Tennis Star Jack Sock Shifts to Pro Pickleball Amid Sport's Rise
American tennis star Jack Sock is retiring from the sport to begin his professional career in pickleball as the mini tennis-like sport continues gaining national prominence.
Sock, 30, will play with doubles partner John Isner in the upcoming U.S. Open before calling it quits to join the Professional Pickleball Association’s PPA Tour. Sock has made $11.9 million in career tennis earnings, fueled by four ATP singles titles that saw him climb as high as No. 8 on the world rankings in 2017.
“If Jack [Sock] devotes himself to pickleball all the time, I think he will be a Top-5 player within 12 months,” PPA CEO Connor Pardoe said in a May interview with the Charlotte Observer.
Sock has been mulling his transition from tennis to pickleball for some time, and he played pickleball events on weeks when he had off from his tennis schedule. While pickleball will be less physically demanding for Sock, the sport has resulted in frequent injuries among elderly players.
“Maybe when my body’s not cooperating enough for tennis, and I’m getting older, maybe pickleball kind of takes over for me,” Sock told the Charlotte Observer in May. “I want to be kind of a bridge between the two sports, and let people know you can go out and enjoy both,” he said. “Obviously, if you’re a tennis lover and all of a sudden some of the tennis courts in your community are now pickleball courts — I understand that makes it less easy to play. But there’s a middle ground here. There’s no reason for either sport to rip on the other.”
Sock will join Sam Querrey on the PPA Tour, another former American tennis star who retired to play pickleball professionally. Ben Johns, a top-ranked pickleballer, reportedly makes an estimated $250,000 annually.
The PPA has broadcast deals with Amazon and ESPN, and the tour recently added another revenue stream by becoming the first U.S. pickleball league to offer legal sports betting.