Denise has a lot of enthusiasm for competition! She was a Golf Pro, and is now a Pickleball Pro! Thanks, Denise, for sharing some of your story.
Can you list for us some of your accomplishments?
2014 USAPA Nationals Gold Women’s Doubles 55+, with Alison Fulton
2013 Atlantic South Regionals, Silver, 5.0 Mixed Doubles with Kyle Yates
2010 Huntsman World Senior Games, Gold, Women’s Doubles 3.5 with Char Schulte
What paddle do you play with and why?
I like the Performance POP graphite 5.0 paddle made by Brian Jensen.
What’s your Pickleball story? How were you introduced to Pickleball?
I moved to the Villages and started playing in 2007. I often traveled to New York for work and so I played at the Villages only in the winter. I thought it was just a sport for old people. Since 2010, I play full time in The Villages, and play with Lydia Willis every day. This is the first year that I have entered in the over-50 Masters to compete for money.
What is your preference - playing indoors or outdoors?
I like both indoors and outdoors. Playing outdoors, you get accustomed to wind and sun as factors in playing the game. Indoors, I like the challenge of adapting to a different ball, different playing conditions. I can also use a different paddle indoors. I have to move faster indoors and I don’t have to deal with the wind.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I like doubles better, mostly because I have back issues, and like the ease of play.
What are your favorite places to play? Why?
I have to say that I love to play in The Villages, Florida. There are about 4,000 pickleball players in a community of over 110,000 people. and The Villages has the largest pickleball group of folks over 55 years old. I also like the Hunstsman World Senior Games, in St. George, Utah. It is just as good at Nationals. I like it for a vacation.
What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?
Stay healthy. Keep some consistency in practice. Do a lot of drilling, and work on limiting unforced errors. Stick with shots you are good with. In the game, keep the ball in play. Minimize angle shots. Cross court, minimize the angle to opposite player to get back easily on the defensive. Always be patient and wait for a good ball to put away. When you get into your level of play, patience is key.
What is your day job?
I am a retired Navy nurse. I retired 15 years ago. I was a PGA Professional from 1989. I retired from being a golf pro in 2010.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make the time to play?
I play 5 days a week, 2 hours a day. I also help teach drill classes. I am limited in the hours I can play because my body doesn’t always cooperate. I am fortunate in that I’m coordinated and I work hard at it.
Do you have any Pickleball goals that you would like to share? I want to stay healthy so that I can play at 70+. I want to be consistent, be smarter and I always hope to keep learning, about myself and about the game.
Something I have observed is that guys do a lot of dinking in the doubles game. It seems to me that women get stuck in the game adapted from tennis, where you take a couple of hits and then bang it. I think more women need to learn the tricks of the soft game, so we can be better partners in mixed doubles. I tell a lot of folks to just keep playing, working on what’s going on inside. Work on playing smarter. I do watch the YouTube videos of tournament matches. I love how the short game of golf is similar to the game of pickleball. It has been easy to transition from teaching golf to teaching pickleball. I also love the 'giving' nature of the pickleball community.
Thanks again, Denise, for being a pickleball 'Shining Star'!