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14 Days Of Legendary

Honoring those who have made pickleball GREAT

DAY ONE:  Pat Kane
When I started playing over 12 years ago, there was only one answer to who was the best player in the game.  Everyone agreed it was Pat Kane.  In my early years I saw him play many times and it didn’t matter whether it was singles, men’s doubles or mixed doubles, I NEVER saw him lose.
Simply a legendary player.

DAY TWO:  Arlen Paranto
Can you say legend? Arlen Paranto could fill a whole chapter in the history of pickleball book. But what is important to you and what we know for sure is that pickleball paddles would not be what they are today with the his creativity. In 1984 Arlen, a Boeing Industrial Engineer, put together fiberglass and a Nomex Honeycomb and created the very first composite paddle.  Yes, Arlen moved us away from wooden paddles.
Simply a legendary man..

DAY THREE:  Fran Myer
Fran is another legend that helped form pickleball as you know it today.  Fran was on the very first board of directors for USA Pickleball, then known as the USAPA. In 1999 Fran along with her husband Barney launched the very first pickleball website, called Pickleball Stuff.  It offered information as well as products, though you couldn’t pay for the product online with a credit card at that time.
 So Fran Myer has helped shape the sport of pickleball from the business side, the administrative side and the player side. Thank you Fran for all you have done and continue to do.

DAY FOUR:  Billy Jacobsen
Many years ago I attended my first Nationals tournament in Buckeye, Arizona.  And one of the very first high level players I saw was a guy who simply looked like a professional athlete. When I met Billy, he instantly impressed me as a kind, generous soul, but on the court he was amazing. So much fun to watch.  During his hey day, he was almost unbeatable.
3x USAPA Nationals: National Champion
4x USAPA Nationals: Silver medalist
2x USAPA Nationals: Bronze Medalist
Billy was a dominant open player for two decades. And to add to his legendary status, Billy Jacobsen is the only player to have ever won national level tournaments in singles and doubles playing entirely left handed during one tournament and then entirely right handed during another. Quite simply, everyone who saw or met him loved Billy, and still do today.  Billy was one of the very first inductees into the Pickleball Hall of Fame.  A Legend.

DAY FIVE:  Mark “Yoda” Friedenberg

Some say Mark Friedenberg invented pickleball.  That is not true, but Mark has done so much to shape pickleball that it would seem he created it.  Mark was the first president of the USA Pickleball Association as well as the first Ratings and Rankings director. (No do not blame him for the current rating system). Mark has won more gold medals than can be counted at the National and Regional levels. 8x USAPA National Champion
4x USAPA Nationals Silver medalist
6x USAPA Nationals Bonze medalist
For many years Mark owned Pro-lite Sports and made it one of the major paddle companies. He also authored The Official Pickleball Handbook which has exposed an entire new wave of players to pickleball. But the one thing that truly makes Mark legendary is his penchant for teaching.  Though we cannot track the actual numbers, we believe he may be the all time leader in lessons given.  Truly a giver and a well known legend.

Mark Friedenberg

DAY SIX:  Robert Lanius

This will be a new one for most newer players.   But if you have ever been to a tournament that ran smoothly because the tournament director chose to use the PickleballTournaments software, then you have long time pickleball player Robert Lanius to thank.  Robert and his wonderful wife Jettye worked tirelessly as tournament directors for years.  And as Bob recognized the various challenges encountered during the tournaments, he designed and coded the software that eliminated the problems and essentially has made it possible to have tournaments with large numbers of players  If not for computer software, it would be almost impossible to smoothly run a tournament over a few hundred players. Today that software is known as PickleballTournaments.com.  Thank you Robert Lanius.  You are a true legend of pickleball.

Mark Friedenberg

DAY SEVEN:  Earl Hill

Earl is a familiar name to anyone who has been around pickleball for awhile. He was on the very first board of directors for the new USAPA. But what many people may not know is that pickleball is now growing at an exponential rate because of Earl’s tireless work and his creation of the USAPA Ambassador program.  It is because of Earl that today there are over 1600 passionate ambassadors growing pickleball in every nook and cranny of the US. Thanks to Earl Hill.  A legend.

Mark Friedenberg

DAY EIGHT:  Enrique Ruiz

When you meet Enrique the first time, you will never forget him and everyone loves him. He reaches out to players everywhere with a helping hand and words of encouragement.  He is a true gentleman on and off the court. Enrique was one of the first true ambidextrous players on the tournament scene.  He switches effortlessly from right hand to left which allows him to cover big chunks of the court with minimal movement.  So when you see him play, you just automatically want to copy is style of play, but few can.  He has won multiple national championships and is simply a special person in our sport. Yes, a legend.

Enrique Ruiz

DAY NINE:  THE TEAM – Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner

It is really hard to mention one without the other.  For years and years and years, the team of Alex and Jennifer ruled women’s pickleball at the very top level.  We don’t have a final count of how many tournaments these wonderful ladies won together, but I do know they are still stacking titles up today, and I know this:  In 2011 this duo traveled to Buckeye, Arizona and won the Womens Open Doubles title at the USAPA National tournament.  Just a side note, the entry fee for a player to enter was $30. From 2011 all the way through Nationals 2014, Jennifer and Alex did not lose a Womens Open match.  This is a streak at the top level which will likely never be beaten. Two awesome ladies on and off the court, they are truly legendary.

Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner