It was surprising to see a top-ranked player making time to play pickleball with players of all levels. There are ample whirlwind disussions on Facebook about pickleball players who are choosy about who they will play with. And yes, we can all agree that top-notch players have earned the right to play with like players of similar caliber, However, in the dynamic pickleball world, skill levels, friendships, competitiveness and kindness are sometimes pitted against each other. Less skilled players sometimes feel dejected or indignant in trying to get in games with better players. At our local courts, I continued to see a pickleball player, who also happens to be a national champion, playing games with everyone. I knew I had to interview him; happily, he agreed!
So, who is Gregg Whitfield? First some background. Gregg Whitfield was introduced to pickleball in 2016; he quickly became addicted to our favorite sport and developed his game to become a 5.0 player. Check out a list of pickleball accomplishments below. Gregg's background is in tennis. He graduated from college with a degree in physical education and became teaching tennis professional for 10 years at a So. Cal. Club. He loves living in Cambria, a coastal small town in central California where he plays pickleball, and also enjoys fishing, surfing, hunting, snorkeling, and shelling.
2019 U S Open: Silver in Men’s 60+ Doubles with Joe Nguyen Gold in Mixed 65+ with Hilary Marold, Bronze in 65+ Singles 2018 U S Open 65+ Mixed 5.0 Gold with Carolyn Bagley Silver Men’s Doubles Skill 60+ with Steve Paranto 2018 US OPEN, Steve Paranto and Gregg Whitfield – Silver 2018 Pasadena Senior Games Gold in Men’s Doubles, Silver in Mixed, Gold in Singles 2018 So Cal Classic Gold in 60+ Men’s Doubles 2018 West Regionals Gold in Men’s Doubles 60+, Gold in Mixed 60+, Gold in Singles 60+ 2018 Huntsman Senior Games: Gold in Men’s 65+, Gold in Mixed 65+, Gold in Singles 65+ 2018 USAPA Nationals Bronze in Mixed 65+ 2018 Southwest Regionals Gold in Men’s Doubles 65+, Gold in Mixed 65+, Silver in Singles 65+ 2018 Grand Canyon State Games Gold in Men’s Doubles 60+ 2016 Nationals 55+ 5.0 Mixed Bronze with Kathy Pederson
1. Here's what I have to know. Understandably, high ranked players mostly to play with those of the same caliber. And yet, I have seen you frequently out on the courts playing with players of all abilities. Why do you do this?
I enjoy playing to promote pickleball as I believe it to be the best lifetime sport and recreational activity for exercise and health. I just want to help others get better which will enhance the lives of themselves and others. 2. When you play with "lesser" players, is there something you do which helps improve your own game?
As in real estate, it is location, location, location. I slow the ball down and work on the ball control to place my shots so it keeps the ball in play and also reduces the chance of the opponent putting the ball away. 3. You're an amazing athlete. What's one thing you're still working on to improve in pickleball?
Shot selection, which is what shot you decide to hit. Whether playing against better players or weaker players, the first decision is whether you attempt to win the point or extend the rally. Are you going to hit an offensive or defensive shot? In some sports, like golf, you have more time to think about it. In pickleball, you have to make decisions very quickly. I often ask myself, why did you try that shot? Overall, you should try shots that you have a higher percentage of hitting accurately. 4. Most of our readers know nothing about the Shangrila otherwise known as Cambria, CA. Do you want to let out the secret about your slice of paradise?
Cambria has 6 of the most beautiful courts in the world. Combine that with the cooler weather, I don't understand why other players from the hotter areas don't drive 30 minutes to play in Cambria. There are always open courts Monday to Saturday because Cambria does not have a large group of active players and even more so during covid.
5. With all of your knowledge from coaching and playing, would you consider adding some articles to this blog? I know picklers would appreciate your specific input.
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