What will pickleball spectators see at this week’s Tournament of Champions that they don’t normally see at their home courts?….Well, it’s a different world at a major pb tournament, and it’s inhabitants are beings that put on a great show. Seeing the pros in person is a memorable experience, and watching the action is a lot cheaper than going to see the tennis event at Wimbledon or paying $100 for a nosebleed seat at a Canucks game. It’s probably the best sports deal you can find – you get to see the best pickle players in the world for free!
There is one of the TOC competitors that I have admired since I first discovered her pb matches on YouTube. She has really been a champion figure at the Tournament of Champions, and since the tournament starts Friday, Sept 2nd, I sent her some questions to get her input on the importance of the event, her successes there, and her matchup with Brian Ashworth – her mixed partner this year….Here is the reply I received from:
*Hello Doug Baker!! How are you?…Yes, TOC is one of the three major tournaments for sure. I do love how that list is growing, used to be only the US Nationals, then TOC came around, and then US Open, it’s so great for our sport…I have played all the TOC’s. The first one was 2013, I got silver in Open Doubles, in 2014 gold in doubles (with Alex Hamner of course) and gold mixed (Tim Nelson):-) and placed in singles – so I got like $3,300 for the weekend…HA, how cool is that! In 2015, gold in doubles and bronze in mixed (Tim)….Yes, this year the Beard and me – woohoo! Brian is such a great guy and player as you know. I have had the pleasure of playing with him before and together we know how to compete and have FUN. It will be a good time and of course the goal is to WIN.
* Jen and Alex’s classic TOC doubles finals on YouTube are enjoyable to watch, but the link I included below is different – it’s probably the most exciting match in the history of the Tournament of Champions…The dynamite duo of Enrique Ruiz and Gigi LeMaster take on Tim Nelson and Jennifer Lucore in the 2014 MX finals. In the third game, Jen and the Puppetmaster fight back to win 12-10 after being down for 5 match points against Gigi and El Condor! Jen and Tim then go on the win a tight 15 point tiebreaker and claim the gold medal…Tim is the cool guy in funky shades and different colour socks and Jennifer looks pertly pretty in her black tennis skirt, white visor and white allpickleball top.
TOC MX Finals https://youtu.be/MLB7WjxzHkk
* Good luck to Jennifer, Alex and Brian this weekend.
* The more I talk with the top pickleball ladies, the more I believe this philosophy is true – ”no matter who gets a medal, the one who has the most fun is the one who wins”…. The next player that I am featuring is someone who is blessed with a wide range of sports and academic talents. One of her interests is in pickleball, and her love for our sport is easy to see when you notice the big smile on her face during pb competitions. She has the right attitude….This much I know – no matter who takes home the hardware this weekend, this woman will always be a winner….Introducing:
Corrine Carr – In Her Own Words
1. Corrine, up until doing this interview, I didn’t know a lot about you – except that you’re a young and skillful pickleballer that I enjoyed watching play on YouTube…Would you share some of the details about your sports and educational background?
CC – I played a lot of sports growing up, like most kids, but my main focus was tennis and golf. I loved tennis and did very well at an early age, but I started having trouble with my knees. I didn’t think I’d be able to play seriously without injuries, so around age 14 I began focusing most of my time, outside of studying, on golf. I was recruited for college golf and initially chose to attend Furman University, a small private school in SC, but transferred to USC after my sophomore year. I absolutely loved my time on the golf team at USC. My coaches, Kalen Harris and Puggy Blackman, changed my life….I haven’t had a lot of time for extracurriculars since graduating from USC due to pursuing my PhD in Finance. But hopefully that will change soon since I have completed my degree!:-)
2. What is your home town like, and how is the pickleball there?
CC – Raf and I just moved to Morgantown, WV and there isn’t much pickleball. However, it’s growing in Morgantown just like it is everywhere else, so I’m hoping there will be more places to play soon! We’ve found a few good people to play with who, like most pb players, are addicted to the game.
3. The first time I became aware of your talent was at last year’s US Nationals…You were competing there with Simone Jardim – which I think must have been the start of a beautiful partnership because you two played so well together that you got into the WD finals! You two will be teamed up again for the TOC and the US Nationals VIII…When did you and Simone first meet and how close are you as friends?
CC – Simone and I first met through pickleball in East Lansing, MI about 2 years ago. We have a mutual friend, Dan O’Toole, who introduced both of us to the game, and I’m so thankful because she has become my best friend! She’s one of the most honest, loyal, caring, good hearted people I have ever met, and on top of that she loves competing! I couldn’t ask for a better friend.
4. You’ve been doing well at tournaments this year and last March you won gold at the Grand Canyon State Games while competing with Christine McGrath vs 2 legendary players. That must have been an exciting match for you and Chris to be playing for ”all the marbles” against Alex Hamner and Jennifer Lucore. Was that your first gold medal in a major pickleball event?
CC – That was my first gold medal in a major pb event. Christine is a great player and fun to play with. I hadn’t played Jen and Alex before and wasn’t sure what to expect, so it was exciting to play them. Jen and Alex are great players, great people, and so fun to play with.
5. You followed up your adventures at El Mirage with some more medals at this year’s inaugural US Open in Naples, Fl….You got into the WD finals with Laura Fenton Kovanda vs Sarah Ansboury and Christine McGrath…Chris and Sarah have won a lot of gold medals when they partner up, but you and Laura didn’t give up any easy points in the match. Did you feel nervous knowing that the match was going to be televised on CBS Sports?
CC – I wasn’t very nervous. My attitude is always to do my best and see what happens. I think my golf background helps with nerves in pickleball. Every shot counts in golf and I find that to be incredibly stressful. I played my best rounds when I spent more time working on mental toughness than working on my game. I don’t think I’ll ever be as nervous for pickleball as I was for golf.
6. You also won a bronze medal at the US Open in MXD while competing with your future husband, Rafael Siebenchien. Where you two already in a relationship at that point, or was it ”love at first team-up”?
CC – Raf and I were already in a relationship at the US Open. We started spending time together after a pickleball exhibition we played together in Chicago last year. Seymour Rifkind organized the exhibition so we credit him with our marriage:-) After that weekend, Raf and I started playing squash and pickleball together once a week and the relationship grew from there. So, it wasn’t love at first team up. What I initially liked most about Raf was that he can beat me at almost everything. I hadn’t come across many guys like that.
7. Last weekend you were competing at the Royal Oak Tournament in Michigan. Your partner was Kyle Yates and you two edged out Raf and his partner Simone Jardim to claim the gold. That must have been a ”hoot” to be playing against your hubby and your gal pal Simone?
CC – It felt a little strange being on the opposite side of the net from my husband and my best friend, but we had a good time. Raf and I compete against each other all the time. He beats me at just about everything except golf, so it was fun to win against him at Royal Oak.
8. Kyle will also be your partner at the TOC and Nationals. How would you say the playing chemistry is between you two?
CC – Kyle is a great player and is very easy for me to play with. We haven’t played much together, but I feel like we mesh well. Hopefully he feels the same way!
9. You and Simone got close to getting a gold at last year’s US Nationals…Have you two been working on any different strategies to get to the top at Brigham City and Palm Creek?
CC – Get more sleep before tournaments! We haven’t decided to change our strategy. Simone is playing a lot more pickleball now than she did back in November. However, her game doesn’t matter as much as mine since I’ll probably see most of the balls. I honestly haven’t been able to play much pickleball lately due to traveling, getting married, moving to Morgantown, defending my dissertation, and starting a new job. So, my attitude this week is to have fun, hope for the best, and if I play to my potential we’ll do well. I haven’t played enough lately to feel any other way and this is the approach that will lead me to my playing my best.
10. As well as pickleball, you’re also a good golfer. Do you compete in tournaments and are there other pb/golf ladies that you like to get out on the course with?
CC – I haven’t competed in golf tournaments much since graduating form USC (South Carolina). I want to get back into it, but there hasn’t been enough time. I’m hoping to be able to compete again in a couple of years…I have a few friends from my golf days who play on the LPGA and have picked up pickleball as a hobby to give themselves a little break from golf. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to play golf with them in years but we’ve had a chance to play pickleball.
11. Last question Corrine, you and Rafael had quite a trip to Europe recently…Can you tell us how you two enjoyed you time there?
CC – Raf is from Switzerland, and his entire family is there, so the main purpose of our trip was for his family and me to meet. We didn’t do much traveling there since I was still working on my PhD. But we did a little sightseeing close to Raf’s home and he proposed there which was exciting:-) We will make many more trips to Switzerland in the future so there will be plenty of time to sightsee.
* It was fun for me to learn more about you, Corrine…Thanks for playing a round with me on the Challenge Court:-)
* Here is the link with Corrine Carr and Simone Jardim from last year’s US Nationals. They are both wearing grey tops – Simone has dark hair and Corrine is the smart blonde:-)
* I sent a message to Simone Jardim and asked her how she was feeling about getting back on the court with Corrine for some WD action this weekend? Simone sent back a huge smiley face and this message:
Simone Jardim – I’m so excited to play with Corrine again, it feels like forever since we last played together. Which is kind of true because we haven’t played in a tournament together since Nationals last year. Since the day I’ve met her we have become best of friends. She is an amazing person and when I play with her I know I can be myself and I enjoy competing next to her. She is an amazing athlete and a great person. I can go on and on….(this is when Simone put in the giant smiley face. I wasn’t able to reproduce it on wordpress)…
Then Simone wrote….So does that answer your question?
To which I replied…You express yourself well Simone….I would love to see you two play in person. THAT would be a big thrill for me:-)
* This next links are from Corrine Carr and Christine McGrath’s gold medal match from the Grand Canyon State Games in March of this year, and their interview with Rusty of the Pickleball Channel.
* This is the link to Corrine Carr and Laura Fenton Kovanda’s WD finals match from the US Open, and below that is the link to her US Open bronze match with Rafael Siebenchien.
* I sent a message to Kyle Yates and asked him to comment about playing with Corrine Carr and Kyle sent me this reply:
Kyle Yates – Corrine is extremely athletic, very patient, consistent and moves well. She has great court sense and plays defence really well. Her two handed backhand is wicked…But mainly she is always positive and enjoying the game regardless of the score…Which relieves a lot of pressure and let’s us play loose and have fun.
* Thanks Kyle and Simone for you insights into the profile of Corrine Carr….I feel I have a much better picture of her as a player and pickleball personality. Simone, by the way, will be partnered with Raf at the TOC. I will let my readers know how everyone does in my next blog post…
* Most of the top names in pickleball will be at the TOC and I envy the fans who make it down there to watch. In my next post I will try to get some comments from some of the pro participants in the interesting match ups that take place this weekend…’Till then,
Thanks for the game,
P.S. – If Corrine is reading this, there is one question I forgot to ask you….How far can you hit a pickleball with a 3 wood:-)