List of pickleball instructors in Albany, Saratoga Springs and Greater Capital Region

Pickleball instructors in New York Capital Region Albany Schenectady Saratoga

If you are looking for pickleball coaches in the Greater Capital Region, here is a list to get you started. You can find instructors in Albany, Schenectady, Colonie, Clifton Park, Saratoga Springs, Queensbury, Lake George, Latham, Ballston Spa, Rensselaer and Amsterdam.

This list does not capture the dedicated pickleball ambassadors, official and nonofficial, that welcome newcomers to the court and teach them the game. They are our first coaches and the best.

If you are an instructor and would like to be on the list, email me at

Updated April 2024

Independent instructors

Susan Comito

Susan is a former NYS physical education teacher and coach. She became a Pickleball Coaching International Level 2 certified instructor in 2022. Her coaching philosophy centers around tailoring her instruction to each player’s unique abilities and goals. She believes in building a strong foundation by focusing on fundamental techniques while also introducing advanced strategies to enhance players’ performance. Susan teaches in Southern Saratoga County and at the Southern Saratoga YMCA in Clifton Park.

Gina Family

Gina has been playing and studying the game of pickleball for several years. She became an IPTPA Level 1 certified instructor in 2019. Gina enjoys assisting and motivating individuals to learn and  improve their skills, discover new techniques and strategies, and achieve their goals in pickleball. She has also been a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor for over 30 years. Gina teaches in Queensbury, Lake George, Clifton Park and all around the Capital Region.

Ray Fox


Ray started playing pickleball with neighbors and friends weekends in 2018.  To learn more about the game, he took lessons from Gina Family.  In 2021, he became a Level 1 certified teacher from Pickleball Coaching International.  Ray teaches at Saratoga Regional YMCAs: Saratoga branch Oct – April indoors and the Malta branch May – Sept outdoors. Ray believes a good understanding of the basics of pickleball will help you enjoy the game as well as improve your skills. As you play this game you have to continue to learn more as you play.

David Greene

Cell: 518-253-5019

David is the varsity tennis coach at a Columbia High School, a position he has held for 20 seasons for both boys and girls. He became a PPR certified pickleball instructor in 2023 and a certified tennis coach in 2010. David is a retired NYS elementary school teacher and regional and state singles tennis champion with USTA and WTT. He teaches within a 20-30 minute drive from Latham, NY.

Michelle (Sinon) Jones
Facebook: @Michelle Sinon Jones


Michelle, whose background is in leadership and teaching coaching, became Level 1 certified through Pickleball Coaching International in 2024. Pickleball coaching brings together everything Michelle is passionate about: connection, thriving, play, and inclusion. Lessons and events focus on both the mental and physical game, since they’re interconnected. Michelle’s indoor lessons home base is the Rensselaer Boys & Girls Club, and she travels to clients all over the Capital Region and Upstate/Western NY. 

Mary Pat Knepper 

Mary Pat found her passion for pickleball in 2019.  She started teaching in 2020 and became Level 1 IPTPA certified in 2022.  Mary Pat’s enthusiastic coaching emphasizes the importance of strong fundamental skills.  She is committed to helping players reach their goals and become the best player they can be. Mary Pat teaches independently in Averill Park, NY, and surrounding areas and is on the pickleball teaching staff at Bousquet Sport in Pittsfield, Mass., Sportime Schenectady and the Malta Community Center.

Ed Koivula

Ed is a former collegiate tennis player that converted to pickleball 13 years ago. He started teaching pickleball in 2017 and became a PCI certified instructor in 2020.  He is a 4.5 level player and he works with players new to the game and intermediate players looking to get to the advanced level. He is currently the pickleball instructor at the Lake George Club and teaches classes at the Malta Community Center.

Diego Lebron

Diego, who is originally from Puerto Rico, came to the Capital Region almost 10 years ago to play Division 1 tennis at Siena College. He is a senior business analyst for a local bank and is pursuing a pro pickleball career. Diego became Level 2 IPTPA certified in 2023. With a passion to help and teach others, Diego has been teaching pickleball and helping players from the beginner level who are looking to learn the game all the way to advanced players who want to improve and play tournaments. Diego will be conducting clinics, Learn 2 Plays, privates and semi-privates at Xtreme Pickleball and around the Capital Region.

Lauren LiGreci

Lauren is a former collegiate racquetball player and current youth softball coach. She started teaching pickleball in 2023 and became a Level I Certified Pickleball Instructor through the IPTPA. Lauren’s wheelhouse is teaching folks the game of pickleball no matter their level of play or physical abilities. Lauren has sustained numerous injuries throughout her sporting career and has found pickleball to be a phenomenal way to get moving no matter the obstacles you may face. Lauren has the ability to tailor a class to the level of the students, starting with fundamental techniques and moving towards advanced strategies through a series of fun drills and observed game play. Lauren lives in Niskayuna and teaches throughout the Capital Region.

Club instructors

Legacy Pickleball Club

4 McCrea Hill Rd, Ballston Spa NY

(518) 288-3574

Jackie Stimmel Santacruz

Jackie won multiple Section Titles with the Saratoga Springs High School tennis team and played Division 1 tennis at Colgate University. After college, she met her husband Brian on the tennis court where they continued to play tennis until they learned about pickleball in 2019. Jackie and Brian are 5.0 level pickleball players who enjoy traveling around the USA to play pickleball tournaments. They have won silver at Nationals in California, silver at Regionals in Colorado, and placed 4th in the US Open in Florida. Jackie became a certified PPR Pickleball Pro in 2021.

Brian Santacruz

Brian grew up in the New England Region, he played high level junior tennis tournaments achieving a USTA New England top 20 ranking and became a nationally ranked junior. When not competing or training Brian could be found leading tennis lessons, clinics, and directing tennis camps. After college Brian met his wife Jackie on the tennis court where they continued to play tennis together and eventually were introduced to pickleball in 2019. Brian became a top player in the Northeast achieving a gold medal at the USAPA Atlantic Regionals in Massachusetts, gold at the Great Plains Regionals in Colorado, and silver at Nationals in California. Brian became a certified PPR Pickleball Pro in 2021.

Stephen Thirolle

Stephen is assistant coach for Skidmore College’s Women’s Tennis and is a PCI certified pickleball professional. Stephen built a method and curriculum to quickly develop a wide range of pickleball players. He enjoys working with everyone from tots to seniors, beginners to competitive foursomes, and everything in between.

Peter Bojarczuk

Peter became a Certified Level 2 IPTPA pickleball instructor in 2021 and is Associate Director of “Traveling Pickleball Pros,” instructing large group clinics throughout New York, the tri-state area and Florida. Whether he is teaching adults or hosting junior pickleball camps, Peter has an insatiable passion for nurturing the best players. He has over 15 years of playing experience and has won numerous medals in regional and local tournaments. When he’s not teaching, Peter spends his time playing in local leagues and drop-in open play.

Sportime Schenectady

2699 Curry Road, Schenectady, NY 12303
(518) 356-0100

Sarah Sharpe, General Manager

Sarah Sharpe is the General Manager at Sportime Schenectady and became IPTPA Level 1 certified in 2023. Sarah played Division 1 tennis at Skidmore College, and after pursuing careers in the arts and in education, found herself most at home coaching on the tennis, and now pickleball courts.

Michael Amico, Pickleball Director

Mike is the Pickleball Director and Professional Tennis and Pickleball Coach at Sportime Schenectady. His became IPTPA Level 1 certified in 2023. Mike played Division 1 tennis at Siena College, and since graduating, has been coaching some of the elite junior tennis players in the Capital Region for over 10 years. He has extended his passion for playing and instructing tennis to pickleball, and specializing in teaching novice pickleball players and introducing tennis players to the sport of pickleball. In addition to his coaching career, Mike enjoys competing in high level tennis and pickleball tournaments locally and nationally. 

James Neal

Jim has had an impressive career on and off the court, and has coached the Niskayuna Girls and Boys High School Tennis teams for decades. He has influenced many players ranging in age from 4 to 94 in the Capital Region over the years, inspiring them to take up tennis and more recently, pickleball. Jim is an advocate for the benefits of life-long sports participation including exercise, socialization, and to be connected to a community of like-minded enthusiasts.

David Maher

David is a graduate of Mohonasen High School and was the top male tennis player in Section 2. He is a free spirit whose energy and enthusiasm for tennis and pickleball inspires and entertains everyone on court with him. David loves instructing pickleball players of all ages, and plays in pickleball tournaments competing in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. David became IPTPA Level 1 certified in 2023.

Mary Pat Knepper – see independent instructors above

True Pickleball

195 Troy-Schenectady Rd. Latham, NY 12110
(518) 776-1170

EJ Hakala, Head Pro

EJ became a PPR Certified Coach in 2023. He has coaching experience as an NFL Youth Flag Football Coach and AAU Basketball Coach.  He is a multi sport athlete and enjoys playing football, flag football, basketball, and found a passion for pickleball in 2021.  His love for pickleball stems from not only the competition but the strategy that’s required in winning at the higher levels.

Brian Mahar

Brian became a PPR Certified Coach in 2023. He enjoys coaching both private and small group lessons.  His pickleball passion is teaching and learning different strategies as well as quick play at the net.  He began playing pickleball in 2022.  Brian enjoyed playing sports throughout his entire life, especially baseball and basketball. Brian’s coaching skills go beyond pickleball as he coached multiple youth sports teams over the years, including softball, basketball and soccer. 

Sean O’Donnell

Sean’s life has revolved around athletics.  Throughout his years, Sean has participated in basketball, track and field, dirt bike racing and triathlons.  Two years ago, Sean also found a passion for pickleball, which since has become a significant part of his life. Sean works part-time for True and became a certified PPR Coach in 2023.  He loves both playing and coaching pickleball. Apart from pickleball, Sean is an entrepreneur.  He runs a photography business as well as a microgreens farm, which supplies local restaurants with nutritious greens.

Tyler Lantiegne

Tyler became a PPR certified coach in 2023. He specializes in targeting players weaknesses to improve their game, in additional to perfecting shots and placement. He grew up playing table tennis and board games with his grandfather, until he stumbled into pickleball in late 2018.  Since then pickleball has completely taken over his and his families lives.  Tyler is always looking for competitive games, improving skills and being the best player he can be.  You have likely seen Tyler play on the courts with his trademarked one hand on his hip stance. Tyler runs and manages leagues at True Pickleball Club and has managed leagues in other facilities. 

Xtreme Pickle Amsterdam

Riverfront Center, 23 Washington St., Amsterdam, NY 12010

Lorraine Sheckton

Loarraine is a life long resident of Amsterdam and retired from NYS Department of Taxation & Finance. She learned to play pickleball 10 years ago while vacationing in California. Since then, she has been an active promoter of Pickleball. A USA Pickleball Ambassador for Montgomery County since 2019, she has promoted and taught numerous beginner clinics at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam and she is running the Learn 2 Play program at Xtreme.

Diego Lebron – see independent instructors above

Outside the 518 area…

Bousquet Sport 

100 Dan Fox Dr, Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 499-4600

Leia Miller, Director of Pickleball

As of December 2021, Leia’s journey with Bousquet Sport began, but little did she know it would lead to an exciting adventure into the world of Pickleball. Playing sports her entire life, pickleball became her new sports addiction. Leia decided to up her game and play a major role in the growth of pickleball at Bousquet Sport. She earned her Level One certification from the IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association) in April 2023. Leia became Director of Pickleball in October 2023.

Pat Mele

Pat is an IPTPA Level I and II certified pickleball teaching professional trained to provide lessons to players at all skill levels, and he regularly competes in regional tournaments at the 4.5 level in both men’s and mixed doubles himself. In addition to teaching pickleball, Pat also has a wealth of prior experience teaching racquetball and coaching youth sports. His personal proficiency in pickleball coupled with his instructional and analytical expertise ensures that his training is effective and that he brings a patient, supportive, and encouraging approach to all lessons.

Keith Eksuzian

Keith is currently an IPTPA Level I certified instructor trained to teach up to the 3.5 level. He has been teaching racquet sports for over 30 years, with extensive experience in racquetball and squash at Canyon Ranch and Berkshire West Athletic Club. Keith is very adept at realizing a player’s strengths and weaknesses and uses a “detect and correct” method that students can easily understand and implement.

Tyler Besse

After picking up a paddle for the first time in 2019, Tyler was instantly hooked on pickleball. He is always trying to improve his own game and is currently working towards obtaining IPTPA Level II and Junior certifications. Tyler actively competes in regional tournaments at 4.5+ level in men’s and mixed doubles, winning or placing in over 20 events including winning a Minor League Pickleball tournament. He loves sharing his enthusiasm for pickleball with others and helping players improve their skills. As an instructor, Tyler focuses on assessing each student’s strengths and areas for growth in order to provide customized instruction. He brings an encouraging and supportive approach designed to make sure every player is having fun on the court while steadily improving.

Mary Pat Knepper – See independent instructors above