Name: Joe Baumann
Home courts: Tres Palapas Baja Pickleball Resort in Los Barriles, Mexico
How were you introduced to pickleball?
I was introduced to pickleball at a wilderness canoeing camp. I had worked at Camp Voyageur in northern Minnesota for about 8 years when our program director introduced pickleball to the in-camp program. Being the only counselor at the camp who had played a racket sport, I became the pickleball counselor and fell in love with the game.
Do you have a racquet or paddle sport background? If so, how has that influenced your pickleball game?
When people ask this question, my default is to say that I played tennis in high school, poorly. Tennis wasn’t a big sport in northern Minnesota, so it was small part of my life and I never ended up playing tennis after high school.
What do you like most about playing pickleball?
It’s hard to pick one thing. I love the social aspect of pickleball. You can go just about anywhere and make new friends with little to no trouble just because they also play. I’ve met so many awesome people through this sport. I also love how much fun it is to play. No other sport has someone whiff a ball or screw up their shot and end up with all four players on court laughing their heads off. What a game!
How has it felt to progress in skill over the years?
It’s super frustrating to get better at this game. The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn. It never ends, but it a good way to feed an obsession.
How is the pickleball scene in your home area?
I don’t fully know yet. I’ve only been here for two months, and the busy tourist season is just beginning. I never thought pickleball would take me to Mexico, but here I am.
What is one of your fondest memories you’ve experienced in conjunction with pickleball?
How much time do you have to let me go on for this question? Great memories are always surrounding pickleball in my experiences. I love tournaments and meeting new people at tournaments. They become a second pickleball family. Going out to dinner with everyone from a small local tournament is always a good time.
Which TMPR paddle do you play with and why?
I use the Oculus LX. I find it hard to describe how the correct paddle feels. I like to use the analogy of pickling the right magic wand in Harry Potter. You don’t choose the paddle, the paddle chooses you. When TMPR came out with the new lineup, I was very excited to use the Rave LX and the Ascend LX, but in the end, the Oculus chose me and I love it.
What advice would you give new players who are just learning the game?
Enjoy the ride. Find out the way you enjoy pickleball and let it take you where it will. You may end up playing every Saturday morning at the local park, you may end up playing tournaments big and small, or you may end up developing a life-changing obsession that changes your career and moves you to a new country.