2021 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

Pickleball Rocks Players Of The Year: Zane Navratil and the Certified Referees

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 amazing people such as Riley and Lindsey Newman, Stephanie Lane, Ben Johns, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters, Enrique Ruiz, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg, Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, Daniel Moore and Scott Moore, Aspen Kern, Simone Jardim, Dick Johnson and more.
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 first player hit us from both angles. Not only has hard work and
perseverance paid off big time in his game, his impact on the actual
game itself is undeniable.

Many of us even named a shot after him. The “Zanesaw” serve has been
tried by legions of pickleball players, some as young as our 9 year old
grandson all the way to some of the top names in the sport of
pickleball. Though the two handed spin serve has now been eliminated
from the official rules, Zane’s creativeness and ability to push the
boundaries brought many great, meaningful conversations to our sport in
2021. These conversations are important because they help people
recognize how fast the sport is growing and understand how decisions made now will
impact the way pickleball looks in the future. So whether you like the
chainsaw serve or not, Zane created a point in time that will help shape
the future of pickleball.

But beyond the zany serves, Zane embodies everything we look for in our
Pickleball Rocks Players of the Year.
Of course he is one of the top professional players in both singles and
doubles. Just check the brackets in any tournament he enters and his
name is always around the top. But also the demand for Zane the coach
is second to none. We received almost as many votes for Zane because of
his clinics and lessons as we did for his playing ability. People just
love learning from Zane.  If there are still any doubts about his 2021 credentials, just check out this graphic below.
And yes, it did not hurt that he puts family (Jenny) ahead of winning a National Championship.  A man of character too.

So we are proud to name Zane Navratil our 2021 Pickleball Rocks Player
of the Year.

Yes it has been an unusual year and having an unusual selection for our next Player of the Year just makes sense right now. We believe a lot of players, especially new ones entering the sport likely don’t understand the importance of this choice.

In 2016 the USAPA had the vision to create the national certified referee certification program. Two people, Lynn and Lynda Laymon, were tasked with creating the guidelines and steps that a person would go through to be awarded the title of Certified Referee. Those original steps and tasks were daunting to say the least. Many people who wanted to become a certified referee could not make it through the gauntlet. But thankfully there were individuals out there who had the desire,
perseverance and even the willingness to fail, who made it through the program and became the seed group that created this great national organization of today. Today the certified referee program is headed up by Mark Peifer and the program is growing like wild.

Yes it it still the toughest certification of any kind to obtain in the sport of pickleball. But the Certified Referees bring that much needed element of professionalism that will see our sport continue to grow and be admired by players and non-players alike in the future. It is a first class organization of individuals who are dedicated and extremely good at officiating a pickleball match.  We have been long time supporters of referees at all levels and believe they are a key to any good tournament.  We are certainly thankful this organization exists and are proud to recognize all the Certified Referees as our
Pickleball Rocks Players of the Year.

Scott Lennan Joins The Pickleball Rocks Team

Scott Lennan Sponsored By Pickleball Rocks and Gearbox –

Scott Lennan

We are so pleased to announce our newest Pickleball Rocks brand sponsored player.

While traveling the country we search for players who exemplify our mantra to “Help Pickleball Grow”. They must be a player who reaches out to help others while exhibiting the utmost integrity on and off the courts. We feel we have found the perfect match for us.

As a member of the Pickleball Rocks team Scott will travel from community to community and tournament to tournament, spreading the good word about pickleball.

We are truly excited and proud to have him wearing and promoting the Pickleball Rocks apparel brand.

We are equally excited for Scott as this sponsorship also provides him with an exclusive paddle sponsorship from our branding partners at Gearbox Sports. Watch for Scott as he uses the new technology GX5 and GX6 paddles.  Hit him up for a demo.  I’m sure he will be happy to help.

So help us welcome Scott Lennan to the Pickleball Rocks team

Though we’re sure we’ve missed some, here is a good list of Scott’s tournament medal accomplishments.

2021 Minto US Open – Mixed Doubles 60+ with Moira Roush – Gold*

2020 Fall Brawl – Senior Men’s PRO with Joe Frasca – Bronze

2019 USA Pickleball National Championships – Men’s Doubles Skill/Age 5.0: 55+ with Steve Cole – Gold*

2019 Grand Rapids Beer City Open – Senior Mixed PRO with Deb Mascarin – Gold*

2019 Grand Rapids Beer City Open – Senior Men’s PRO with Scott Moore – Gold*

2019 Minto US Open – Mixed Doubles 60+ with Cherie Chao – Silver*

2018 USA Pickleball National Championships – Men’s Doubles 5.0: 55+ with Steve Cole – Gold*

2018 Pickleball Zone Bend Pacific Northwest Regional – Senior PRO Mixed Doubles with Susan Baze – Bronze

2018 Pickleball Zone Bend Pacific Northwest Regional – Senior PRO Men’s Doubles with Steve Cole – Silver

2018 Brigham City Memorial – Senior PRO Mixed Doubles with Stephanie Lane – Gold

2018 Brigham City Memorial – Senior PRO Men’s Doubles with Steve Cole – Silver

2018 Minto US Open – Men’s Doubles 55+ with Steve Cole – Bronze*

2017 Pickleball Zone Bend Pacific Northwest Regional – Senior PRO Men’s Doubles with Jim Hackenberg – Silver

2017 Pickleball Zone Bend Pacific Northwest Regional – Senior PRO Mixed Doubles with Roxanne Pierce – Bronze

2016 USAPA Nationals VIII – Men’s Doubles 55+ with Jim Hackenberg – Gold*

2016 USAPA Nationals VIII – Mixed Doubles 55+ with Roxanne Pierce – Gold*

2016 SoCal Summer Classic – Senior Open Men’s Doubles with Dan Gabanek – Gold*

2015 USAPA Nationals VII – Men’s Doubles 55+ with Jim Hackenberg- Gold*

2015 USAPA Nationals VII – Mixed Doubles 55+ with Roxanne Pierce – Silver*

2015 SoCal Summer Classic – Men’s Doubles 50+ with Scott Moore – Gold*

2014 USAPA Nationals VI – Men’s Doubles 35+ with Tony Tollenaar – Bronze*

2014 USAPA Nationals VI  -Mixed Doubles 55+ with Roxanne Pierce – Gold*

2014 USAPA Nationals VI – Senior Open Men’s Doubles with David Redding – Silver*

2013 USAPA Nationals V – Men’s Doubles 50+ with Jim Hackenberg – Gold*

2013 USAPA Nationals V – Mixed Doubles 50+ with Roxanne Pierce – Gold

Pickleball Rocks Player of the Month: John Browning

Sometimes, we hear about a player or champion of the sport over and over and over again. And since our mission is to help pickleball grow, this choice for Player of the Month was an easy one.

This player has grown his reputation, not just through playing pickleball, but for his incredible love and passion for it.

As the story goes, John took his own basketball court and converted it to a pickleball court so he could start teaching friends and neighbors this great game. He has taught many, many people from Fowler, and Fresno, California, including
many high school groups.  And because of his giving and giving and giving to grow pickleball there, the town of Fowler has even built two courts and dedicated them to John.

His pickleball passion and energy is just boundless.

So please help us congratulate our Pickleball Rocks Player of the Month, John Browning.

2020 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

The Pickleball Rocks Players of the Year: Team Newman and Stephanie Lane

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 amazing people such as Ben Johns, Team Waters, Enrique Ruiz, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg, Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, Daniel Moore and Scott Moore, Aspen Kern, Simone Jardim, Dick Johnson and more.
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.

We believe everyone will agree, 2020 was a crazy year for our wonderful sport.  Many tournaments were cancelled. Public pickleball courts were closed and padlocked.  A challenging year indeed.  But in spite of it all, players still creatively found ways to safely and effectively play, and new players found pickleball in record numbers.

This year we are recognizing a team and an individual who throughout the year brought joy to those around them both on and off the courts.  Are they great players?  Yes indeed. But a lot of great players received votes throughout the year.

This year’s Player Of The Year recipients stood out for those “extra” things that make the sport of pickleball so special.  

Our first award winner burst on the pickleball scene only three years ago. But this brother and sister duo have quickly captured the hearts of people nationwide. Their mixed doubles style of teamwork is fun to watch, and has put them on the medal stands in virtually every tournament they’ve entered. 

Both Lindsey and Riley have quickly become famous for their two handed strokes, both for drives and dinks and even blocking. We see this style is now being tried by even some of the top pros as an effective way to control the ball during a point.

The final point that really put Team Newman on our medal stand was the fact that in 2020, we saw them playing, not only on the biggest pickleball stages, but in all parts of the country and all sizes of tournaments.  They are always great examples of fantastic teamwork, but more importantly, class and good sportsmanship. This support for our great sport during a truly trying year, meant a lot in our book as well as the many people who sent in their votes and feedback.

 

So our team wants to personally thank Riley and Lindsey Newman for being beacons for pickleball.

Help us congratulate them as 2020 Pickleball Rocks Players Of The Year.

Our next 2020 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year was a no-brainer this year.  People have been sending in votes for her for years and we too have always loved Stephanie Lane.  This was the year that set Stephanie above all our other nominees.

Everyone knows that Stephanie has been playing and growing pickleball for years and has been on the medal stands with some of the biggest names in the sport.  But what put her over the top in 2020 was her relentless pursuit of doing good for pickleball.

Throughout 2020, Stephanie donned her mask and journeyed to courts everywhere to teach her famous clinics to help those brand new players get started right.  Everyone who takes her clinics are amazed at how quickly they are able to play and compete themselves.

But on top of that, Stephanie is also one of the top trainers for the IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professionals Association) and 2020 was a banner year for her.  Her quest is to teach people how to teach pickleball in such a way that everyone receives good, consistent training.  So this year she taught multiple sessions where she taught pickleball players and tennis teaching pros alike, how to teach this great sport.  So watch for a lot of new players coming into the game who know how to dink, drop, drive and yes lob.

Her birthday shout outs on Facebook are legendary and just the icing on the cake for her to win our 2020 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year award.  Please help us congratulate this great player and friend to everyone, Stephanie Lane.

 

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.