Cliff Drysdale Tennis
The Cliff Drysdale Tennis team recently sat down with former tennis world No. 11 Sam Querrey, fresh off his first weekend of Major League Pickleball action, to chat about his retirement from tennis, his transition to professional pickleball, and who the mastermind is behind all of those creative social media posts.
CDT: What made you want to retire from tennis and try your hand at pickleball? A lot of people in your position might have just wanted to relax, but you jumped straight into a new professional sport. What was your motivation?
Sam Querrey: I retired from tennis for a handful of reasons. I have two young sons (2 and 1) and the travel and being away from my family was getting to be a little difficult. My body was starting to fatigue a bit, practices and matches were just getting tougher and tougher. I wasn’t enjoying playing tennis as much as I used to and it just felt like the right time to call it a career. As far as jumping into pickleball, it kind of fell into my lap. I had been casually playing pickleball for about five or six years and during the summer of 2022 I went to watch a Major League Pickleball tournament in Newport Beach, California. While I was at the event, a lot of fans were asking me if I was playing or was planning to play. Since there seemed to be so much interest, that is what sparked the motivation to play. Pickleball is also much easier on my body, with only 10 events or so per year, and events are all in the U.S. and most tournaments are close to my house in Southern California. So, it all kind of fell into place.
Has your tennis background been helpful in your transition to pickleball, and has it been a challenge to break any of your lifelong tennis habits?
Having a tennis background is very useful in pickleball. I would say that 90 percent of the pickleball pros played tennis at some level. As a tennis player it is very easy to become good at pickleball relatively fast, but it’s tough to become great. Luckily since I’ve been playing pickleball for years, I didn’t have any tennis habits that I had to break.
What is your favorite shot on the pickleball court and why?
My favorite shot on the pickleball court is the dink. In tennis I obviously loved the serve and the power I brought and in pickleball it’s the exact opposite. There is something about the dink that looks so easy, but it is such a specific shot that requires so many reps to perfect.
How are you going to define success in your first year as a pickleball pro? Is it result-based, becoming one of the best players in world? What are your expectations?
I have still yet to determine what success will look like for me in pickleball for year one. I think that if I see steady improvement, start winning 50 percent of my matches on the pro tour, have a ton of fun, and really learn what it takes to be a great player, I’ll be happy. Hopefully by the end of the year the other top pickleball players will start to see that I’m catching up to their skill level and they will see me as another good player on tour.
Your content on Instagram of late has been pretty incredible; some people absolutely love it, and others seem to be bothered by your jokes. Where do those ideas come from and what message are you trying to send?
The mastermind behind the funny videos and Instagram presence is my wife. She is extremely creative and funny, and she has been the one to come up with all the ideas. I’m just trying to enjoy this new career and poke fun at pickleball and some of my new colleagues. It’s all in good fun and almost all of the pickleball players love it!
Switching gears to our Pickleball Boot Camps, we’re obviously very excited to have you as a special guest at these events. What do you hope players get out of doing a camp with you?
I’m also very excited to be a special guest at the Pickleball Boot Camps. I hope everyone at the camps has an amazing three days of pickleball. I hope I can give tons of tips and pointers to help their games and I hope we can all enjoy our time together. I can’t wait to play in and see everyone’s skills on the court and I hope it will be a really special event for everyone where we can play, chat, and get to spend a lot of time having fun.