In the News
In The News
Lynwood woman is a passionate professional
Tonya Major has been playing in tournaments around the country ever since turning pro is 2011
July 10, 2018
Can you name a sport that’s played professionally across the country that was invented in the state of Washington?
Here’s a clue: It involves a court with a net that players hit the ball over in an attempt to get it past their opponents off the bounce to score points — and it’s not tennis.
Give up? It’s pickleball, and Snohomish County has an accomplished professional player in its own backyard.
Tonja Major, from Lynnwood, took home gold in the Mixed Doubles Pro Division and bronze in the Women’s Doubles Pro Division at the 2018 GAMMA Pickleball Classic held June 29 through July 1 in Pittsburgh.
“I feel like I could go on for hours about pickleball,” Major said of her love for the sport, “because it’s something I’m passionate about. It’s seriously the most addictive, fun sport.”
Her success in Pittsburgh is the most recent accomplishment in what has been a decorated doubles career for Major, whose resume includes first-place finishes in mixed doubles at the 2017 U.S. Open, and first-place finishes in women’s doubles at the 2016 International Indoor Championship, the 2014 Oregon State Games and the 2012 USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) Nationals.
Unlike most professional-level Pickleball players, Major isn’t a tennis player who decided to pick up the sport. In fact, she had no competitive tennis experience before her husband, Lavon Major, introduced her to the game before they were married.
Her love for pickleball took off from there.
She started competing in small local tournaments, and as the game continued to grow, so did her interest and her skill.
Major turned pro in 2011 and started competing regularly in events around the country.
How does one become a pro at pickleball? It’s not an exact science.
Major said there is no official process of turning professional. Players are considered pros when they compete at a certain level, namely medaling at large tournaments and holding their own against the game’s top players.
“You could be playing your first game ever and be doing well against a pro player,” Major said. “… There’s no official induction.”
As the sport has grown in popularity, so have the financial opportunities, including sponsorships.
Major picked up her first sponsor — Selkirk Sport, a maker of pickleball equipment — at the beginning of 2017.
“Once I found a paddle I liked, I said something, I think, to one of the players on the (Selkirk) team already,” Major said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I really like this paddle’ and they were just like, ‘You should talk to (the company). I’ll put in a good word and let them know you’ll be looking to join the team.’
“Then, Selkirk approached me.”
When Major isn’t competing in tournaments, she offers private individual and group lessons in the sport and works part-time for Pickleball Station in Kent. Second jobs are common among pro pickleball players, Major said, because most don’t make a living playing competitively.
“Once you can really get yourself out there and make a name for yourself, people want you to teach them,” Major said.
The game was invented on Bainbridge Island in 1965 by Washington congressman Joel Pritchard and friend Bill Bell. It’s played on a badminton-sized court with a whiffle ball and paddles that are similar to oversized pingpong paddles.
Serves must be delivered underhand and across the court diagonally with contact with the ball initiating at the waist level or below. Once the ball is served, the player receiving the serve must let the ball bounce once before hitting a return shot, then the serving player must do the same before both players are allowed to volley (hit the ball out of the air) — though volleys are not allowed within 7 feet of the net.
Points are scored only by the serving player or team, and games are normally played to 11, win by two. In tournaments, games frequently are played to 15 or 21 points, with the win-by-two rule in effect.
But even more important than the growth of the sport to Major is the tight-knit community that surrounds pickleball.
“It’s almost like a healthy cult,” she said with a laugh.
Pickleball passion: Pros and other players discuss why they love the game
July 7, 2018
Pickleball, one of the nation's fastest growing sports, is everywhere: It's the focus of advertisements for retirement communities, courts can be found at school playgrounds as well as country clubs, and in several places in the U.S., people are even playing it in jail.
The sport is certainly no stranger to Southern Utah. Pickleball combines elements of badminton, table tennis and other paddle sports into a game that can played by people of all ages. It's popular among those who make their living playing it as well as people who prefer a friendly game on a summer morning.
Its inclusive nature is a major factor helping the sport spread. Nearly 3 million participate nationwide and the numbers are growing, according to a 2017 study by the Sports & Fitness Industry.
Rob Davidson, one of the top professional pickleball players in the country, is a St. George native who picked up the sport after years of playing tennis.
"Slowly but surely I started playing tennis less and less frequently, and pickleball soon became all I played. But I still had tennis tendencies, which I quickly realized were an anchor after playing tournaments in the area," Davidson said. "I was really blessed, learning pickleball in the Pacific Northwest with some of the best players in the game being within an hour or two drive."
After getting more serious about the sport over the next year, Davidson received a sponsorship offer from pickleball paddle company Selkirk Sport in 2015.
Davidson did not stop there; soon he was collaborating with Pickleball Magazine owner Wayne Dollard on operating pickleball camps across the country.
The two men held their first camp in Sanibel Island, Florida, in April 2017, and Davidson has been running camps as a professional instructor ever since.
Though he spends a lot of time teaching, Davidson has maintained his pickleball prowess in competition.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Davidson won gold in the men's singles open division of the Brigham City Memorial Tournament in Brigham City.
The tournament was sanctioned by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) as a Tier 2 event, sitting just below Tier 1 major tournament events.
"Rob is one of the nicest ambassadors for the sport. He really has elevated his game in the last two years," said USAPA ambassador and Brigham City Memorial Tournament organizer Kyle Klein. "He was a good player and had some moderate success but in the last two years he's really become a top 10 player in the country for singles at this point."
Passion for the game
Being a top player and instructor, Davidson makes money from pickleball and dreams of a future where more people can make a living playing the sport.
"Most of the top players have their job and then they play pickleball. It may not be far off in the future that players could potentially earn a living just through prize money, but right now all the players that I know have to have another income source."
Even still, the joy and passion for the game are something Davidson carries with him and hopes to see in the growing pickleball community.
"Above all else, the sport is just plain fun," Davidson said. "It is easy enough to pick up that you can get a friend playing points in less than a day and it doesn't require the technical or physical skills of many other racket sports. This allows a wide range of ages and abilities to play together and still have fun."
A source of family fun
Rosemary McFadden and her son, Troy, prove Davidson's point.
Rosemary McFadden is a St. George resident and pickleball player for over 20 years. She often comes out to the Little Valley Pickleball Complex in town to play with friends, family or anyone willing.
Troy McFadden, visiting from McKinney, Texas, decided to join her early Saturday for a game. They were among dozens playing at the St. George complex that morning.
"I would tell people to just come and play," he said. "I mean, everyone here is inviting and it's all-inclusive. No matter what skill level, no matter what age."
Rosemary and Troy McFadden aren't the only members of their family who enjoy pickleball. For the McFaddens, pickleball truly is a family affair.
"We had three generations playing the other morning in my parents, me and my son," Troy McFadden said. "All three generations were playing, and we were having a blast."
The game with the silly name
The game was created in 1965 by three men in Bainbridge Island, Washington, who were looking to give their bored children something to do during the summer.
Using rules from other sports, the men developed a new game that needed a name.
Joan Prithcard, the wife of one of the men, named it pickleball after the "pickle boat," the nickname for the last boat to come in for a catch after fishing.
Where to play
Little Valley Pickleball Complex, which opened in 2015, is one of several public places in the area to play. It has hosted pickleball competitions in the annual Huntsman Senior Games in October, as has SunRiver retirement community in St. George.
Other public plays to play include Worthen Park near downtown St. George, Hurricane City Park, the Southern Utah Sports Academy in Cedar City and Southern Utah University.
Pickleball courts such as the one in Ivins' Kayenta community and the Hurricane KOA campground require advance reservations.
If you'd like more information about pickleball in St. George, visit the city's website or call city tennis and pickleball head pro Wayne Bullock at 435-703-1146.
Peterson dominates International Indoor Pickleball Championships
Redmond resident earns two titles
June 20, 2018
It’s fun, it’s social — but it can also be challenging and ultra competitive the further up the ladder players climb in the pickleball world.
“It’s growing like crazy. Millions of people are playing now. A lot of younger people are playing,” said Redmond professional participant Glen Peterson. “It’s addicting for a lot of us.”
Peterson, 57, took up the sport 10 years ago and recently won both the Men’s Senior Doubles Open, with partner Jay Rippel, and the Men’s Senior Singles Open at the International Indoor Pickleball Championships in Centralia. The Team Selkirk member even helped design his own signature series paddle, the AMPED Omni Midweight.
Peterson often plays pickleball for two to three hours at a time at places like Perrigo Park and the Redmond Senior Center. There are five courts at Perrigo and two at the senior center, and Peterson praised the city of Redmond for setting up the courts — which are one-fourth the size of a tennis court — and getting people playing the sport. At Trilogy at Redmond Ridge, there are eight private courts used by 200-300 members, Peterson said of the pickleball boom.
Pickleball, which was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island by Congressman Joel Pritchard and his friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, is played with a perforated plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball and wood or composite paddles about twice the size of table tennis paddles, according to the PickleballCentral.com blog and the United States of America Pickleball Association site.
According to the USAPA site, pickleball’s name is two-fold: The Pritchards had a cocker spaniel named Pickles and Pritchard’s wife, Joan, noted, “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.”
There’s some tennis in there, some badminton in the mix and some ping pong bouncing around within. It’s got a scrappy image, Peterson said, but there’s a friendly warmth among the players when the games get rolling.
“It’s very simple to pick up a paddle and play. You can become very proficient quickly,” he said. “It’s not just about the sport, it’s about the community. Older people get moving. Two to three hours playing this versus three hours of walking… it’s a nice aerobic exercise.”
He added with a laugh: “One tennis player told me, ‘I gotta learn to be more friendly.’”
Peterson began playing the sport with some friends at the Redmond Senior Center and he was hooked. He also played at the Northshore Senior Center, where his dad, Larry, still graces the court at age 87 for a few days a week. Bothell High folks will remember Larry as a former principal, boys basketball coach and now a member of the Northshore Wall of Honor at Pop Keeney Stadium.
Glen graduated from Bothell High and from the University of Washington with an engineering degree and worked for the Caterpillar Inc. construction machinery and equipment company for 25 years in France, Japan and Canada. He moved back to the area in 2005 and retired in 2008.
He spends a lot of time playing pickleball these days and is a tier-two level champion, not only at the Centralia competition but at the US Open and USAPA nationals, where he’s snagged seven total gold medals and eight silvers.
As for his signature paddle, Peterson said it’s longer than other paddles and has a shorter handle. It gives him a little more reach.
“About an inch makes a lot of difference in the sport,” he said, noting with a laugh what he’s told people about the paddle, “I designed the paddle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t beat me.”
World's best pickleball player lives in Hayden, Idaho
His name is Tyson McGuffin. He is the top ranked singles player in the world
June 14, 2018
HAYDEN, Idaho -- Did you know one of the world's best pickleball players lives right here in the Inland Northwest?
His name is Tyson McGuffin. He is the top ranked singles player in the world. He is hoping to take the sport from backyards and country clubs to a much wider audience.
McGuffin train at the North Park Athletic Club in Spokane. If you thought Pickleball was just a backyard pastime, you are wrong.
"It's not your grandma's and grandpa's game. That's for sure," McGuffin said.
McGuffin, a former tennis club pro in central Washington, found that he was really, good at the sport that is part tennis, part ping pong and part badminton.
He now lives in Hayden, has only been playing for three years. Already, he has won a national championship in the game's highest competition.
"It was a surreal feeling," he said.
McGuffin's sponsored by Selkirk Sports, also based in Hayden. Their high-end pickleball paddle has McGuffin's name on it. They said he is the number one ranked player in the world. When he is not competing across the country, he is teaching classes around town.
"For the family aspect and how easy it is to play. And how anybody can pick it up," he said.
No matter how funky the sport's name may sound, the laid back nature of the game is not sour at all.
"You could beat enemies on the court then go have beers afterward. It was very different from tennis," he said.
Naples' Jardim Wins Title on Opening Day of U.S. Open Pickleball Championships
April 22, 2018
The Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships has become a global event, but fans had a local favorite to cheer for on the opening day of the weeklong tournament.
Simone Jardim delighted the sellout crowd at the Zing Zang Championship Court on Sunday. As the director of the U.S. Open Pickleball Academy at East Naples Community Park, home of the third annual tournament, Jardim took the homefield advantage and ran with it.
More than 1,000 fans, many of them students of hers, watched Jardim win the Women’s Pro Singles title on Day 1. She won her third straight title in the division – or every one since the U.S. Open began in 2016.
“This is where I work,” Jardim, 38, said with a smile. “To have everyone in those bleachers there – I’m thankful for all the people in the community for their support.
“You see this?,” she said, gesturing to the covered miniature arena, packed with fans to watch more than 2,000 players this week. “It’s growing every year.”
After watching Jardim breeze through Lucy Kovalova 11-2, 11-1, the crowd was disappointed in the next match. Fort Myers native Kyle Yates, who became the face of the U.S. Open when it was started in Naples two years ago, lost in the men’s final for the third straight year.
Tyson McGuffin, the No. 1 ranked singles player in the world, beat Yates 11-5, 6-11, 11-4 in the Men’s Pro Singles final. The men’s and women’s champs each took home $1,750 of the tournament’s $46,400 purse, while the silver medalists each earned $750.
In the senior (50-and-over) singles, Scott Moore repeated as the men’s champ while Cammy MacGregor won the women’s title in her first appearance in the U.S. Open. Each player won $1,000.
McGuffin, 28, won the U.S. Open after winning the USA Pickleball Association National Championships in November. He lost in the U.S. Open semifinals last year, but he’s been unbeaten the past 11 months.
“I got up 6-2 (in the second set) and started looking ahead instead of staying focused,” said McGuffin, a tennis instructor in Yakima, Washington.
“Kyle got the momentum, but I knew if I could get out to a good start (in Set 3) I could get it back.”
The Women’s Senior Pro gold medal match was the kind of back-and-forth battle expected from two opponents who know each other well. MacGregor beat her doubles partner Jennifer Dawson, 12-10, 11-8.
MacGregor and Dawson are both tennis pros in San Diego, California.
They’ve been playing together for three years, since Dawson invited MacGregor to pick up the sport.
“It’s always difficult to play your best friend and doubles partner,” MacGregor, 49, said. Dawson was up 6-0 in the first set before MacGregor came back to win in extra points (each set goes to 11).
MacGregor was up 8-1 in the second set but Dawson pulled within 9-8 before MacGregor scored the final two points. “That’s pickleball,” said MacGregor, who gets to play in the senior division because she turns 50 this year.
“I was down 6-0 and I said, ‘I gotta grind it out. Things happen.’ It was just a few points here and there. It could have gone either way.”
Last year Dawson became the first player to ever win the U.S. Open triple crown, taking titles in the senior pro divisions in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
In the Men’s Senior Pro finals, Moore continued his two-year long hot streak. He beat Brian Staub 11- 4, 11-5 in the finals to win the division’s gold medal for the second straight year.
Moore, 56, finished runner-up at the inaugural U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in 2016. He hasn’t lost a singles match since.
Moore estimated he’s won 50 straight matches and 12 straight tournaments. With a full schedule ahead of doubles and mixed doubles matches, Moore hopes winning a title on the tournament’s first day sets him up for success throughout the week.
“It creates momentum and confidence,” the Colorado Springs, Colorado, resident said of his win. “Singles is so physically taxing. It’s brutal.
I knew if I could get through it, it would give me confidence that I’d be good for doubles.”
Mailbag: How Should We Feel About the Controversial Tennys Sandgren?
April 18, 2018
Selkirk Sport, the leading Pickleball paddle and accessories brand, and one of the game’s most prominent supporters, announced that professional tennis player, Kaitlyn Christian — who acted as Emma Stone's tennis double in the film “Battle of the Sexes,” has been signed to the Team Selkirk Advisory Staff and is now competing on the professional pickleball tour. The news comes in advance of the 2018 US Open Pickleball Championships (April 21 - 29, Naples FL), where the former NCAA Women’s Tennis Doubles Champion (University of Southern California) will compete using the recently introduced Selkirk Series AMPED Paddle.
Learn the Basics of Pickleball From the Number One Singles Player in the Country
April 18, 2018
SPOKANE, Wash. - Pickleball is the world's fastest - growing sport. In 2015, 250,000 players participated in the sport. Today, there are close to 3 million. It started in Bainbridge and has been gaining momentum just a few hundred miles away in Spokane.
The North Park Athletic Club recently transformed four of their courts into pickleball courts, and hired Tyson McGuffin as their director of tennis and pickleball. Tyson is ranked as the number one singles pickleball player in the nation.
The sport was created for all skill levels and ages. McGuffin says that he's noticed more senior players taking up the sport; as it is easier on the body. Another trend? Former racquet sports athletes who've suffered an injury.
The club is hosting a Pickleball Social on Wednesday, April 18 from 6pm to 8pm at their location, 8121 North Division Street. For the first hour, there will be a pro exhibition. In the second hour, spectators are invited to play pickleball with the pros, including Tyson.
Selkirk Sport Re-Signs Enrique Ruiz To Pickleball Advisory Staff
April 4, 2018
Selkirk Sport, manufacturer of Pickleball paddles and accessories, announced the re-signing of Pickleball six-time National Champion Enrique Ruiz to the Team Selkirk Advisory Staff.
Ruiz, who resides in Portland, OR and has served as an ambassador for Selkirk Sport since 2014, is one of professional Pickleball’s most accomplished players and the first - ever Pickleball player to have a signature series paddle, the Enrique Ruiz Signature Epic Graphite – 2015. Complementing his continued role with Team Selkirk, the company has introduced the Enrique Ruiz Signature Series AMPED paddle as part of the new AMPED Series paddle line. The AMPED Series promotes increased power, better ball control and a larger sweetspot, which helps to maximize performance for players of all levels. The proprietary FiberFlex Fiberglass face and X5 Polypropylene core technology offer enhanced performance capabilities for advanced Pickleball players.
Known as “El Condor” for his amazing ability to switch hands, and for his long wingspan which allows him to cover a lot of space on the Pickleball court, Ruiz is a six-time National Open Champion; a national Gold Medalist in Singles, Men’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles competitions and a three-time Gold Medalist in the prestigious Pickleball Tournament of Champions.
“Enrique Ruiz is a true ambassador for the sport of Pickleball and one the game’s all-time great players,” said Rob Barnes, product manager, Selkirk Sport. “Enrique was one of our original Team Selkirk members and we created our popular Signature Series paddle program based on his popularity and success. Today, that program stands out in the industry and we thank Enrique for being a voice and a pioneer for the game, and for Selkirk Sport.”
As a member of Team Selkirk, Ruiz is part of stable players who travel throughout North America competing on the professional circuit, while promoting the sport, which now boasts over 2.8 million players. Today, there are approximately 5,000 Pickleball venues and an estimated 15,000 courts covering every U.S. state and all Canadian provinces.
As the sport continues to gain popularity, many school districts in the U.S. are introducing Pickleball in grade school, junior high school and high school as part of physical education classes. The sport of Pickleball now stands alongside tennis as a recreational activity at sports and fitness clubs and at a collection of leading resorts throughout North America.
Pickleball has also exploded as a professional sport, with local, regional and national tournaments taking place annually for men and women of all ages, including junior divisions, senior divisions and open divisions for the game’s elite players.
Barnes added, “Pickleball today is as popular as ever and as the sport continues to grow, the equipment market will continue to evolve. As the paddle remains the engine of the game, Selkirk maintains an unwavering commitment to product innovation, for both the game’s elite players, like Enrique Ruiz, as well as for everyday recreational players.”
For more information on Selkirk Pickleball paddles and accessories, as well as the Team Selkirk stable of Professional Pickleball Ambassadors, visit www.selkirk.com
Selkirk Sport, a manufacturer of pickleball paddles and accessories, has signed former Wimbledon doubles champion JoAnne Russell to its Professional Pickleball Advisory Staﬀ. In her 13 - year pro tennis career, Russell reached a singles ranking of No. 22 in 1983 and won two WTA tour events in 1984. As a doubles player, she won four WTA titles, including the 1977 Wimbledon doubles championship, teaming with Helen Gourlay Cawley to beat Chris Evert and Rosie Casals in the ﬁrst round, and then upsetting top-ranked Martina Navratilova and Betty Stove in the ﬁnal. Today, Russell, from Naples, Fla., is a tennis and pickleball instructor, in addition to competing on the pro pickleball tour. Last April, she and partner Gee Gee Garvin won a doubles gold medal at the 2017 US Open Pickleball Championships.
Ty McGuffin, Christian Win Pickleball Tournament in California
April 2, 2018
HAYDEN, Idaho – Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of high performance Pickleball paddles announced that Team Selkir k members, Ty McGuffin - the defending National Champion - and professional tennis player Kaitlyn Christian - who acted as Emma Stone's tennis double in the film “Battle of the Sexes” - both captured victories at The Lakes Spring Fling Pickleball Tournament at the Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, CA.
McGuffin, the top-ranked player in the world captured the men’s singles 5.0 Division, while Christian, a newcomer to the professional Pickleball circuit captured the women’s singles 5.0 division. Both players were equipped Selkirk Sport’s innovative AMPED Series Pickleball Paddles, which are currently used by many top professional players around the world. Each respective model features Selkirk Sports’ proprietary FiberFlex Fiberglass face and X5 Polypropylene core technology, offering enhanced performance capabilities for today’s professional and advanced Pickleball players.
“Team Selkirk tournament victories validate the performance attributes of our new and innovative AMPED Series paddle line,” said Rob Barnes, Product Manager, Selkirk Sport. “Since capturing his first National Championship Ty has been playing at such a high level and to complement his outstanding performance, Kaitlyn has been making incredible strides as a top-level newcomer to Pickleball.”
In addition to the multi - victory weekend, Team Selkirk member/coach Morgan Evans, the Director of Pickleball and a Tennis Professional at Shadow Mountain Resort in Palm Desert, CA., enjoyed another victory from the sideline, serving as McGuffin’s coach. On the court, Evans finished in 3rd place in the Men’s Doubles 5.0 Division alongside partner Marcin Rozpedski.
For more information, visit www.selkirk.com
Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of high performance Pickleball paddles today announced that Team Selkirk members, Ty McGuffin — the defending National Champion — and professional tennis player Kaitlyn Christian — who acted as Emma Stone's tennis double in the film “Battle of the Sexes” — both captured victories at The Lakes Spring Fling Pickleball Tournament from 3/23 – 3/25 at the Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, Calif.
On the heels of signing 2017 USAPA National Champion, Ty McGuffin, Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of Pickleball paddles and accessories, today announced the signing of former Wimbledon Doubles Champion, JoAnne Russell, to its Team Selkirk Professional Pickleball Advisory Staff.
Speaking of endorsements: “As the sport of Pickleball continues its rise as the fastest growing recreational sport in North America, the professional game is gaining momentum as prize money and prestige for the best players in the world continues to increase. Today, Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of high-performance Pickleball paddles and accessories, announced the signing of 2017 USAPA National Champion, Ty McGuffin, to the largest endorsement contract ever in Professional Pickleball.”
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