Player Profile: Rachel Oxenden

How were you introduced to pickleball?

By my parents of course! My parents invited me to a pot luck tournament they had with another retirement community and invited me to come watch. I thought, “I can do that, and it looks like fun!” That was 4 years ago and I’ve been obsessed ever since!

Do you have a racquet or paddle sport background? If so, how has that influenced your pickleball game?

No - my parents were state racquetball champs, so I hung out in fitness centers a lot growing up and would bang the raquetball around a bit, but I’ve never officially played a racquet sport. I come from softball, basketball, soccer and golf. Pickleball didn’t come very natural to me, so I’ve had to drill and work really hard to get better. I feel NOT coming from a racquet sport has been an advantage because I’m unpredictable since I don’t have the “textbook” tennis shots/form/grip etc.

What do you like most about playing pickleball?

I like the challenge to it and that there’s always room for personal improvement. I like drilling and testing myself on how good I can get and what new shots I can learn. I love the strategy as well but most of all I like the culture of the sport and all the friends I’ve made.

Do you have any upcoming tournaments you are excited about playing in?

My next tourney will be the US Open next year.

How is the pickleball scene in your home area?

It’s great, CO always ends up on medal stands! I would LOVE to see some indoor courts built, we really struggle for places to play in the winter.

What is one of your fondest memories you’ve experienced in conjunction with pickleball?

My 4.5 Gold match on center court in 2019 at the US Open. I had really struggled earlier in the week with my confidence/play. I went to the beach by myself after that and decided to get myself together and remember what kind of player I am. The next day Cam Thompson and I got Gold, it was quite emotional for me.

Which TMPR paddle do you play with and why?

Tantrum LX, it’s the perfect combo of touch/power for me.

What advice would you give new players who are just learning the game?

Have fun with the sport, and drill, drill, drill to get better! Earn your way into the higher level groups, don’t demand or expect anything from anyone. Be gracious, kind, fair and remember it’s JUST pickleball!