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Fine-Tuning Your Serve

Where Should I Hit the Ball?

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By Fran Myer

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The Pickleball Hall of Fame (PHOF) inducted its third class on November 8. Three players in the Competitor category and one individual in the Contributor category were honored during the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships in Indian Wells, California.


Formed in 2017, PHOF recognizes individuals who have achieved exceptional results in pickleball play over the course of their careers, as well as those who have made exceptional contributions to the growth, development and leadership of the game. All inductees must have also demonstrated a high level of character, integrity, sportsmanship and consideration for others, earning the respect and admiration of their peers. To qualify for consideration, nominees in the Contributor and Competitor categories should have impacted or dominated on a national or international level for a minimum of five years. Competitors must also have played at the highest level in major tournaments. Each of the 2019 PHOF inductees far exceeded the minimum requirements in years of involvement, competitive records and contributions to the growth of the sport.


The main event was a festive dinner held at the Desert Horizons Country Club. As in the past two years, inductees were introduced and presented stories of their backgrounds and individual accomplishments. Each honoree received an engraved ring, their official Pickleball Hall of Fame jacket and a plaque highlighting their achievements. The following day, the four honorees were introduced to spectators and players at the 2019 Margaritaville USAPA National Championships on Championship Court.


The first inductee, Dan Gabanek, was honored for dominating the sport from 1988 to 2014. Born in Czechoslovakia, Dan moved to the U.S. in 1969 at age 5. He was first introduced to pickleball at Seattle’s McClure Junior High School in 1976. Dan began competing in tournaments in 1985 and quickly rose to the top. He was ranked #1 in Men’s Doubles from 1989 to 1998 and ranked #1 in Men’s Singles from 1988 to 1992. His record includes over 13 Open Mixed Doubles titles and four National Championship titles.


Born in Mexico, Enrique Ruiz moved to the U.S. as a child. This 48-year-old has dominated the sport for over 25 years. In addition to numerous medals won before current majors, he is a 10-time National Champion with six wins in Open events. He is also a five-time gold medalist of the International Indoor Championships and three-time winner of the Tournament of Champions. He is an ambassador of the sport, promoting its growth and expansion throughout the Pacific Northwest.


The third inductee in the Competitor category was Jennifer Lucore, a Californian from Oceanside. At age 53, she has dominated the sport from 2010 until present. Jennifer has won gold at 17 USAPA National Championships, 11 Canadian Nationals, six at the Huntsman World Senior Games, six International titles, four at the Tournament of Champions and two Minto US Open Pickleball Championships. She holds the most National and International titles of any female pickleball player to date. In addition, with her mom, Beverly Youngren, Jennifer is the co-author of “History of Pickleball: More Than 50 Years of Fun!”


The fourth 2019 inductee was Steve Paranto from Oregon. Following in the footsteps of his late father, Arlen Paranto, who was inducted in the inaugural class of 2017, Steve was recognized for his contributions. As the co-developer of modern, non-wood paddles, Steve was also credited with designing and creating the first Magnum oversized paddles. The first lightweight paddles were made from airplane floor panel materials that Arlen purchased from Boeing’s Surplus Store. This innovation revolutionized pickleball. Almost all paddles made today reflect Arlen and Steve’s basic design. Steve is also a highly rated player. He started playing in 1974 when he was 18, and has been playing at the Open/5.0 level for 45 years. He has promoted the growth of pickleball by teaching, coaching and directing tournaments for over 30 years.


The 2019 honorees join six who were inducted in 2017 and three who were added in 2018. Pictures and biographical posters of all PHOF members can be viewed where they are being temporarily hosted at Pickleball Central’s Pickleball Station in Kent, Washington. Complete bios of each PHOF member can be found at the blogsite For more information about the Pickleball Hall of Fame, visit Here you will also find guidelines and forms to submit your nominations for the class of 2020. If you would like to be part of the process to determine the Pickleball Hall of Fame inductees, there are three openings on both the nomination and selection committees. Read through the guidelines at and submit a letter with your background and qualifications for board review. •

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