2017 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

During the year, people throughout Pickleball Nation email us or use our NominateAPlayer.com website to tell us about their favorite players. They tell us about players who have dominated in tournament play but many times they also tell us about players who have had tremendous impacts on their communities or towns or even the game of pickleball overall.  (We really like those.)

Throughout the year we may recognize a player, club or community of the month, or we may give a simple Facebook shout out. They are all deserving.  But once a year, we pull together all the nominations and feedback, to finally determine who is most deserving to be called the Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year.     It’s certainly not an easy task.

Past winners include:
Enrique Ruiz, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg, Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, Daniel Moore and Scott Moore, and Kyle Yates.
You’ll notice all our past winners are definitely great players, but you will also immediately recognize they all are very giving of their time and talents to “help pickleball grow”, which of course is the foundation of our Pickleball Rocks mission.

This year we had two players who were nominated so many times and turned up in the news so many times, we simply had to recognize both.  Our heartfelt congratulations and thanks for all they do for pickleball.
Pickleball Rocks because of our
2017 Pickleball Players of the Year:

SIMONE JARDIM and ASPEN KERN

By a landslide, Simone was our most nominated player for 2017 and here’s why:

In 2017 Simone played in 28 total events and medaled in 28 total events, bringing home 24 Gold medals and 4 Silvers. This included an impressive 5 golds in 5 US Open events and 2 golds and a silver at our pickleball’s National Championships in Casa Grande.

Pretty much the perfect pickleball playing year.

But on top of the tremendous year on the courts, Simone also demonstrated what a great ambassador should be.  By all accounts, she is a great mom and many people saw her in action after Hurricane Irma blasted through Southwest Florida. She even took up the paddle for lady players everywhere and did them and our sport proud in the fun Battle of the Sexes event. The smaller unselfish acts are simply too numerous to mention.

Simone is a true champion in every sense of the word.

Congratulations to 2017 Pickleball Player of the Year: Simone Jardim

Once again, a guy stood out in all the nominations. Few people rivaled Aspen’s playing record in 2017. 23 events, 19 medals of which 14 were gold. He had a great year on the courts indeed, but from all the feedback received at our offices, Aspen was truly special off the courts in 2017.

Aspen touched pickleball with two great feel-good projects in 2017.

First, the sport of pickleball has needed an online home where pickleball players both young and old, good players and bad could talk and discuss pickleball issues.  It had been tried numerous times before with little to no success. But Aspen, using a great sense of humor and determination to get people involved in the discussions, launched the Facebook Pickleball Forum.  Now, with over 14,000 members, anyone can ask almost anything and have an answer or discussion almost instantly.  What a great addition to help grow our sport.


Project number 2 was another big success for the sport of pickleball.

 

Aspen threw an event, which many people do.  But this event was unique in that it was not a tournament, yet people showed up in droves.  TSAC (Third Shot’s A Charm) was held in Kansas City Missouri and was billed as a three day party where you register online, then just show up for open play.  No tournament, no pressure.  Just three days of play till you drop with players of every age, every level, on any court you want to play on.  Add in a big dose of food and fun stuff and you have TSAC. It sold out in short order and from our understanding, the 2018 event is already sold out too.  What a great way to bring pickleball players together and of course “help pickleball grow”.

We love what you are doing Aspen.  Keep up the great work.
Congratulations to our 2017 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year:  Aspen Kern

2016 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year: Kyle Yates

Throughout the year, people use NominateAPlayer.com to tell us all about their favorite players.  Many times they tell us about players they know who win lots of tournaments.  But also they tell us about people who have had tremendous impacts on their communities or towns or even the game of pickleball overall.  Additionally, as we travel across the country to tournament after tournament, we ask the question, “who is your favorite pickleball player and why?”  Again, we get many answers.

This year’s award winner was not only nominated by many people, but we got to witness first hand as he put his personal stamp on the sport of pickleball.

Kyle has been winning tournaments right and left for several years, but in 2016 people saw a side of Kyle that went beyond simply winning pickleball matches.

Yes, in Men’s Doubles, in the four largest open tournaments Kyle brought home Gold three times and Silver once. (Nationals VIII – Gold, Tournament of Champions – Gold, US Open – Gold and Grand Canyon State Games – Silver).  And yes, Kyle also garnered Silver Singles Medals at the US Open and Tournament of Champions.  Quite a year on the courts indeed.

But in 2016 we saw Kyle playing in, and committing to, exhibition matches across the country, including fundraisers for such great organizations as (coming in Feb 2017) Alex’s Lemonade Stand (one of our personal favorites), plus the Andy Roddick Foundation and more.

And several voters pointed out how great a clinician Kyle is as he teaches players how to move to that next level.

We also had the pleasure of working with Kyle on the new USAPA Juniors Program which is energizing our sport with players under the age of 18.

So as you can see, though we had many other extremely worthy nominees, the voters once again got it right.

Join us in congratulating the 2016 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year: Kyle Yates

PREVIOUS PICKLEBALL ROCKS PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:
2015 – Scott and Daniel Moore
2014 – Alex Hamner and Jennifer Lucore
2013 – Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg
2012 – Enrique Ruiz

Pickleball Rocks Player of the Month: Linda Calvano

Every month we get players nominated from all over the world and you can always tell when a nominee has really made a great impact on our sport. 

This month’s award winner lives in the community of Greenwood Indiana and has been bringing new players to the courts for years. Linda has helped start pickleball at the Community Life Center, The Baxter YMCA, the Martainsville YMCA, and The Gathering Place. She worked with Garfield Park on their pickleball program, and many others. She has also worked with the Greenwood parks Dept on lining the outdoor tennis courts for pickleball and headed up tournament to raise money to cure cancer.

According to the people we met, Linda has helped literally hundreds of people pick up a paddle for the first time, but the one consistent message we heard was that Linda is a person who reaches out and touches people in so many positive ways.

One nominator said it best when she wrote to us and said, “You will never meet a more God loving, people loving, Pickleball loving woman. Linda is where it all began for so many of us.”

Please help us congratulate our October 2016 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Month, Linda Calvano.

2015 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

Throughout the year, people use NominateAPlayer.com to tell us all about their favorite players.  Many times they tell us about players they know who win lots of tournaments.  But also they tell us about people who have had tremendous impacts on their communities or towns.  Additionally, as we travel across the country to tournament after tournament, we ask the question, “who is your favorite pickleball player?”  Again, we get many answers.

This year, there was a common theme both in the online voting and seemingly everywhere we went.  That theme was the name Moore.

Scott Moore and Daniel Moore

In a very short period of time, Scott and Daniel Moore have had an amazing impact on the sport of pickleball.

Yes we heard a lot about how great of players they both are, but many times we also got comments like, “they are such great people off the court”, and “they are always working to help pickleball in so many ways.”  Those types of comments go a long ways towards making our final POY decisions, and in this case we got plenty of great comments.

Let’s talk about how they did on the courts this year.

We found that between the two of them, they participated in 15 sanctioned tournaments in 2015.  Between the two of them, they entered 41 events and brought home 32 medals, including a whopping 25 gold medals with 6 of their golds coming from NationalsVII.   Scott Moore - Pickelball Rocks Player of the Year  And yes, Dad Scott entered 6 events at Nationals VII and medaled in all six.   They’ve simply had an amazing year!

Winning isn’t everything though, and these two were winners outside the tournament circuit too.  Scott and Daniel are seen regularly shaking hands and doing clinics for everyone from beginners to the best players players on the planet.

And speaking of the planet, they covered that too.  Daniel has been the key player to bring the country of Japan into the pickleball frenzy.  We can’t wait to play there some day soon.  Daniel Moore

So as you can see, this year’s pick was actually a pretty easy one.  Yes, we have many new and exciting players coming into the great sport of pickleball and the future is bright.   We look for these two guys to be bright beacons for us for a long, long time.

Congratulations to our 2015 Pickleball Rocks Players of the Year:  Scott and Daniel Moore

Scott and Daniel Winner Header

 

 

2014 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

Choosing the Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year is always a fun project.  But the pick is not made lightly or quickly because there are so many deserving players who impact our great sport on and off the court.   We believe this year’s choice is long overdue as we congratulate the dynamic team of Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner.

Individually Alex and Jennifer have been almost unbeatable on the courts for years, but together they form the most dominating doubles team the sport of pickleball has ever seen.

Jen and Alex Ind

Their friendship is always on display off the courts and their chemistry and synchronized movement on the pickleball court is simply unmatched today.

Jen and Alex 2

 

 

The big tournaments are truly their playground.  This year they collected a whopping 9 combined medals at the 2014 USAPA National Tournament, highlighted by winning their 4th consecutive National Open Women’s Doubles title (yes, 4 time National Doubles Champions).

Couple that with winning the last 3 Grand Canyon State Games Open Doubles Gold medals and a wealth of other big tournaments, and you have what is known in the sporting world as a dynasty.

Jen and Alex together

Couldn’t happen to two nicer ladies. Alex and Jennifer epitomize what we look for in our Player of the Year candidates.   Not only are they great players on the courts, but they are equally as good for pickleball when they are off the courts.

We are proud to call them friends and congratulate them on their many pickleball accomplishments which now includes “2014 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year”.

2013 Pickleball Player of the Year Announced

If you are a regular reader, you know we don’t always select the players with the most tournament wins.  We are always in search of those special players who in some small way, help pickleball grow.  This year’s winner embodies what a true champion of our sport looks like.  They pretty much lived every pickleball player’s dream.
Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg
We traveled the country extensively in 2013 and everywhere we went, when we’d ask about people’s favorite players, Jim and Yvonne were always mentioned. They personify what a great pickleball marriage can be.  And it seems like one was not mentioned without the other, so we thought it fitting to present this year’s award to both of them.
When not visiting their grandkids, they spent 2013 traveling the country conducting clinics and playing tournaments and reaching out to make new friends everywhere they went.
We had a lot of great candidates this year, but the thing that swayed our decision more than anything else was what happened at the 2013 National Tournament.
At this years Nationals, in every age group event they entered, they stood on the Gold medal stand at the end.  That is impressive, but that was not the determining factor.
Jim and Yvonne clinched their Player of the Year award in the Open Mixed Doubles event where they made an incredible run before losing in the Bronze medal match.  But it was not their play that stood out.  Yes,  Jim and Yvonne are tremendous players, but it was the overwhelming crowd support that we saw for them that will stick forever in our minds.  Every time Jim and Yvonne’s names were announced for a match, record crowds would move to their court to cheer them on in a show of admiration for one of our sports great couples.
There is this myth that older players (ok, over 50) cannot compete with the new young breed of fast, quick players who are popping up every day.  Jim and Yvonne proved them all wrong as they battled and beat young team after young team along the way.
Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg at 2013 Nationals
Jim and Yvonne are yet another great example of why pickleball continues to grow in popularity for all ages.
Congratulations go out to this year’s Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg.
They are true winners on and off the court.