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Interview with Top Pro Player Alex Simon, coming to Italy thanks to Pickleball Italy Trips

Thanks to the interview organized by Pickleball Italy Trips, a leading Italian pickleball instructor (Massimo Reverberi, head of the project Pickleball-Milano) recently had the opportunity to interview Alex Simon, a highly ranked pickleball player from the United States. Currently holding the number two spot in US singles rankings (Champions Tour/DUPR system), Alex boasts extensive experience on the PPA and APP Champions tours, where he's secured numerous medals. Alex resides in Las Vegas, where he coaches talented players, but will be visiting Italy for a pickleball clinic in Biella on June 15-16, organized by Pickleball Italy Trips (for more information:

Interviewer: Alex, similar to past interviews, let's delve into your pickleball journey.

Alex Simon: Absolutely. I began playing four years ago when courts opened near my home. Having a tennis background, where I competed in college, certainly helped me excel in singles. In pickleball, singles play feels more akin to tennis compared to doubles.

Interviewer: Speaking of singles, why do you think pickleball is unique in using the same court for both doubles and singles? There aren't separate lines for each format.

Alex Simon: I believe the inventors in the sixties simply overlooked it, and it stuck. Since pickleball is primarily played in doubles, even at the professional level, the peculiarity of singles using the same court goes somewhat unnoticed.

Interviewer: Coming from tennis, what's your take on "bangers," players who consistently hit hard shots?

Alex Simon: At the pro level, some players are known for this style (like Jack Sock). They also benefit from the latest, more powerful paddles. For professionals, it's a strategic choice that can be effective. However, for beginners, the straight and controlled shot is more practical. The alternative, a drop shot, is technically demanding and not intuitive for those new to the game.

Interviewer: Speaking of improvement, do high-level players also benefit from lessons?

Alex Simon: Absolutely. Currently, I coach promising young players like Patrick Kawka, Luke Ness and for a few months now, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff. But I also enjoy coaching instructors. Coaches need to continuously improve as well. Being an instructor for instructors is something I truly value, where I feel I can make a significant impact. It's a crucial aspect as the global number of players is rapidly growing, while the number of instructors isn't always keeping up. For instance, Brazil has thousands of players, but their Pickleball Federation was only recently established. In other words, the pickleball infrastructure, including instructors, often struggles to match the surge in players.

Interviewer: With the growing player base, will we see tournaments held in arenas with televised coverage?

Alex Simon: That's a common question. My perspective is that pickleball likely won't become a sport with a massive viewership. Its appeal lies in its inclusivity, catering to all ages and skill levels. People enjoy playing it more than watching it. However, I believe it could become an Olympic sport in a few years, and high-level tournaments might attract larger audiences.

Interviewer: Will pickleball travel packages become a thing, similar to padel? I've seen some organized trips that incorporate pickleball matches into vacations.

Alex Simon: Yes, this trend is already emerging and will likely continue to grow. Currently, such programs exist in Mexico and the Caribbean, popular among Americans. Additionally, I'm aware of travel agencies receiving requests for vacations that include pickleball opportunities.

Interviewer: Two final questions: What's it like coaching Andre Agassi? And what paddle do you use?

Alex Simon: I met Agassi almost a year ago. He texted me, and an hour later, we were on the court playing. We both primarily live in Las Vegas, and I coach him regularly. Agassi is serious about pickleball. While he doesn't compete in tournaments, he would be ranked within the top ten for the over-50 category if he did. Steffi Graff occasionally joins our training sessions. As for the paddle, I've been using a Joola Perseus 16mm recently. I'll be bringing it with me to the clinic in Biella on June 15-16.

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