Written by: Doc Savarese Drawing by: Peter Copen
California Gold Rush
In our culture, we often move relentlessly toward emphasis on achievement and goal orientation. With this in mind, Tom Kendrick, was chosen to be interviewed. To date, Tom has won 18 Gold, 6 Silver, and 8 Bronze medals in pickleball. He began this journey as a 3.5 level player and elevated to the highest attainable level of 5.0 (with 2 National Titles).
Tom is a former USTA tennis player who was introduced to pickleball while on vacation in 2013. Tennis courts were vacant and Tom was told he could find former tennis players at the pickleball courts. He became immediately addicted. Originally, he tried to balance his interests in golf and tennis, but eventually in 2016 pickleball became exclusive. So much so, it is said that he even sleeps with his paddle.
The burning question at the outset of the interview was whether the strong drive was that of striving for perfection or excellence. There’s much written about the liabilities about having to be perfect (perfectionism is the athletes Achilles heel). The initial point that Tom made during the interview was that he considered pickleball a game not a career. There was no question that when he embraces an activity, whether it be surfing, music, tennis, golf or pickleball, he sets high goals for himself. While Tom feels honored to be at the top of the game (5.0 level), continued improvement is only achieved through hard work and dedication. He feels only practice and drill, not playing, is the best way to improve. I listened as he talked about the qualities of high level play which are:
· Don’t pull the trigger unless a sure winner.
· Staying in the present reduces mental anxiety.
· Never say negative words to a partner during play.
· Hire a mentor/coach.
The more I listened, the more I realized that his strong drive of achieving excellence is part of his chemical makeup. He talked about celebrating his successes (unlike a perfectionist who feels that nothing is ever good enough and only cares about results). He also enumerated about the social connections that he established during his tournament travels and its importance. During our conversation, I thought of the applicable metaphor: “If you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll land among the stars”.
Tom ended by stating that his greatest accomplishment in pickleball was becoming Referee Certified. Paying back to the sport is a high value. Good luck, Tom, in your future pickleball endeavors.
WHERE: East Rec. Center lower courts, Courts #1 and #4.
WHEN: New players (strictly beginners) Introduction to Pickleball and Coached Play (for beginners & novices), Tuesday from 9:00 – 11 a.m. The first hour is for newbies and the second hour is for coached play.
ATTIRE: Court shoes with non-marking soles.
EQUIPMENT: Balls are provided. Loaner paddles are available for introduction and coached play. These balls and paddles are for use only on the Oakmont Pickleball Courts. WEBSITE: https://oakmontpickleball.shutterfly.com
NEW PLAYER CONTACT: Pauly Uhr, firstname.lastname@example.org, 707-984-4186, and/or Nancy Lande, Nancy_lande@comcast.net, 707-978-2998