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PickleBall Q&A with Rebecca Sidoti

  1. Go over the basics of Pickleball.
    USA Pickleball is the governing body for Pickleball, reviewing and setting the rules and approving paddles for play.  USA Pickleball.org have many resources available for players to access, starting with What is Pickleball, How to Play, and Official Rules.
  2. Please provide a basic tutorial on how to play pickleball and briefly describe the rules for our readers interested in picking up the sport! 
    Pickleball is a combination of ping pong, badminton, and tennis. I think of it as ping pong on steroids.  Pickleball is played starting with a serve.  Each team has 2 servers.  Each server serves until they lose their serve… except on the first serve of the game.  The team that serves first only gets 1 server bc they have the advantage of scoring first.  After the serve, both teams must let the ball bounce once on each side.  After the 2-bounce rule, any player can choose to volley the ball by hitting the ball in the air behind the kitchen line.  The kitchen line, or non-volley zone, is a 7’ buffer zone to prevent players from volleying the ball in the air while their feet are in this non-volley zone.  During play, strategically, it’s best for a team to move together quickly to the kitchen line to set up the offensive play to put the ball away.  Teams receive a point if the serving team wins the rally.  The game is played to 11 points, win by 2.
  3. When was the first time you picked up a pickleball paddle? What/who brought you there? 
    My brother taught me how to play Pickleball in 2017 when he came for a visit.  As a tennis and ping pong player, I found Pickleball easy to learn and fun to play. 
  4. What are you known for on the court?
    Subject matter expert, rules interpreter, skill level assessor, mentor, advisor, coach, instructor of strategy, shot selection, and equipment.  My 2 favorite shots players know are coming are to hit down the line and a serve with lots of special sauce (spin).
  1. Do you play singles or doubles? Who is your go-to partner? 
    My preference and teaching specialty is doubles.  When I select a partner, I look to see if our playing styles are compatible.  I prefer to use the X strategy, where 2 players are not knocking paddles in the middle.  Respecting the X, with a diagonal hit, one player covers the outside line, whereas the other player covers the middle.  Additionally, both players move up and back, side to side together, like a dance.
  2. What makes you most passionate about pickleball? 

When I came across the USAPickleball.Org website, the word “Ambassador“ captured my attention. The definition defines who I am and what I was already doing for my Pickleball community. 

Ambassadors are volunteers who are passionate and pledge to promote the sport of Pickleball in the local area that they represent. They are individuals who work with the communities, clubs, and other various recreational facilities to guide and help build pickleball programs for all to enjoy. The main prerequisite is a love of the sport and the desire to share our game with others of all ages. 

I love to share my passion and knowledge of the game with others.  For my students, I try to provide a variety of lesson drills to keep it interesting so students learn the concepts and find it easy to participate.  Because each student’s learning methodology is different, it takes a lot of analysis to determine which approach, which words, and which methods resonate the best.  For the League, I look for players that want to get better and ask for my feedback and tips.  I encourage and give them opportunities to learn, grow and advance to the next level.  My goal is to create excitement for the game, try new things, and foster a healthy Pickleball community for all levels, ages, and abilities.

  1. How long have you been playing tournaments? 
    I played in my first tournament after a full hip replacement on 3/22.  After 3 months of rehab, my hubs and I took GOLD!  Each time I participate in a tournament, I try to work on the 1 thing that held me back during the last tournament, things like endurance, hydration, blind spots, or other weaknesses.
  2. Any awards or medals? 
    I have received many medals, rewarding and memorable along the way on my pickleball journey. Recently, I played in a Ninja Warrior 3-Event Tournament, where I was partnered with a Ninja Warrior. The Ninjas compete on the obstacle course, and the team receives their score for that event.  The 2nd event was Golf, putting 18 holes, alternating strokes with your Ninja partner. The 3rd event was, of course, Pickleball. These Ninjas are stealthy, scrappy, and very agile. They may be beginners, but bc they are very athletic, they make great partners on the court. It was such a fun event, and a great time watching the Ninjas compete. My team took the GOLD medal… custom designed using a pickleball with golf Ts strung on Ninja dog tags to be hung around your neck.  

Recently, I competed in a Ninja Warrior 3-Event Tournament, where I was partnered with a Ninja Warrior. There were three events: an obstacle course, 18-hole golf, and, of course, Pickleball. These Ninjas may be beginners, but bc they are very stealthy and scrappy, and make great partners on the court. It was such a fun event, and my team took the GOLD medal!

  1. Do you play for a league? Does it accept beginners, and when & where do you meet?  

While hosting an evening of HASP Pickleball Open Play on 2 courts in the Haslet Community Park, I observed that there were about 20 paddles stacked, ready to play once the current 8 players were done with their game.  This was the most amount of players I’d seen show up for Open Play in my community.  With this much interest, I said to myself, there must be a way to get all these players to come back and play again. Thus started, the HASP Pickleball League in June 2021.  

The HASP Pickleball League is set up for players in 3 levels, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.  After 5 seasons of League Play, the HASP League has grown and evolved from 30 players during the Pilot season in 2021 to 135 players in 2023 (42 Beginners, 41 Intermediate, and 52 Advanced players.)

  1.  In what ways have you changed since discovering pickleball? 
    I used to play both tennis and pickleball, with my preference to play tennis.  Now that has shifted to where I prefer to play pickleball.

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