RICHMOND, Va. — A professional tennis player has found a new calling and has surged to the top of Virginia’s pickleball rankings.
Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez is the Commonwealth’s number one ranked player in the paddle-and-racket sport that has risen in popularity around the world.
The United States boasts five million people who play the sport and it’s especially popular among older players with mobility issues.
Medina Alvarez played tennis professionally in his home country of Venezuela before moving to the United States in 2008 to start his own tennis academy in Florida.
He previously served as tennis director at Longwood University before moving to Richmond.
CBS 6’s Brendan King caught up with Medina Alvarez at the Pouncey Tract Park Pickleball Courts in Henrico County. The wait times at the courts can last at least 30 minutes during peak times, he said.
“It's a combination of different sports. If you have a background from ping pong or tennis, then it’s not hard. You're having fun, you play with other people, and the community is great. It's a really, really easy sport to start playing,” Medina Alvarez explained.
He recently published a book about pickleball called “Results Generate Results: Sports Data & Agility, Tennis and Pickleball” based on his skills and experience. He hoped to inspire others to give pickleball a try.
“I have a background myself as a tennis player. So, my transition was easier than most people. I felt that it was important to give back to society and especially to the tennis community that right now is eager to learn,” he said.
Medina Alvarez is also ranked number one in pickleball in Venezuela and among the top 10 regionally.
He and his wife, Piper, recently welcomed a baby boy. He hopes to give back to his home country and provide families with the tools and skills to play the game.
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