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Navy Vet Helping to Promote Pickleball

Author: Andrew Gilman | July 11, 2023

Kevin Wensing knows a little bit about getting people involved in sports.

Seems like he’s an expert at it. 

And he knows a thing or two about making sure United States military veterans stay active, as well, so when it came to promoting pickleball this past Memorial Day, you know Wensing and his friends were dropping, dinking, and driving out there on his home courts at the Winter Park Tennis Center in Winter Park, Fla.

“I hope to help PPA bring more veterans and military kids to pickleball,” said Wensing, who is a Captain in the Navy, having served 26 years. “It’s very important for everyone to stay active in whatever way works best for their lifestyle and interests. Pickleball, like tennis and a few other games, offers a fast way to get a workout, get outside and most importantly develop and maintain personal relationships, which are critical to well being.” 

Earlier this year, Wensing helped make a connection between the PPA and the President’s Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition as well as linking in the Department of Veterans Affairs – all in the name of promoting pickleball.

In addition, Wensing helped establish the Warrior Games which is now in its 13th year. The Warrior games feature physical and mental toughness or wounded, ill and injured active-duty and veteran service members. Men and women representing all branches of the military compete. 

And in 2012, alongside the U.S. Tennis Association president Jon Vegosen, Wensing helped start the LT Joe Hunt Military Appreciation Day at the U.S. Open for veterans and military families.

So, yeah, Wensing is active and actively getting people involved in sports, and particularly pickleball where he says there’s definitely a benefit for veterans.

“Pickleball is a great game for everyone and veterans, like others, can benefit greatly from the physical, social and competitive aspects of the game,” Wensing said. “For those who are getting older and finding other games hard to play because of knee problems, like me, or other issues, pickleball provides a great athletic option and if you’re still fit, the pace of the game can be very challenging.”

Wensing has been playing pickleball since 2016, and the Quincy, Ill. native grew up playing all sorts of sports.

“I’ve played tennis, squash, Padel, table tennis, racquetball, badminton, lawn tennis, pickleball, soccer, basketball, chess and, of course when I was very young, football and baseball, but racket sports are my favorites.” 

During his two-decade-plus military career, Wensing has played Padel, table tennis, badminton and tennis around the world, including Australia, Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East and Europe.

Tournament play isn’t something Wensing does, but he is out there playing and encouraging more veterans like himself to do the same.

“Being on court helps keep people physically fit and mentally sharp,” he said. “And the time spent with friends and teammates is vital to emotional well-being.”

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