Meet the Pickleball Pros - Wes Gabrielsen

by pickleballfun on Oct 2, 2014

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Wesley Gabrielsen is a pickleball pro from McMinnville, Oregon. Wes, as he’s more commonly called, has found what works for him, and it’s paying off! From the paddle he plays with to his pre-game breakfast, Wes knows exactly what will make him successful.

Pickleball Champion Wes Gabrielsen at the net with a Magnum Graphite Stealth pickleball paddle

PBC: Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

  • WG: 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Men’s Doubles
  • 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Mixed Doubles
  • 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Men’s Singles
  • 2013 Nationals Silver Medal Open Men’s Singles
  • 2014 So Cal Classic Gold Medal Men’s Open Doubles
  • 2014 So Cal Classic Gold Medal Mixed Open Doubles

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

WG: I play with Pro-Lite’s Magnum Graphite Stealth. It was the first non-wooden paddle I ever used, and I love the weight, overall feel and touch it provides me. I’m more of a touch player rather than a power player so it fits my style of play well.

Magnum Graphite Stealth pickleball paddle purple with yellow burst

PBC: What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

WG: I played pickleball in high school P.E. classes but back then I played “boom-ball.” It was a great cross-training activity for my tennis game. I also audited a pickleball class back in college, but was first introduced to competitive, dinking-based pickleball by my current mixed doubles partner Christine Barksdale (former mixed doubles partner in tennis). We played on a USTA Mixed Doubles Team together in 2010 and by January of 2011 she got me back into pickleball and I have been hooked ever since!

PBC: What’s your preference -- playing indoor or outdoor?

WG: I prefer playing outdoors as it is more like tennis for me. I feel that I can shape and spin the ball more effectively outdoors and look for any chance I have to play outdoors rain or shine. Living in the northwest, however, we play indoors from October-April and I do enjoy playing inside as well.

PBC: Do you like singles or double better? Why?

WG: For the longest time I preferred singles much more than any other event. It was more like tennis for me, although you couldn’t pay me a million bucks to play singles in tennis right now! Singles in pickleball reminds me of net play in the doubles game of tennis, so I preferred it. Now, however, I would have to say mixed doubles is right up there with singles for me in terms of my favorite method of play.

PBC: What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

WG: In the northwest we are blessed with many places to play, and I prefer a few. The “Paranto Palace” (fellow player Steve Paranto’s backyard court) is one of my favorite places to play. It’s a great, relaxed setting for good play and friendship. I also enjoy playing at our community park several times a week with my pickleball workout partner Tim Gardner.

PBC: What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

WG: Preparing for each tournament. I am of the philosophy that drilling and keeping up on your skills is vital to one’s success in a tournament. Practice matches are vital to one’s success in tournament play, but drilling and skill development are what keep me fresh before tournaments. Before nationals or another big tournament, I make sure to workout 3-4 days a week by mostly conducting skill and fitness drills.

Wes Gabrielsen on the metal podium at National Pickleball Tournament holding the Oregon state flag

PBC: What’s your day job?

WG: I currently have two jobs. I am a high school history teacher at McMinnville High School (7th year of teaching overall), and am the Associate Head Coach for the Women’s Tennis Team at Linfield College.

PBC: How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

WG: During our offseason from tennis I play 4-5 days a week, for a total of 12-15 hours. During tennis season, I play one day a week for 3-4 hours.

PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

WG: My go-to breakfast the morning of a tournament: Greek Yogurt and Granola with Honey. It gives me the right energy to compete well during the days play. In terms of rituals, I just make sure to get into the proper mindset pre-match and get a good long warm up in the night before and morning of competition. Something I use to instruct the tennis players I coach (and use myself when I compete) is that I expect to win every match I play. This is a mindset of confidence, not being cocky, and allows a player to settle in and just play their game. Having this mentality allows me to focus on my shots and strategy, and nothing else.

PBC: Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

WG: I think I speak for all tournament players when I say I’d like to win every event I enter! But that’s not realistic. I always focus on playing my best one match at a time. My goals for the upcoming months are to get in good court shape before competing in nationals in November. Six events in a week is a lot of play!

Wes Gabrielsen at the net involved in a pickleball game

PBC: Do you mind sharing about your personal life? Are you single? Married? Kids?

WG: I am single and have no kids. That’s why I have all of my free time to play 8-10 tournaments during the summer!

PBC: Do you have any final words about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

WG: I honestly don’t like to categorize myself as there are so many great players across the country. My goal is to go out, compete with good sportsmanship and class during each match, and to hopefully come out on top. Pickleball is such a great sport and there are so many exceptional players out there. I hope to continue to be successful in the coming years as I continue to play this great game!

Thanks, Wes!

Click here to see videos of Wes Gabrielsen!

by Miranda