Many newcomers to pickleball attribute its explosive growth to how it promotes social inclusion and a sense of camaraderie.
Joey Rogoff, a well-known figure on social media who competed as an amateur at the 2023 Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championships, has found that to be exactly right. In fact, the sport reunited him with a childhood friend during the event held in Farmers Branch, Texas.
A Huge Following
As Stephen Hunt of Red Line Editorial reports, Los Angeles-based Rogoff’s TikTok and YouTube presence has garnered a huge following.
Which Skittle Flavor Is The Rarest?!♬ original sound – Joey Rogoff
However, despite the temptation that success might bring to forget his childhood friends, the championships prompted him to reconnect with Spencer Hendlin, an old pal now residing in Dallas.
Their reunion saw them exploring the city’s Tex-Mex restaurants and indulging in games of pickleball against each other. Rogoff even stayed at Hendlin’s place while he was visiting Dallas.
Their friendship, which was based long ago on shared tennis games, evolved to pickleball when Rogoff first got into the sport two years ago. Inviting Hendlin to join him on the pickleball court opened up a whole new way of bonding for the two.
Hendlin said, “Yeah, it’s cool. I got to take him out, do some Tex-Mex, get some barbecue. It’s really good to have him in Texas. It’s good to let him see a little bit of it, even though he’s only here for a few days.”
“It’s awesome to have this here, so close. That’s one of the reasons I moved to Texas, is because in Dallas, things like this come here that don’t come to Cleveland, where we grew up.”
Pickleball’s Social Nature
Reflecting on the sport, Rogoff draws parallels to tennis but also highlights pickleball’s social nature.
“I came from tennis, so I have that experience in a racquet sport. It’s so different from tennis because it’s much more social. I’ve met so many cool people playing this game and have noticed that I’ve been able to advance my game much quicker than in tennis.”
This is tournament number five for Rogoff, and he notes how the competition side of pickleball has grown over the last few years:
“This is my fifth tournament. I played the qualifying event in LA for this and got a lottery spot for nationals. I’m literally feet within Anna Leigh Waters, Ben Johns, top players, so it’s pretty cool.”
Pickleball Tournaments Vs. Tennis
He also comments on how the status of pickleball tournaments now rivals that of top-tier tennis events:
“Yeah, it’s great. I’ve been at some of the top tennis tournaments in the world, and they’re trying to emulate that. It’s pretty cool seeing this sport grow with the amount of vendors, food, and all that good stuff.”
Although he’s primarily a singles player, Rogoff does occasionally venture into doubles as he enjoys the strategic complexity it offers compared to the more straightforward singles play.
Pickleball Breaking Down Age Differences
Rogoff also likes the many different friendships that pickleball forms across generational divides:
“Oh yeah, one of the guys I play with on a consistent basis, I’m 24 and he’s 55,” he said. “He’s one of my good friends now, which it’s pretty rare to see that.”
Additionally, Rogoff’s passion for pickleball has inspired Hendlin to improve his own skills. Their friendly rivalry adds a layer of motivation to Hendlin’s quest to raise his game:
“I started playing pickleball a few months ago, and I’m not bad, but he’s kicking my ass in that too,” Hendlin said. “Just got to try to get as good as I can to try and beat this guy too. Now I’ve got a reason to.”
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