Meet The Pros: Clare Grabher
A relative newcomer to the pickleball pro scene, Clare is another professional tennis athlete turned pickleball fanatic. Enjoy, and keep your eye out for her next year! She is a force to be reckoned with.
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
Well, I just discovered pickleball back in January, so I haven’t played a huge amount of tournaments yet. However, I did just win the 55+ Singles - Gold in the 2016 USAPA Nationals in Casa Grande, AZ (really fun!) over the summer. I won Gold in the Atlantic Regional Women’s Singles and the Maine & NH Senior Games Women’s Singles plus Gold in Women’s Doubles (NH) & Mixed Doubles (ME).
What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. I love it because it’s relatively light and takes the spin that I like to put on the ball.
What's your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I was a British professional tennis player in the late 70s and early 80s. I won the British junior championship and played at Wimbledon. My husband and I have had an adult tennis camp in New England called the New England Tennis Holidays for 29 years. We also had a company that offered country inn/guided hiking tours (New England Hiking Holidays) in North America & Europe for the past 32 years and we just retired from that.
With retirement, I suddenly had more free time in our off-season in Vero Beach, Florida, and I was looking for an active, social sport. Someone mentioned pickleball, so I drove down to our local park and was immediately taken under the wing of our local Pickleball Ambassadors Ken Roberts & California Bill. That was mid-January this year, and I have played every day that I have been able to since!
What's your preference - playing indoor or outdoor?
Outdoor – no question.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
Singles right now as my tennis background lends itself to singles. Working very hard on the soft game, though, and love the finesse of it.
What's your favorite place to play? Why?
Pocahontas Park in Vero Beach, Florida, where I discovered the game, and up north in Maine at the Falmouth House of Pickleball (FHOP) and in Pickleball Ambassador Linda Einsiedler’s back yard!
What's your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
Mix your game up. Don't get too obsessed with one kind of shot, whether it be the dink or going for the winning shot. Keep your opponent guessing.
What's your day job?
I run our office for our New England Tennis Holidays adult tennis camp.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I play 2 -3 hours every day that I can sneak away and it doesn’t rain!
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
Breathe when feeling tight. A beer always helps in that regard too, but I probably shouldn’t say that!
Do you have any pickleball goals you'd like to share?
I really want to get better at doubles and compete for medals on a national level in women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Anything else you'd like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Pickleball is still in its infancy in many ways, compared to other professional competitive sports. I still meet people who have never heard of it. That is going to change…and, as my husband reminds me, “It’s going to hurt our tennis business!”
We hope to hear you will be giving pickleball clinics soon, Clare... there's no end in sight to the popularity of this game! Thank you for sharing some of your pickleball story with our readers.