Athletes competing in Pickleball at this year’s National Senior Games have a legend in their midst, 91-year-old Joyce Jones, to thank for the tournament’s existence.
As we shared in Joyce’s 2021 Personal Best Feature, she organized a multi-year effort to get Pickleball added to the National Senior Games officially in 2012. 10 years later, 1,500+ athletes are filling pickleball courts in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center for the 2022 Games.
This decorated badminton, tennis, and pickleball player has a near perfect attendance record for the Games, missing only one event since its inception in 1987. “The National Senior Games are such fun,” she says. “I keep saying I’m going to retire, but I keep coming back.”
Joyce has played pickleball for over 35 years and believes “it’s a game for everyone.”
“Just about everybody can have a good time just hitting it back and forth and get good exercise,” she shares when asked about pickleball’s explosion in popularity nationwide. “In tennis and badminton it takes a long time to get to the point where you can do rallies and have fun.”
Joyce still has her sights on raising the profile of pickleball saying, “My ultimate goal is to get it in the Olympics.” If anyone can make it happen, Joyce can!
National Senior Games Newcomer Snags Gold
National Senior Games newcomer Ron Cortese came to Fort Lauderdale with a medal on his mind.
Ron worked his way through the men’s 60-64 age bracket and reached the gold-medal round on May 14. The opponents kept the audience in suspense, rallying back and forth in nail biting matches. After winning the best two out of three games, Ron needed to win another 15-point game due to losing to his opponent earlier in the bracket. He accomplished this with a score of 15-8 to end his quest for a medal.
Ron is no stranger to sports, he founded and runs the Legends Sports League based in Virginia. One of his referees suggested they start a pickleball league three years ago, which is when Ron first picked up a paddle. “It’s the type of sport you play and fall in love with,” he says.
Congratulations to Ron on his gold-plated National Senior Games debut!