Tyler Loong, at 29 years of age, has been a pro since 2014 and is one of the hottest players in the sport. Known for his insane ability to turn nearly any ball into an Erne, Tyler is a fierce competitor on the court.
However, there’s a lot more to this Utah native than that, including significant daddy duties and a passion for growing the sport. Loong is currently ranked #5 in Mixed Doubles, #12 in Singles, and #13 in Men’s Doubles. Let’s dive in!
1. What’s some of the best advice you can give someone who’s trying to become a professional pickleball player?
Practice and set specific and realistic goals. I see many players who are just starting to play pickleball for the first time say, “I want to be the best, or I want to go pro.” These are great to have, but I would prefer if they start with smaller steps and achieve those and work their way to larger goals. They could first start by winning gold in a 4.0 tournament, then after that, winning gold in a 4.5, then focusing on the pro division or other goals that they might have! I’ve seen people have very large dreams and when they don’t achieve them, they lose interest.
2. We know you have a daughter! What are the best and worst parts of being a father?
The best part is my wife changes the vast majority of the diapers (don’t ask for the exact number). The other best part is when Ivy laughs and smiles. As she gets older, her personality shines through more and more and each day is a surprise! The worst part is definitely not being able to be caught up with sleep.
3. How did you find pickleball and what did you think of it at first?
My neighbor, Tyler Sheffield, who at the time happened to be a top senior player, knew of my love and talent for tennis. Sheffield had asked many times to play pickleball with me and sure enough, once I was able to play even just once, I was hooked.
From the beginning, I absolutely loved pickleball. It was so much fun and I simply couldn’t stop playing. I played a lot of Pickleball the first few years…
4. How would you describe yourself in three words?
Optimistic + Focused + Energy
5. What is your typical diet like when you’re not playing a tournament?
My answer always depends on who’s asking the question! All jokes aside, as of recently, I have been trying to eat more healthy but give me beef jerky, spicy food or something sour and I might cave just a little. I have also been trying to meal plan which makes eating healthy easier.
6. Can you tell us something most people wouldn’t know about you?
I am a fanatic of technology. Most things that have to do with cameras, phones, computers make me geek out.
7. How are you involved in the Junior PPA Tour and what does it mean to you?
I’m helping grow and promote the program. It means a lot to me. Everyone always says, “the kids are the future of the sport,” and I truly believe this and want to provide a pathway for the juniors to have the best opportunities available. In the past, there haven’t been all that many opportunities for youth to participate and compete with others, so the Junior PPA Tour is helping solve this.
Although the Junior PPA Tour is still so new, we have had such positive feedback, and the program is growing with each and every tournament. Not only are the numbers increasing, but the level of talent is increasing as well. It is truly amazing to see these youth come together and create friendships and improve their talent. I can’t wait for more of these tournaments! The Junior PPA tour will be at every one of the PPA stops this year.
8. Where do you see the sport in the future?
I see it on the same path that it already is; growing, larger prize pool, better venues, more talent, etc. The PPA has done an incredible job to put pickleball in the spotlight and accelerate this process, and I believe it will only get better. I also believe that youth programs will begin to gain traction and become more mainstream.
9. What is the best thing about the sport of pickleball?
The entry barrier is low so anyone can learn to play fairly quickly; however, the ceiling is very high. The smallest details make the biggest difference at high levels. The friendships and social aspects are other great things about pickleball!
10. Tell me about Team Vulcan!
I’ve been sponsored by Vulcan for close to 2 years now. My experience with them has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve been around the pickleball scene for some time, and I’ve seen other companies and their relationships with customers and the products they make. Vulcan excels in both of these areas. The products they make are fantastic and of the utmost quality, and their dedication to customer service and treating people fairly is top-notch.