1. How were you introduced to pickleball?
Prior to Pickleball I was a Director of Tennis at a club in Florida. In the summer of 2015 when it was quiet, I can remember a group of people playing on a few of the Pickleball courts that had just been put into this community. They asked if I would like to give it a try, and once I did I realized not only was this an amazing workout, but my skill sets from basketball, baseball, tennis, and ping pong were truly utilized in this sport. Plus it felt nice that I didn’t have to be 6’6 or taller to compete. After that I was hooked.
2. When did you start playing on a professional level?
I would say that it happened a couple years ago, but I can remember a very high caliber professional player telling me that it takes time, and you’ll have to take your lumps to learn what it takes to compete at a pro level. I’ve started to truly learn the amount of discipline and training it takes to compete at this level, and will continue to strive to climb the different professional tiers that are currently in place at this level.
3. Tell us about the Jonny Pickleball Show and what your plans are for the future.
The Jonny Pickleball Show was created over a year ago. Its purpose at the time was so that I and local players could get together for some good games. It started with me creating a type of relaxed pro league, and then quickly evolved into playing in front of people that wanted to watch high level play. Little did I know that in that first year it received many views, and created a standing room only crowd. I changed my mindset of the show and started to think of it more like the Harlem Globetrotters, but for Pickleball. Let’s put on a show with trick shots, long points, and most importantly passion, energy, and showmanship. Let’s make this exciting. This created a type of atmosphere that you wanted to be a part of on Friday night, and the best part was that it was free to attend. With a few moves I took the show to the Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida, and now it is streamed live SWFL Pickleball Academy Facebook Page on the Minto US Open Championship Court in Naples, FL. All of the Southwest Florida community has been extremely supportive and enthusiastic every Friday night creating a party atmosphere with the show right in the middle. I even added commentary, and of course a referee. Eddie and Webby have streamed my show many times. With different camera angles, instant replays, and many more improvements on the way, I’m hoping the show will be here for a long time, and can show how exciting Pickleball can truly be. I do realize that everything is trial and error, but with the team that I am with, the support of the community, and the players that are wanting to play in the show, anything is possible so long as you believe.
4. TMPR Sports is releasing a military themed paddle with your logo on it. What is that about?
First and foremost this paddle, which will be available for pre-order next week with a release date just before Thanksgiving, just in time for the Christmas holiday, couldn’t have been possible without the support, creativity, and genuine kindness of the TMPR Sports family Doug, Diana, and Taylor Clark.
We all have stories, and we all look for ways to express ourselves. This paddle is a way for me to express myself, and how grateful I am to all of those that currently serve, served, and payed the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country. I proudly served in the Army, deployed, and learned many life lessons both intentionally and unintentionally. I came to understand what it’s like to have brothers, and to know that they have your back just like you would have theirs. I learned Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage to completely sum it up. I was able to take that as well as an even more important lesson for when I got out of the service, and that was to always be at the right place at the right time and of course 15 minutes prior to the 15 minutes prior. The one thing that was given to me in the service was always purpose and direction. When I got out there were times that I didn’t have that and felt lost. Pickleball gave me that purpose and direction once again. It also made me have discipline in doing the same motion for all my shots. A Command Sergeant Major once told me Smooth is fast and fast is smooth. I constantly think of that saying when I’m playing this great game, and try to be as smooth and relaxed as possible.
There are many other challenges service men and women may be facing when they get out. I believe Pickleball could be a great outlet, and a great way to feel like part of a family. I hope this paddle will encourage veterans, patriots, and current service members to try this game, and look at the graphics on the paddle as a reminder that we thank you, and honor you for your service.
5. You teach pickleball full time in Naples, Florida. How many players do you see coming for lessons throughout the season?
I happen to teach at the Pickleball Capital of the World, the Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida in Naples, home to the US Open Pickleball Championships. Between me and the other instructors we are very busy people to say the least. The most encouraging thing is to see how many new players just keep coming to the game. Having solid programing through clinics, camps, private lessons, and many other programs is what makes it impossible for me to count the number of people each year coming to the academy for instruction. Absolutely a great time to be in Pickleball.
6. Do you see the growth of pickleball slowing down anytime soon?
Not at all. I believe Pickleball is still in its infancy, but starting to roll along at a fast pace. With it moving forward, and as big as it will become, I highly encourage everyone to pause and remember how great this game truly is.