Pickleball’s governing body has landed on a new CEO. Mike Nealy, a long-time sports executive formerly of the Phoenix Coyotes and the Fiesta Bowl is taking the reigns at USA Pickleball.
In an announcement, Nealy says he’s a recreational pickleball player who is hooked on the sport like millions of others:
“I look forward to advancing USA Pickleball’s mission and taking the organization to even greater heights," he says.
Nealy replaces Stu Upson, who decided to step down earlier this year.
In This Issue:
Who takes the middle? A simple rule
Pickleball record setter
Big win for The Wolf
Who’s profiting from pickleball?
Happy Memorial Day — you’ll hear from us again next Wednesday. Let’s go!
The ‘X’ Rule
A righty-lefty combo is the way of the future, just ask Ben Johns. But two forehands in the middle also comes with some challenges.
You're going to have more paddle collisions than ever trying to protect the middle.
This is particularly an issue on thirds. Usually, you can default to one player with their forehand in the middle to take the questionable balls.
Two forehands requires a little bit more of a conversation. This easy rule helps simplify everything and save some unintentional paddle taps…
…Introducing the ‘X’ rule, don’t ever call your ex after midnight.
Sorry, wrong ex rule.
The 'X’ rule dictates who takes middle thirds so you don’t have to think about it. In the X’’ rule, the player diagonally crosscourt from the opponent hitting the ball takes the third.
This is helpful because the ball is naturally traveling toward the player on the other end of the X. Conversely, it is traveling away from their partner.
Having this figured out gives the partner not hitting the ball a head start toward the NVZ where they can be ready for a shake ‘n bake.
No matter how in sync you are with your partner, instinct takes over and you will be chasing middle thirds. Let this rule simplify the process and improve efficiency.
It’s like Airbnb...but for Pickleball Courts
As if you need another reason to add a homecourt to your backyard, now you can share your court with local players when you aren’t using it.
Swimply allows court owners the chance to rent out homecourts and players the opportunity to reserve a private court for their game.
Record Setter Almost Done Making History
You may have heard of him: Dean Matt is setting a Guinness world record for Fastest Time to Play a Game of Pickleball in all 48 Contiguous States.
The pilot-turned-pickleball-player set off in his Cessna Turbo 206 at the beginning of the month. Now in the final leg of his journey, Dean has flown thousands of miles and has probably met nearly as many people.
But when we met up with Dean during his stopover in Massachusetts, he said his favorite part has been telling the “pickleball stories” of each of the cities he stops in.
The Dink’s Adam Forziati (left) & Kim Bastien (right) with Dean Matt.
Stories like that of 97-year-old Minnie Lapoint of Kalamazoo, Michigan, mother of pro player Yvonne Hackenberg.
"When we played out in Kalamazoo, the town's crowd was out there to cheer us on. Minnie was a sweetheart, a gentle human who loved playing with us. She cuts her own grass, drives her own car."
In between navigating his way through the clouds, socializing, completing Guinness records paperwork and actually playing pickleball, Dean and his ground crew have found the time to help raise money for local pickleball-related charities in many of the cities he’s visited.
Click here to see him retell this story and play his official game in MA.
You can check Dean’s website to follow his progress and see if he's playing in a city near you during his final few stops.
Hungry Like the Wolf
Vuk Velickovic AKA "Wolf" just devoured the APP men's singles division. In his first pro tournament, Wolf won eight straight matches to go from the qualifier bracket to Championship Sunday.
The Australian former D1 and pro tennis player felt right at home at the site of tennis' US Open. His debut in pickleball brings a little excitement to a division that was formerly controlled by the Johnsons.
Wolf's run inspired another underdog performance. The 7 seed William Sobek fought his way to Championship Sunday where he will try to tame the Wolf.
In women's singles, Megan Fudge is not ready to surrender her seat on the podium. She knocked Judit Castillo back down to bronze and earned a spot in Sunday's final.
She will face the top seed Salome Devidze for the crown.
Men’s Singles Final
Wolf Velickovic vs William Sobek
Bronze: Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez
Women’s Singles Final
Salome Devidze vs Megan Fudge
Bronze: Judit Castillo
Mixed doubles action picks up today. Maggie Remynse is jumping back into the pro game in Flushing Meadows. Partnerships with Andrei Daescu and Susannah Barr have her positioned for potential double gold in her return.
Tune into the APP Tour NYC Open Saturday and Sunday on ESPN+.
APP Name Change
…Well, let’s call it a name “adjustment” rather than an all-out change. They’re still the APP.
It’s a subtle yet telling change. The acronym used to stand for Association of Pickleball Professionals. Now, it’s Association of Pickleball Players.
“Elite pros, and the pro game overall (pros, seniors / super seniors) all remain vital to our organization,” a representative says.
“We’ll never lose focus on those players, but the name change gives us the scope we need to build a much wider audience.”
The name change also comes with a slightly-modified home page URL: www.theapp.global.
Play Like Zane
The new Zane Navratil Signature Carbon paddle is now available from ProXR Pickleball.
The paddle features an Ultra-RAW carbon face that is designed to maximize spin and power.
An elongated straight handle allows Zane (and you) to fit both hands on the paddle, perfect for the two-handed backhand.
Shop now at proxrpickleball.com.
The New Pickleball Gold Rush
Break out your calculator and loafers because we’re talking pickleball finance. Companies are trying to break into the ball game, players are upping their media output, and pickleball is taking over malls.
We’re back from a two-week hiatus to cover everything happening in the sport.
Headlines & Quick Hits
Newport Beach first responders head to the courts for pickleball tournament
ICYMI: Better putaways at the kitchen line
“I’m not playing pickleball this week”
My god it’s glorious
On a serious note….
Never stand between a dad and his court
Former MLB All-Star Chipper Jones scooped up this $5.4 million GA mansion complete with its own pickleball masterpiece.
If you have a homecourt that you’d like to start paying the bills, sign up for Swimply’s pickleball feature: coming soon.
A review from the Dink Fam...
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