Good morning. Riley Newman won’t be losing any sleep this week — unless he parties too hard in celebration.
He and the D.C. Pickleball Team played one of the best doubles games we’ve ever seen in the MLP Dallas finals yesterday. Highlights below.
The BioFreeze USA Pickleball Nationals Championships begin today in Dallas. Get ready for a weeklong pickleball event with pro matches every day, concerts, comedy, a beer garden, and more.
Apparently Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters kicked off the festivities this morning by setting the world record for the longest pickleball match. Hot start.
In This Issue:
🏳️ When to wave the white flag
🏆 D.C. rewrites history
📈 New player demographics
Concede the Kitchen Line
‘Concede the kitchen line’ is probably not a thought that crosses your mind during a match. You’ve been taught to keep them back at all costs. This is true, except when the cost is you getting body bagged after giving them a high ball.
The concept of conceding the kitchen comes into play when the other team’s drop is so good that you can’t be offensive. You acknowledge their greatness with a cross-court dink that allows them to reach the kitchen line.
Kyle Koszuta of the Tempe Tornados explains his mindset in a film breakdown from Tuesday Night Pickleball at The Orchard.
He receives a drop that is low and to his backhand
Instead of trying to force an offensive shot or keep them back, Kyle elects to concede the kitchen line
It’s a smart play that extends the point and avoids a high-risk, half-baked attack or worse, them crashing the kitchen and tagging you or your partner
This is a last resort; it’s not something you want to do but something you are forced to do when playing skilled opponents
Next time you find yourself stymied by a perfectly hit drop, wave the white flag and concede the kitchen line. Live to dink another day. Forward this email to someone who has told you to always keep your opponents back.
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Sweet Revenge for D.C.
Riley Newman said in an interview that he lost 5 nights of sleep after D.C.'s loss to the Squeeze in Atlanta. D.C. had a commanding lead in the Atlanta finals before everything slipped away in mixed doubles.
Orlando and D.C. were the top two seeds after both going 3-0 in group play. Both squads swept their semifinal opponent, which set the table for an Atlanta rematch.
D.C. folded the Brooklyn Aces in three games. The Kawamotos had an impressive win in women’s doubles, then Newman stepped in and closed the match with wins and men’s and mixed.
Orlando faced off with Ben Johns and the Chicago Slice in the semis. The Squeeze successfully iced Ben out of the men’s and mixed doubles games to secure the win.
Finals - Orlando Squeeze vs D.C. Pickleball Team
Right from the jump, the Kawamotos set the tone. They casually defended and outplayed the Squeeze's women's team. The game ended in an impressive 21-15 win for D.C.
In men's, Newman and Christian Alshon were absolutely lights out. They could not miss. Zane Navratil and Andrei Daescu were undefeated entering this match but had no answer for the aggressive dinking of Alshon and attacks from Newman. It was a whopping 21-10 win for D.C.
The mixed doubles game was one of the best in MLP history. The level of play was one of the highest the pickleball world has seen as all four players were fighting with everything they had.
When the dust finally settled, Riley Newman leaped into the air as the D.C. squad rushed the court to celebrate a 24-22 victory.
The final MLP event of the year is only a month away. Will we get another rematch between the Squeeze and D.C. in a winner-take-all finale?
A data aggregation company says pickleball is attracting a wider array of players than it was pre-pandemic. Read that again: a wider array of players, not just more players (that would hardly require a data company’s services to ascertain).
Placer.ai examined customer demographic data from the first Chicken N Pickle location —a chain of court and dining and entertainment facilities— in North Kansas, Missouri.
The study shows some interesting findings about who is playing there:
More middle and lower-income people are playing the sport since 2019, while slightly fewer “ultra wealthy” families are.
The venue’s captured market median household income (HHI) in H1 2023 was $76.8K/year – higher than the average HHI in Missouri, but lower than the $81.9K/year it had been in 2019.
Overall foot traffic to the facility in H1 of 2023 increased by 13% over H1 of pre-pandemic 2019.
The share of weekend visits increased from 39.4% to 42.2%, insinuating that pickleball is attracting more casual amateurs playing on the weekend and fewer die-hard fanatics carving out time for the sport during the work week.
In short: more young professionals are into the sport than ever before, and not necessarily those in C-suite positions. No surprise, as companies are beginning to use pickleball as an employee networking opportunity.
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The Playoffs Are Calling
The Arizona Pickleball League consists of 5 pro teams. Each team plays every other team during the regular season. But only 4 teams move on to the playoffs.
Going into week 7, the reigning champ Scottsdale Scorchers and the Surprise Stingers find themselves in 4th & 5th place.
Which makes this match a MUST WIN for both teams!
The Scorchers recently added Pesa Teoni & Christa Gecheva back to their roster, which is rounded out by Caden Nemoff & Jess Wilcox.
Meanwhile, The Stingers – Alex Walker, Angie Walker, Nico Montoya, and Adrian Legarreta – have been this close in their first two matches of the season. Will they finally break through in Week 7?
Headlines & Quick Hits
A review from the Dink Fam...