Interesting Pickleball Partners

Andrea Molberg

Pickleball is not only extremely popular, it is unique. How often do you find a sport where a former Wimbledon tennis champion can win a gold medal with a 12-year-old partner? Joanne Russell did exactly that. She partnered with the youngest 5.0 pickleball player on the planet, Jack Munro, and they took top honors in the 5.0, 19 to 49 age bracket at the 2017 Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in April. Since Joanne was 62, they were at a disadvantage with both outside the ages of that tournament bracket. Pickleball is a wonderfully multi-generational sport.

When an injury sidelined 10-year-old Jack from baseball a couple of years ago, he took up pickleball with his dad, initially playing with his other hand. He loved that it is a combination of sports he liked – ping-pong, tennis and badminton. Jack thanks community support in Simi Valley, California where he found stronger and stronger partners, for helping him meet his goals. Support is something SaddleBrooke and its pickleball association can offer our members as well.

Joanne, who in 1977 won women’s doubles at Wimbledon defeating Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova along the way, started playing pickleball in 2015. She will be in SaddleBrooke visiting friends this fall and hopefully will give us a demonstration and interview while here.

Help your kids and grandkids learn the sport and play with you! I’m already talking up the sport to “Littles,” my new grandson born during the eclipse.