Pickleball Rocks at the US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 3

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday was rain, rain, rain and today was sun, sun and more sun….and some pretty stiff winds in the afternoon.

Today was my first event to play.  Mens Age Doubles 60+ with 58 (29 teams) of my closest pickleball friends. And what a day it was.  Ran off two wins in a row only to drop our third match by a 11-9, 15-13 score and drop into the dreaded survivors bracket, where in this particular tournament, the best you can do is capture a bronze medal.

Must say, I am not a fan of the newly made up format.  As a 5.0 player, we travel to 35 tournaments a year and I play 15-20 of those, and this one loss and you’re out of contention for the gold medal is not played anywhere else.  It just seems to neglect the heritage of pickleball, where about 60% of gold medal winning teams do so by navigating through the hard fought losers bracket to triumph in an exciting Gold Medal match.  It is what fans want to see and players want.  It will be interesting to see if the US Open organizers pay attention to the player’s wishes.

Anyhow, back to the day.  After dropping down, we ran off two more hard fought wins before falling to Bronze medalists and friend Charlie Einsiedler and his partner Rob Rowse.

Two things popped out bigtime in today’s matches.  When it’s warm and humid as it was today, water stations are never close enough.  Unfortunately, the US Open facility is a big, spread out venue. Between games if you needed a water refill, you had to stop your match and hit a water station.  Unfortunately, they were located at the Match Coordinators table which was a long trip from many courts.  Great for between and before matches. Would be great as the temperatures rise and the week moves on, if they come up with some additional water stations located nearer the action.  Players would certainly appreciate it, says the voice of experience today. 🙂

The second thing that I noticed as I gasped for air and tried to recover quickly between matches, was that the large misting station was never turned on.  Don’t know if it was broke or just not turned on.  But it was a tremendous idea that wasn’t used today.  Would have loved to have it between our matches.  Someone said it was because of the wind, but the morning winds were not bad at all, so I’m not sure the reason.  Hope they can make it available for the players the remainder of the week as it doesn’t sound like it’s going to get any cooler.

Did get a chance to catch Indianapolis friend Rick Witsken in action today.  Congratulations to Rick and his partner on a well deserved Gold as well as the many other medal winners of the this fun day three.

Also, had a chance to stop by the Thank You Across America truck.  What a magnificent rig, but more importantly what a great cause.  I hope everyone takes a few minutes out of this fun week and visits them.  Thank a Vet today!

So after a very long day on the courts for me and for Zack at the Pickleball Rocks booth (by the way, thank you for the huge crowd of people who stopped by the booth today. It means the world to us.), we stopped by a cool little Italian restaurant, Bruninos, and had some great lasagna, then headed to the house to do what we generally do after every day at a tournament…..work.   Most people don’t know that our work day does not end at the courts.  Here’s Zack getting his post tournament day’s work done next to his host family companion Gracie.

We usually put in another 2-3 hours filling orders, creating videos, blogging, updating  you all on social media and the many other things that go into making the Pickleball Rocks business run smoothly.

No complaints though.  Wouldn’t have it any other way, because…..You and Pickleball Rocks!!!!!

Calling it a night.


Pickleball Rocks @ The US Open Pickleball Championships: Day 2

Rain, rain, and more rain.

Today (Sunday) was singles day at the US Open.  Many of the world’s best singles player checked in early to get a crack at a US Open medal.  But today was not what the tournament directors wanted it and it certainly is not what the Florida Tourism department promised us when we come to “The Sunshine State”.  The forecast predicted a long day of hit and miss showers and the moving radar on my weather app confirmed it.

We arrived at the courts about 7:15 and quickly made a management decision to only put a few Pickleball Rocks items out for sale. If the weather cooperated, we would bring more items out of their boxes. We kept most of our inventory in the Suburban and boy are we glad we did.

As 8:00am (tournament start time) approached, the skies darkened and the rain began.

Fortunately for us, we travel to about 35 tournaments a year so we are always prepared for situations like this.
But unfortunately, some were not so fortunate.

So, we packed up and headed back to our host family for some lunch and a very, very nice nap.

Move ahead fours hours and the rain finally let up, the sunshine broke through, and a throng of volunteers went to work on the courts.  What an amazing bunch of dedicated friends of pickleball.  If you are a player who played singles today, I hope you stop and thank a volunteer sometime this week because if it weren’t for them, you’d be playing singles next Sunday or not at all.

We are literally going to thank every single volunteer with the same gift we provided for every player’s tournament swag bag.  A tournament cannot operate without volunteers.  So if you volunteered today to help get this Sunday singles day completed and in the books, please stop by the Pickleball Rocks booth anytime this week for a free $5 OFF shirt or hat coupon and a FREE Pickleball Rocks, Let’s Play car magnet.  We think you’ll love it and we want you to have it as a token of our gratitude.  You volunteers ROCK!

Next we spent some time tidying up the booth and readying for what promises to be a great day tomorrow.
Hope you’ll stop by and say hi.

Got to finish up the day hanging courtside with some of our favorite people on the pickleball planet, pickleball royalty Alex Hamner and Jennifer Lucore) and watched some amazing gold medal matches.



So it’s coming up on 10:30pm and after a long 15 1/2 hour day, I’m ready to do a little carb loading and get ready for my first day on the courts tomorrow.

Have a great week everyone,

Pickleball Rocks Ready for the US Open: Day 1

There is just seemingly no easy way to get to Naples, Florida.  Wish we could’ve just hopped on Southwest Airlines, as we do for many tournaments, and landed at the US Open with all our gear and Pickleball Rocks inventory of shirts and hats in hand.

So, as we do for most east-of-the-Mississippi tournaments, we loaded up the Pickleball Rocks mobile (our Chevy Suburban) and made the 17 hour drive to Naples. An easy drive, but still 17 hours on the road. And there was absolutely zero back up in Atlanta.  Everyone had us scared silly with the horror stories of backups on I-75. Not this time.  Sailed right through.

And really glad we’re here.  What a great looking event.

One of the first things I noticed, wasn’t what most people likely noticed.  I noticed as we approached the entrance to East Naples Park that the road was lined with large beautiful American flags.  You could tell that someone or some organization had taken great pride in welcoming people from all over the United States and many countries with a heavy dose of American pride.  I absolutely loved that greeting.  After all, this is the United States Open Pickleball Championship.  (We’ll do the International Championships in September in Spain.)

Of course the first thing you notice after you are in the park is the great addition to center court, a huge permanent dome-shaped shade structure that now protects the center court players from the hot Florida sun.

Today, was practice day and Party in the Park day.  Not all vendors were set up, but we were.  We try to be ready anytime a player might be in the area. 🙂   We worked a little on our setup and staked our tent down and did a little wind proofing since it sounds like the forecast has some substantial winds coming in the next couple of days.


Soon the crowd starting coming by.  Always great seeing Cookie Drake and Gigi LeMaster.  They have been big supporters of the Pickleball Rocks family for many years and we love them both.

Interesting to find that players were already checking inside their player swag bags and they were already showing up at our booth with their Pickleball Rocks $5 coupons and to pick up their FREE car magnets.

So if you are at the Open, make sure you use your coupon. Nothing beats FREE!

The highlight of my day though was getting some great on-court practice games.  Zack agreed to watch the PB Rocks booth while I got my practice in.  I’m entered in 2 events this week, so should be ready.  Hopefully Dave Kovanda has some big shoulders. 🙂

If you are at the Open this week, I hope you’ll stop by the booth (across from the First Aid station) and say hi.  Gonna be great seeing old friends and making new ones.

Should be a fun week.  – Rocket

Stay tuned to the Pickleball Rocks blog for updates throughout the week.
Have a great week everybody!

Beginner and Intermediate Pickleball Training Clinics Coming to Fort Wayne

Today the Pickleball Rocks Training Academy, located in SportONE Fieldhouse in Fort Wayne Indiana, announced upcoming dates for both Beginner and Intermediate pickleball training clinics.

First up will be our first Novice / Beginner Clinic on April 11th from 9-11am.

Hosted by IPTPA Certified Coaches Josh and Zack Grubbs, this 2 hour clinic is designed for the 2.5 – 3.0 level player looking to lock in the “correct” techniques and shots for a winning pickleball game.


  • Will Include:
    Proper Grip
    Serve Accuracy
    Dink Techniques
    Ground Stroke Techniques
    Beginning Pickleball Strategies

Then on April 19th from 9-11am, the Academy will host a great Intermediate Clinic designed just for 3.5-4.0 level players.

Hosted by IPTPA Certified Coaches Josh and Zack Grubbs, this 2 hour clinic is designed for the 3.5 – 4.0 level player who is ready to move their game up a level.   This clinic will concentrate on both the mental and physical aspects of having a great pickleball game.  Plan to hit a lot of balls, but with a definite purpose behind each shot.

  • Will Include:
    What separates the good from the great players.
    How to get more consistent.
    The small changes that make a BIG difference.
    Placement over Power (when and why)

The Pickleball Rocks Training and Fun Academy is located in SportONE / Parkview Fieldhouse at 3946 Ice Way in Fort Wayne, Indiana 46808