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PRO-file: Behind the Scenes with Pro Michelle Esquivel

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Age: 35
Hometown: Anaheim, CA
Profession: Pickleball player and instructor
Professional ranking: Top 10 in all three ranking systems
Titles: Bronze at Nationals, gold in Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles at the SoCal Classic

You were a tennis player. How has that prepared you for pickleball?
Tennis over prepared me because tennis is so defined and so organized. Pickleball is not set in stone. I felt comfortable starting my own academy.

What is your best shot?
My backhand roll and return of serve.

What is your singles strategy?
To not rush myself. I try to pick my opportunities so that I can be on the offense.

What is the role of the two-handed backhand in pickleball?
It is a lifesaver. I have both in tennis and in pickleball.

Describe the different strategies between mixed doubles and women's doubles.
In WD 1 can take over. In MXD, the guy has to take over. I have to be patient.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing women in sports today?
Men underestimate women.

Do you feel pickleball offers equality to women players?
Yes, I do. I feel I have a strong voice.

You are from Southern California How is that reflected in your demeanor?
Southern California is the most diverse part of the U.S. I was the only Hispanic girl on my high school tennis team. Everyone else was Asian. I was able to see both sides. And I lived where I saw kids struggle to get tennis lessons. That is why I am so strong in my support for a junior pickleball program.

Who was your sports mentor?
My mom. She loved tennis. My mom was Argentinian. When she died, I was so lost. Pickleball saved me.

What is your motto?
Every day is a gift. Do your best.

When junior players watch you play, what do you want them to see?
I want them to see that good attitude and good effort goes a long way.

What is your proudest achievement?
Getting my master's degree in Physical Education and having my mom there to see me receive my diploma.

Who is your favorite author?
Anne Rice - "Interview with the Vampire."

What sponsor would you most like to see come to pickleball?
Apple.

What are the best qualities of a coach?
Being able to understand you and give a simple explanation.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry?
A butterfly necklace that my mother gave me.

What historical figure do you most admire?
Lucille Ball. She built a pathway for women. She thought out of the box. She reminds me of my grandma
from Argentina. So resourceful.

What songs do you use to pump you up before a match?
Anything by Queen, Muse, and System of a Down.

Are you an activist for a cause?
I volunteer for the American Heart Association because of my mother.

What is your favorite Olympic sport?
Gymnastics and ice skating.

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