Yates Johnson playing pickleball.
Yates Johnson competing at the Fanatics Sportsbook North Carolina Cup presented by CIBC. PPA Tour

Y. Johnson rallies to make quarters

CARY, NC - Yates Johnson is into the men’s singles quarterfinals in North Carolina, but his journey to get there has been anything but easy.

He took down Robert Slutsky Thursday morning for his third three-game win in as many days.

Johnson found himself trailing the athletic lefty 0-5 in the deciding game, but a key timeout in that moment helped him regain his focus and change his strategy.

“I had the wind at my back, so I started hitting some softer serves with a little more finesse,” he explained. “I was able to scrap out a few slower points by hitting third shot drops and coming in, and before I knew it, I was up 6-5.”

That massive run allowed Johnson to get to the side switch with a lead, and he was able to maintain that advantage as he took Game 3, 11-6.

Each of Johnson’s singles matches at Cary Tennis Park has gone to a decisive third game, and he’s emerged from all three with a victory.

“I think it’s just experience,” he said of the key to having success in Game 3 situations. “The more pickleball you play, the better you get. The more high-pressure situations you’re in, the better and more comfortable you’ll be.”

Johnson will face No. 5 seed Christian Alshon in the quarterfinals.