Player: Tanner Wallace
Home courts: FOP Park, Wyandotte, Michigan
How were you introduced to pickleball?
The first time I was introduced to pickleball was when I was in Fort Myers, Florida. At first, I didn't think this game was for me because it was depicted as an older generation sport. I then got a chance to slam the ball and I was hooked. Funny enough I recently found out that my first time playing was with “Eddie” from the Eddie and Webby podcast. We played at some courts in a private community in Florida. My father is friends with Eddie’s father-in-law, and he taught me how to play.
Do you have a racquet or paddle sport background? If so, how has that influenced your pickleball game?
I have no racket or paddle sport background. I mean as a kid my parents put me in lessons to try tennis at our local community center, but I never actually got into the sport of tennis. I only did lessons for two summers as a young kid. What influenced me was needing a sport that had a competitive drive! I played college soccer and as that came to an end, I just found the sport of pickleball and I knew my athleticism could help me in this sport. I think that the sport of soccer has helped my twitch muscles a lot in this sport. You need to have fast reaction times with this sport and soccer for sure has helped me with my decision making at the kitchen line. Also, many people may feel as though you do not need to be conditioned to play this sport but at the higher levels you absolutely do! In soccer you must have stamina and that is one thing that has pushed my game to the next level as well when in tournament play.
What do you like most about playing pickleball?
The thing I like most about playing pickleball is the community itself. Not a single person I have met so far in this community is rude. I think that this group of pickleball players that we have around the world all have the same goal, which is to HAVE FUN. Yes, people are competitive and that is okay I myself am one of those players. At the end of the day no one talks badly about each other or brings anyone down. When going to tournaments if you need help there is always someone lending a helping hand. For example, one of my friends started cramping on the court and a random person gave him a pickleball cocktail packet to help him with his cramps. That person didn’t have too but that is just the type of people you will find in a pickleball community. We all have the same goal to have fun and build the sport of pickleball to its full potential we all know it can have.
Do you have any upcoming tournaments you are excited about playing in?
Currently I am looking forward to a couple of small tournaments in Florida that I will be attending in the local area of Fort Myers. Now for the year of 2022 that will be the year for me. I am going to be doing the NEXT GEN tournaments as this will be my last year to play in this tournament since I will be turning 23. Also, looking forward to playing in the US Open in Naples Florida. I’m sure there will be plenty more tournaments to attend but these are the ones I am most excited for.
You are from the Detroit area. How is the pickleball scene there?
The pickleball scene here is bigger than what you would think. We have many senior pros as well as upcoming pros like Casey Cullen. The senior pros consist of Ava Marie, Teresa Tarn, and Marius Mitrofan. I got to play with everyone mentioned above at an indoor pickleball facility called Wimbledon tennis center in Saint Clair Shores. This place has sadly closed and is no longer going to be in business this year. We do have many other places to play as well in the winter like Wolverine pickable in Ann Arbor or Bloomfield Hills Sports Center. In the summertime there are courts everywhere and always someone to play with.
You recently medaled in a tournament with your father. What was that like?
Playing in the tournament with my father was fun and it is something that I will cherish. It was a local tournament to help fundraise for a lock box at the pickleball courts. This tournament was a round robin, we won every single game in the round robin then went down to the top four teams. We were seated 1st so we played the 4th place team and won moving on to playing the 2nd place team. Here we had a very good battle I believe the final score was 11 to 8 and we lost. We got second and I am very happy with how my dad played as well as myself. We never practice together but it was fun and we medaled so that is always good.
Which TMPR paddle do you play with and why?
The paddle that I use is the Oculus LX. The reason I like this paddle so much is not only the shape giving a great sweet spot but the way the weight feels when hitting the ball. I also like how this paddle feels when at the kitchen line! This paddle not only gives me the control I need but also the power when needed. This paddle gives me an overall advantage as the way this paddle was designed was to give less drag than the normal paddle shape.
What advice would you give new players who are just learning the game?
The biggest thing I can give to a new player for advice is to be patient! The way many people start off playing is wanting to speed up the ball and hit hard. This is not the way to play! As a new player get to the kitchen line after your return or drop and be patient and always work on your third shot drops. Players, I would say at the 3.0 and below range should focus on keeping the ball on the court. The key is to allow the other team to mess up, so you have an easy shot.