Relishing Pickleball


David Zapatka, USAPA rating committee member

The final three USAPA Hall of Fame inductees are Arlen Paranto, Mark “Yoda” Friedenberg and Billy Jacobsen.

Arlen Paranto – Arlen is a retired Boeing engineer and the head of the cost savings division who went to work for Boeing in the early 1950s. He got involved with pickleball in the early 1980s when Sid Williams was forming the United States “Amateur” Pickleball Association.

Arlen began making prototype paddles using Boeing’s jet aircraft floor-paneling material. The honeycomb core made the paddles lighter than wood and gave them a bigger sweet spot which led to the Pro-Lite paddle company. He was a member of the first tournament rule book committee. Arlen competed in the Washington State Senior games and continued to play pickleball into his early 80s.

Mark “Yoda” Friedenberg – Mark has been competing for 40 years and is a multiple USAPA National Gold Medal Champion. He was involved very early in the USAPA as a board member and became the first president of the new USAPA in 2005. He has continued to serve on the USAPA ratings committee. He owned and operated the Pro-Lite Sports Company continuing the legacy begun by Arlen Paranto.

Mark has been a mainstay in pickleball as a pickleball pro, a tournament organizer, pickleball instructor and author of The Official Pickleball Handbook. On the court, he has always conducted himself with class and a great sense of humor. He has showed great prowess as a competitor in tournaments. His skill in the game and his work as an instructor earned him the name “Yoda.” Our sport would not be what it is today without the impact of “Yoda” Friedenberg.

Billy Jacobsen – Billy’s name is synonymous with “Pickleball Pro.” He has played in at least one pickleball tournament a year for 35 years in a row. Nominator and multiple USAPA National Champion, Wes Gabrielsen said this: “Despite physical challenges, Billy Jacobsen dominated pickleball tournaments for years. Billy was a successful high school and University of Washington college tennis player. His stellar tennis skills transferred easily to pickleball. The history of pickleball cannot be written without including Billy’s name and accomplishments with it.”

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected]