Things are heating up in Hotlanta. Tensions boiled over yesterday and at first glance, it looked like we witnessed the first physical altercation between players. But a second look tells a different story…
I’m sure the ATL Bouncers’ newest owner, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, is enjoying the competition in his hometown.
Premier Level competition kicked off this morning.
👀 A fiery start to MLP ATL
🏆 Music festival leaves parting gift
🧠 PHOF Class of 2023
Slide to the Left
Time to stop reacting and start anticipating. If you're going to attack, don't just pull the trigger and hope for the best...
Place your speed up on their paddle-side hip or shoulder. And more importantly, be ready for the next shot. Chances are that ball is coming right back at your body.
A little footwork will go a long way. After the speed up, sliiiiide to the left or sliiiiide to the right. This works for both the forehand and backhand. An example...
Watch Daniel De La Rosa split-step and then slide to his left twice during this quick exchange.
But I'm not much of a dancer, why would I do this?
Sliding to the side creates space between you and the ball
Space allows for arm extension, which is vital to generating power
Extension also opens up more options and angles
When you don't have space, you get handcuffed, like our friend Travis on the other side of the net.
Maintaining that space is vital to keeping up in a hands battle. You can't just dig your feet into the ground and swing away. Tiny quick shifts like this turn one errant haymaker into a calculated combo worthy of a gold medal.
Notice De La Rosa's shot placement. His optimal positioning allows him to not only add more power, but pinpoint Rettenmaier's 'chicken wing' just above his paddle-side hip. That's what footwork can do for ya'.
Click here for more on the slide. Cha Cha Real Smooth.
A Drink for Sports & Everything Else
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With flavors catering to every taste bud – it's designed for every athlete, especially the pickleball player striving to out-dink their opponent. For hydration that goes beyond mere thirst, choose Sap's.
Things get Heated in Hotlanta
Challenger Level play kicked off MLP Atlanta yesterday. Two of the twelve teams escaped the day undefeated and earned a bye in the playoffs: the SoCal Hard Eights and the Las Vegas Night Owls.
The Night Owls escaped undefeated but not unscathed. In the second match of the day, tempers flared, voices were raised, and Spencer Smith ended up toppled over the LV bench. Breakdown:
Night Owls Lead 19-17 Game 3. Match Tied 1-1. Susannah Barr’s lob hits the back line (according to vocal bystander Wes Burrows of the Seattle Pioneers), but it’s called out by De La Rosa & Tammy Emmrich.
Night Owls challenge, but an issue with the video system prevents a review. Point goes to Austin Pickleballers.
19-18. Spencer Smith wins the point with an emphatic yell, and ends up face to face with De La Rosa as the two exchange words at the net.
20-18. Smith again steps up to the plate with a huge hands battle win to close out the match and celebrates the victory with a loud scream and fist pump.
Final: 21-18. De La Rosa takes exception to the celebratory methods and avoids a paddle tap with Smith. The two retreat to their benches, but De La Rosa follows Smith and again the two end up face to face.
A woman emerges from behind the Night Owls bench and intercepts the altercation. A scuffle ensues and Spencer Smith ends up doubled over his own bench. At first glance, it looks like De La Rosa shoved him.
But it turns out, the mystery woman actually bumped/pushed Spencer Smith on her way to confront De La Rosa. Austin Pickleballers Coach Wes Gabrielson steps in to break it up and guides De La Rosa back to his own bench.
Tammy Emmrich then confronts Smith and the two begin a heated argument. The mystery woman again interjects and now it’s a yelling match between Emmrich and the mystery woman.
Some have indicated that the mystery woman is actually the girlfriend of Spencer Smith. You can watch the full sequence here.
MLP brings out the passion in players, fans, and coaches, but it looks like it’s time to build in a contingency plan for when that emotion boils over. If only the host team, Atlanta Bouncers, were there to break up the ruckus (get it? because they’re bouncers).
The Challenger Level is an appetizer for the rest of the weekend. Premier Level play starts today and the first match will be a doozy. The feud between Tyson McGuffin and Tyler Loong will be under a microscope as the Miami Pickleball Club takes on the Brooklyn Aces on Championship Court right now.
Tune into Championship Court and all of today’s action on the Major League Pickleball’s YouTube.
Music to My Ears
Chicago natives are more than familiar with one of the nation’s largest music festivals, Lollapalooza. Each year the four-day festival attracts hundreds of thousands of tiktoking teens, snapback wearing college kids and adults who refuse to grow up to watch a collection of today’s top artists play their hits.
An estimated 400,000 people attended the festival in 2022
Everyone from Metallica, Paul McCartney, Snoop Dogg and Bruno Mars have headlined the event
As part of their contract with Grant Park, the festival spends hundreds of thousands to clean up the park after the event. This year, the addition of pickleball courts was incorporated into the clean-up plan. Whoever thought to include this in the negotiations is my new hero.
Sixteen pickleball courts and six tennis courts now stand on what used to be sand volleyball courts. The park district plans to add at least 50 more courts across the park system over the next three years.
What a deal for players in the area. A music festival comes to town bringing the biggest names in music. They leave you with a parting gift of sixteen pickleball courts. Talk about a win-win. Learn more here.
Drinking enough water isn’t just about keeping your blood pumping or your body properly hydrated.
You literally need water to stay smart and strong on the court. If you’ve ever asked yourself if you’re drinking enough water, the answer is: probably not.
Click here to find the best water bottle for you. Their bottles keep fluids cool all day, whether you’re practicing with friends or competing for gold.
Hall of Fame Class of 2023
While the sport of pickleball continues to jump hurdles and become the sport of the future, it’s also important to look back at the folks who helped pave the way.
This year, the Pickleball Hall of Fame announced the five members comprising the 2023 Pickleball Hall of Fame Inductee Class.
Jennifer Dawson - She was the world's first-ever Triple Crown pro pickleball champion at the 2017 Minto U.S. Open. The San Diego, California native is the owner of the Bobby Riggs Racket and Paddle Centre in California, together with her husband, Steve Dawson.
Scott Moore - A 21-time USA Pickleball National Champion, winning 12 consecutive events at Nationals from 2015-2017. His illustrious playing career also includes being a 12-time U.S. Open champion, seven-time Senior Pro Triple Crown winner, and 10-time Tournament of Champions winner.
Mona Burnett - Amassed 150 medals in her pro career. She is the “only pickleball player to win gold in all five events entered into at a USA Pickleball National Championships, accomplishing this feat in 2015.”
Bill Booth - Served on the USA Pickleball Board of Directors for six years, leading the Board as President for 3.5 years. He created the first online store for pickleball products and the initial software that USA Pickleball utilized for membership, rankings, places to play, and tournaments.
Seymour Rifkind - The Founder and former President of the Pickleball Hall of Fame, which he established in 2017. Rifkind is the Founder and President of the first teaching organization in the sport, the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA).
The induction ceremony will take place on Nov 9th during this year’s USA Pickleball National Championships.
Read more about the PHOF Class of 2023 Inductees here.