below.

Is targeting an opponent with a return who has "hit the deck" poor sportsmanship?

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In This Issue:

✉️ Return to sender
🚔 Crimes against pickleball
🏟️ Let the games begin.

Sharpen your knives.

Where to Send Your Returns

The biggest key when returning a serve is to keep it deep. Keep the other team back to maintain your positional advantage.

1. One of the most popular spots on the court to send the return is down the middle. Not exactly on the ‘T’, however, it’s a good idea to aim just to the left of the ‘T’, (assuming both opponents are right-handed).

A ball in this position can do a couple of great things:

  • It can cause confusion about whose ball it is and result in a mistake

  • It can force the left-side player to move too far to the right side, opening up some court

  • It can force the right-side player to hit a backhand, which is likely their weaker side

2. Another popular option is to return the ball deep to the left-side player’s backhand. Depth and topspin here can force a ton of bad thirds.

3. An option that can be used sparingly is the right-side player’s forehand. This spot is effective when that player is also the server.

It allows your partner to get involved in the point. A strong return here can set up an easy fourth-shot slam.

4. This location breaks the cardinal rule of returning but can be a good option to add to the mix. Keep the ball low, soft, and aimed at the left-side player’s backhand.

It forces the other team to hit a third on the move and with a low backhand. With any luck, you’ll get a floating third shot and the left-side player scrambling to get back into position to cover the middle.

While these are good options, it’s important not to get too cute with your returns. A serve return error is one of the most costly in pickleball. It gives your opponent an easy point in a position where you should have the advantage.

We’re Serving Up Surprises

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Paddle Down, Machete Up

The latest installment of Pickleball MadLibs took a scary twist. Most of the Sunshine State loves pickleball, but one Florida man was willing to risk it all to stop a game.

According to a report from NBC affiliate WBBH, a maintenance worker at Pelican Marsh Community Center in Naples threatened pickleball players with a machete late on Saturday evening.

The victims and witnesses claim that the machete-wielding Joseph Devalle aggressively approached the courts, yelling at them to leave while kicking and pushing chairs.

Victims say Devalle threatened to “beat their as*” if they did not leave the courts.

Devalle was arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intention to kill. Pickleball prevails again.

Let the Games Begin

Fans got a little taste of Major League Pickleball action last night on The Dink’s YouTube channel. The Orlando Squeeze put on a meet-and-greet exhibition in front of their hometown crowd.

The fun does not stop there. Tonight, you can watch the Atlanta Bouncers take on the Florida Smash in an exhibition match preparing for tomorrow’s season opener in Atlanta.

A New Look in 2024
Yesterday MLP released an update on the competition structure for 2024. Games will now be played to 25 with no freeze or no requirement for teams to win on their serve.

The announcement also included details on the league’s policy on injuries, trades, and waiver wire activity. In short:

  • Teams will be able to designate one player to the injured reserve slot if they get hurt

  • Trades can be made until September 29th of this year and can include up to $200,000 in cash considerations

  • A waiver wire process will take place four times this year, one following every other MLP event

One surprising announcement was that Premier Level teams will compete against Challenger Level teams at the mid-season tournament in July. This could result in some ugly matches, but also opens up the possibility for some major upsets.

For a complete preview of the upcoming MLP season, check out our bold predictions for 2024.

From the Diamond to the Court

Warstic, a big name in baseball and softball, has stepped up to the pickleball plate, and they’re not holding back. Their line of performance pickleball paddles, including the impressive WSPB Elite Series, is turning heads and boosting games.

From the get-go, it’s clear these paddles mean business. With designs that pop and performance that doesn’t quit, the Warstic WSPB Elite Series is here to make its mark.

Grab a Warstic paddle and let your play speak for itself.

Let’s Be Blunt About Pickleball

MLP team owner and pro player Travis “The Rattlesnake” Rettenmaier is not afraid to speak his mind. Rettenmaier shares his opinion on how the new paddles are damaging the game, how cheating is still a big problem at the professional level, and who he thinks is the game’s true No. 1.

Get to know The Rattlesnake and the pickleball park that changed his life on a must-listen episode of the PicklePod.

Headlines & Quick Hits

Highlights

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