Five Takeaways on the CBS Broadcast of The Sketchers International:
(2) Anna Leigh Waters / Leigh Waters vs. (1) Callie Smith / Lucy Kovalova
(2) Riley Newman / Matt Wright vs. (1) Ben Johns / Collin Johns
1. First network broadcast of pickleball. Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters showed why they are the #1 players in mens and women play. Excellent commentary by Morgan Evans. A great introduction to pickleball for newcomers and the general sports audience. Best selling point: quickness of the games; 10 second rule. Play occurs so fast that they weren’t able to show replays on some points.
2. I may have missed it but I did not see a commercial by Sketchers promoting their new pickleball shoe. What a missed selling opportunity! They promoted their walking shoes instead. Strange marketing move?
3. Who says that pros don’t lob? In both matches, offensive lobs were employed and were successful. Even at the pro level, one sees some confusion at covering and defending lob shots.
4. Ben Johns covers the court from net post to net post. I’m guessing he hit about 75% of the shots for his team. He dominates play. I’ve seen him play with Anna Leigh Waters and he seems to be more deferential to her play than his brother. (As an aside, I have seen a few guys in recreation mixed doubles play try this but not with the same results as Ben Johns and not with the cooperation/patience of their female partners.)
5. Ben Johns’s experience in playing table tennis is so evident by his hand speed and how deft he is at cross court dinks.
Sound of Music:
iTunes has music for pickleball. You can download an album titled Pickleball:Songs of America. However, here is my suggested playlist of hits titled suitably for a pickleball theme.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot Pat Benatar
Inka Dinka Doo Jimmy Durante
Let’s Stay Together Al Green
Play Me Neil Diamond
Games People Play The Spinners
Sultans of Swing Dire Strait
Fun, Fun, Fun The Beach Boys
As Good as I Once Was Toby Keith
It’s My Party Leslie Gore
Sound Off on Sound Offs
I enjoy hearing the following: the bounce of basketballs on a hardwood floor, the thud of a thrown baseball into a glove, and the crack of the bat against a pitch. There is a symphony of sounds generated within each sport. So I’m against efforts to reduce the thwacks of pickleballs by significantly modifying the pickleball or the paddle. A well hit smash or soft brush of the paddle for a dink have their own sounds that are part of the game.
After playing outside so much this summer and ending the relentless heat and humidity, I am ready for fall weather. When the heat index is over 90, I feel like I am playing with 20 lb. ankle weights on each leg and a mask covering my mouth and breathing.
“It’s my belief that pickleball will be the largest participatory sport in the US eventually” – Bahram Akradi, CEO Life Time. A very bold statement made by a CEO but he is also putting his money where his mouth is by investing in building more pickleball courts at his facilities.
Let’s wait another 25 years before we begin to designate anyone as a GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in pickleball. Way too early…
South Jersey: Pickleball = Alabama: College Football
Serena Williams intends to play her last game competing at the U.S. Open Tournament in New York before retiring. When I’d play my last pickleball game, it would be at the courts at Browning Road in Pennsauken. It’s where I started and in many ways, it was where I had the most fun. Opponents to be named later. But I do know who I would want to be my partner…Cookie Sey.