2019 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, Kyle Yates, Aspen Kern and Simone Jardim as well as Lucy Kovalova and the fabulous Dick Johnson.
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 are recognizing a team and an individual as Pickleball Rocks Player(s) of the Year. 

As everyone knows, this was a changing year for pickleball. 15-20 tournaments now occurring every week and we cleared 3 million players in the continued player growth explosion.  So you would think it would be tougher and tougher to choose the Players Of The Year, but this year it was quite the opposite.  The voting and responses were so overwhelming for these two selections that this was the easiest choices we’ve ever made.

Our first award winner this year exemplifies all the good things that have helped pickleball become such a fun and growing sport. This team has a 12 year old who has not only caught the competitive attention of players at every level, but also endeared herself to everyone with her great attitude and example on and off the courts. Her hashtag #EatswithAL is quickly becoming legendary and she has also helped everyone easily understand how to move up the ratings ladder.  She simply started out the year at the 4.5 level and, with her mom as her partner, proceeded to beat such iconic pickleball teams as Kovalova/Tereschinko and Jardim/Carr and Parenteau/Irvine.  The UTPR computer took notice and elevated her rating in a hurry.  Nine times this year her ladies partner happened to be her mom and from all the responses we received, the pickleball world is in love with this partnership.  People loved watching the obvious positive connection and the way they worked perfectly together to win tournament after tournament, including the world’s biggest pickleball stage, the USA Nationals at Indian Wells. Besides all the people who cast their votes for Team Waters, what caught our attention, was the wonderful mother/daughter and family connection that was present every time we personally saw them on the tournament trail.  The perfect example for future family pickleball teams.

This pair entered 9 Open Women Doubles events, playing against the strongest women’s teams in the world
and came home with 9 medals:         4 Golds, 4 Silvers and 1 Bronze.

We want to personally thank Leigh and Anna Leigh for helping us all grow pickleball in the most positive ways.

Congratulations to 2019 Player of the Year: Team Waters: Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters

TEAM WATERS:  Anna Leigh and Leigh Waters

The 2019 Men’s Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year was another no-brainer.  The people who voted at www.NominateAPlayer.com simply overwhelmed the process with one name.  Ben Johns!

It is hard to believe Ben is only 20 years old because it seems like he has been around our great sport a long time.  But believe it or not, he is just hitting his stride.

Throughout the year we always poll Pickleball Nation to see the opinions of the people who play the game.
When we asked “What Pro Player Do You Admire Most?”, the answer came up Ben Johns.
When we asked “What Pro Player Would You Like To Be?”, the answer came back Ben Johns.
When we asked “What Pro Player Gives Referees and Line Judges the Least Amount of Trouble?”, Ok, we didn’t ask that one, but Ben’s demeanor and attitude on and off the court would surely place him at or near the top of that list too.

Players across the country and the world love the way he plays the game and made it clear there was no close number two this year.

Ben’s playing statistics for 2019 were simply amazing:

In 8 Pro Singles Events, only one player was able to beat him (Tyson McGuffin – twice), so Ben came away with 6 titles, including the coveted USA Nationals Gold Medal at Indian Wells.

But as dominant as Ben was in singles in 2019, his domination in men’s doubles was almost unbelievable.
16 Pro Level Mens Doubles Events:  13 Gold Medals.  WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

So we want to thank Ben for being such a great example of what a great pickleball player should be and congratulate him on being overwhelmingly selected as the 2019 Pickleball Rocks Player Of The Year!  You Rock Ben Johns!

Ben Johns

2018 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, Kyle Yates, Aspen Kern and Simone Jardim.
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 are recognizing two fantastic players as Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year. 

First up is this year’s Triple Crown winner on the world’s biggest pickleball stage, the USAPA National Championships at Indian Wells. With ESPN covering the action and thousands of people watching throughout the week, Lucy navigated through all three super tough Open brackets, singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.  That is a rare feat indeed.
Lucy Kovalova had a great 2017 on the courts, but in 2018 she took it up another notch.
Lucy only played in 5 tournaments in 2018.  But in those 5 tournaments, she entered 12 Open Pro events.

In those 12 Open events, playing against the strongest players in the world,
she came home with 12 medals.        7 Golds, 4 Silvers and 1 Bronze.

Truly a year that most of us only dream about.   People certainly did notice as Lucy was our overwhelming vote winner at NominateAPlayer.com.

Congratulations to 2018 Player of the Year: Lucy Kovalova

Our 2018 Men’s Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year is a gentleman who inspires players everywhere he goes.
In the five years that he has been playing pickleball, he has amassed over 200 medals, winning golds at major tournaments like the Huntsman World Games, the Nationals Senior Games, US Open and the USAPA Nationals.

At age 78, Dick Johnson has been winning and inspiring athletes for years.  But not only is Dick an exceptional pickleball player, he has devoted a big part of his life to making the world a better place. 

He has been recognized at the State Games of America Athlete of the Year and this year the National Senior Games of America recognized Dick with their prestigious Personal Best Award.

The National Senior Games of America recently released an excellent article detailing all the reasons why Dick Johnson is so deserving of our 2018 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year.  Congratulations Dick!  Keep up the great work(s).

PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE NSGA ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE.

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