Ben Johns competing at the Hertz Gold Cup
Ben Johns racked up 11 singles titles on the PPA Tour in 2023. PPA Tour

Stop saying Ben Johns’ days of singles dominance are coming to an end

DALLAS, TX - It’s newsworthy when the best player in the world loses.

That’s especially true when that player has dominated the way that Ben Johns has. To date, the 24-year-old has won nearly 2/3 of all men’s pro singles titles on the PPA Tour (64.8%, to be exact).

Naturally, then, it’s a big deal when he loses. It’s a surprise when he doesn’t earn a Triple Crown at a tournament, and it’s an even bigger surprise when he’s eliminated in even just one draw before Championship Sunday.

But that’s what we’ve witnessed at each of the first two PPA events of 2024 in singles. He fell to Quang Duong in the Round of 16 at the PPA Masters and Jaume Martinez Vich in the quarterfinals of the Desert Ridge Open.

I wrote an article following the PPA Masters about the growing parity in pro pickleball. I suggested in that article that top singles players like Johns won’t win gold medals at the rate that we’re accustomed to seeing.

The point I wanted to make was that pro draws are reaching a level of depth that we haven’t yet seen in the sport. With this depth and talent that continues to raise the bar for success at the sport’s peak, it shouldn’t be surprising to see the top players lose.

But folks in certain comment sections and threads across social media appear to view Johns’ uncharacteristic losses to start the year as evidence of his decline as a singles player.

That’s where I disagree.

Now, I’m not here to defend Johns in his losses; it’s true that he’s been outclassed in his two singles defeats so far this year.


But we’ve got to give the man some credit. You don’t reach Johns’ level of dominance without learning how to adapt to different styles and up your game where necessary.

Even after a 2023 campaign during which he racked up 43 total medals, Johns has continued to add elements to his pickleball arsenal.

He revealed after winning the men’s doubles title at the PPA Masters that he has developed a new nutrition plan for this season.

Then, a few weeks later at the Desert Ridge Open, he debuted his two-handed backhand roll dink in his doubles matches and later shared that he’s been workshopping that shot as well.

It is this commitment to continuous improvement that has helped Johns remain at the top of the sport.

And there’s no reason to believe that this pursuit of excellence won’t have the same benefits for his singles game, despite what has been a slow start to the year by his standards.

So, you can stop with your whispers about how a ‘new breed’ of pickleball player will soon make cat-and-mouse specialists like Ben Johns obsolete.

The world No. 1 will continue adding to his game where necessary to get back on the singles podium.

History has shown that he possesses the capacity and discipline to do so, and I expect him to finish 2024 with the most PPA singles ranking points and titles, on top of continued dominance in men’s and mixed doubles.