Pickleball Magazine 1-3 - Page 38

Rudy Meredith introduces the sport to Yale University

Ivy League Pickleball

Rudy Meredith introduces the sport to Yale University
BY CAROLYN MILAZZO

Pickleball is now in the Ivy League . Yale University ’ s women ’ s soccer coach Rudy Meredith loves pickleball so much that he brought it to the hallowed halls of the Payne Whitney gymnasium in New Haven .

Since the pickup games began between Yale soccer and tennis coaches and a few administrators in January , there has been no shortage of players lining up to play . Among them is Yale women ’ s tennis coach Matej Zlatkovic , who beat Meredith , a 4.0 player who has competed in 4.5 money tournaments , the second time they played . Meredith , 48 , still bristles at losing the singles match to the 28-year-old newcomer , but noted his ultimate goal is promoting the game and recruiting younger players .
“ It took him one day to beat me , but that ’ s what I want . I want more people playing so there is better competition ,” said Meredith , who is in his 21st year coaching at Yale and is the most winning coach in university history .
Meredith ’ s attempt to grow the sport and improve competition along the Connecticut coast is not restricted to Yale . After he noticed that several players in his weekly pickup games at the Guilford Racquet & Swim Club in Guilford , CT , had reached a plateau , he began offering 90-minute boot camp‐style drills complete with medicine balls , kettle bells and agility ladders .
Lesly Wagner , Director of Pickleball at the Guilford Racquet & Swim Club , said the club is lucky to have someone with Meredith ’ s coaching background conducting the boot camp , noting , “ We ’ ve got the cream of the crop coaching us . He ’ s taking all his expertise of coaching Yale women ’ s soccer to pickleball . I think we ’ ve got something brand new here . I don ’ t think any other club is doing it , but I don ’ t think that ’ s going to be for long .”
Meredith invited some club players down to Yale to watch the coaches play , hoping to inspire them to improve their games . The games are played on a wooden floor on the 5th floor of the gym on two courts usually reserved for badminton . It may be one of the most upper crust places to play in the northeast ; high ceilings with leaded glass windows surround the sunlit space .
At this point , Meredith is just playing with coaches as an alternate workout , but he said the sport may gain intramural status among students , and Yale could be a possible tournament site .
Meredith admits that he brought the sport to Yale for partly selfish reasons , saying he was looking for more opportunities to play . He fell in love with the game as a student at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven , CT , but hadn ’ t
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