Player Profile | Don Happ

don happ player
TMPR Sponsored Player, Don Happ

How were you first introduced to pickleball?

My brother, Franc, had been playing in San Diego since around 2018 and started telling me I needed to “check out this game called pickleball" because I was playing so much USTA team tennis for so many years. He said I would love it and probably pick it up quickly. At the end of 2019 I finally went to South Bend Racquet Club and started watching members play. They only let me watch a few times before encouraging me to come down from the viewing area and join them... from that point on I was pretty much hooked.

You come from a tennis background. How has that helped/hindered your transition to pickleball?

Initially, having played so many years of competitive tennis doubles was a great asset - especially in knowing how to move with my partner for court coverage... they are quite similar. The strokes helped with ground strokes, and overall paddle control, but I had to re-think the “slice” volley of tennis. It needed to become more of a “punch” than a slice. Overall, tennis has been great for my pickleball game, though I had to learn that pickleball is far more than simply playing tennis on a smaller court. Pickleball definitely is its own game with nuances that are unique to itself.

You have been playing with a new TMPR prototype paddle called the Terra TC-13. What is it that you like about it?

Having come from a more rigid, harder-surfaced edgeless paddle, I quickly discovered better “touch” with the TC-13. I found it difficult to soften or diffuse hard driven attacks at the kitchen line with a harder and more “spinny” paddle... and have improved my softer game noticeably in a short time with my TMPR paddle - and for that I’m so grateful! With my tennis background I tend to have the ability to find power in pretty much any paddle, and the slightly thinner than average (13mm vs. 16mm) TC-13 provides me a little more pop when I want it while also providing the softness of a poly core. It also has just enough softness and surface texture to allow me to put pretty significant spin on serves/ground strokes when I want or need to.

don happ portrait

You recently formed, H2 Pickleball with TMPR player, Todd Hill. What do you like most about teaching?

Teaching allows the satisfaction of giving back to a sport in my own area where people within this sport have been so receptive and encouraging to me as a complete begginer. There’s something amazingly satisfying about seeing the recognition on someone’s face... or the “lights” going on... when you’ve provided a missing piece to their improvement puzzle. There is nothing like that “Aha!” moment when they see the link between a concept, a drill I’ve provided, and finally the actual game itself!

What are some of the obstacles you and Todd see players struggle with the most?

Not all players necessarily seek to improve their game beyond the level they currently play - and it’s more of a social/fun venture, perfect for them just the way it is - and that’s a great thing because there are so many players available at so many levels... it just works pretty much for everyone. For those that want to get better, I believe “footwork” is probably one of the biggest obstacles they overlook. How many shots we tend to hit from an optimum position (assuming our stroke form is fundamentally sound) is totally within our own control to a certain degree. However, most people (myself included) too often move only to a point and then tend to “reach” for a stroke not quite in the optimal strike zone. I would guess most people could hit a minimum of 50% more of their shots from an “ideal” position if they were willing to take that extra step or two and limit their reaching for the ball.

Which is the bigger problem you most commonly encounter with newer players, technique, strategy, or a combination of the two?

I would definitely put those two choices on equal footing. I see some beautiful strokes with poor shot selection throughout the game, but often see awkward technique hitting high percentage “correct” shots/sequences. It really goes both ways.

Where does H2 Pickleball offer instruction and what services do you offer?

During the winter months there are far fewer choices of venues for any of us to play simply because we can’t play outside during the coldest months. Todd and I are fairly new to this collaboration, but Todd had connections in place since he has been teaching for more than a year already. During the winter we tend to teach the majority of our lessons at the Warehouse (55600 Evergreen Plaza in Mishawaka), and have done a clinic at Redbud Health & Fitness in Buchanan. Once we return to warmer weather we open up to a host of outdoor places like Firemens Park and Plym Park - both in Niles, Central Park in Mishawaka, Woodland Courts in Elkhart, and Harris Township Park in Granger. Our services include lessons from private (1-on-1) all the way up to 16 or more in group lessons and drills. We offer a number o paddle services including help in choosing a great paddle for an individual’s game type - based upon weight/balance, materias, thickness, and more. Todd and I are both sponsored by TMPR Sports in Buchanan, so we are able to furnish that particular brand of paddle should anyone play with our provided demos and wish to purchase one for themselves.

If someone is interested, how would they contact you and Todd?

Reaching out to either Todd or myself is as easy as calling/texting/email us at our respective numbers/email addresses which are:

Don Happ
P: (574) 222-8380

Todd Hill
P: (574) 339-5195

...or we can be reached either by signing up for a lesson directly from our “Book A Lesson” tab at our website (, or even fill out our form at that site on the “Contact” link in the menu.