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My Friend Chris Wilson

Posted on August 21, 2020 by under Community, Hobbies, Toys.    

My friend Chris Wilson and I recreated our Wichita Corporate Challenge picture from last year. So much has changed since then. At the time, I was playing with my first big girl pickleball paddle – a Selkirk S1C. I’ve switched to four different paddles since then. I first switched to playing with a Prokennex Pro Speed because I ended up with really bad tennis elbow. Then, when my tennis elbow started to feel better, I let my friend Jon talk me into switching to the Onix Evoke Premier, which is the paddle that local pickleball superstars Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright use.

Then, all of my friends started playing with the Engage Encore MX 6.0, which is the paddle you see in the pic below. Both Chris and I started playing with it around the same time. Almost everyone in our Friday night pickleball group plays with this exact paddle. I think there are only a couple of people who use different ones.


Anyway, I’ve since moved on and switched to playing with an Electrum Pro. It’s the first pickleball paddle that I’ve fallen in love with and chosen for myself. All other paddles I’ve ever played with were recommended to me by other friends (Selkirk – Gregg Smith, Prokennex – Jimmy Cho, Onix – Jon Maugans, Engage – Debbie Fanning). The Electrum is the first one that I’ve chosen for myself after demoing. I actually thought I would be the first person to play with one as my regular paddle (Patrick Smith has one – it’s actually the one I demoed – but he wasn’t playing with it because he was still playing with his Engage) in town but my dad actually beat me to it. Dad bough and got his Electrum Pro about a week before me.

Back to Chris Wilson. I met him at Paul Haas’ (another pickleball friend) church about a year and a half ago. I had no idea that he and Paul both worked for Evergy (Westar Energy at the time) until Paul actually retired. Anyway, I was looking for a partner for the pickleball tournament portion of the Wichita Corporate Challenge and I was going to ask Paul at first and then Paul told me that Chris also works for our company. Unlike Paul, he isn’t retired, so the two of us teamed up.

Anyway, Chris is a really good pickleball player. When I first started playing, I was mostly playing at the West YMCA with a bunch of beginners. There were some better players but then they started not coming around. I found out later they were playing at the the West Heights United Methodist Church (Paul’s church) down the street instead. It was like a secret place. It wasn’t published on the USA Pickleball Places2Play site. You just kind of had to know about it either through a friend or you were invited. I remember being so excited when I finally found the church.

I met Chris on my first time there. I was still very much a beginner so everyone was so much better than me. My friend Gregg Smith, who I know through Brian (because he is an Edward Jones client), paired me with who he said was “the best player” there on my very first game, and that “best player” he gave me was Chris. I think our first game was me and Chris vs. Gregg and another guy. I was a newbie who needed some “babysitting” so I was grateful to have Chris as my partner.

A few months later, Chris asked me if I would play with him in a tournament. I was so flattered that he thought I was good enough to play with him until I found out it was a pickleball tournament for senior citizens. And then I wasn’t sure if I should feel insulted that he thought I would be old enough to play in it.

Another funny story I have about Chris happened a few weeks ago. We have been playing in some recreational (but still somewhat competitive) mixed doubles at the park on Sunday mornings. The first time we did this format, I played with my friend Michael Cheung who I have played with in past leagues and tournaments. Jimmy Cho, who organizes this play, makes it Sadie Hawkins dance style where the girls ask guys to be their partner. I assumed we were picking partners from “Jimmy’s boys,” a group of mostly Asian guys who Jimmy has been training and mentoring. Anyway, I noticed that other people invited non-Asian guys to be their partner so I decided that I would invite the best player I know for the following weekend and texted Chris Wilson.

Anyway, he immediately replied back that he was already playing with Kim Knotts. About that same time, I saw that Kim replied to the group chat with the ladies that she is playing with Chris as her partner. It was understandable as the two of them have been playing in tournaments together so it only makes sense that they would want to continue to team up even for rec play so that they can have lots of practice. But, not to be outdone, I decided to ask another really good player who also happens to be left handed same as Chris.

When Chris turned me down and I found another partner, I texted him back saying that I found another lefty to play with me. Well, we have a famous lefty in town, Cody Courter, who is super amazing. So he texted back and asked if I was bringing Cody. I didn’t reply because I wanted him to chew on that little niblet for a bit. I also wanted the element of surprise.

That Sunday I played with Tom Pham, another great pickleball player who happens to be a lefty. Tom is amazing and we did really well that day. I might not have brought Cody but I got the next best thing. LOL. Tom and I have since teamed up for mixed competitive league at Chicken N Pickle on Thursday nights and are also doing well in that league.

There are several guys who are really good and super fun to play with and I am grateful that they are willing to play with me. Kim has Chris pretty much on lock but I did get to play mixed doubles with Chris some over the summer. And, I also get to play with (and against) him every week in our normal Friday night group at Nahola that Debbie organizes.

One last little story about Chris. I’ve gotten a lot better at pickleball since the very first time we met and don’t really need much “babysitting” anymore. Whenever Chris and I play together, he actually lets me handle things instead of taking my shots to help me out. Anyway, he’s noticed that I actually play better against him than with him and he’s made a comment about it a couple of times.

After one particularly good game where me and my partner beat him and his partner he asked, “How come you don’t play like that when you’re playing with me?” I think I revert back to “beginner Ching” when we play together and still want him to do some “babysitting” because in my mind I think he is amazing and his shots are going to be way better than mine so I end up not taking shots I should be taking and just expect him to take care of everything.

For instance, I’ve gotten a lot better at chasing down lobs and he’s seen how much progress I’ve had in this area so then we get lobbed he expects me to “handle” it whereas before when we first started playing he would have to chase all of them down (because I simply did not have the skills to deal with them properly). So now that he knows I am capable he expects me to take these but in my mind I’m still thinking he will take care of these. I don’t think I have this same mental challenges when I’m playing with other guys who didn’t know me as a beginner. And I think this is why I seem to play much better when I’m playing with other people. Because I don’t expect them to “babysit” me like does.

Anyway, that’s pretty much my Chris Wilson stories. It’s Friday and that means we’re playing tonight. I am so excited! I love Fridays because I get to play pickleball for four hours nonstop. Until next time. GNG.

Related Stories

  • My Friend Chris Wilson on April 12, 2022
  • 80/100 Tournament on August 22, 2020
  • Chris Wilson’s Birthday Weekend on June 12, 2020
  • Sunday Mixed at the Park on July 17, 2020
  • Meet My Friend Steve on October 13, 2020

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