SICK TRICKS AND LIFE
PICKLEBALL PRO IRINA
Our convo with the talented player proves she isn’t just racking up medals—she’s also infusing the sport with wit and originality.
My first pickleball game:
Denise Dy was like, “Hey, this guy Chris Miller keeps bugging me about playing this sport. Do you want to try it?” It was in Bellevue, Washington, at a public park with Chris and [pickleball Hall of Famer] Billy Jacobsen. We played singles and doubles. Chris is a legend of the sport. He probably loves pickleball more than anyone I know, so I was lucky.
My first pickleball reaction:
Coming from tennis, I didn’t have any footwork or feel on my paddle. I was pretty much on my way to never playing it again, but my friends convinced me to sign up for a pro event, the Tournament of Champions, and I was like, “All right, let’s give it another try.”
The last famous person who asked for my autograph:
At the Major League Pickleball tournament, my friend told me, “[MLP co-owner] Brené Brown knows who you are. She’s a fan.” So my opening line [when we met] was “Hi, Brené, I heard you would like an autograph and a selfie.”
Last sick trick I pulled off:
Probably an “around the post” at the USA Pickleball National Championships in Indian Wells. I definitely had some good poaches and Berts—I like to play around.
My first pickleball philosophy:
There’s a group of us called SickTRX and it’s a way of life. Yes, we’re professional athletes and members of the pickleball community, but we really want to promote individuality and creativity. We couldn’t really beat the players of the past in their game ’cause they were so good at it. So we just decided to start using more sick tricks. Now pretty much everyone has sick tricks in their arsenal. It’s not your grandma’s pickleball, you know? We should’ve trademarked that!
First thing I tell people who’ve never heard of pickleball:
Try it! Even if you don’t have a background in racket sports you’ll be able to play in 30 minutes. And if you stick with it you’ll meet new people in the community and that’s always fun. I definitely try to pique their curiosity.
Last lesson I learned in pickleball or in life:
Don’t forget to put things in perspective. That’s always the important thing in pickleball and in life.