Yvonne Hackenberg discusses her longevity in the sport and why she loves it.
In Yvonne Hackenberg’s house, pickleball is a multigenerational sport. From her 90-year-old mother, to her
daughter, to her grandchildren, there isn’t anyone in her family that the game hasn’t touched in some way.
“Racquet sports have played a large role in my life,” says the Hall-of-Famer. “Junior tennis morphed into college tennis, which became platform tennis and paddleball and then pickleball. Even my first date with my husband Jim was on a tennis court. I am very grateful that Jim and I now have a shared passion for pickleball.”
She adds, “The thing about pickleball that gets you is that the people are number one. They’re very welcoming and you go out, have a good time playing, and go to Starbucks afterward. The physical aspect of the game is also a plus. Pickleball keeps you moving and physically fit, and pickleball addicts will do anything to keep playing.”
And she’s not kidding about that last part. Life in the warm Arizona climate affords Hackenberg the chance to play whenever she wants, which is mostly every day. Currently her schedule has her playing five days a week.
Despite her rigorous practice schedule and a lifetime of experience in racquet sports, Hackenberg said that when it comes down to it, she prefers playing doubles over singles every time.
“I like the shared experience,” she explains. “I love doubles because I love the dynamic of trying to combine with someone else to bring out the best in them in order for our team to succeed, and I’m very aware of not doing things that are going to take away from that.”
Her advice with regard to doubles is backed up by her eight platform tennis national titles (including induction into the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame), 12 national pickleball titles and one national paddleball title — all of which were earned as part of a doubles team. When asked what’s left on her pickleball bucket list, Hackenberg said that her main goal is to win the Huntsman Games in the 90+ mixed doubles with her husband.
For a woman who has spent her entire sporting life excelling in the doubles arena – she gives her partners much of the credit.
“I want to give thanks to Jim, Hilary, Robin, Linda, and Caprice for carrying me,” she said, enumerating her partners over the years. And while she humbly makes light of her wins, Hackenberg said that she pays attention to the other competitors on the courts and likes what she sees, especially among the younger players coming up and people migrating to pickleball from other sports as it gains in popularity. They have speed, agility and a real passion for the game.
For now, Hackenberg is excited about the US Open and for the Pickleball Association to complete the new ratings initiative. As a senior player, she said she focuses on the elements of the game where she needs to improve as well as outside fitness to stay in peak form. As a born team player, Hackenberg loves evolving as a player and becoming the best doubles partner she can be. As a competitor, she said the learning never stops.
“You don’t reach a point where you think you have it all,” she explains. “You can always learn from other people. Incorporating that is tough, but you never stop learning the game. ”