The Professional Pickleball Association has announced a new initiative for 2024, The Junior PPA.
The program will welcome participants between 8 and 16 years old and encompass various formats, including singles, gender-specific doubles, and co-ed doubles. Notably, the Junior Tour events will run concurrently with all other PPA Tour competitions throughout the year.
Olympic Pickleball Gold Medal
Some of the Tour players, such as Leo Chun, aspire to clinch an Olympic pickleball gold medal in the future, while others, like Jack Loughridge, are setting their sights on pursuing a professional career in the sport. Regardless of these specific aspirations, the PPA Tour offers an inclusive avenue for those aged 16 and below.
Courtney Loughridge, mother of 9-year-old Jack, is a seasoned participant in multiple PPA events over the past couple of years. She gave her perspective:
“I think adding a juniors bracket will give kids across the country a chance to compete against their peers. When juniors are playing against each other, you can see the skill and talent they have when they aren’t being overpowered by a bigger, stronger, mature adult.
“The more opportunities there are to compete, the more juniors will begin to choose pickleball as their primary sport.”
Jack Loughridge chose pickleball when he was 7 and now has aspirations to be a professional player.
“I think it’s great that kids are getting a chance to play against other kids,” Jack told Andrew Gilman, writing for ppatour.com. “I will have good competition against kids my own age and meet new friends who love the sport like I do.”
Beyond the conventional junior events featured on tour, the PPA Tour has launched “Junior PPA Serves,” a dedicated endeavor aimed at catering to the youth pickleball community. Its core mission revolves around advancing the culture and participation of young individuals in pickleball.
A Fitting Contender
With four years of play under his belt already at the age of 12, Chun emerges as a fitting contender for the Junior Tour.
“I enjoy playing with and against adults, but this will be a great place for us juniors,” Chun remarked. “I will need to practice better, and the tour will allow me to play against really good kids.”
Each PPA Tour stop will host specialized clinics and activities tailored for junior participants – all offered free of charge. The divisions include singles for boys and girls aged 8-12, 13-14, and 15-16, along with doubles in two categories: 8-12 and 13-16.
Finding New Partners And Developing Friendships
Courtney Loughridge also highlighted, “The Junior Tour will be great to connect junior players across the country so they can find new partners and develop friendships.”
For those with children who are showing an interest in competitive play, following the junior tour on Instagram at @junior.ppa provides updates, announcements, and more details.
Registration for a Junior Tour event can be done via pickleballbrackets.com, with a nominal fee of $25 and an additional $5 per event.
Email [email protected] for further information.
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