Is Sam Querrey Pickleball’s Next Great Player?
Sam Querrey is a tennis name that people may actually recognize outside of pickleball. He has been around the block having just retired from a 16-year professional tennis career. His career high singles ranking was #11 with his best result being a semi-final appearance at Wimbledon. Simply put, that’s pretty ridiculous.
Querrey has been playing pickleball recreationally for about 6 years and recently went on Tyson McGuffin’s podcast where he gave some indication of what his next steps will be now that he is retired from tennis. It was super intriguing to hear that Querrey wants to make a go at pro pickleball, despite being fresh off the tennis grind over a decade and a half. After Tyson told Querrey that he would buy him dinner if he could start beating top 10 guys in doubles within the first 3 months of 2023, this was part of Querrey’s response:
It may sound like a bold statement, but Querrey’s circumstances are also unprecedented in pickleball. With pro tours only getting started towards the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, we have not had a situation where a pro tennis stalwart like Querrey has tried to jump into pickleball. Yes, you have your Travis Rettenmaier and Ryler DeHeart’s, or even Collin Johns and Dekel Bar’s, who have had a modicum of success in pro tennis. And, of course, you have the zillions of high-level college tennis players attempting to make a go at this pickleball thing.
While those guys are high level athletes, from a tennis standpoint, Querrey is at a very different level. Querrey is rightfully confident, but he also genuinely seems as curious as the rest of us with how he might do, or what guys with a similar resume as him can do in pro pickleball, as he told Tyson “I mean that’s what everyone wants to know, right?”
Querrey noted a few other guys still on tour who play pickleball recreationally, including Jack Sock, Stevie Johnson and John Isner, who he thinks could make a big name for themselves quickly. Like many others, the two of us have often wondered how good these truly elite tennis players could be if they transitioned to pickleball. Honestly, it’s hard to watch a tennis match nowadays without thinking how good the players would be at pickleball. As an aside, it was funny that Querrey basically said Isner is a step-below himself, Sock and Johnson as a pickleball player even though Isner looked pretty damn good playing at that little tournament on Tom Dundon’s property near the beginning of the year.
But is anyone doubting Querrey? It is clear that Querrey still knows very little about high level pickleball. He wasn’t even really familiar with how the pros play left and right side on the podcast appearance when Tyson asked him what side he prefers to play on. However, those type of nuances shouldn’t take very long for Querrey to get the hang of. We just saw Connor Garnett in his first pro tournament beat a top 15/20 player in DJ Young – Adam Stone ranked DJ Young #15 on his top 25 list.
Sam Querrey may be pickleball’s first white whale in a sense. People dream of Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic coming over to pickleball, but a guy coming over in Querrey’s vein has always been far more realistic. Although Querrey has to be doing this for fun with over $13 million in career prize money alone, he has some roots in pickleball beyond reading some articles about how pickleball is taking over the tennis courts. Querrey is friends with Wes Burrows, and it sounds like those two are going to play tournaments together early on. Even though Querrey is not completely obsessed with pickleball to the point where he is grinding out pro live streams right now, the fact he is contemplating a run at pro pickleball shows the obsession may soon be there.
He’s probably going to need to be obsessed if he wants to be top 10 in doubles by the end of March 2023. If the commitment is there, his prediction really isn’t that audacious. It’s one thing to take the leap from never having been on a court to top 10 in 6 months, which would be the Rob Nunnery on steroids story. Querrey, though, is trying to make the less daunting leap as a somewhat seasoned, occasional recreational player.
Keep in mind that Querrey is only going to be 35 years old in about a week. He’s not old, especially in pickleball years. Even if Querrey isn’t playing with Wes Burrows, there will be enough guys curious about what Querrey can bring to the table that he shouldn’t have any trouble finding fairly high quality partners early on, which can often be one of the bigger barriers to breaking into the pro doubles ranks. He also said on the podcast he is interested in playing singles and it will be fascinating to see what that could look like.
So, long story short. Querrey thinks he’s going to be one of the best players in pickleball very soon.
Our response. Why the hell not?
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16 thoughts on “Is Sam Querrey Pickleball’s Next Great Player?”
This is hilarious. I was telling my tennis loving buddy just a month ago that one of these older US players … Querrey, Isner, or the Bryant Brothers were going to give Pickleball a shot after they retired. He laughed at first, and then thought – well, maybe.
My thought singles will be easy for Querrey to pick up, doubles won’t take long. Going to fun to see how fast he progresses.
Can you imagine John Isner playing pro with that wingspan and height? Would love to see it.
I can and I did.
I do think when pro tennis players of that level enter the game, the game will change. I’m not sure if it will be a bangers paradise, but it will change.
He’s scary for sure. Has some skills too
It sounded like Sam didn’t know if Wes would “be available” to partner with him. Great humility but I’m sure Wes’s partner would understand if he got dumped for Sam.
A good strategy for USAP would be to get Wes a golden ticket to Nationals at IWTG. What great publicity to toot a highly ranked tennis player as being a pickleball player at Nationals.
As you said, he’d only be doing it for fun and to see how quickly he’d break the top 10 players. I wonder if Bennyboy would keep Sam waiting for his gold medal match.
Interesting that singles wasn’t what first got Sam hooked on pickleball like James, Federico, Jake, etc. Maybe he just thought it looked too easy with his reach and the smaller court.
A better than expected interview from Tyson. Tyson mentioned them playing afterwards. Would have been terrific to have video of some of that – and maybe eventually we will get highlights.
Agreed on all of this
Sam mentioned at least 2 times about his tennis prize money being a matter of public record. If he does a pro tournament at pro level, I wonder what he’ll think about the lack of transparency and how he may not even know how much prize money he’ll get if he wins (not that he’ll care about the $).
He may not care at all about this but he’ll probably find that to be bush league
Another exhibition from PPA with Isner, Spieth, and Tony Roma:
The PPA Tour Roundup [Frisco, TX] will become the battleground for a budding rivalry between PGA Superstar: Jordan Spieth, ATP Phenom: John Isner, and Legendary NFL Quarterback: Tony Romo…
These are legit sports stars. I think they would have been better served waiting on this announcement. Going to get completely lost in the shuffle today
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As an ex University top badminton player, Id like to see the worlds top badminton players move over and I think they would do better than tennis. The court is the exact same size and the net is obviously 2 feet lower. They are used to the net game same dinks , flat shots, drives, lobs and a faster pace ….in badminton offence is front and back not side to side and of course the kitchen rule, but it doesn’t take long to figure out. My money is on World best badminton players, sorry tennis players
It seems the strokes for the top spin aren’t quite the same. Badminton is translatable to a certain degree, but it will ultimately be ping pong and tennis that give players that edge more so than Badminton we think.
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