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Fine-Tuning Your Serve

Where Should I Hit the Ball?

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Behind the Scenes with Pro Zane Navratil

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By Alice Tym

Age: 26
Hometown: Racine, Wisconsin
Current Residence: Brookfield, Wisconsin
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Pickleball playing and teaching professional as of
July 2020, formerly an auditor/CPA for Deloitte
Pickleball Ranking: WPR #2 in the world
Favorite Performance: The first pro title at the APP Punta Gorda Open in
January 2021 and the APP Chicago Open Men’s
Doubles with Altaf Merchant

What is your greatest asset? My ability to remove my ego to see objectively what is going on in a match. My CPA training gives me an opportunity to look at the game in an accountability way, by the numbers, percentage pickleball. There is risk, reward, and return on investment.

You are known for your chainsaw serve. What was your inspiration and how did you develop that serve? My friend John Cincola and I were hitting topspin groundstrokes. The spin on the ball given to you has an impact on what you can return. We experimented on spinning the toss and found it to be effective. There are three ways to add spin off the toss. The first is off the paddle; this was the original chainsaw. The second is off the paddle hand, holding the paddle in the right hand and the ball in the right hand. The third is spinning the ball with the non-paddle hand.

What would you like to see happen in pickleball? Pickleball is different from tennis. I would like to see people go nuts whenever they want to during a point, not just applaud at the end of a point. I would like it to be more like basketball and football, more fan involvement. The Big 12 Conference has the best tennis attendance because they encourage fan participation. I would like to see that in pickleball.

What is your sports background? I played high school tennis and college tennis at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

What person was the most influential in your life? My high school tennis coach, Harold Swanson, taught me to learn things myself. He never gave me the answers. He taught me how to learn the game.

Where does your name come from? My parents just liked the name Zane. My father’s last name is Czech, and my mother is from India.

What three famous people would you invite to dinner? Joe Rogan, Novak Djokovic, and Elon Musk.

What is your favorite national park? Zion. Angel’s Landing was the coolest hike.

Who is your favorite celebrity? Joe Rogan. I love to listen to his podcast.

What book influenced you the most? “The Inner Game of Tennis” by W. Timothy Gallwey.

In what period of history would you choose to live? I would choose to live 10 years ago, 10 years younger so that I could be better at pickleball in the present. In 2005, there was less social media and phones; there was more interaction and I like that.

What kind of music do you listen to? Classical—Mozart, Bach, and Tchaikovsky.

What three items would you take to a deserted island? A smartphone, pickleball equipment, and Legos.

If you could send a message in a bottle to your younger self, what would it say? “Fear regret not failure.” Failure is a stepping-stone to success. You learn more from your losses than from your wins.

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