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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