Whoa: med student clinches PPA championship sunday vs Ben Johns
Paddle testing overhaul. Nationals' new home.
Way back in November, we reported the results of DUPR's Collegiate National Championships, where the University of North Carolina squared off against Utah Tech in the tournament's championship match.
Collin Shick, one of the four UNC students who dominated that day, couldn't have known that within a few months, he'd also beat some of the best players in pro pickleball.
But here we are. Next on the Shick list: Ben Johns
In today's issue:
- Take it from the pros: what to work on
- Paddle testing improvements
- The med student upset
- Nationals has a new home
The Skill Pros Want to Improve
Pickleball Pro Zane Navratil has won championships at every level. He is one of few players that have an MLP, PPA and APP title on their resume.
So what is a seasoned vet like Navratil looking to improve on? He explains on the PicklePod:
Hand Speed - Hand speed is a luxury in the game of pickleball. With fast hands, you can be more aggressive and play with more margin for error.
Zane proclaims "The future of the game is in hand speed."
For hand speed improvement Zane follows the Mr. Miyagi approach: hitting against a wall. It's simple, effective, and doesn't cost a dime. You can get 100 reps in a 5-minute warm-up. To get the same amount of reps, you’d have to play rec for 2-3 hours.
If you're a new school gadget junkie, there are a few other options out there to train hand speed.
- Zane uses a reaction-speed ball for a few minutes a day
- Shea Underwood turns to an expert and some new tech for help
- Boxers are known for having the fastest hands, but if you try this headband, please send in the footage
If you're failing to level up with on-court training, try spending time off-court working on hand speed. Faster hands will help bail you out of sticky situations. They can turn firefight battles into firefight wins.
If you have another suggestion for improving hand speed, reply to this email and let us know what it is.
Athletic Wear Designed for Pickleball Players
AVI is elevating Pickleball by creating exceptional athletic wear. They believe everyone — from professional athletes to casual enthusiasts — deserves well-constructed, expertly designed clothing made just for their sport.
With pockets created specifically to hold pickleballs, comfortable fabrics, and ultra-lightweight feel, AVI is elevated performance wear for both on AND off the court!
New Paddle Testing Process
Pickleball paddle regulation has taken some major blows within the last year. The testing process simply hasn't kept up with paddle advancements, like the infamous Carbon paddle face at the center of last year’s CRBN controversy.
At the US Open, CRBN paddles were infamously found to be over the legal limit of surface roughness. Their paddles were recalled and consumers were given the option to have them replaced.
Major League Pickleball, the PPA Tour and USA Pickleball announced a revised paddle testing process to address this issue.
This year, there are multiple paddle elements that have USA Pickleball stymied:
- Dwell Time (*ahem* we told you)
- And, of course, surface roughness
MLP, PPA, and USAP will conduct joint testing to ensure "best in class equipment compliance testing standards,” they said in a press release this week.
They’ll use "automated equipment specifically designed for the sport of pickleball" to conduct lab and on-site testing of paddles and balls. These physical tests, as well as analysis of that data via proprietary software, will be used to interpret and inform decisions regarding the sport's equipment moving forward.
We're curious to learn more about the machinery created to perform these tests, which end up being just as interesting and complex as the paddle issue itself.
You can read more about this collaborative agreement here.
Paging Dr. Shick
The name buzzing around the pickleball world yesterday was Collin Shick. Shick is a medical student at the University of North Carolina. He plays for their club pickleball team and is fresh off a college tennis career at NC State.
Yesterday, he started his day as one of the lowest seeds in the qualifier draw. His only goal? Not to lose in the first round for a one-and-done. Well, mission accomplished.
Shick won seven matches on the day. He completed two major upsets, defeating some of the best players in the game, Julian Arnold and Dylan Frazier.
At the end of marathon day, the only player left standing between him and PPA Gold is some guy named Ben Johns. Shick's looking to take down the GOAT on Championship Sunday.
Inspired by the underdog story, Catherine Parenteau accomplished a task that's seemed impossible for the last 8 months: she bested Anna Leigh Waters in singles. Parenteau won their semifinal matchup in two games, narrowly escaping an ALW comeback in game two.
The most excited person to hear the news had to be Lea Jansen. She defeated Salome Devidze in the semifinal match and is likely stoked to not be meeting Waters in the final. Devidze walked away with her third straight bronze after Waters chose to withdraw.
- Pablo Tellez is on a hot streak. He collected a bronze with wins over Jay Devilliers and Dylan Frazier
- Another breakout player, Christopher Haworth, advanced from the qualifier to the quarterfinals with wins over singles specialists Ryan Sherry and Frank Anthony Davis
Friendly reminder: all of this happened on day one. We've still got three more days of action starting with mixed doubles today. Tune in on PPA TV.
Confidence on the Court
Looking for a 10-second pickleball tip? Keep scrolling.
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Goodbye, Indian Wells
It’s been a busy week for USA Pickleball. In addition to the paddle testing announcement we detailed above, they’ve also announced a new home for the USA Pickleball National Championships.
The fan-favorite competition, slated for Nov. 4-12 this year, will move from Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California to Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas, Texas.
In addition to the move, the two organizations announced a partnership where the event will be formally presented by the PPA Tour.
While the National Championships remains USA Pickleball-owned, the PPA Tour will support event operations and logistics.
More than 3,500 amateur and professional players—a 50% increase over 2022's number—will compete for a pool of prize money which exceeds last year's total of $150,000, USAP said.
More details here.
Soft Touch, Fast Hands, Exceptional Control
Look out for the latest performance paddle company, PCKL. We featured the PCKL Pro Series in our latest review and had this to say, "The large sweet spot is forgiving and will keep your play consistent."
"If you are looking for a higher-end paddle for a budget-friendly price then this is a great option.”
Check out the full review and use code DINK15 to save 15% off sitewide!
Headlines & Quick Hits
- Babbel's platform makes it possible to learn a new language in just three weeks. Special 55% off for The Dink Fam
- Illness forced Teri Clemens out of coaching. Pickleball brought her back
- New year-round league in Charlotte aims to benefit the community
- Zane is NOT pleased
- How can we even begin to summarize this?
- Just when you think the point is over...
- I should’ve crushed that overhead!
A tudor home in Connecticut where you can tutor your pickleball clientele. This one looks like it is out of a pickleball fairytale.
A review from the Dink Fam...
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