Happy Friday. The pro pickleball game is getting faster, but not necessarily in a good way.
MLP’s commissioner says 65% of paddles tested at MLP Atlanta failed surface roughness tests set by USA Pickleball.
Thankfully, increased testing will take place at MLP Dallas/Nationals. Though clearly someone needs a slap on the wrist…but who?
In This Issue:
⚾ Serving? Think baseball
🏓 Paddle chaos
🥒 3 Straight weeks of pro pickle
Strike Them Out With Your Serve
The MLB World Series begins tonight between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers (as opposed to the MLP’s Drive and Ranchers). In honor of the October Classic, we’re dusting off a baseball-themed tip to help your serve.
Greg Maddux didn't win 4 Cy Young awards throwing straight fastballs. It was a variety of pitches and command of the strike zone that set him apart.
Channel that energy when you've got the ball in your hand. Add a couple of different serves to your arsenal and use them to keep your opponent guessing.
A) Fastball - Deep and to your opponent's backhand. This is where the majority of serves should probably live. Push them back off the baseline and make it difficult to return.
Check out James Ignatowich’s fastball down the middle.
B) Curveball - This is a good chance to let the topspin shine. Put a little loft on this one and let it dip into the back corner. Again, depth is key, delay their journey to the NVZ and take the pressure off your third shot.
C) Changeup - After they back off the baseline to deal with the fastball and curveball, hit them with the changeup: low, soft, and just barely past the kitchen line. Sure, this brings them up in the court, but in rec play it can lead to return errors.
D) Slider - Every once in a while it's nice to mix in the slide piece. Dot the low, outside corner of the strike zone (service box) and their head will spin faster than the ball itself. The benefit here is even if they return the serve it will be a struggle for them to get back in position to cover a third-shot drive.
Bonus: Eephus - The lob serve. It's a great change of pace option. The floating ball affords the returner time to think, which can surprisingly cause them to go for too much on a return. They might try to hit a perfect return that results in a net ball, or one that sails deep.
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The Paddle Problem: Update
We've heard the rumors that paddles are failing tests at pro pickleball events, and now we have official confirmation:
That's direct from Major League Pickleball commissioner Brooks Wiley, who also recently tweeted about paddle deflection issues, summarizing it eloquently:
"The trend is pretty clear. The pro game is getting faster and faster."
"If you're a pro player losing hands battles to someone you didn't before, you're going to go to your manufacturer for more power – it creates a bit of an arms race," Wiley says.
Because hands battles among the most powerful players typically last only one or two shots before the rally ends, some pros feel the need to play it safe with dink battles, which can draw out the point.
Those overextended dink rallies may make for smart playing, but they don't make for exciting pickleball – a problem as the sport continues to vie for public recognition and viewership.
If you ask many of the pros, they will tell you paddles in the 50-60 range are the paddles that they deem "too hot" or at best, the far end of what should be allowed.
The reason why you're getting 65 shot dink rallies in mens doubles is they're all scared of the counter from a paddle with sub 60 ADF paddle.
Brooks Wiley, MLP Commissioner
What’s causing the arms race? A major part of it is on the manufacturers:
Surface roughness — Affects spin; over half of the paddles used at MLP Atlanta exceeded the USA Pickleball’s grit limit.
Deflection — Affects speed & power; more paddles in play proved to be too “hot” at subsequent MLP events, with 6 hot paddles in Daytona, 9 in San Clemente, and most recently, 24 in Atlanta.
From June to September of 2023, it appears paddles became hotter as more of them are pushing the limit of 50 pounds of Average Deflection Force. Clearly, we’ve got to encourage fairer play with more research-based regulations.
Pro Pickleball is Back in Big Way
This week, the APP Tour kicks off an intense three-week streak of pro pickleball in the state of Texas. The Houston Open precedes MLP Dallas and the 2023 Biofreeze USA Pickleball Nationals Championships.
Yesterday’s men's singles field included the Johnson brothers (Hunter and Yates) and 2023 breakout players Jaume Martinez Vich, Quang Duong, and Chris Haworth.
Duong got the best of the group and went undefeated yesterday. He will face a first-time finalist, Ronan Camron for gold.
Men’s Singles Final
Quang Duong vs Ronan Camron
Bronze: Jaume Martinez Vich
The women's singles field was a three-horse race as Salome Devidze, Megan Fudge, and Judit Castillo jockeyed for another first-place finish.
The winner’s bracket final between Devidze and Fudge was the last straw for Fudge. She has voiced a series of complaints about line calls when facing Devidze and after yesterday’s match is demanding change.
Women’s Singles Final
Salome Devidze vs Judit Castillo
Bronze: Megan Fudge
It will be difficult for any team to match the firepower and experience of Susannah Barr and Andrei Daescu in mixed today. All signs point to a gold medal from them and a battle for silver for the rest of the field.
Fudge and Barr are the favorites in women's doubles. But look out for Castillo, who is paired with MLP standout Ewa Radzikowska.
Rob Nunnery and Daescu will look to ride the momentum of Tuesday’s performance to their 7th APP title of the year. The Johnson brothers and the team of Brendon Long and Stefen Auvergne will look to derail the championship train.
Tune in starting tomorrow at 1pm ET.
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Will MLP Cancel San Clemente?
Rob and Stone address the rumors that MLP San Clemente might be canceled as a financial stopgap. Rob recaps a silver medal performance in one of the biggest Moneyball events in pickleball history.
Is there a pickleball takeover being planned in China? India's top player,
Yuvi Ruia seems to think so. He explains how the game has blown up internationally in 2023 and what to expect in 2024.
Headlines & Quick Hits
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