So here we are….Only a week or so from the start of the Canadian National PB Tournament in Kelowna! This edition is pre-event info, with comments from some of the top players making their way to our fair country. I’ve got quite a bit to blog about, so without further palaver, let’s play…. Let’s get a good rally going with:
Brian Ashworth (alias The Beard)
1. Hi Brian, where do you live (still in Kent, Wa), and what is the pickleball community like where you play?
BA – Yes, I’m still in Kent with Chris Miller, and we usually drive about 40 minutes to Redmond to meet up with our group of high level players – including Glenn Griffin, Glen Peterson, Don Pascal, Lavon and Tonja Major, Jonathan Blake and now Peter Hudachko amongst others.
2. Last year at the Canadian West Nationals, you won a silver in open MD with Vonnie Major…Did you enjoy your time in Canada, and do you like interacting with the fans up here?
BA – I had an absolute blast! Lavon is very scrappy and fun to play with and the atmosphere was 2nd only to the US Open! All the locals were so excited to see some 5.0 play and they were cheering and excited the whole time!
3. Your men’s partner this year will be Glenn Griffin, and in mixed, you’re going to be teamed up with Joy Leising. Both of them were medalists last year. What do you like about the playing styles of your crew?
BA – Glenn Griffin is a dangerous player and very, very fast! We play rec a lot together, and because of it, move well together and have a good understanding of where we will be and what each other will do….Joy is so laid back, which I enjoy, and has phenomenal power! Her hands have greatly improved as has her dinking-both are good friends and fun to play with!
4. I heard that last year, you and 5 or 6 of your pb friends drove up to the event in a little subcompact car…Is that story true, and how much fun was the drive up to Kelowna?
BA – The drive was very interesting:)…We rented a very tiny clown car and basically coasted into town on fumes – Chris and I aren’t always the best at planning ahead, and I thought our luck was going to run out here:) Here is a photo of the car and the ”crew.”
(sorry Brian and my readers- I wasn’t able to get the picture onto my wordpress program. It shows the little green import and the wild bunch – Brian, Lavon, Wes, Puppetmaster, Chris, Steve Wong, and Glenn….too funny:-)
5. Last question Brian….I’m not sure if you’re a drinker, but how do you like Canadian beer?…Did you try some when you were relaxing after your matches last year?
BA – I rarely drink, and never ever beer:) I will say we did hit up Dairy Queen quite a bit though!
* Thanks for that Brian, I’ll looking forward to seeing you when I’m up at Kelowna….I previously talked to Brian in the May 31st edition. There is a great video there featuring the Beard and Scott Moore in their electrifying match with the desert dogs – Marcin Rozpedski, and Morgan Evans….Be sure to check out the archives if you haven’t watched the match!
* Here is a video that shows Brian and his mixed partner, Joy Leising, in a match with Jennifer Lucore and Aspen Kern earlier this year.
* Here is a funny video that is courtesy of Jack Olmsted from Port Townsend. It shows 2 young fans of Brian’s who made an instructional manual for their hero!
Hasting Sisters – Potty Mouth Manual https://youtu.be/DsKtsR8nvso
Two Players From Tennesse
I have been planning on interviewing Stephanie Lane for some time. I thought the time was right when I noticed that she was coming up to play at the our Nationals with her Canadian friend, Cookie Drake. Unfortunately, in response to my questions, I got this reply from Stephanie:
Stephanie Lane – Hi Doug…Well, I’m not going to play in Kelowna now:-( Still going on the trip (especially since it’s a family trip- Dad & husband) and LeEllen is still going to get to play…But I just had knee surgery to fix my torn meniscus…doc says I’m definitely not released to play yet! So, I doubt you still want my answers this time…??… We will have lots of time to chat now:-)
I also got a reply from LeEllen Lane, Stephanie’s 14 year old daughter who will be competing in Kelowna in the 4.0 bracket! I asked her: Whether pb was her favourite sport, about winning gold with Rachel Elliott in the youth division at the US Nationals, if Stephanie was a good coach, and whether star player Dave Weinbach gave her tips when they were visiting him?
LeEllen Lane – Hi Doug. I look forward to seeing you in Canada! Yes, pickleball is my favourite sport….I enjoyed playing with Rachel last year but I’m not sure if we’re playing this year…My mom is an amazing coach…Dave is one of my best friends/heroes and he always has tips for me whether I’m in the mood to hear it or not, haha! But I treasure his advice and love him to death.
* Thanks Stephanie and LeEllen for the emails. If you are going to the Nationals make sure you say hi to these southern belles. Here is a bit more info about Stephanie:
Stephanie Lane Interview https://youtu.be/dmPnuFejLW4
* Here is the link to an MX game with LeEllen Lane and Jake Weinbach (Dave W’s son)
2016 Wisconsin Cup – MXD 4.0 https://youtu.be/VBsaclcdPYA
As of last week, Canadian star Cookie Drake had not found anyone to take Stephanie Lane’s place as her doubles partner, but Cookie is still coming to the Nationals and will be competing in MX with Josh Grubbs. As well as the video below, you can read more about Cookie in the May 25th, 2016 edition of my blog. She is someone I want to meet and watch play in Kelowna.
Cookie Drake & Josh Grubbs https://youtu.be/R1krTa4LAGw
There are many top name players coming to Kelowna – Jennifer Lucore, Wes Gabrielsen, Mills Miller, Mona Burnett, Glenn Griffin, etc..these are players that have won medals before at the Canadian Nationals and are favoured to do well this year…. But what about someone less well known. Are there players who may surprise pb fans this year? Let’s look at one such player….
Tyson McGuffin won a gold medal in open singles play at the SoCal Classic earlier this month. He is playing singles at Kelowna and will be paired with Dalton Vavra in doubles….I asked him about his home town, other racquet sports and about his partner for doubles play.
I grew up in a small town 2.5 miles south of Penticton called Lake Chelan. There is no pickleball there. I am a lead tennis pro at a club in Yakima, WA. I play at a YMCA here, there is probably around 50 players…I am the only 5.0 player in my area. I am a 5.5 tennis player and picked up pickleball about 8 months ago. I absolutely fell in love with it. Singles is my main focus but my doubles game is starting to come around. I have never played with Dalton. We are both tennis players though, so hopefully that works out to our advantage.
* This video is an epic singles match with Tyson McGuffin and Kurtis Campbell. Tyson is the clean shaven fellow…. Kurtis will also be competing at the Canadian Nationals. His partners in doubles are Tonja and Vonnie Major.
Kurtis Campbell v Tyson McGuffin 2016 Cougar Classic Open Singles
* Here is a look at Dalton Vavra from last years US Open.
Dalton Vavra v Kyle Yates MS19+ US Open
Columbia River Pickle Power
Their are a lot of great players from the Portland, Oregon area. I interviewed Wes Gabrielsen from McMinnville, Or. in the May 31st edition of CC. I think you will be interested in the next players thoughts on her experiences at the Canadian Nationals…
1. Hi Christine, what’s your sports background and who introduced you to pickleball?
CB – My one and only sport has been tennis since I was very young. Being a Hossier, I played a bit of basketball through middle school but tennis was my passion. I also run and bike, but those are recreational. My dad introduced me to pickleball at the Voyager RV Resort in Tuscon, AZ. For the first few years, I played only when I would visit him, then one day I decided to look at Places to Play on the USAPA website and found a local group to join.
2. Our pickle sport is big in the Portland area, with a number of 5.0 tournament players. What can other pb communities do to emulate the success of pickleball in your area?
CB – Honestly, I think we are just lucky to have so many 5.0’s. Most of us are tennis player converts, so really I think it takes a couple of good players and a lot of persuasion.
3. You had a great time in Kelowna last year – a silver and 2 gold medals…How many years have you been coming to the Canadian Nationals?
CB – I believe my first trip to Canada Nationals was in 2013, Abbotsford…I won a Gold in Mixed Doubles with Josh Grubbs!
4. You are teamed up with Wes Gabrielsen in MX this year…Are you looking forward to being beside him on the court?
CB – As you may know, Wes is a long time partner and friend. We met playing tennis, partnering for the 2010 USTA Mixed Doubles National League Championships. Not long after the event we converted to pickleball where we were partners for nearly three years. While we have decided to mix things up this year, I am excited to once again be on the same side of the net with Wesley at Canadian Nationals! Of course it is fun because not only is he a great player, he is a remarkable person and good friend to me.
5. Your regular WD partner is Joy Leising…You two had quite a dramatic finish at last years’ finals. Can you remember what you were feeling when you saw your partner being injured late in the game?
CB – Yes, last years Open Women’s Doubles Gold Medal match was dramatic! We were fortunate Joy’s injury was late in the game…I do very vividly recall Joy saying, ”Tape it up, we are finishing this game.” I recall thinking that I was going to have to do whatever it took to keep her from putting additional strain on her foot. I was forced to make some bold moves to finish points. However, she wins the trooper award for digging out some tough shots that would have been hard to get even at 100% health.
6. Have you visited Victoria before…Any plans to come our way in the future?
CB – I have not spent as much time as I would like up your way!…Joy and I would love to come do a clinic sometime!
* I would definitely go to that clinic Christine…Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and much luck to you and your partners at our Nationals.
* Here are the video links to Christine’s gold medal doubles matches last year:
Christine Barksdale, Wes Gabrielsen v Puppetmaster Nelson, Tonja Major MXOD Final
Christine Barksdale, Joy Leising v Gigi LeMaster, Mona Burnett WDO Final
https://youtu.be/40xoj2hiUPw (Joy is injured at the 20:30 time of the tape)
Island Players Going For The Gold
There are over 20 players from Victoria and up Island going to the Canadian Nationals, and this year I believe there is a new sense of dedication and commitment to do well in their tournament brackets…. Players have been practicing hard and entering many smaller events leading up to the big event. Good luck to Jan Bergen, Mike Bellis, Gwen Chew, Bev DeHaitre, Ron Denman, Gwen Hay, Heather Hood, Elizabeth Peckham, Jane Rich, Neil Rich, Sandy Milliken, Robin Milliken, Izzie McGrath, Kerry Savory, Wayne Russell, Nancy Stern, Al Thomson, Kathy Thomson, Ryner Wilson, Paddy Humble-Wilson, Marilyn Moen, and Lindy Arnold….If I left your name off the list, please send me a note…
If you have anything that you would like my readers to hear about your coming trip to Kelowna, send me your comment: firstname.lastname@example.org Go Canada at the Canadian Nationals!!
* If you want to go to the clinic with Sarah Ansboury and Gigi LeMaster that starts this weekend at the Lake Okanagan Resort go to Wayne Russell’s website – pickleballgo.com
* In the next edition I am planning to share my interview with a player that is on track to become the ”pickleballer of the year”. I am looking forward to sharing her inspiring story with you…Stay tuned, and…
Thanks for the game,