You know you have dedicated Pickleball players when they are on the court at 4 a.m. and they bring a portable generator to light up the courts. That’s the group from Camp Pickleball who I talk to in this podcast about opening a 10-court indoor facility and how to play with and against lefties.
Mentioned in the Show
- Camp Pickleball Website: Camp Pickleball CT
- Instagram: thecamppickleball
- TikTok: @camppickleball
- Linked In: Camp Pickleball
- The story and vision behind Camp Pickleball, a new indoor pickleball facility.
- The challenges and advantages of playing against left-handed players in pickleball.
- Strategies for right-handed players to adjust their game when facing a lefty-righty combination.
- The benefits of having a lefty-righty combination in doubles pickleball.
- Information on Camp Pickleball’s location, membership options, and 24/7 accessibility.
lynn: Today I would like to welcome to the Pickleball Fire podcast, Camp Pickleball, which is Trish and Matt Jennings, Nate Ruhl, Robbie Laidlaw.
How are you guys all doing today? We’re doing
robbie: great. Great. Awesome. Let’s
lynn: go. I have to admit, I have, I’ve interviewed two people on a podcast, maybe three people like when I had Kyle Yates on with a bunch of people, but yeah, I think this is the first anyways, but the great thing about this is that this is one of the few times I’m doing a podcast and I’m top.
Talking to people who like live probably 10 minutes from where I am in Connecticut, and we’ve got some exciting things to talk about and also a great instructional aspect, but I do like to start the podcast off a little bit with everybody’s background, both in terms of how you got started playing pickleball and then how you guys all connected.
And I’m going to start with Trish because I think Trish is actually the only person out of the group that I’ve met in person.
trish: I started playing pickleball about a year ago, because my husband, who you’ll be introduced to in a little bit, Matt started playing, and at the time, I was playing another sport, soccer and I actually got injured.
I partially tore my rotator cuff. And I’m getting to the age where maybe contact sports aren’t the best decision to be playing. So I said, you know what, I think I’m done with soccer. But I still wanted the competition. I still wanted the sport. I, and I said, I was complaining to Matt and he was like why don’t you play pickleball with me?
And we did, and I fell in love with it. The first game I played and I’ve been playing ever since.
lynn: Awesome. How about you, Matt?
matt: Yeah, so I picked it up also about a year ago. So in college I played racquetball fairly competitively and then after college you’re supposed to get a job and you can’t do anything competitive anymore so it really felt good to get back into a competitive sport the social aspect, I love playing with my friends.
Yeah, I just fell in love
robbie: with the
lynn: game. All right. And then Nate, how about your story?
nate: Yeah. So Matt and I knew each other from college and have been in touch ever since. We started playing together. Yeah. About a year and a half ago. And really for us, it was just finding time to play.
So with five young kids amongst us we found the mornings were the best. So we’re looking for an activity that we could do before work. So we’re out there most days, 4am, 5am in a local park playing. But yeah, once we found it, learned the rules, which took a little bit, then we just fell in love and playing every day
lynn: since pretty much.
And my guess is that Robbie’s probably been playing for a little bit longer.
robbie: Yeah, I was introduced to the game. My grandparents were into it. So played our first game at Farquhar Park in Groton, Connecticut. Probably 2014 ish. Then between 2014 and 2021 played maybe like 20 times with like cousins, uncles.
1 of my cousin’s boyfriends was actually like pretty good. So we had some good games there and. Some cousins from California who would visit and we would run some like pretty good games. And then 2021 got really into it that summer. I was teaching tennis. But where I was playing it yeah, again, like Fitch High School, also in Groton.
They had like pickleball courts in the middle. And then you just bring your own net and set it up, play it. And yeah, it got going really from
lynn: there. All right. I know what’s going to be going on here in Connecticut. And I think this is actually a great story because you start to see it happening now all over the country, where not only do you have.
Outdoor dedicated pickleball courts, but you have indoor ones, which is obviously very important in Connecticut in the winter. Now, when I lived in Texas and I had never heard a pickleball 5 years ago. Yeah, it’s also very important in the summer. So I’m really curious as to Trish and Matt and Nate. Coming from just starting to play pickleball a year ago to now what you’re planning.
Let us know what that is. And what it involves.
trish: Yeah. Like you said we all started playing about a year and a half ago and Nate and Matt play every day at four o’clock in the morning, they go out and play and all of a sudden winter came and it got really cold and they were going out there with snow shovels and leaf blowers and made their own lightings to go on the court.
We said, there’s got to be a better way. Why is there not an indoor facility in our area? And so we had been looking to get into a business, but we wanted to be something that we were, we’re passionate about. And when I started playing, it was something that we both fell in love with and it just clicked one night and they said, there’s nowhere for us to play.
Matt was playing had to get a Y membership and play on a gym floor and set up his own net and he could only go Tuesdays at 12 o’clock. And We’re like, this is ridiculous. There’s got to be a better way. And that’s how camp pickleball came. It’s going to be a 23, 400 square foot facility with 10 courts that are fenced in in cushions.
There’s going to be a player’s lounge. We’ll be able to do events and tournaments. and leagues. It’s going to be everything that we’ve been looking for and playing around and seeing what the public courts can offer. And we’re going to take that and put it into an indoor facility.
And we’re like, really excited about it. We should be we actually cleared the land today and broke ground. So we should be opening up spring
lynn: 2024. And that’s honestly a huge undertaking, especially in this economy when money is in is very expensive with the interest rates and whatnot.
Wasn’t that a really tough decision to make to go forward
trish: Very tough. We’re, we don’t have investors. It’s just me and Matt, who are husband and wife and Nate. And we’ve, we’re very lucky to partner up with a bank that gave us a lot of good advice and is working with us to make this dream come true.
But yes, very, definitely very scary, but very exciting at the same time.
lynn: Yeah, and then you were obviously able to bring on a great pro like Robbie and I’ve heard great things about him he’s on team reach a lot. I’ve followed what he’s been doing. So I knew about him before and then to be able to bring him into the fold.
That’s a great opportunity I would think Robbie.
robbie: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it. Yeah, excited to join the team.
lynn: Now, one thing I do have to ask, I think, Nate and Matt about is Whoa, I don’t know if I’ve heard of many people playing at 4 a. m. And I’ve talked to a lot of people about pickleball.
What how do you even manage that?
nate: It’s great. We we get the park all to ourself at that hour, right? So that’s a bonus. But we built a little, some contraptions to hold our lights up. We bring a portable generator. And a couple lights to light up a court and yeah, we spread the word as much as we can.
We have a good solid group of maybe four to eight people in the morning. Yeah, anybody who’s in the Southington area and wants to join, come on down.
lynn: Yeah. So apparently those courts in Southington, I assume you’re talking about Panther and Park. I heard you brought the snow shovels out.
That’s not allowed in Cheshire for good reason. So now I know what happened to the courts, right?
Hey just kidding guys. The courts were in bad shape way before that happened.
Anyways we do what we can do. I won’t tell you about the courts in Bristol and how nice they are. And no, you can not bring snow shovels on those courts either.
All right good. It’s really exciting in terms of what you’re planning. I know you’re looking for a spring opening and I’m just going to ask you here on the podcast, even though this is a really Connecticut specific, but I think eventually the facility is going to draw people from all over, especially when you have.
have tournaments, but for the local people here, in fact, I had people asking me today, they’re like, okay what’s going to be the deal with hours and memberships and what’s that going to cost? And what’s the plan?
trish: So the great thing about ours is that we will be a 24 seven facility.
So what that means is we will have four members, but we will have regular club hours for non members. In which it will be manned by somebody at the front desk. But what’s great about, we’re partnering up with Court Reserve and a company that does wifi enabled locks. So basically what you can do is if you’re a member, you can reserve a court and 15 minutes before your court reservation time, no matter if it’s two o’clock in the morning or six o’clock in the morning before we open.
It’ll give you a four digit code 15 minutes before your scheduled time and it’ll enable you to enter the facility and play without it being quote open. That also means holidays for some reason if we’re closed on Christmas our members will still be allowed to play if they wanted to that’s as far as our hours go we’re 24 7 for non members will probably. Be open from 6 o’clock to maybe 10 o’clock, depending on the night, or whether it’s a weekend or not. As far as memberships, we’ll be announcing that probably in the next week or 2, we’re going to have a tiered membership.
So based on how much you play, it will financially make sense to you on which membership you would choose. We’re going to have an unlimited membership, so people can play unlimited amount of time up to 1 open play a day, 1 court reservation a day. And we’ll have different options for different people, so that.
Depending on how many how much you want to spend per month. It would make sense for you. To buy that
lynn: membership. Awesome. It sounds like there’s going to be a lot of different choices and honestly back in the day and Matt, I was actually an open level. Racquetball player a long time ago, but back in the day.
Yeah, back in the day with the racquetball courts, they were it was, you could get in the technology was totally different. But yes, you could actually get into some places and play 24 hours a day. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve heard of that option with. Pickleball. How did you figure out how to do all that?
I assume that came to be because you are now playing at four and five a. m. But how did you guys make that decision to move forward with that? So
trish: we started researching probably about a year ago to open up a facility. Originally our plan was to hopefully find an existing building that we could rent.
And go from there, we search high and low. We weren’t going to settle on a facility. We wanted to make sure that the ceiling heights were the right ceiling height. We want to make sure there was no beams. In the middle of a court we wanted to have the right square footage. We wanted to make sure that the courts were wide enough and long enough where people can play.
So that’s why we ended up building the facility, but we have for the last year after trying to find a facility, we have literally spent all of our free time researching the facilities that are already out there. What makes them successful? What doesn’t make them successful? And we want to be able to basically reach the most amount of pickleball players.
We’ve had some people come to us and I would play more often I work second shift and I don’t no one’s open when I get off I would love to play this time or this time, but I can’t find a place that’s open or nobody else wants to play with me at that time.
So we’ve spent hours and hours researching on what players want. And what other clubs are doing to
lynn: be successful. And why don’t you go ahead, because I don’t think you have yet, mention the location, which I’m really looking forward to because it’s literally 10 minutes from my
trish: Yes. Oh, good. So we’re at 17 Northwest Drive in Plainville, Connecticut. So for those who are not in Connecticut it’s right in the center of Connecticut in the greater Hartford area. So it, it’s right off the highway. It’s very convenient. And we’re going to be centrally located for all the pickleball players
lynn: out there in Connecticut.
Yeah. And even Southern Mass it’s really not too far away. You’re right. All right. Great. What else should we know about the facility Camp Pickleball before we get into the instructional aspect? I think probably talking a bit to Robbie.
trish: Sure. One more thing I just want to mention is our website which is Camp Pickleball CT for Connecticut dot com.
That should be up and running probably in the next month. You can go now it’s a landing page and you can put in your email and subscribe and we’ll be giving updates through email there and we also have a team reach code, which is camp C. A. M. P. And then P. B. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram and Tick Tock under camp pickleball.
You look us up there like our page and we’ll be sharing Updates throughout the whole building process on there too.
lynn: In this area, we are definitely looking forward to following the progress. And then I, I asked, trish what instructional topic you guys would like to talk about and you did a great job because you’ve chose you chose something that I actually are not talked about on the podcast and I’ve done quite a few of these.
And we’re going to talk about from a very. General perspective and then get much more specific. And actually, the funny thing is that we’re going to talk today about left handed players. And there’s probably been a couple of times where I played against 2 left handed players. And then a lot of times I don’t play against any.
Yeah, I’m definitely a righty and. In terms of today was funny. I had a friend come back into town. She’s a lefty. And actually, before I ask this, because I’ve only played with Trish so far. Are any of you guys lefties Robbie? Are you lefty?
robbie: Yeah, I play pickleball with my left
lynn: hand. Okay. Actually, I shouldn’t say that I never play with lefties because for the good and the bad I played with Mike today and actually I’ll have to give Mike a link to the podcast.
Because he switches hands. So he actually, yeah
robbie: He told.
lynn: Yeah I don’t think Mike would put himself quite in that category. Not yet. But he did actually tell me today that he’s Houdini. Somebody called him Houdini. He got second place in a tournament, they called him Houdini.
Cause he switches left and right. And honestly, I don’t even think about it anymore because I play with Mike all the time. And I know what he’s going to do, but blah, blah, blah. Okay, so Robbie. Robby, as a left handed player tell me how do, how is it, actually, I want to ask you, why can it be difficult to play when your partner is a left handed player?
What makes that difficult when you have a lefty and a righty?
robbie: Yeah, so if I’m…
Yeah, can you rephrase the questions? I can’t tell. Do you mean, is it difficult for my opponent or difficult for me?
lynn: Yeah actually more thinking about your partner because as a right handed player, if I play with somebody left handed, I can have to think about things a little bit differently.
Assuming that most of us are probably right handed.
robbie: Yeah. Yeah. And most of the people I play with are right handed as well. Okay. Now that we’ve got that straight. Yeah. Yeah. So I, where I left off in my pickleball journey, I was playing. Yeah. Yeah, Fitch, Groton, Connecticut, and I was in Cam Daly’s Pickleball League, and next thing you know, we’re stacking, so I, this is like my first time playing like some actual pickleball, I don’t know where to stand and it probably took me like a month to figure out stacking, but that’s what I was doing, I would stand off to the side of the court, my righty partner would have to run all the way diagonal, and then I’d shift in, so that’s one of the difficulties is, Being able to stack effectively.
Especially if you’re playing against a team that drives the ball well, when you’re running all the way diagonal, you might get caught off guard either to the sideline or the middle, if they running too fast and they can’t change direction. So I’d say, yeah, return a serve. Stacking is probably the biggest weakness.
You’re gonna have.
lynn: Yeah. And you definitely see that when the pros play they stack in general, even if it’s not necessarily a lefty and ready combination, but thinking back to just that recreational player where it’s like I said. I played a game with Julie today, she’s left handed I’m right handed.
And I also played against her a couple of times. What are the challenges when you’re not stacking?
robbie: So yeah, challenges when you’re not stacking and now you have backhands in the middle. So at a rec level I think the lob is a big shot. So that’s something you really got to watch out for it is.
They can just lob it down the middle of the court, which is one of the easiest shots to hit. And now that’s a very good shot because your backhand’s in the middle. So that’s something that, yeah, if you’re not stacking, you might get caught off guard with.
lynn: So how do you actually decide who takes that down the middle?
Especially when you have forehands down the middle, because that’s when people tend to be more aggressive. Yeah, I always recommend whether I’m teaching a righty righty. Lefty, righty lefty, even. Just have one partner calling mine and yours. And then the other partner going with the flow that way you’re not going to fight over those middle balls as much.
robbie: Another way to do it is just first come first served. Usually the player that gets there first is going to be able to hit a better shot because they’re taking time away. They’ve done a better job of reading the previous shot. So that’s how you would figure out that middle ball.
lynn: Yeah, and then in terms of that middle ball, if if I’m in front of my partner, And I can get to that ball.
That sounds to be consistent with just the fact that, yeah, I got there sooner. So I should be the one hitting the ball.
robbie: Yeah. For the most part. Yeah. That’s a good rule of thumb.
lynn: Yeah. And in terms of you had mentioned the lob. So if I’m playing would you say if I’m playing a lefty righty combination, is it more important to hit some lobs down the middle as opposed to two right handed players?
robbie: Yeah, I would say, yeah, definitely. Especially if you can catch them in that not stacking and now they’ve got their backhands in the middle. Yeah, again, at a recreational level, that lob is going to be a really effective shot when I find myself playing yeah, my overhead is good enough where I can run around and usually.
be able to put that ball away. So that’s why I’ve explored playing the left side more where now I can get into some different patterns that can favor our team a lot better.
lynn: Okay, so you as a left hand player you’re actually favoring playing on the left side. That seems a little bit odd because your back hands would be in the middle.
robbie: Yeah. Yeah, not necessarily favoring just to as a way to like prevent stacking. And I think, so on a return, return a serve, you’re going to automatically get to the kitchen. You just return, run in, you’re there. So in that situation, I actually am, yeah, I would favor playing the left side. Because that initial dink battle is so important.
Let’s say they, the other team manages to work their way up. Now we’ve got all four players at the kitchen line. And I think a lot of left sided players who are righties, are conditioned to hit that righty backhand cross court to the other righty’s backhand. Now I’m a left handed player on the left side, and that’s my forehand.
So I think that’s a very favorable matchup where My partner and I can target that section of the court. We can really throw the righty off guard and yeah, just, especially that cross court battle where I’m going to be able to hit my forehand against their backhand. That’s what like Rafa Nadal does in tennis.
That’s all he does is just. Finds his forehand opponents back and it just goes cross court all day long.
lynn: Yeah, you touched on a really great point and I was realizing that today because as a right handed player, I am typically. If I’m hitting that third shot drop, especially whether I’m on the ad or the other side I’m going to put that ball in the corner to a righties backhand and I realized today because I hadn’t played against any lefties recently that I’m like, Oh my gosh, I’m hitting to their forehand.
Oh my gosh.
robbie: That’s the idea. when you least expect it.
lynn: Yeah. So taking that kind of as a mindset as a right handed player how do I remind myself that yes, I’m playing against the lefty. Yes, it is their forehand and I really either need to hit the righties backhand or I need to hit something down the middle.
robbie: That’s a really good question because it is, yeah, it’s very challenging. You’ve been. Your whole career playing mostly against right handed players. So those shots have just, are just better developed. You’re more confident in those shots. So I think, yeah, the only way to really do it is to play against lefties and to see that side of.
Just got to learn by, learn the hard way and hopefully learning the hard way in practice where like you’re saying, like you’re playing these rec games. This isn’t happening in a tournament. So yeah, and rec finding some lefties, matching up against them, seeing what looks they have and going from there.
lynn: So Robbie, how often do you play with your partner being a left handed player?
robbie: Yeah, I’ve never played a tournament with another left handed
lynn: player. Okay. What about rec play? Have you ever played a rec play with two lefties?
robbie: Yeah, a couple of times. And yeah, not yeah, a decent amount actually, like I was saying the good back to my other point about having to play against lefties, it actually really helped me in singles.
So my main. Practice partner, Donko for singles back in summer 2022, we were grinding a lot and yeah, it was good seeing he’s also a lefty, so we would play singles against each other. It was good to see those shots and see how he stacked up. I also, yeah, played a decent amount of doubles against him.
Getting used to when I’m on a lefty righty team, how to also play against another lefty righty team.
lynn: Yeah, it’s got to be just as challenging for you playing against somebody left handed as it is for us righties. You still have to switch your brain
robbie: around. Yeah, I’ve got the same patterns that we all do.
I’m used to certain shots working and other shots… Not working and when that’s reversed definitely gonna take some time to adjust.
lynn: So let me ask Nate and Matt and Trish what’s it like playing against Robbie who’s lefty?
nate: I think for me, Robbie could be with his right hand, so it doesn’t matter much.
But it is tricky. The shots are coming at you from different angles. You’re used to returning serves, particularly to different places. Like my goal would be to hit a return of serve. So my opponent has to use their backhand to hit a drop shot because people are often less comfortable there.
And it will usually take me a couple of points to realize, Oh, I’m hitting the return directly to his forehand and that’s trouble. So it does take some adjustment, I’d say. Every game, you have to start out and re remember where you should be hitting the ball. And just taking those extra second or so to think about it just forces me at least to hit a worse shot typically than if I’m just doing what comes natural.
So it is quite tough.
matt: Tricia, Matt? Yeah, so I think for me, the same Pattern recognition that I have to redevelop. So usually, like you said, when my drop shots are usually trying to go to the right side of the court that corner, just because if I do hit it high, I’m less likely to get punished by somebody’s backhand than their forehand.
But when you hit it high to Robbie Laidlaw’s forehand, so unfortunately you get punished a hundred percent of the time. Just switching your mindset, maybe dropping middle, dropping left, which I’ve done much less than dropping, so it’s just a less consistent shot for me. And that can really change the game.
trish: And me, I’ve actually never had the opportunity to play with Robbie. We played together. Yeah, we play together. Usually there’s a reason
lynn: for that.
All right. Guys, what else should we know about left handed players Whether playing them what’s the best strategy?
trish: Yeah. Robbie, how can we beat you?
robbie: Give us the secret, Robbie. Yeah I would say so if the lefty is on the right side, you want to get into the pattern where now you’re dinking cross court with your right sided, right handed forehand against the lefty’s backhand. And again, when you watch professional matches, most of.
Most dinks are hit cross court. That’s why I keep harping back to these cross court patterns, because you tend to not only get in them, but stay in them. Because when the ball’s going across, once you try to change the direction to go down the line it’s just a more difficult dink to hit. Yeah, you’ll see these extended cross court rallies.
So yeah that’s your pattern now. Now your pattern is… A righties forehand to a lefties backhand. Again, that’s what you’re going to do in the lefties on the right side and the righties on the left side, which is what every professional lefty righty team has done and what almost all lefty righty teams do is they keep forehands in the middle.
So that’s what you’re going to see almost all the time. If you see it, the reverse. Then I would just play, yeah, every ball to the middle where it’s both their back hands and, yeah, the middle is always a
lynn: great target. So in, in pro pickleball and I guess in general, do you think it’s a big advantage to have that lefty ready combination, whichever way you are on the court?
robbie: Yeah, I think it’s a huge advantage. From the start of the point you can drive the ball, your partner runs in and they’ve got their forehand in the middle. They’re ready to coach. That’s a big event. I just think it’s easier to hover the middle when you have four hands in the middle. And again, it’s just that different look where, yeah, you’re used to seeing a certain you’re used to having patterns and shot selection and.
Strategy, and now you’ve got to think on the fly and make something up. Whereas the lefty righty team almost always plays against righty teams. So they’ve seen every righty righty team. They know how to strategize against that. And they’re a wild card.
lynn: Yeah, and I’m thinking about that because there’s a PPA tournament coming up.
I think it’s in Hilton head this week, probably starting tomorrow. And I’m trying to think who would be the lefty righty teams.
robbie: So I think that one actually, it is a PPA, but it got closed out where they didn’t get enough signups, so they don’t, they’re not running a pro draw. But I know there is a APP down in Houston this weekend as well.
And on the APP tour, so you’ve got Stephen Auvergne and, or Stefan Auvergne and Brendan Long play together oftentimes. Yeah, Reiler to heart. He switches up his partner, but he’ll play with Rich Libernese or Andre Mick. And we’ve got in the qualifiers this guy Jericho Grollman and his friend Davis Carvalho.
That’s a righty lefty team. And this guy Jericho is a right side specialist. So I think they will. Debut, the righty on the right side, lefty on the left side, look, so I’m really hoping they make the main draw and hoping to see that team play.
lynn: Awesome. We will. I was gonna say we will look forward to it, but this podcast probably won’t be out till next week.
But interesting analysis. I had not been aware of what was going on and held in head. So that’ll be a little bit different.
robbie: Yeah, I was confused by it as well. But yeah, this signups, I think, because of that, because a lot of teams. We’re planning on playing that, had that weekend booked off.
And then next thing amateur only tournament and off to Houston, they go.
lynn: All right. Good deal guys. It’s been a great podcast. Really enjoyed having you on talking about lefties. And then of course, camp pickleball, anything else we should make sure maybe Trish, we should touch on tonight.
trish: Just. Go on our website and put in your email address for the updates. We’re really excited.
We’re going to be sharing with our future members the whole process and we’re going to be sharing each and every milestone as we go through. So it’s going to be really exciting to see, you know the building
lynn: go up. I’m definitely excited and would love to be a founding member.
Yeah, let’s keep in touch and thank you so much for being on the Pickleball Fire podcast.