Jack Sock competing at the 2024 Mesa Arizona Cup.
Jack Sock competing at the 2024 Mesa Arizona Cup. PPA Tour

Twenty minutes with Jack Sock

Jack Sock is having fun. He’s playing pickleball, making a nice living, but spending lots of time at home with his family. I sat down with Jack at the PPA Mesa Open, and asked him about his new life as a pickleball pro.
Jack grew up in Kansas, playing tennis. His tennis hero was Andy Roddick, especially after Roddick’s 2003 win at the US Open. Jack enjoyed a very successful high school tennis career, winning the state finals each of his four years. A particularly big thrill was winning a state doubles championship with his brother. 
As a pro tennis player, Jack had significant success. He was ranked as high as #8 in singles and #2 in doubles. His wins included two doubles wins at Wimbledon, a success he rates as his biggest thrill in tennis.
Jack dabbled in pickleball recreationally for a few years before starting to take it more seriously in 2023. Practice paid off with a gold medal in mixed with Anna Leigh Waters at the PPA North Carolina Open in May, 2023.
Jack currently lives in North Carolina. He and his wife recently had their first child, so family is now his primary focus. Jack describes the pro tennis tour as a bit of a grind. One of his pickleball/tennis comparisons is to point out that Andre Agassi told him that Agassi never enjoyed tennis but enjoys every moment of playing pickleball. Part of the problem with being a tennis pro is that the tour is international, meaning he was away from home so much of the year. With pickleball, the tour is all US-based, so he can spend much more time with his growing family.
Jack has a court in his backyard. When home, he plays about 4 times a week. He’s planning on playing about 18 PPA events this year. He made it to the bronze medal match in singles at Mesa, and his game is initially best suited for singles. The event giving him the most difficulty, as expected, is men’s doubles.
Other pro tennis players are now contacting Jack, asking about the switch to pickleball. He said that at least 20 current tennis pros are thinking about it. He is telling them about the fun, but also that it is not easy to be great at pickleball. He suggests that they only switch if they can be devoted to practicing to be good.
Smack talk is a big part of Jack’s pickleball game. He is clearly enjoying himself, and is quick to share that “joy” with an opponent. Some yapping has always been a part of pro pickleball, but Jack is taking it to a new level. It is all meant in fun and his opponents, at least up to this point, have (mostly) shared in the fun. Playing to the crowd is also part of the fun. While pickleball crowds are smaller than tennis crowds, the venues are also smaller and more intimate, allowing Jack to interact more with the crowd.
I was able to witness this personally at the Mesa event. Jack was in the bronze medal match, facing Connor Garnett. Due to certain matches being cancelled, Jack’s match was moved back two hours. But he had a plane to catch! Jack told Connor and the refs, “no need to warm up”. There was a small crowd, and I was sitting by Jack’s bench, maybe 10 feet from the court. Jack kept up a running talk during the match. I quickly understood he had no problem talking to Connor or me during the whole match. After Jack smoked one backhand passing shot, I complimented him on the shot. He responded, during the next point, that he has a good backhand, he just chooses to run around it. As he did not seem to mind talking to me during the match, I figured I may as well respond, despite the next point being underway. So, I suggested to him that he run around his forehand, instead of his traditional running around the backhand. He proceeded to do just that, hitting four or five straight backhand groundstrokes as good as any in the game. After a quick loss to Garnett, Jack was off to the airport and his family, smiling all the way.
My last question to Jack was one I knew the answer to, as it was so clear when you see the joy he is getting from pickleball. I asked him how much fun he was having on the PPA Tour. As expected, he said “I’m having a blast!” Watching him play, whether it is a tough mixed match against ALW and Ben, or an airport getaway singles match against Connor Garnett, it is very clear — Jack Sock is having a blast playing pickleball.