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Tony Roig is passionate about pickleball and helping others

Tony Roig, once an accomplished tennis player, is not unlike many converts to pickleball. He has a passion for one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation, excels at the game and has

an affinity for sharing his enthusiasm and teaching others.

“The most important thing for players is that they can become better at it,” he said. “It’s achievable. You can go as far as you want.”

Tony Roig talks pickleball with a fellow pickleball player on the court.
Tony Roig conducts camps throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Roig is going farther than most soon. At 54, he is training for the upcoming Association of Pickleball Players Champions Cup. That tournament, which includes the top senior professionals (50-and-older), is scheduled for Jan. 17-21 in Punta Gorda.

As a co-founder of Better Pickleball as well as the founder of the Tampa chapter

of the U.S. Team Pickleball League, Roig’s teaching and playing are well-known

throughout the region.

C.J. Johnson and Tony Roig pose for a photo on the pickleball court.
C.J. Johnson and Tony Roig get ready to lead an instructional session.

Maggie McClintock and Cathy Kaufman, who are behind Girls Night Out with games played at the Hillsborough Community College courts, are among many top players who speak

highly of Roig.

“Tony Roig taught Tampa how to play pickleball,” said McClintock, who also is director of league development for U.S. Team Pickleball.

“He’s a wealth of information when it comes to teaching pickleball,” said Kaufman, who also has worked with Roig’s wife Jill during ladies’ clinics. “He’s really good on instruction

and picking up the little things.”

Tony Roig shares his knowledge and experience with others on the pickleball court.
Tony Roig shares his knowledge and experience with others.

Aside from teaching the sport at various locations, Roig teams up with C.J. Johnson, a former professional golfer and ski instructor, to make instructional videos.

“The bulk of our work is online because we really want to reach as many people as we can,” he said.

Roig, who has won local and state pickleball titles and last year placed third at nationals in Phoenix, grew up playing tennis in New York. He and his wife were avid tennis players and one day a friend of Jill’s invited them to play pickleball. Like most people introduced to the sport, they soon became hooked.

Tony Roig gets ready to serve on the pickleball court.
Tony Roig gets ready to serve.

“There’s not a person who would not fall in love with (pickleball) if properly exposed to the sport,” Roig reasoned.

Of course, Roig’s introductory time on the pickleball court had its trial-and-error phase. It was not win-win all the time.

“If you’re a beginner you need that exposure,” he said, adding that losing games “lit a fire in me. I wanted to figure this thing out.”

Apparently, he did. So much so in fact that he has not played tennis in eight years.

By Steve Lee

Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos provided by Better Pickleball

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