USA Pickleball Association Announces New Partnership with RIA Eyewear
29 June 2020
The United States Pickleball Association (USAPA) is proud to announce a partnership with RIA Eyewear, a manufacturer of performance eyewear built to elevate performance while also protecting vision. RIA Eyewear will now be the Official Performance Eyewear Partner of the USA Pickleball Association.
Headquartered in New York, RIA Eyewear was founded by professional squash player and 2x U.S. National Champion, Chris Hanson, and former Trinity College tennis player, Jordan Kemp. The duo started the company with a vision to create eyewear that combines both performance and eye protection for racquet sports athletes, something they felt has been lacking in this space. “Our goal was to create a product that would give our athletes an edge every time they put on a pair of our eyewear,” said co-founder Jordan Kemp.
Developed over a 2-year R&D period with Carl Zeiss, a leader in lens manufacturing since 1846, RIA’s proprietary pickleball lenses were built to enhance the contrast of a ball against the court background, allowing players to see the ball quicker and increase their reaction time. “Seeing the ball sooner off the racket or paddle and with better contrast can be the difference between winning and losing points. In fast-paced sports like pickleball, having an advantage in how you see the ball, the court, and your opponents is crucial,” added co-founder Chris Hanson, who has used protective eyewear his entire racquet-sports career and co-founded RIA mostly out of his frustration with sub-par racquet sports eyewear products.
Furthermore, RIA’s HD+ lenses are both 100% UV protective and impact resistant. The lenses shield athletes’ eyes from harmful solar radiation which allows the eyes to relax during play, and have been tested specifically against direct impacts from a pickleball.
As the conversation around eye health has become more prevalent across the sports landscape, RIA is leveraging its deep expertise to encourage athletes to consider the proper equipment to prolong their sports careers. “It is crucial to wear high-quality eyewear that combines sharp optics and impact resistance when engaging in sports activities,” said Dr. Roy Chuck (MD, PhD), chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. “With the proper eyewear, you can prolong your sports career while enjoying high levels of performance, and RIA Eyewear is leading the charge in this endeavor.”
“We are excited to partner with an outstanding company like RIA Eyewear, as their specialized, premium products and mission to bring awareness to eye safety and increase longevity for our players is a great fit with USA Pickleball and the sport itself as it continues to grow,” said George Bauernfeind, Managing Director of Marketing and Communications for USA Pickleball.
The company’s first pickleball line, RIA ONE, is made in Italy and all-in weighs less than an ounce. The company launched this line earlier this year and has already started to gain traction with top athletes in the pickleball community. Professional Aspen Kern, who has been an early wearer of RIA Eyewear, had the following to say on his experience so far: “There’s no reason to sacrifice on eye safety and performance when you can have both. The clarity and sharpness of the RIA lenses is incredible and they don’t fog up at all.” Michelle Esquivel and Rob Cassidy, top professional players and founders of Ultimate Pickleball Academy, have also been using RIA Eyewear while on court. “I’ve never had such good range of vision with a pair of sunglasses, and they stay snug on my face even when making quick movements on court,” said Michelle. “I can see the ball better and am not squinting while I’m playing which takes a lot of strain off my eyes - I’m comfortable on the court and this is the first time I felt that way with a pair of sunglasses,” added Rob. The product is sold exclusively on the company’s website - RIAEyewear.com - and also includes a clear lens for indoor play.
“RIA Eyewear is excited to be partnering with the USA Pickleball Association to bring pickleball players the performance eyewear they deserve,” said Hanson and Kemp. “Our goal is, and always will be, to help players compete at the highest level while protecting one of their most important assets.”
For more information, visit USAPA.org.
About RIA Eyewear
RIA Eyewear was started in 2017 from a vision to create eyewear that doesn’t make athletes choose between performance and protection. Tired of the outdated, poor-quality options available to racquet sports players, the founders went on a 2-year R&D deep dive with ZEISS™, a world-renowned leader in optics since 1846, to create the ultimate court eyewear. Every part of their eyewear is made in a small town just north of Milan, Italy, and the company prides itself on putting the best inputs possible into both its frames and lenses while keeping the frame design minimal and sleek. RIA Eyewear’s mission is to make sure racquet sports players have an advantage over their opponents while keeping one of their most important assets – their vision – safe at the same time.
The United States Pickleball Association, a non-profit 501(c)(3) was established in 2005 to further the advancement of the sport on a national level. As the official governing body of pickleball in the United States, the USAPA promotes the growth of pickleball by maintaining the rules, setting player ratings, advancing the sport through its national network of @1,900 ambassadors, and sanctioning tournaments. Since 2013, the USAPA has grown 1,000% in its membership which now exceeds @40,000. The USAPA is divided into 11 regions across the country with all 50 states being represented. The extensive group of volunteer ambassadors oversees the sport in their respective states. For more information, visit http://www.usapa.org.