CARLSBAD — The transition from tennis to pickleball has been smooth for Cammy MacGregor and Jennifer Dawson.
The two longtime friends picked up the sport nearly five years ago and have quickly become one of the most formidable doubles teams in the country. The duo took the senior doubles title at the Golden State Championship in Concord on July 28.
With temperatures over 100 degrees, the two North County residents paddled the field to capture another title.
Now, the two will begin to prepare for the Tournament of Champions in Brigham, Utah, from Aug. 21 to Aug. 24, followed by the U.S. Pickleball National Championships at Indian Wells, where the two also won the title in 2018, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 10.
“The conditions for Saturday and Sunday were brutal,” MacGregor said. “But it was good competition.”
Both MacGregor, of Vista, and Dawson, of Carlsbad, were former professional tennis players, each cracking the top 100 in the world. Although each retired from professional tennis, both have remained dedicated to the sport.
MacGregor is a tennis and pickleball pro at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, while Dawson and her husband, Steve Dawson, own the Bobby Riggs Racket and Paddle in Encinitas.
About five years ago, Dawson was introduced to the sport by her husband. After she realized the potential and how social it was, she called on MacGregor to try it out. Both found a great fit, became doubles partners, and began climbing through the ranks and winning.
“It’s a totally different atmosphere than tennis,” MacGregor said. “It was the social aspect of it all and just how unique pickleball is. You can have people with knee replacements and hip replacements out there. Covering a tennis court is a lot bigger.”
Their styles are different, with Dawson more of the power player and MacGregor is consistent with soft hands and control, they said.
Pickleball is played on a court 20 feet by 44 feet and has aspects of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Players use paddles and a plastic ball with holes in singles or doubles action.
The sport has gained popularity throughout the region over the past several years. As a result, the cities of Vista and Carlsbad are currently installing pickleball courts due to the demand.
Some of the reasons for the rise in popularity, MacGregor and Dawson said, are it’s a more social sport, it has a smaller court, it’s not as taxing on the body and it’s fast paced.
“There’s a little bit more to the game and you have to use a lot more strategy,” Dawson added. “It’s just a really fun game and a sport that anyone can pick up right away.”
Another reason for the popularity, she said, is word-of-mouth, like the way Dawson recruited MacGregor to the sport.
“We have a lot of great athletes that come into the sport,” Dawson said. “We have so many younger players coming into it … and they’re growing with the sport.”
Photo Caption: Jennifer Dawson of Carlsbad, left, and Cammy MacGregor of Vista won the pickleball senior doubles title at the Golden State Championship on July 28. Courtesy photo