St. Louis Post Dispatch article 11/16/20 - Best of St. Louis: For a pickleball pair, the road to the top has been a quick one.
One of the toughest parts about being really good at pickleball is admitting that you’re really good at pickleball.
“It’s not something I’m confident doing, telling people I play,” said Zac Shook, a 29-year-old pharmacy tech from South County and one of the top local players. “The name is kind of wacky and (the game is) known for old people playing it. I’m younger-ish and when I tell people that, they think I’m beating up on old people. It’s a little more complicated than that.”
“I come into class on Monday,” said Amy Schachner, a 32-year-old high school math teacher from Crestwood and Shook’s partner on their highly successful mixed doubles team, “and my students ask if I played pickleball over the weekend, and I do get eyerolls. … I definitely get a lot of people thinking it’s ridiculous because of the name.”
Pickleball, for the uninitiated, is one of the fastest growing sports around, a mashup of tennis, table tennis and badminton, with a whiffle ball (but no pickles) thrown in. It started in popularity with senior citizens and has spread down to Gen Xers and millennials. Because of the limited ground to cover — most points play out with the players standing about seven feet from the net — and the relative slowness of the ball, it’s a sport in which older players can take on younger players on a reasonably even basis, especially because the preferred form of the sport is doubles rather than singles.
“I have lost to older people, and I’m OK saying that,” Shook said. “I lose to older people all the time.”
On the rise
According to Mike Chapin, who runs StLouisPickleball.com and is a zealous ambassador for the sport, the number of pickleball players in the area has grown from around 100 to more than 2,000 over the past six years. Pickleball courts are popping up in parks and recreation centers around the region — the stadium at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park is now set up for pickleball rather than tennis — and if this were a time when more people were hanging around at parks and recreation centers, you would probably see someone playing. With portable nets, a park with four tennis courts can have eight pickleball courts.
The sport, which dates from 1965, drew its unfortunate name because its creation from spare sporting parts led the creator’s wife to say it reminded her of a pickle boat in crew, which consists of rowers left over from other boats. Either that or because the family dog was named Pickles.
The sport’s newness has meant that the rise to the top of the game doesn’t necessarily take a long time and years of practice. Shook has been playing about five years and before that never had taken part in organized sports above the rec level. Schachner has been playing two years-plus, though before that she played tennis, table tennis and volleyball. But without much experience, they quickly teamed to be a formidable pairing.
“They play not only very athletic,” said Chapin, a career advisor at Washington University when not working as sort of a Johnny Pickleseed, “they can stretch and be able to hit balls that would typically be behind people past people. They do very good job playing with anticipation and can turn from a defensive situation where you think you have won to an offensive position where they win the point. They cover the court well, hit hard shots, stop shots and are able to anticipate.”
Catching on quickly
Schachner had two chances to pick up the game, once as a child and once in college, and passed both times. Finally, as an adult, she was invited to play with some friends and that time it stuck. Two months after taking up the game, she won her first tournament, and she has gradually moved her way up through the levels of the game and has kept winning.
“I think I got really lucky with the people I started playing with,” said Schachner, who feels her volleyball background — she’s a coach at Jefferson High — was good preparation for digging out low shots, “and after that, I knew I was having fun right away. These people had been playing for a while, were helping me with my shots and were saying, ‘You’re going to be good at this.’ So I kept going. It’s so easy to pick up. You can have fun the first time you get out there.”
When school isn’t session, she plays about 20 hours of pickleball a week.
Shook was working out at the YMCA in Festus when someone at the front desk talked him into playing.
“I thought it was a stupid name for a sport but it looked like fun so I tried it and liked it,” he said. “I was horrible at the start. Terrible. I had no paddle background, so I relied on my athleticism. I still do. My progression took off in the past couple of years.”
Not long after Schachner started, Shook saw her play, thought they would make a good on-court pair and the two quickly became a mixed doubles machine.
“I feel I always know what he’s going to do and where to go,” Schachner said. “He moves around a lot and is pretty aggressive. If he jumps in front, I move behind him to fill in. We have worked on it quite a bit, last winter started drilling more, working on strategies for us as a team. … We’re both pretty quick. Even if we’re scrambling on defense, we’re confident we can get back into the point. It’s fun to play that way, to get back up there and win a point. We have similar styles, but he’s more aggressive. I have to be the more patient one.”
Shook has no idea how many times they’ve won because he doesn’t keep the medals they receive (“We’ve won a decent number,” he said), but in October, he and Schachner won the highest level mixed doubles event at the Gherkinball pickleball tournament (the game ultimately doesn’t take itself too seriously) at Innsbrook, the latest in a growing list of wins and strong finishes for the duo.
“I like the strategy, I like the aspect of exercise, I like the social aspect too,” Shook said. “I’ve met a lot of friends through it, people I talk to on a consistent basis, of all different ages. You don’t see that in other sports.”
And that’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Mental & Emotional Training for Tennis applied to Pickleball
Dr. Peter Scales's new book titled "Mental & Emotional Training for Tennis" was the subject of a recent presentation by Dr. Scales himself and Mike Chapin, IPTPA Professional Pickleball Instructor at the Ballwin Pointe Community Center for 85 pickleball enthusiasts. "Coach Pete's" fundamentals of Compete-Learn-Honor for tennis players was transcribed for pickleball players by Mike in the following videos. If you are interested in purchasing Coach Pete's great book here are a few links to do so! It's a must read!
See the full video of Coach Pete's talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoWwoUNtp9M
See the full video of Mike Chapin's talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHN5SZHdSgU
Pickleball Lessons by Mike Chapin
Dear St. Louis Pickleball Friends,
I am excited to offer my services to help improve your pickleball play! Whether you are just starting out and want to learn proper skills/techniques to get you playing and enjoying the game quickly, or you are an intermediate player and want to take your game to the next skill level, or you are an advanced player that wants to fine tune your skills and develop strategies and shot development that will help you succeed in tournaments. I am happy to help with it all!
As a student of the game, advanced tournament player, and someone who is passionate about helping others, I have been teaching and instructing pickleball for over 2 years now. Earlier this year I became certified as a professional pickleball instructor by the International Professional Teaching Pickleball Association (IPTPA). I am fully accredited and insured. I have worked with 400+ players including several large group clinics and demonstrations therefore I believe my skills and experience in teaching will help start you playing better pickleball right away!
My outdoor rates are $60/hr private/individual lesson. $30/hr semi-private (2 people), and $20/hr group (3+ people). I will be conducting the lessons outdoors at Tilles Park in South St. Louis City. Please note there are two Tilles Parks in St. Louis... this one is the city park that is located off of Hampton Ave. 2-3 miles south of I-64/40 or I-44. My indoor rates are $5-10/hr more to cover court rental fees. I host them mostly at Sunset Tennis Center (10911 Gravois Industrial Court). Directions are located on my StLouisPickleball.com website under "Places to Play" tab and scrolling down to see the top locations. Since they are outdoors, we do have to watch the weather, plus consider there are lots of regular play on the courts in the evening hours.
Feel free to contact me with any questions/comments. Otherwise, feel free to sign up for some time slot(s) and I will look forward to seeing you soon. Once you sign-up I will confirm with you on the date/time and look forward to seeing you on the court.
Click on Link HERE to go to sign-up page:
Please note times/dates could change. I reserve the right to add or delete times as needed with proper communications to customers. I will be adding more times in the future.
Thank you and I am looking forward to working with you. Contact me with any questions.
IPTPA Level II Certified Pickleball Teaching Professional
Pickleball Teaching Pro @ Bellerive Country Club, Sunset Tennis Center, Tilles & Cardondelet Parks
Pro-Lite Paddle Distributor
St. Louis Pickleball Camp for Kids
In early June, Mike Chapin lead a great pickleball camp for kids at Tilles Park Pickleball Courts in South St. Louis City. This is the 4th year for the free pickleball camps which is promoted through the St. Louis Parks & Recreation Department and Playtime Recreation. A BIG Thanks goes to all the great support and help from our volunteers that helped throughout the camp including John Hertlein, Gary Stocker, Sloan Coleman, Nancy Zvolanek, Jane Relich, Barb Klein-Dressler, Chuck Watson and our terrific photographer Dave Tedoni. We had 18 great campers this year all between the ages of 10-16. Check out some of the photos below in the gallery. There is also a link to all the pictures from the week... We are already looking forward to next year's camp!
St. Louis Rockin Round Robin at Tower Grove Park
The Second Annual Pickleball Rockin Round Robin was held at Dwight Davis this summer. Sloan Coleman, John Callahan and slew of St. Louis Pickleball volunteers hosted a terrific event for 120+ players. It was a rockin great time for everyone that participated. A special THANKS goes to Dave Tedoni who did a great job capturing many of the images and videos of the special evening. Great job everyone and St. Louis Pickleballers for coming out and supporting this great charity event!
St. Louis Pickleball on the Radio and in the Media!
Audio Clip 1
Audio Clip 2
On Friday, July 20th Debbie Monterray, a Tower Grove resident and KMOX Anchor/Reporter did two stories on St. Louis Pickleball and the beautiful courts at Tower Grove Park Tennis & Pickleball Center. Click on both of the Audio buttons to listen to these two minute audio clips and hear great stories from many of the St. Louis Pickleball players.
Also, read the recent STLMag.com cool article published on Places to Play Pickleball in St. Louis! Great to see people are starting to take notice of all the growth and fun of this sport in the St. Louis area!
St. Louis Pickleball to offer great new St. Louis Pickleball Performance Wear
St.Louis Pickleball Google Group
Our Google Group is "St.Louis Pickleball" and can be found here:
To request an invitation to join St.Louis Pickleball Group on Google send an email here:
Please note that we have over 800 email users in our group and we welcome many more St. Louis Area Pickleballers to join. To do so, please have them send their name and email address to one of the administrators (listed below).
With this system we can do the following:
* set up files with links for videos of matches or playing tips
* send out surveys about upcoming events
* store and display documents such as the information from training clinics
* ask if anyone will be playing at a given location and/or time
* receive updates for places to play and tournament information quickly
You will have control over how you would like to receive the emails. If you only want 1 per day, the system will send one in the evening listing all of the messages connected to the system that day. You then open only the ones you are interested in reading. You can also receive all as they are sent out. You make your choice within the filters of the system. Please read the information and make your selections! When you respond to an email, you may choose to respond only to the sender or the entire group. Please remember that this is only for pickleball related information. It is not to be used to share the latest cute cat video or political news!
If you have any questions, please email administrators Julie Goldberg, or Mike Chapin, email@example.com.
Welcome to Pickleball Magazine!
Pickleball Magazine is the official publication for USA Pickleball Association and is the world’s only publication for the sport of pickleball. Each issue of Pickleball Magazine offers readers the opportunity to learn more about the sport and the people involved with it. Beginning January 2016, all USAPA members who join the association will receive FREE electronic editions of Pickleball Magazinedelivered to their email inboxes! Members will be able to read these on any computer, phone or tablet. Current USAPA members can also receive a mailed subscription of Pickleball Magazine (6 issues) for just $12 per year — that’s 40% off the non-member rate!
Each issue of Pickleball Magazine includes:
* Instructional Content
* Tournament Schedules and Results
* Facility of the Month
* Player Profiles
* Rules Q and A and much more!
To maintain monthly correspondence, USAPA members can expect to receive an e-newsletter during the 6 months not covered by Pickleball Magazine.
Mailed subscriptions to Pickleball Magazine are now being accepted.
To order your subscription by phone or online CLICK HERE!
If you would like to receive e-versions of Pickleball Magazine for FREE and save 40% OFF the cover price,
Click Here to Join USAPA Today!
St. Louis Pickleball Logo
Established April 2015
St. Louis Pickleball is proud to reveal a new logo incorporating the Gateway Arch into a pickleball net with the paddle and ball flying over the top of the arch. We recently were able to print mens and ladies performance t-shirts with our new logo that we now selling for $20 each. Car Stickers are now available for $3/each. We look forward to printing the logo on other various clothing and accessories so that you can be proud that you are a St. Louis Pickleball player. Then we can also show that St. Louis Pickleball is "on the map" and our St. Louis pride when we travel to surrounding area tournaments.