Category Archives: News

Play in More Tournaments to Become a Better Pickleball Player

This letter is from Dick and Lawana Johnson. In it they talk about the best way a pickleball player can become an even better pickleball player.

DLJRecently, I enjoyed reading with great interest the two articles written by Silvino (Sill) Lyra about his participation in the Tournament of Champions. He was joined at that tournament by a small group of other Treasure Valley Pickleball players. Congratulations to all of them for, as they reported, their willingness to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone to play a bigger & tougher tourney. And, special congratulations to Sue & Kristi for bringing home a Gold Medal!

I also really emphasized with them on their heartfelt feelings and benefits from playing in such tourneys. I’ve been blessed to do well in many tourneys outside of Idaho, including many regionals and all the senior majors, during my 5 years in our wonderful game. And, I remember very well how tough, AND, discouraging it sometimes was, especially at first. But, like our fellow club members described in their articles, I also remember how beneficial and great fun it always was (and, still is!).

Earlier this week, I provided a free clinic for about 15 people, including Brian & Kalen McNatt, who played the tourney in the recent articles. Besides stroke & strategy improvement, the clinic included my thoughts about the importance and great value of playing as many tourneys as they could, especially those outside of our area. Emphasis was given that they would learn many valuable things that would greatly improve their stroke skills, strategy development, match & tournament preparation & toughness, etc. And, I told them that, in many ways, much of it could only be learned by actually playing tournaments. After all, why are some players called, “Tournament Tough,” and able to play very well, especially in difficult medal competition, as opposed to just playing socially when nothing is on the line, win or lose?

So, I guess my advice for folks wanting to really improve their games to an even higher level is for them to play more & tougher tourneys. Besides, they are great fun, both for skill improvement, making new friends, and social interaction. On the other hand, as we all know, our great sport is also lots of fun for those who just want to have a super time and build their skills along the way, without being involved too much in serious competition. It truly is a marvelous activity for all!!!

Pickleball has become a major highlight and one of the greatest blessings of Lawana’s and my life, especially as we’ve entered our sunset years. It literally helped me control my pretty serious diabetes condition, and, despite old age and injuries that have come with the game, it continues to help me be much more healthy. We continue very grateful for many wonderful people in our local pickleball world who originally got us started, continue to help us along the way, and contribute so much service to the sport.

Dick & Lawana Johnson

Breaking the Comfort Zone – Part 2

Special thanks to Silvino (Sill) Lyra for sharing his story of competing in his first two pickleball tournaments… This is part 2 of 2.

PPF Tournament of Champions in conjunction with the Brigham City Fall Classic (2.5 – 4.5 Non-PPF) in Utah…

By Silvino (Sill) Lyra

An amazing event in all aspects. This was the Grand Slam of the Pro Pickle Ball Association with $57,000.00 in Prize Money.

Almost all of the top players were there, taking a chance for the big prize.

A Gold Medal would pay $3,000.00.

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However, for this simple 3.0 player, just the hope of more experience and the opportunity to be competing together with my partner Sarah Heart on her first official event.

This time, Boise had very good representation. We had for the men’s doubles Dave Astley and Chad Holley, Brian McNatt and his son Kalen McNatt, and Sue Astley with her partner Kristi Holley for the women’s double.

Guess what? GOLD for Sue and Kristi, in a great performance, on the first day of the event. They played beautifully and deserved that medal. They won 6 games in a total of 10 on the bracket 3.0 – 3.5. Well done ladies! I had the honor to watch their performance shot by shot.

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For the men’s doubles, our teams faced a very strong field of 3.5 players, from different states, with all kinds of different strategies that brought a lot of experience to them. Now they know the issues that they need to work on for the next time. They fought very hard, with total  determination, in extremely hot weather, but no medal this time.

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Again, I want to make my point about the value of leaving the comfort zone and facing the unknown. These experiences are the building steps for any player who wants to be better. I take my hat for those guys. Well done!

For me and Sarah an amazing and costly lesson happened, together with another lesson that was extremely fulfilling to our hearts and minds.

9451755180374456440.0I arrived on Wednesday and had the opportunity to acclimate till our day on Monday. I had daily skills training and several games with other partners. Sarah arrived on Saturday to play with me on Monday, with our start at 1:30 PM, against 6 teams, facing a temperature above 93 degrees.
In our bracket, on the first round we got to be “idle” or a “bye.”

At first I was happy with that, because we could observe all the other opponents and learn some things about them. However, again inexperience strikes!

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The second round started immediately after the first one and our opponents were leaving a game, already warmed up, to play with us, who were totally cold with less than 1 minute to “warm up”…a total disaster! We lost that game, then we lost the next game and then gradually our skills started to materialize and we finished with 3 games that we won and 3 that we lost.

Wow! What an amazing lesson that we could only learn at an event of that level. We had jitters, which caused errors all over the place. I have to say that Sarah recovered better than me and I believe that by the last game, we were ourselves completely. It was our best performance on that day, and I’m very proud of my partner.

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Now, the lesson that was extremely fulfilling for our hearts and minds. You see, even with all their free time to enjoy Labor Day, Sue, Dave, Kristi and Chad went to the venue again, facing that crazy heat, just to share and support us.
V__21CB What an amazing example of friendship, sportsmanship and unselfishness. They did all that they could to support us, together with Dave, Sarah’s husband. They gave us instructions, reminded us to relax and, very importantly, when to ask for a break on the game. They took pictures, brought us food, drinks and most of all a lot of love. Thank you very much guys! We have no words to thank such support.

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I think that this event is an official closure to our outdoor season of pickle ball.

Now we need to go back to the drawing board and study all of the accumulated experiences. Then set the goals for the indoor season that is starting, preparing to challenge ourselves again for tournaments and competitions.

Thanks to all for your attention, principally to Kathy Getto for posting these two series articles.

Good games to all, and remember that success is only accomplished with hard work and participating in high level events.

My best regards to all…

Breaking the Comfort Zone

Special thanks to Silvino (Sill) Lyra for sharing his story of competing in his first pickleball tournament…

Breaking the Comfort Zone… My Experience…

By Silvino (Sill) Lyra

As an Olympic Coach, I have witnessed the resistance that some athletes have to participate in high level events. As with anything in life, we need goals. So, as a new player in this wonderful sport that is pickle ball, I set my goal to be a 5.0 player, no matter how much hard work takes. My first step was to participate in the closest competition to Boise, high level event.

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On August 9th 2017, this humble 3.0 player took his first steps at the Northwest Mecca of pickle ball…Bend Oregon…to participate in the pickle ball Zone Bend USAPA Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament, in conjunction with the Pro Northwest Event.

The setting of the venue, with the volunteers working hard in all sectors to have everything in place for the next day’s start, would cause envy in the best production company in Hollywood. Everybody had a smile and a soaked shirt, as the temperature was getting very hot.

Watching the players doing their training made me doubt my decision to participate in this amazing event. However, a couple of encouraging words from my partner, John Sweeting, made me understand that in order to walk 1,000 miles we need to make one first step…so here I am.

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I did my usual stretching exercises and placed my paddle in one of numerous courts from that amazing facility. Indeed, the Town of Bend has a gift of the life time with this venue.

I introduced myself to a fellow player named Mike and we went to face each other in a singles game. He is a 3.5 player, very nice and friendly, that gave me very good instructions during our experience. He beat me 11 x 4. Hey, I thought to myself, I made 4 points, and my goal for the competition was 5 points, so I’m on my way. I always played doubles and this was a very bold adventure to play singles.

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Not only were the high level players challenge, there was also the altitude, the heat and a different ball from the one that I use to train. Since the start of the outdoors season, I’ve used an Onix 2 and here they are using the Ultra 40. Basically, I needed to be very soft on my shots, as the ball travels very fast. On my first day, I lost a lot of points missing the services and returning long balls. I have to work on that for the next day. I’m glad that I arrived earlier.

Then I had a couple of doubles games with a very good player as a partner, maybe a 4.5, whose name was Bill…a very nice, experienced player. We played against Mike and another lady, also a great player—everybody is so friendly and supportive!

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My competition day, in the midst of the Pros, playing in that amazing fast/slow/fast game, was just a gift to me, to be present in such a high level event.

During my first game for me, I got killed 15 x 0—I had an amazing opponent! The second game, my opponent had a lot of handicap skills and I accomplished 15 x 2. In my third game, at some point I was losing 9 x 2, but I discovered some weaknesses in my opponent. Well…I lost 15 x 7, but HOORAAAYYYYYYY!!! I broke my goal of scoring 5 points. Mission accomplished!

On the next day, I had the doubles competition with John. Our bracket was 3.5 players. He is an amazing player that teach me a lot during our 3 games of 11 points. We lost the games by a small margin; however, the learning experience was priceless…thanks, John, for taking the chance to play with me…it was an honor to be your partner. He just returned from being a medalist in track and field in the Seniors Games in Idaho and also played on the singles games on the day before. On the next day he was supposed to play mixed doubles—the man is a machine!

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This was my experience at Bend. A couple days ago, I got my official rankings from the USAPA. I’m officially a 3.0 player! A start point in my way to 5.0. When will I arrive there? I don’t know and I don’t care…I will just work as hard as I can…

On Thursday August 31st, I’m heading to the PPF Tournament of Champions in conjunction with the Brigham City Fall Classic (2.5 – 4.5 Non-PPF) in Utah.

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I will play mixed doubles with my partner Sarah Hart from Meridian. I’m expecting more great game atmosphere, most importantly, more experience. Sarah is a great athlete and we will have a lot of fun.

To be continued…

Dick Johnson Medals at the State Games of America

From Lawana Johnson:

dj-sgoa3Over 12,000 athletes competed in August in 50 sports at the State Games of America in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The spectacular Olympic-style event is one of the largest and most competitive multi-sport events in the world. Athletes of all ages, including former Olympians & other world class athletes, previously qualified by medaling in State and Canadian province competitions. Similar to the Olympics, special activities included Opening Ceremonies, Parade of Athletes, torch lighting, Athletes Village, celebrities, entertainment, & fireworks.

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Over 700 top pickleball players competed in this big event, which is considered one of the sport’s majors, especially because players have to qualify to be invited. Some also enjoyed clinics conducted by Dave Weimbach, US Open & National Pro Champion, who also competed and took home Gold.

dj-sgoa1BAPA and Boise Pickleball Club member, Dick Johnson, brought home a Gold medal in 75 Men’s Doubles, a Silver in Singles, and 4th Place in Mixed Doubles. Dick found the tourney larger and tougher than 2 years ago where he took 3 Golds. Because Idaho does not have a state SGA tournament, Dick qualified by winning 5 Golds in the tough Arizona SGA the past 3 years. Nevertheless, he was very proud to be Idaho’s Flag Bearer in the huge Parade of Athletes who took an hour to march into the large arena filled with thousands of spectators.

Click on this video below for Dick in the fun Parade of Athletes:

Bringing Home Some Medals

From Lawana Johnson:

The Mitchells and the Johnsons really enjoyed the inaugural SSIPA (Super Senior International Pickleball Association) Lewis & Clark Shootout in Washougal, Washington.

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It was a beautiful venue with 6 new courts alongside a river in a lush, forested park. And, the boys brought home some hardware, too!

Mitch Mitchell and Rosalie Knutsen: Gold 3.5 75 Mixed Doubles
Mitch Mitchell and David Steinke: Silver 3.5 75 Men’s Doubles
Dick Johnson: Gold 3.5 70 Men’s Singles
Dick Johnson and Del Root: Gold 4.5 75 Men’s Doubles
Dick Johnson and Betty Silver: Gold 4.0 75 Mixed Doubles

JM

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