USAPA Nationals Open Women Singles- Talk with Bonnie and Alex

Playing singles in pickleball can be so challenging, both mentally and physically. And yes I said physically- for all those non-pickleball players that wonder how can pickleball singles on that smaller court be tough? How do you get a workout? I say just give it a try- playing someone the same level as you or better- you will get worked, and remember in pickleball tournaments you play the entire Singles tournament in ONE day.

This year I was out early in the day (yes- my body was done) so I videoed the remaining women left battling away in both the Open and Senior Open.

Enjoy this video and keep reading! I asked medal winners Bonnie Williams and Alex Hamner to share some insights from their Nationals VII singles experience – see what they say:

Insight from Bonnie:

My singles experience at Nationals VII was interesting and unexpected. A whirlwind of events. In August, I was fortunate to sub in a mixed tournament where I met the wonderful, Ken Crocker. It was at this event that the idea of going to Nationals was put on the table. After seeking friendly and encouraging advice from Wesley Gabrielsen, I decided to play Nationals.  “Ok, let’s do it.”, I responded to Ken’s request. So, the experience and education of unknown territory- Nationals VII- began. The gears were turning. Things to do: Become a USAPA member. That was easy except I misspelled my own name and listed my home town as Portland, OR. Next, register. Oh, I need a proper rating.  Mike Wolfe put me in contact with Chris Thomas. Rating done. I need to find female partners. Met Karen Gysin at a tourney and we decided to partner up over a beer and a burger. Many thanks to Christine Barksdale, she connected me with Laura Schwartz. I was thrilled beyond belief that Laura was willing to partner up with a complete stranger.  Next….. how many events does one enter? Mixed only? Doubles only? Singles?  Who would play 6 events in 8 days? That’s crazy! Can I physically play each event to its fullest? I don’t want to let my partners down by being too tired to perform.  Does everyone expect to be out in two rounds? That doesn’t sound right. I can barely walk the day after singles practice. Ken finally put an end to my “analysis paralysis ” and suggested that I play in every event I qualified for and deal with things as they come. Best advice ever. Thank you, Mr. Crocker! Had I not taken Ken’s advise I would not have entered the singles events.

Bottom line. Do you know the saying, “One must live outside their comfort zone to grow“? It’s one of my favorites.  Well, this was exactly my experience at Nationals VII. I explored the world of the “unknown”, learned a ton and in the end- I grew. I challenged myself, met new and interesting people and hopefully became a stronger, better player. My entire experience at Nationals VII was rewarding but could not have done it without the love and support of my phenomenal pickleball community of friends and my best friend and best supporter Mike Hascall. 

– Bonnie Bunsavage Williams 

Insight and humor from Alex:

 “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” ….. that’s always singles for me! 

To sum it up, my experience with playing singles at Nationals VII is that it was a big challenge. A mental and physical challenge. I am naturally a competitive person (probably not a surprise to anyone) but also a pretty social person (possibly not a surprise to many) and singles only fits that bill by strictly dividing it down the middle.  So while competing in singles is definitely competitive (yes, I just said that!) I prefer to be part of a team, which, by definition, is something singles does not fulfill. 

Remembering that every shot is “mine” and making all the play-plans myself – a mental challenge.  And of course having to cover the whole court in singles – a physical challenge.  

Singles challenges both your mind and your body, two things I “relish” about sports competition.  And when it all goes well, it is the best of times.  And when it doesn’t, well, at least you’ve had both a mental and physical workout.  And there are worse things in life than a good workout (despite my opening sentence!) 

 – Alex Hamner

6 comments on “USAPA Nationals Open Women Singles- Talk with Bonnie and Alex”

  1. Jennifer, I enjoy your enthusiasm and energy for pickleball, it’s infectious. I have been playing the game for a little over a year and keep working to get better. This blog of yours is great. I saw you play at Casa Grande and it was a delight. Keep up the good work and the blog.

    1. Hey Michael! Thanks so much for your kind note and taking the time to share. Keep having fun with pickleball – it’s the best! 🙂

  2. As always, the mighty Alex writes in her distinct and delightful voice. Few people I have known in my life shine with such simple joy for life as the Hamner. Thanks Alex.

  3. Awesome singles video Jennifer. Great points by all the women and now I am inspired to play more singles. I also enjoyed the interview with Alex and Bonnie, good shares from them. Keep up the good work!

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