Meet Matt our rising Pickleball star!

Matt Leete, comes from a Table Tennis background having played since the age of six.  He has represented England numerous times across Europe in Six Nation events and European Championships having also won three National Championships! Now an active Table Tennis Coach he has helped many young players come through the ranks.

Matt has been working at Bribar Table Tennis for nearly 5 years in his role as equipment specialist, on-line support and order fulfillment. His extensive knowledge of all standards of Table Tennis play makes him ideally placed to advise customers on the correct equipment to use…  

Matt’s new customer liaison role with Pickleball Complete is the perfect fit! As a super keen pickler, he’s already playing at a high standard and has an in-depth knowledge of pickleball equipment.

Currently training at Christ Church Sports Centre, Canterbury, Kent with doubles partner Harrison Wood and his father Dave Wood. Matt and Harrison are currently working on their doubles play, stacking and getting used to each other’s styles, movement and tactics.

Matt and Harrison recently entered the UK Young Persons Championship and here’s Matt’s blog on his experience (spolier alert) – they did quite well!!

Matt's first Pickleball competition...

My first pickleball competition was the UK Young Persons Championship in Milton Keynes. Due to playing table tennis at a high level, I was prepared for the level of competitiveness, even though it had been a few years since I played table tennis competitively. However, I was slightly unsure as to whether I would be good enough to hold my own against some of the best young pickleball players in the UK.

I had only really started playing pickleball at the start of the year (January 2023), I had played a few times before this, but that was mainly learning the basics and rules. So, I had only given myself 4 months of practice/experience before entering the competition.

The competition consisted of 14 male players which was played in teams of two. I played doubles with Harrison Wood, who I had been training with in the weeks leading up to the competition. Even though we were practicing together, we actually didn’t practice doubles as partners (only singles), so we were both a bit unsure as to how well we would do.

The first part of the competition was a round robin, to work out the seedings of the pairs for the later rounds. We got off to a good start winning our first two matches but came up short in our third match. We lost to a very strong pair, who have been playing together for a few years, quite convincingly. We then ended up winning one of our remaining three matches. This seeded us 4th for the knockout stages. The number one seeds got a bye straight through to the semi final while the other 6 teams had a knockout match to try to reach the semis.

As the day went on, after a few tight matches, we were beginning to get used to each other’s playing styles and tactics and we could feel an improvement match on match. We won our first knockout match and went on to the semi-final. We were up against a pairing that we had lost to previously quite convincingly 11-2. We could feel our confidence growing and I felt like I was good enough to hold my own at this level.

We both agreed that we would try to keep the ball tighter around the kitchen this time, compared to earlier in the day, to not let them be able to get in with the first attacking shot. We got off to a flying start by going 6-0 up, keeping the ball tight and dictating the rallies. I could see that our tactics were working but to change things up, I played a few lobs and fast body shots to mix the rallies up, so we didn’t get too complacent. We ended up winning the semi final 11-2 which we were both delighted with, especially losing the same score to the pairing earlier that day.

On to the final and we had another pairing that we also lost to convincingly earlier that day, 11-3. The final was slightly different as we had most of the players/spectators round the court watching. I was used to these kinds of situations due to my table tennis career, so I don’t really get nervous with playing sports in front of lots of people. The final was up to 15 points and two clear points if the score got to 14-14.

The game was very tight the whole way through with neither team building up a lead more than 3 points at any time. All four of us played some great pickleball throughout with us going 14-13 up and having a match point. The opposing players stuck to their game plan and kept the ball tight and forced us to be the ones to attack first which. Looking back, I probably opened the rallies up a bit too soon instead of keeping it tight, but that’ll come with experience in the future.

Our opponents played the last few points better than we did and they ended up winning 16-14 which was well deserved.

Matt medal

Overall, I was happy with my first competitive performance, I’ve taken some good points away with me that I can work on. Next one for me to aim for is the English Open. Training starts now!

The paddle I currently use is the Vulcan V570 Pickleball Paddle.              

The shoes I am wearing are the Mizuno Wave Exceed Tour 5 AC, I wear these as they are really comfy/cushioning and get good grip on all court conditions (indoor and outdoor).

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