My name is Melissa Kildow and I love pickleball.
I am a very passionate 4.9 pickleball player from Michigan. I am PPR certified and work as a pickleball pro at one of the largest indoor tennis clubs/pickleball in mid-Michigan, Ascension Genesys Athletic Center. I also compete locally and nationally in pickleball tournaments and bring back my knowledge and experience to help players utilize their skills in recreational and tournament play. Mostly though, I just really love all things pickleball.
Welcome to my new blog on Picklesphere!
Ever pick up an object and have an out of body experience? Where everything just makes sense and clicks into place, like all the puzzle pieces have been pre-arranged in front of you? The moment I picked up a pickleball paddle, I felt complete. Granted, it was a borrowed demo paddle at the time and its previous handler didn’t treat very kindly, yet it fit perfectly into my hand and life.
I grew up playing sports all my life. For over 20 years I played soccer and tennis. I taught tennis lessons and I also coached high school tennis for 5 years. While I loved these sports, there was something missing. Three years ago pickleball started up at my local gym and I started playing. I was instantly hooked.
I’ve always been lured by challenges and pickleball is full of them. It is a combination of not only endless physical challenges, but also countless mental challenges. When I first started playing pickleball, it was a struggle learning all the rules and following them consistently, especially the dreaded kitchen line. Coming from a heavy tennis background, I came with a lot of baggage, both positive and negative. My background in tennis helped me quickly learn pickleball basics and I quickly became known as a “banger.” Although hitting the ball hard came naturally, I struggled at first with the 3rd shot drop, which I quickly realized was vital to excelling in the game. I started to challenge myself to hit softer with purpose and focus on strategy that would benefit in the long run, vs the immediate gratification of hitting hard. I watched countless youtube videos and would pick the ears of the more experienced players.
As I started to play more recreationally, I made some amazing friends and was soon asked to play in my first pickleball tournament in a mixed 4.0 division. My partner and I won the very first tournament we ever played together and vowed to move to the next level, always looking for ways to improve our game, which is still our motto today. I was nervous beyond belief for that first tournament and yet the adrenaline rush and challenge to compete under pressure was addicting. My goal is to continue climbing the ladder of improvement and to never stop competing against myself and the court.
I love the ever-adapting game of pickleball and the many challenges it consists of. I’m always working on strategy, drills, and consistency. The biggest challenge of the sport however, is the mental game. It’s important to have a positive attitude and to learn from your mistakes. Pickleball is forgiving in the sense that even if you made an awful mistake in one point, the next point is like a reset button. It is a great lesson to take into life, that although we are not perfect, we can learn from our mistakes, and start fresh the next day.
When I’m not on the pickleball court, I can be found in the hospital, working as a nurse practitioner or perhaps in the kitchen working on some new recipes for competitive cooking (we can discuss my triple blue ribbon winning apple pie or my 1st place Pickled Apple Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwich at another hungrier discussion). I love to stay busy and my 3 year-old daughter makes that her full time job. She is about to have some competition with a new baby on its way! Being surrounded by the Great Lakes of Michigan, I can also be found outfishing my husband with our goldendoodle, Stella, who has to inspect every fish. Additionally, I also love to travel and read.
I utilize pickleball as a break from the business and stress of everyday life, kind of like a zen reprieve. When you are on the court, time slows down and your mind is forced to be present to the here and now. I am allowed a moment to deeply breathe the air around me and forget the daily stresses of my patients, family life, and over all hustle and bustle. It is my selfish “me” time. I am only a player on the court ready to battle this beloved challenge in life, that is also a big part of my life.
I hope you will follow my journey as we discuss the world’s fastest-growing sport and pastime. As we dive deeper and explore all the complexities of pickleball, get ready to discuss hot topics including but not limited to, pickleball in Covid times, sport pressure and stress, training and drills, rec play vs tournament play, and optimal meals and snacks. The possibilities are endless!
See you on the virtual court!
“You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.”
~ Michael Jordan
PPR-Certified Teaching Pro
Melissa is a 5.0 tournament player, teaching pro, and devoted mother with a serious passion for pickleball. Follow her foray through the Picklesphere as she writes about all the things we love about this sport, including strategy, the mental game, training, drills, diet and more.