I leave for the California Open on March 4 and that is the start of pickleball tournaments every single week through the end of the US Open on April 25.
That’s a lot of pickleball. Partners are all set for most of those tournaments except for some empty slots for mixed doubles.
There simply aren’t as many women playing Open/Pro as men. This leaves a lot of Open/Pro guys without mixed partners. There’s such a great opportunity for ex-college/pro women’s tennis players to come into pickleball.
At the time of writing this, there are three women’s pro teams signed up for the Hilton Head APP tournament. There’s obviously an opportunity for high-level women’s tennis players to do well in pickleball, but pickleball is also just simply more fun.
I haven’t touched a tennis racket since starting pickleball and I haven’t had the slightest temptation to do so. I have more fun playing pickleball. There’s more opportunity in pickleball for me as well.
Even at 34 years old, I feel I have the potential to still get to the highest level of the sport.
I can’t say that for tennis. And it’s not just about getting to the highest level, it’s more about which is more enjoyable. For me, it’s pickleball and it’s not even close.
Rest, Rest, Rest
Since returning from Arizona, I’ve tried to take it pretty easy on my body. I haven’t practiced much singles and I’m not pushing too hard in doubles.
With the goal of staying healthy over six tournaments in six weeks, I took these past couple of weeks to rest my knee. I’ve still played of course, but I’ve been using a knee sleeve that has seemed to help (courtesy of Walter Dorman).
I’ve made a conscious effort to not go full out, but rather just work on certain shots like resets, defense and disguising shots.
I wanted to practice more singles, but it hurts my knee the most, so I’ve tried to avoid it to rest and heal.
First up is the California Open in Orange County. I’m playing doubles with AJ and mixed with Celeste Pafford. I’m also playing singles.
It’ll be nice to play with AJ after having a tournament under our belt. We went into the first one not having played together or even actually meeting until the night before we played. We should have a bit more chemistry and understand each other’s games better.
I haven’t played with Celeste before, but I’m excited to get to play mixed. It’s been tough trying to find a consistent partner that can play many tournaments, so I’m just piecing it together as I go.
After the California Open, I’m playing the Mid-South Regional in College Station, Texas. Most everyone in the local group that I play with is going to that tournament, so it should be a lot of fun supporting each other.
I’m playing doubles with Thomas Wilson and mixed With Darija Klaic. I’m also playing singles in this tournament, so it will be good to get more practice and tournament experience under my belt.
Future Plans With Pickleball
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’ve fallen in love with pickleball. I also think pickleball is still early in its adoption. More tennis players will continue transitioning into the sport the same way I have, but it’ll continue to grow at an even faster rate in the coming years.
I grew tired of tennis and didn’t find as much enjoyment in it anymore. Who knows, it may also happen with pickleball, but I never liked tennis as much as I currently enjoy pickle.
Pickleball won’t ever replace tennis, but I feel it has the potential to grow to a level where it could have a place in the Pan Am Games and eventually the Olympics.
For that to happen, there will need to be an international groundswell and that is something I would love to be a part of.
Having traveled to over 40 countries and having lived on several continents, pickleball is the perfect sport to spread across the world. It may not be quite as easy as soccer with only needing a ball and a couple makeshift goals, but you only need a couple paddles, a ball, a net and it can be setup anywhere.
That’s a good recipe for international adoption.
Right now there isn’t a lot of money in the sport because there simply aren’t enough eyeballs and attention to make it lucrative. I’ve said since I first learned about pickleball that live streaming the tournaments is absolutely huge.
You don’t see this in tennis and especially not every weekend. I think live streaming will continue to play a huge role in pickleball adoption since the internet is the fastest way to spread information and content.
Beyond helping spread the sport internationally in some fashion, I’d like to be working in pickleball full-time.
After spending the last six years running an online business, I never thought I’d want to transition into more of an offline living. But, if I learned anything over my two weeks in Arizona it was that I really enjoy being outside around pickleball daily and talking to people in real life.
If I can do that, be happy and get paid for it, what else do I really need?
I’ve had businesses that made a fair amount of money, but it also created a ton of stress and didn’t make me happier whatsoever. Some of the happiest times in my life were when I had nothing, but I was around people I loved while doing things I enjoyed.
With that said, I completed my IPTPA Level II certification to be able to teach pickleball. I always thought that certifications were kind of a joke in tennis because anyone can get them (even if they aren’t a good player), but the IPTPA did a great job.
I’ll likely start teaching some locally and would then like to teach camps and clinics before tournaments.
Knowing the business world pretty well, I think there’s always an opportunity for unique, corporate team-building activities. I will likely be testing this out in the next couple of months here in Austin and then ideally hosting them as I travel to tournaments as well.
In each city that I do a team-building workshop, I’d like to host a free clinic for at-risk youth through different organizations. Playing sports growing up taught me work ethic, sportsmanship, kindness and simply kept me out of trouble.
To be able to give the same gift to kids that might not otherwise be introduced to the sport would be incredibly rewarding.
Having owned a retreat business in the past, I’m also going to host boutique, luxury pickleball retreats at private residences that have a pickleball court.
We’ll spend the day playing and providing instruction while also having great food, great conversation and lots of laughs. Since it will be a smaller, more intimate group of only 8-12 guests, we’ll likely have it be an application based process.
As you can probably gather at this point, I’m putting serious thought into turning pickleball into a full-time living.
Beyond that, I’m about to ramp up with a lot more content on my social and youtube channels. I’ll be posting most of my tournament matches that are recorded, clips of strategy and tips and vlog updates on my progress of getting to the top 10.
I’ll update you next after the California Open and the Mid-South Regional. Follow me on Instagram at @pickleballrob for real-time updates at these tourneys over the next couple of weeks.
See ya soon!
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