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By Mike Melendez & Dave Siegel

Who are the greatest most dominant paddleball teams and the best singles player? Not of all-time, but right now! We know everyone has an opinion and this could be debated forever. But in today’s world of analytics, we can figure this out by the numbers. As most of you know, the PFA has maintained a ranking system for every division and it has been used to determine seeding in PFA and other tournaments. Points are awarded in sanctioned tournaments for placing from first to eighth and are weighted based on number of entries. Of course, teams that have remained intact have an advantage and that’s one reason why this system would be effective in determining who are the exalted ones.

As I have communicated numerous times in the past, the Number One team (or singles player) should be the team or player that is top ranked at year’s end. My long-time goal is to cap off each year with an annual gala sit-down dinner/awards presentation. However, we are not ready to do this every year because currently there simply are not enough sanctioned tournaments to make a meaningful determination. I believe that we need at least five tournaments in each division. It does not make sense to me to crown the BEST of the year based on four or less tournaments in that division. The PFA and the other tournament directors need to work together to ensure that we have at least five sanctioned tournaments yearly for each division and then we can truly crown the BEST at year’s end. Also in order to make a sit-down dinner a reality, we need to make it affordable for the whole paddleball community, and for that we need sponsorship.

To kick off the process this year, we have produced a four-year ranking in each division based on consolidating all of the sanctioned tournaments since 2018, which was the first year the ranking system was used. The PFA Board of Directors has approved this concept and I hope that you, the Paddleball Community, will support it!

Here are the results for the Best of the Best, Congratulations to all:
Big Ball Doubles:
o Robert Sostre & Freddy Ramirez – Total Points 381.25
Classic Ball Doubles:
o Dave Blatt & Keith Jackson – Total Points 106.25
Women’s Big Ball Doubles:
o Jasmine Suarez & Miriam Silva – Total Points 118.75
Big Ball Mixed Doubles:
o Kathy Guinan & Robert Sostre – Total Points 452.97
o Willie Wheels Chavez – All the Points!

Paddleball Family Alliance YouTube Channel

Paddleball Family Alliance YouTube Channel

As you may or may not know, a few years back I created a PFA YouTube channel. It’s a library consolidating the best videos I could find that pertain to paddleball. I recently updated and organized it and am continuing to work on this project. Personally, I think it’s great having all of these videos in one place for the paddleball community’s viewing enjoyment. Here is the link, check it out:

I’m sure everyone knows that I am continuously looking for sources of income for the PFA in order to fund our Youth Clinics, host PFA Paddleball events and tournaments, and perhaps most importantly, to attract potential sponsors. It turns out that this YouTube channel can help us make a little money for the cause, but I need your help. This is what it will take:

  • We need a total of 1000 subscribers. Our PFA Facebook group has 1500 members. So if everyone subscribes to the YouTube channel, achieving this is a slam dunk.
  • 4000 total watch hours for the year. If all members watch only 3 hours in a year, we will exceed this. I’m sure everyone will enjoy the videos. This goal should be easily reached.

Your support for this project doesn’t involve any donations. If everyone in the Paddleball Family-OneWall Community subscribes to the PFA YouTube channel and watches a few hours of the videos, we will achieve the goals in no time! So please take two seconds to click the link, hit “subscribe,” and start enjoying the videos. I’d appreciate it more than anything!


All the BEST – Mike Melendez

Jewelz Santiago – PFA Paddleball Player Profile #43

Jewelz Santiago PFA Paddleball Player Profile #43

By Dave Siegel &  Mike Melendez

“When you stop fighting things and just live, breathe, and try your best to treat people right, life just flows.  It’s that simple.”  – AnonymousThis quote, one of her favorites, aptly captures Jewelz Santiago.  When you look at her life, it seems that Jewelz is just too good to be true.  But this is really her: magnanimous, kind, dedicated, hard-working, humble, an animal lover, a physical fitness gym rat, a rags-to-riches success story and a loved-by-all true sportsperson.  Yes, and those that know her will attest that it’s all true!

Jewlez is an eighteen-year veteran handball player who started playing paddleball only three years ago and has quickly emerged as one of the top female players in the game. Her life started out in the most humble manner in the Dominican Republic, a beautiful Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west.  Currently 40.4% of the Dominican Republic’s people live in poverty, and 10.4% are in extreme poverty.  Her parents left Jewelz and her siblings when she was five years old seeking to make a better life in the US for their children and they were reunited in the US five years later.  The parents worked hard so that the kids could be provided with the basic essentials for living while enabling them to go to school.  Jewelz persevered and advanced in her education, but never lost sight of her early years.  She “gets up every day and works as if I am still living in the DR waiting for my parents to come get me.”  Her industriousness paid off as she eventually became a successful businesswoman.

When we talk about Jewelz as magnanimous and a sportsperson, she is without peer in the paddleball community.  She has been a significant sponsor in the AF tournaments and the PFA Youth program as well as other paddleball tournaments.  She treats everyone with kindness, her fellow players with respect and is universally well-liked.  This past year she became the first women’s winner of the prestigious Chris Lecakes Sportswoman of the Year award, which was a no-brainer.  Jewelz says this was the most memorable moment in her paddleball career!

As with most paddleball players, she started in handball, partnering for a few years with Suly Ruiz, another ex-handballer who has also since become one of the best women paddleball players.  They won a B doubles and placed high in many other handball tournaments.  She first started playing paddleball when Suly, along with Manny Olmo, encouraged her to try paddleball at Garfield Park in Hollywood.  She loved the game, became hooked, and immediately transitioned to paddleball – her home court is Castle Hill Playground in the Bronx.  Jewelz’ style on the court is strictly offensive, always looking to attack, whether it be to hit a winner, to create a shot that will set herself up or to set up her partner for a good shot.  She likes to mix up her shots with killers, drives and lobs, a shot which she is especially fond of.  She says she loves everything about paddleball, especially the people.  “The welcoming I received when I started was like no other.  The encouragement from everyone, I don’t think there is a better sports community out there.  The love and care is FELT!”  She is a sweetheart but as Suly told us, “She hates soft games when people are not playing hard… or always laughing when playing.  She wants that serious intense game!”  Say, wouldn’t it be awesome if Jewelz and Sully teamed up in tournaments?

We asked Jewelz what she thinks can be done to improve organized paddleball and the PFA in particular and she provided some excellent input.  She would like to see more confident and knowledgeable refereeing and players themselves should do a better job of learning the rules.  The PFA can expand its horizons by enlisting the parents of the Youth Clinic participants to help recruit others and also encourage the students themselves to get their friends involved. Jewelz also had some solid thoughts on promoting the growth of the sport.  One important potential source is the handball community, which as we know is quite large.  Approaching them with paddles and trying to get them to give it a try is the way she got hooked and an organized effort of this type could certainly get more new paddleball recruits.  Also, approaching the schools that have handball teams and encouraging them to have paddleball options is another great idea.

What is Jewelz’ highlight on the paddleball court?  She cites a mixed doubles tournament victory against the huge favorite Lisa Michaelessi, one of the best of all the women players, a game though that was fraught with arguments.  She said the crowd was amazing and when her team won, it was a great feeling.

Jewlez is a private person, so many of you may not know the information we are about to reveal about Jewelz:  Her favorite color is orange (summer sun), favorite food is seafood, sports heroes are Nadal and Djokovic and she used to play softball and volleyball.  Jewlez’ love of animals can be readily seen with her two dogs, Nela and Daisy.  She loves to cook and considers herself the chef for her family and circle of friends.  Jewelz is a dedicated athlete, spending much time in the gym working out, toning her body and maintaining physical fitness.  And her favorite sport is none other than paddleball!

How can we sum up Jewelz Santiago?  Well, she does it best: “I believe in Kindness. There is no better feeling than when someone is Kind to us without any hidden agenda. Kindness is more contagious than evil.  If only we would spread more of it, the world would be a better place.”

Well Jewelz, the paddleball community is in a better place because of you!



Gregg Sgar – PFA Paddleball Player Profile #42

Gregg Sgar PFA Paddleball Player Profile #42

by Dave Siegel

There was a day in the Sgarlata family history that will live forever. It happened in November, 2018, Caloosa Park, Florida where three generations of true paddleball players “had” a game of paddleball on a “Court of Dreams.” Sonny Sgarlata, the patriarch, now in his late eighties, living in Boynton Beach, was coaxed out of paddleball retirement for a day by his visiting grandson Gregg Sgar. Sonny was a Rockland County paddleball stalwart from way back, known for his excellent placement and right corner shot. Twenty three year old Gregg had just started out in paddleball, a decision he made to honor the family paddleball tradition in hopes of getting his Dad, Gregg Sr., a top competitive player from the 90s, back into the game. The bonding between Grandpa Sonny and Gregg was enormous, but then a surprise visitor showed up, none other than Dad. They realized they had a great thing going and needed a family fourth to join them on the court and were able to get hard hitting Uncle Rich Sgarlata, Gregg Sr.’s brother, another retired player, now also a Floridian. It was truly a momentous day as the whole park stopped their games to watch this Sgarlata foursome have a tearjerking historical game for the ages on the “Court of Dreams!”

It looks like Gregg made a wise decision to take up paddleball. There haven’t been many players without a background of court-based racquet sports or handball that have first started playing our sport at the relatively “old” age 23 and in three short years were able to emerge among the best in the game. The sports he played prior to paddleball were baseball, soccer and table tennis. Is it pure athletic ability, which Gregg surely has an abundance of, or is it the paddleball gene? Greg thinks it could be the gene from Dad and Grandpa, though he showed how grounded he is by noting that the standard for “top” players has dropped from paddleball’s heyday, which obviously it has, considering the paucity of players in their athletic prime now compared to then. One thing for sure, the sport of paddleball needs more young and dedicated players like Gregg for it to flourish in the future. That’s why cultivating our youth is a prime focus of Mike and the PFA!

Gregg Sgar plays a mean game of paddleball. In baseball, they talk about a five-tool player. In paddles, I haven’t heard this criteria used, but he has all the tools: speed and defense enabling him to make great gets, placement, consistency, smarts and power (although he says his game is not power based, but he “uses his body to create offensive put-away opportunities.”) Let’s add one more tool: sportsmanship. He is the winner of last year’s Chris Lecakes Male Sportsmanship Award for showing respect for his opponents and always playing fairly with integrity and class, a well-deserved award that I’m sure he’s proud of. Back to Gregg’s game, his favorite shot playing the left side is passing his opponent down the left line to the left of his body, obviously very risky because there is no room for error and is often most unexpected. He’s on the courts one to three times a week, primarily at O’Conner Memorial Park, his paddleball home in West Orange, NJ. Gregg plays both classic and big ball, but after starting out with the small ball, he quickly realized that “big ball is the game for me.”

You may have noticed that Gregg has a regular partner in mixed doubles, Ariana Rodriguez, one of the best of the women players in the game today. Is she his significant other? Yes she is! And Gregg considers it awesome that they play together and they even get along on the court, though he says she tears into him in private when he messes up. From personal experience, playing paddleball with your significant other is definitely a challenge. Good luck to Team Ariana and Gregg! They recently won the Paddlemania IV mixed doubles tournament, a huge milestone for them.

In his real life, Gregg, born and raised in Roseland, NJ, is an accomplished musician, recording, producing and performing professionally, both on stage and in his home studio. He sings and plays several instruments (check him out on YouTube.) He draws from a wide range of genres, including Metal, Pop and Dance (no Doo Wop? lol!) He can be seen performing in various venues in NYC and heard on Sirius.

What does he think of paddleball, the sport? Gregg says it is the greatest sport he ever played and wished he had started sooner. He lauds the loyalty of the paddleball community and sees a “hidden energy that I’ve never experienced anywhere else in my life.” Gregg appreciates what the PFA is doing, thinks improvement can be made with better sportsmanship, reputable sponsors and better reffing. His favorite sport is paddleball (first person to give this answer.) His sports role model is, you guessed it, none other than his Dad, Gregg Sgarlata.

Finally, I asked Gregg Sgar my most important question: “What’s with the “g”? Wasn’t your Dad originally Scarlata? “Sg” is certainly an unusual combination of letters to start a word or name. Gregg says it was always Sgarlata, but no one seemed to know how to spell it. Asked and answered!


Paddleball Family Support

Paddleball Family Support

The Paddleball Family Alliance is a tight knit “family” of people who not only love our sport, but also have love and compassion for each other. When a “family” member or a close relative passes away, many of us would like to reach out with prayers, condolences or donations. If you become aware of such bad news, please notify me privately and, if appropriate, I will post an announcement.


Paddleball Family Alliance YouTube Channel

Support for the PFA!

As you know, the Paddleball Family Alliance is dedicated to furthering the growth of paddleball. We depend not only on the great people who volunteer their time and energy, but in order to make our efforts successful, we also need money or products for the tournaments, kids’ clinics and other programs. We are always looking for individuals and company sponsors who can help us financially. So if you are looking to make a holiday gift or end-of-the-year fully tax-deductible donation, or know of a person or an organization who might be interested in doing so, please think of us!

You can donate using one of these options:
– Facebook –
 Use link on FB post
– Directly from PFA’ websiteClick here to donate
Call for additional information – 917-306-0542 or email at



PFA Board of Directors

The Paddleball Family Alliance (PFA) is thrilled to announce the appointment of two new members to its Board: Ramon F. Garcia and Ray Gaston. Both are passionate about Paddleball and the PFA Youth Program and, without a doubt, will help strengthen the organization’s impact on the sport.

PFA Board Chairman, Mike Melendez says, “As we look ahead, Ramon and Ray are outstanding additions to our Board. They’ve each been involved in Paddleball for many years and we are excited about the unique expertise and energy that they will bring as we continue to evolve and lead the organization forward.”

Ramon F. Garcia is well respected in the Paddleball community and his experience as the Assistant Commissioner at the School Safety Division Community Affairs Bureau of the NYPD brings tremendous value to our Paddleball Youth program and the organization as a whole.

Ray Gaston has been involved in Paddleball for the past 40 years and successfully led the Professional Paddleball Players Alliance (PPPA) in the 80s.

The PFA Board of Directors is as follows:
Mike Melendez – President
Mitchell Goldberg – AVP
Dave Siegel
Ramon F. Garcia
Ray Gaston

About the PFA:
The PFA is a non-profit organization founded in 2014. Our main goals are:
To provide our youth with a recreational sport that will keep them off the streets, build a high level of self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment and create healthier attitudes, with the goal of promoting physical fitness through highly competitive Paddleball activities. We strive to grow the sport of Paddleball across the NY Tri-State area, and eventually nationally, by reviving the traditional outdoor urban game that ruled the city’s parks during the 70s through the 90s.

Respectfully PFA Board of Directors.