Standout players Simone Paiva Jardim and Corrine Carr are quickly becoming prodigies on the pickleball court.
Carr, 27, and Jardim, 36, won gold and silver, respectively, at the USAPA Nationals VII in Casa Grande, Arizona, in November.
Jardim, a native of Santa Maria, Brazil, won gold in open women’s singles and in open mixed doubles with partner Rafael Siebenschein. Jardim was a two-time All-American tennis player at Fresno State, and now serves as the tennis head coach at Michigan State University. She has been playing pickleball for almost a year.
Carr, a native of Pinehurst, North Carolina, who now lives in East Lansing, Michigan, won silver with Jardim in the National Open Women’s Doubles. Carr, who has been playing pickleball for about two years, played championship golf for the University of South Carolina, where she majored in math and finance. She’s currently in graduate school at Michigan State, pursuing her Ph.D. in finance.
Both women say friends invited them to try the sport.
“I thought the game looked odd and I didn’t think there was any way I would like it,” says Carr. “I played a lot of sports growing up and played golf and tennis at a high level, so when I heard about pickleball, my first response was, ‘Pickleball! What is that?’ But I got hooked. I love the game and now play it more than anything else!”
Jardim says her friend, Walter Pelowski, told her she should try the sport.
“He was in a league at the time, playing with Dan O’Toole, and told him that he should get me to join their group,” she said. “So, Dan showed up at the tennis facility where I work, and from then on, I started playing at least once a week with Dan, Corrine, Walter and many other friends.”
Jardim, who has two children with husband Chad Edwards, says that she played her first tournament last May in Kalamazoo, which was when she truly got “hooked” on the sport.
“I met some great people who I call great friends now,” she says. “People have been extremely friendly and the environment is awesome.”
Both players are racking up impressive pickleball stats.
In 2015, at the Royal Oak Skill Level Pickleball Tournament, Carr placed first in mixed doubles with Kyle Yates and in women’s doubles with Laura Fenton. Also in 2015, at the Fall Brawl Pickleball Tournament, she placed second in mixed doubles with Matt Staub and women’s doubles again with Fenton. She also won first place in singles in the USAPA Pacific Northwest Regional Big Country RV Bend Pickleball Tournament.
In the Second Annual Pickleball Fever in the Zoo, Carr won first place in mixed doubles with O’Toole and won the women’s doubles division with Jardim.
“I have a blast playing the game and I love the people I’ve met,” says Carr. “I’ve made some great friends through pickleball. Also, although I’m young, I love that I can play pickleball every day and feel like I’m not tearing apart my body.”
While pickleball feeds Jardim’s competitive spirit, she says that it’s the social aspect of the game that she enjoys the most.
“I believe pickleball is one of the few sports you can play with or against people of any age,” she states. “Every Wednesday night, I get to play pickleball with my friends, and after we get to hang out and talk about anything.”
Carr agrees. “It’s a great game. Pickleball is not difficult to pick up and it’s loads of fun. It’s a game anyone can enjoy on some level, unlike many other sports. It’s a great way for people of any age to exercise and have fun.”