Meet the Pros!
Julie Johnson is a graduate of Pitt State and KU, and worked as a physical therapist in Pittsburg for many years. Julie played pickleball for the first time in Pittsburg, Kansas at Schangler Park with Don Porter, her husband Jack, and son JW. The family moved to Florida shortly after and Julie began playing recreationally. In 2021, Julie started playing senior pro and finished the year number one in singles on World Pickleball Rankings and number one overall on the APP tour. She has enjoyed traveling and playing alongside her two children on the professional pickleball tours. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Pickleball Magazine, The New Yorker, and Apple Sports TV as well as other media outlets telling the story of how pickleball has impacted her life and shaped the life of the family.
JW Johnson grew up in Pittsburg, Kansas before he and his family moved to Naples, Florida to pursue a tennis career for him and his sister Jorja. They started playing pickleball as a way to engage with their new community. His mother and sister are also top players on the tour. Johnson has been playing pickleball ever since and is now the #1 player in the world in Men’s Singles. He was the youngest player in history to win the men’s singles title at the age of 19. In 2022, he medaled 47 times, securing 3 triple crowns.
Jorja began playing pickleball when her family started playing as a way to find community after the cross-country move to Naples, FL. An up-and-coming young star, she has turned her love of the sport into being one of the youngest but most-aggressive players on tour. Jorja began playing APP Tour events late in 2021. By the end of 2022, Jorja accumulated a total of 42 medals (16-14-12), which included 16 titles. During the 2023 season, Jorja is playing mixed doubles full time with her brother JW, making them one of the most feared teams on tour.
Jack Johnson earned the title of All-American while playing for the Pitt State tennis team. Following graduation from PSU, Jack attended veterinary school at K-State University and opened his own practice of 38 years at Broadway Animal Hospital in Pittsburg. Jack coached tennis at Pittsburg High School and his older children Elyse and John both attended PHS and graduated from there. Jack was instrumental in the development of tennis in the area, including the construction of the tennis courts at Pittsburg High School. In 2001, Jack Johnson was recognized by the City of Pittsburg with a monument naming the Four Oaks tennis courts in his honor. Jack Johnson played pickleball for the first time at Schlanger Park with Don Porter and his wife Julie and their son JW. He currently enjoys giving pickleball lessons and traveling with his family to tournaments. His family enjoyed an easy transition to pickleball due to Jack’s early years of training with tennis. Jack plays a vital role in support, keeping everyone fed and hydrated and equipped.
|Gabriel Tardio |
Another young new-comer on the tour, Gabriel Tardio is gaining attention fast. At the age of 14, Tardio was introduced to pickleball by his grandfather in Bolivia. Tardio and his grandfather bonded over their love of pickleball by building two courts in their home country of Bolivia. After Tardio moved to the United States, he played pickleball every day after school. When asked about what he loves about pickleball, Tardio said, “What I love about pickleball is it’s such a fast sport, but at the same time you have to be patient. It’s fast and patient. It’s also such a new sport, it’s great.”
Frazier started playing pickleball at the age of 14 and is one of the only top-10 professionals without a tennis background. Frazier first played pickleball with his mom, who had played for fun in college. He continues to travel on the tour while completing a degree in Business Administration at the University of Missouri. He credits his ability to juggle school and pickleball to those closest to him: “(I have) an amazing support system made up of family and friends in the pickleball community, particularly Columbia and St. Louis.” Frazier is also a pickleball pro and teaches adults and juniors – he truly does it all!