Will we hear more about the PPA x MLP merger today? It is their self-imposed deadline, after all.
January 31st was the date given in a statement to CNBC, but it sounds like the deadline is, more or less, completely arbitrary.
Various owners and executives have indicated that the deal is progressing smoothly (make sure to tune into tomorrow’s episode of PicklePod for more on this), so it’s safe to assume that even if today isn’t the day, the day will arrive soon.
In This Issue:
⚠️ Danger grip
🏜️ PPA’s desert stop
🍑 Georgia town setting a good example
Pickleball’s Most Dangerous Grip
No one plays the game of pickleball like Riley Newman. Try as you might, it’s nearly impossible to mimic the style of pickleball’s most unique player.
The former college tennis and basketball player has created his own brand of pickleball that bucks the trend of traditional racquet sports. His paddle grip and court coverage are unlike anything you will see in most pro matches.
On last week's PicklePod episode, Newman explained the origin of his unorthodox grip and how it changed his play style.
Throughout his pro career, he has become known for two signature shots: his pancake forehand and two-handed backhand.
A primary target in pickleball is the chicken wing. The chicken wing is the paddle side shoulder of the opposing player. Anatomically speaking, it is a hard area to protect.
Newman’s grip allows him to protect his chicken wing with his forehand. His wrist does not need to turn as far to square up the paddle face.
He basically turned the most vulnerable spot on your body into an offensive weapon.
Newman’s two-handed backhand allows him to maintain the same forehand grip and just add his left above his right on the paddle grip. He demonstrates his two-handed backhand on the PicklePod.
For most of a match, you will actually see Newman sitting on his backhand. It is just as effective as his forehand at landing perfect drops in the kitchen.
Read more about Riley’s weapons and how his play style has changed the game.
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Pickle in the Desert
The second PPA Tour stop of the season begins at the Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix today. This is the first of three stops the pros are making in Arizona during the next month.
The Desert Ridge Open is considered an “Open” level tournament, meaning winners earn 1,000 PPA Points toward year end results.
For context, the first tournament of the 2024 PPA Tour, The Masters, was a “Slam,” and the winners earned 2,000 PPA Points.
While this is a smaller tournament in terms of points, many of the top pros are attending largely because The Desert Ridge Open has been a staple on the tour for years — but there are also quite a few names missing.
The PPA has switched to a Progressive Draw in “Slams” and “Cups,” which we saw at The Masters. This allows for the PPA to know who is going to be televised on which court at approximately what time.
However, since The Desert Ridge Open is an “Open,” the Progressive Draw is not in place, so the draw will be more like a traditional tournament style - one event each day.
Does the standard draw favor Ben Johns? He usually has slow starts. Now, he will get some fairly easy early-round matchups to ease him into the event
Rising star Rachel Rohrabacher will partner with Anna Bright in women’s doubles and Federico Staksrud in mixed
Without JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier attending, the men’s doubles bracket opens up — which team will step up and fill their spot in the finals?
Read all of our predictions for the event here. For more info on where to watch the PPA Desert Ridge Open, click here. Here’s the schedule breakdown (all times EST):
Thursday, February 1 Singles 1pm - 9pm YouTube and PBTV
Friday, February 2 Mixed Doubles 1pm - 9pm YouTube and PBTV
Saturday, February 3 Gender Doubles 1pm - 9pm YouTube and PBTV Gender Doubles 6pm - 9pm Tennis Channel
Sunday, February 4 Championships 1pm - 7pm PBTV Championships 3pm - 6pm Tennis Channel
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Be Like This Random Georgia Town
Adam here. There’s a fairly small city in Georgia that isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. They’ve just proposed a new project and are going through the usual motions to plan it out.
But in that respect, they’re doing more for pickleball than many towns across the US and abroad. Let me explain.
Dalton, GA recently approved a site study for placing a new pickleball court.
They aren’t the first city to do that, of course, but they are fairly unique in their thoroughness.
The result? Story after story about:
Pickleball courts causing too much noise
Pickleball courts taking up too much of tennis’ space
Pickleball courts being some kind of problem…
….All because towns have rushed the planning process to meet public demand.
Do we blame parks and rec departments for bringing pickleball to the people? Of course not.
But the reality is that the national situation isn’t what it once was during the pandemic, when demand started to surge.
Now, there’s no need to rush courts – even if states like Texas or New York desperately need them – for the sake of surging demand, especially when all these pickleball protests persist as a result of poor court placement.
My opinion: municipalities should be like Dalton. Take the time to conduct a study and place your courts wisely, and pickleball’s PR problem will slowly disappear.
Has your town taken up a pickleball project you think we should highlight? Send us an email.
“I Feel Like it Took the Life Out of Me”
Lea Jansen joins the Tennis Sucks podcast this week. Lea and Travis were both nominated for Most Influential Voice in this year’s Dink Awards, but she’s setting a goal to stay out of the limelight in 2024.
Jansen explains how her doubles game continues to grow and how she’s looking forward to a new partnership with Susannah Barr. Catch the all-new episode.
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