Brother and sister duo Riley and Lindsey Newman are pickleball’s power pair!
Harnessing their passion for pickleball and drive to win, siblings Riley and Lindsey Newman are two of the best players in the world. Although they picked up their first paddles less than three years ago, they are a well-oiled machine on the court. Like most famous duos—think Venus and Serena Williams—they are the perfect pair! Pickleball Magazine recently caught up with the Newmans to find out why this tenacious twosome is tough to beat.
How did you get into pickleball?
Riley: Mark Cook, a friend in Seattle, got us into the sport. After only playing about a week or two, he told us we should play in a tournament in Oregon. Even though we didn’t have our own paddles, we entered into the pro mixed doubles bracket and won! We were hooked from then on. We actually slept in our car the night before the tournament in a casino parking lot, so it was a memorable trip for sure!
When you won that first tournament in Oregon, is that when you decided to become a doubles team?
Riley: The Oregon tournament was definitely an eye opener for us, since we took a break from tennis after our college playing days. We were both looking for that next competitive sport we could both play together. The timing couldn’t have been better! We committed to each other on that car ride home that we would take pickleball a lot more seriously and start practicing a lot more.
What do you like about pickleball?
Riley: Being able to travel around the country playing and teaching pickleball with each other has to be number one. We also love how many amazing people we’ve met playing this awesome sport.
Where do you teach?
Lindsey: We live in Arizona, so we do a lot of teaching there. However, we grew up in Washington state, so whenever we are home, we try to do some teaching there as well. We like to travel though, so we will go anywhere for an awesome teaching opportunity.
What is it that makes you such a strong team—what’s your strategy?
Riley: There are a couple of key characteristics that have brought us success in pickleball. First is our movement on the court. Lindsey and I move as one, and can switch mid-rally and know where each other is going to be at all times. Most teams would call “switch” or “stay”—Lindsey and I have that brother/sister bond where the verbal communication is not needed.
Second, our defense is scrappy. We don’t give away a lot of free points and we try to make our opponents earn everything. This puts pressure on them to go for shots they wouldn’t normally go for, because the ball keeps coming back. Third, being the only brother/sister team has more advantages than people might think.
What has been your best moment on the pickleball court?
Lindsey: I think one of our best moments was getting bronze at the 2019 US Open. We beat a lot of teams that most people probably didn’t think we had a chance at beating. We beat a top team that we both thought we didn’t stand a chance at beating to get bronze. After that win, I think we both realized that we might have a future in the sport. Another super-special moment was getting silver at Nationals (2019) and being on center court. Riley and I were sitting on the court and looking around at the full stadium and just trying to take it all in. It was by far the biggest stage we’d ever played on and a memory neither of us will forget.
Your worst moment on the court?
Lindsey: I wouldn’t say there has been a specific “worst moment” for us, but we definitely have our ups and downs. We’ve had a lot of really heart-wrenching losses though. We’ve been ahead in matches against some really great teams and we broke down either mentally and/or physically. Everyone says you learn more from your losses than your wins, but I’d much rather win and not learn a dang thing!
What’s the best pickleball advice you’ve been given?
Lindsey: We’ve been told that we need to be more aggressive players and we took that to heart. When we first started playing, and up until recently, we were known as defensive players only. Now, I think Riley and I have both added a lot of offensive weapons to our games that we didn’t have before.
Lindsey, what is Riley’s best strength in the game or in life?
I think Riley’s best strength in pickleball and in life is his strong desire to win and his hatred to lose. He’s by far one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. He hates losing a game of Old Maid as much as he hates losing a championship match. It’s one of my favorite things about him and it makes him an awesome teammate for me since I hate losing just as much as he does.
Riley, what is Lindsey’s best strength in the game or in life?
I believe Lindsey’s best strength on the pickleball court is her defense! Some balls I’ll think there’s no way she’s getting, and not only does she get to it but puts a perfect drop back into the kitchen. Also, her playing style is easy to play with because she is super consistent and doesn’t make too many unforced errors. She has a huge heart off the court too; she’s always doing something for someone behind the scenes and never looks to take credit. She simply does nice things for people out of the kindness of her heart.
What is your favorite place to play?
Lindsey: Vail, Colorado; Kona, Hawaii; and Las Vegas, Nevada, are some of my favorite places to play based strictly on their location. However, I think playing at Nationals/Indian Wells is my favorite place to play. The atmosphere, weather, fans, competition and center court are all top-notch. I’m so bummed it was canceled this year, but I’ll be counting down the days until Nationals 2021.
Do your parents or siblings play pickleball?
Lindsey: There are seven kids in our family. Riley and I definitely play the most. We do have a couple of younger sisters and a brother who play. Kody is the youngest sibling and is a natural athlete, so it would be awesome for Riley and Kody to eventually play men’s doubles together. Our parents would prefer watching us play than playing themselves, and when our mom is in the stands, she’s often our loudest fan!
Riley: Our parents only play on our yearly family vacations, but they love to come and support in person when the schedule works out. They are our biggest fans on and off the court. Most of our siblings have now started playing and are really keen on improving. The pickleball world better watch out because you’ll be seeing more Newmans in the pro draw very soon!
Riley: Being on the podium at every major tournament and getting a sponsorship from Dairy Queen!