In the second episode of “MaryGoRound,” Mary Brascia is joined by professional pickleball Daniel Roditi. The two discuss what professional pickleball was like in the early stages, how the game has evolved, and tips for improvement.
2023 PPA Tournament of Champions recap:
Mary had a successful weekend at the PPA Tournament of Champions. She and her sister Maggie Brascia made the quarterfinals in women’s doubles and she and fellow Selkirk athlete Dylan Frazier made the quarterfinals in mixed doubles.
Mary won the first game in each quarterfinals match, but had a hard time closing them out. She shares what it takes to stay mentally tough enough to stay present in the moment to close out matches.
Daniel Roditi introduction:
Daniel Roditi is the head pro of pickleball at Lifetime Fitness in San Clemente, California. He ranked as high as No. 5 in the world for men’s singles and commentates on tour. Daniel began playing in 2012 and talks about how he got into the sport.
How has pickleball changed over the years?:
Daniel shares that the speed of the game and the technology in equipment has greatly changed the game since he started playing. He says the talent continues to grow and competition is becoming tougher.
Dan’s playing experience in early pickleball events:
When Daniel started playing pickleball, the Tournament of Champions was one of the only tournaments that paid winners, and he shares his experiences in Utah as well as other classic tournaments on tour, such as Indian Wells.
Before becoming a full-time pickleball coach, Daniel was a pastor for 20 years. Dan discusses the difficulties of balancing professional tournaments with his weekend duties.
Do you need to play full-time to compete at the highest level?:
As someone who doesn’t regularly compete in tournaments, Daniel discusses how difficult it is to stay at the top of the game. Mary and Daniel discuss whether a player needs to be a full-time pickleballer to make deep runs in professional tours.
Dan vs. Ben Johns:
Daniel was playing professionally when Ben Johns first came onto the scene and they had a few matchups. Daniel shares what makes Ben such a tough competitor on the court, and Mary discusses her strategy for beating him.
Mary tries to emulate Daniel when she’s playing singles and she asks him to share some tips for improving the singles game. Daniel shares three tips and how they help: Serving big, making consistent returns, and applying pressure.
Dan’s future with pickleball:
When Daniel started playing, the open level of play was equivalent to a 4.5 skill level today. Mary and Daniel discuss where the game is going, including the potential of one professional tour, collegiate pickleball athletes, and Olympic events.