Hi! I'm Anthony,
I started pickleball when I was an undergrad in 2010. A sweet older couple whom I played badminton with mentioned to me to try out this fun new sport--"pickleball." They knew I played table tennis, tennis, and badminton so why not try another racquet sport. We lowered the badminton nets, played a couple games, and the rest is history.
I still remember in the old days where there were only 1-2 paddle manufacturers, and we only had the option to play with the indoor Cosom or Jugs balls or the outdoor Dura ball. A Dura outdoor ball cost around 65 cents, and we'd complain about that price. How the times have changed. I sound like a retiree talking about their past life, when it's only been a little over a decade.
Back in the day, you could use your own homemade paddles in tournaments as long as the surface was not sticky, soft, or overly rough and it met the size requirements. I first made a paddle by taking sheets of plexiglass and sandwiching them together with some balsa wood in between.
It was not that great, but it was mine. More defined paddle specifications came out and they only allowed commercial manufactured paddles, so I then ended up gluing two of my paddles together. Thick cores didn't exist back then, with most paddles around 10 mm. This allowed me to have a 20 mm paddle which I had to trim in shape (rounded out the square face) to keep the weight manageable. My friends called it the "Franken-paddle" as one side had fiberglass with aluminum core and the other had graphite with Nomex core. I played several tournaments with it, and it was defintely superior outdoors both in feel and sound/vibration dampening.
I hold a PhD from Louisiana State University in polymer chemistry and have worked in research and development for over 10 years. R&D is where the fun's at (I tell people I get paid to think creatively and play around), and I'm a scientist by day, addicted pickleballer by night.
When polymer cores first came into pickleball, I was hooked, not only because it's my field of study, but the feel and control of the core was unmatched by anything I've previously played. I find myself a paddle connoisseur and have played with paddle combinations of fiberglass, graphite, carbon fiber with aluminum, Nomex, even foam cores.
With the rise and popularity of the sport comes innovation and with that, inflation due to demand. I started in 2021 to look for OEM manufacturers of balls to get some affordable ones for my local clubs, but ended up talking to paddle manufacturers. I still made paddles up to this day by hand, but these manufacturers are a commercial scale-up providing me with resources that can produce my ideal paddle specifications. For the next year prototyping back and forth with numerous combinations of surfaces and cores, I used my materials science expertise with years in the sport to develop new and affordable paddles for everyone, beginner or professional.