Relishing Pickleball

David Zapatka

Lucy Kovalova and Dick Johnson are this year’s Pickleball Rocks Players of the Year. Why is this a special moment for pickleball players in the Phoenix metropolitan area? Because Dick Johnson resides right here in the Valley. Many of our readers know and have played with or against Dick Johnson in social and tournament play.

First up is the 2018 Triple Crown winner on the world’s biggest pickleball stage, the USAPA National Championships at Indian Wells. With ESPN covering the action and thousands of people watching throughout the week, Lucy navigated through all three super-tough Open brackets – Singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. That is a rare feat! Lucy Kovalova had a great 2017 on the courts, but in 2018 she took it up another notch. Lucy played only five tournaments in 2018. She entered 12 Open Pro events. In those 12 Open events, playing against the strongest players in the world, she came home with 12 medals; seven Gold, four Silver and one Bronze. Congratulations to 2018 Player of the Year, Lucy Kovalova!

The 2018 Men’s Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year is a friend and a gentleman who inspires players everywhere he goes. In the five years he has been playing pickleball, he has amassed over 200 medals, winning gold medals at major tournaments like the Huntsman World Games, the Nationals Senior Games, the U.S. Open and the USAPA Nationals. At age 78, Dick Johnson has been winning and inspiring athletes for years. But not only is Dick an exceptional pickleball player, he has devoted a big part of his life to making the world a better place.

Dick has been recognized as the State Games of America Athlete of the Year, and this year, the National Senior Games of America recognized Dick with their prestigious Personal Best Award. The National Senior Games of America recently released an excellent article detailing all the reasons why Dick Johnson is so deserving of the Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year. Congratulations to 2018 Player of the Year, Dick Johnson!

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected]