September 3, 2023 – Excelsior Springs citizen, Julie Johnson continues her growth as a Pickleball sensation after her remarkable performance at the Pro Pickleball Association (PPA) Kansas City Open. Johnson, along with her partners Cristie Sharpsteen and James Latham, clinched Gold medals in the Senior Pro Women’s Doubles and Senior Pro Mixed Doubles divisions, respectively. Both wins qualify Johnson and her partners for the PPA National Championships on November 5-12 near Dallas, TX.
In the Senior Pro Women’s Doubles division, Johnson and Sharpsteen showcased their exceptional teamwork, going undefeated throughout the tournament. The pair’s synergy on the court was clear as they navigated their way to a relatively easy victory. The Senior Pro Mixed Doubles division, however, presented a challenge. Johnson and Latham faced a setback, losing in their opening match. Undeterred, they rallied through the back draw and showcased their skill, determination, and strategic prowess to secure the Gold medal.
Julie’s success on the Pickleball court has not gone unnoticed, leading to her collaboration with various sponsors who provide essential equipment and financial support for her tournament travels. Sponsors such as Chicken n Pickle, IXT Trucking, Diadem Paddles, and most recently, Soggy Bottoms CBD Cream have recognized her talent and dedication to the sport.
Julie is also passionate about spreading her love for Pickleball within the community. Her commitment to the sport landed her the role as the official Pickleball Pro for Kearney and their 12-court Pickleball complex. As the Court Pro, she assists in organizing clinics and classes aimed at introducing newcomers to the game and enhancing the skills of existing players.
Reflecting on the growing popularity of Pickleball, Johnson shared her excitement about the enthusiastic response from the community of Kearney. She noted, “It’s incredible to see how the sport is booming, especially among young people. On certain evenings, we have around 30 to 40 high school students coming together to enjoy the game and spend time together in a positive way.” She expressed her hopes that Excelsior Springs could follow in Kearney’s footsteps and expand its offerings to accommodate the sport’s growing demand.
Despite her recent success, Julie Johnson remains grounded and dedicated to continuous improvement. After only a brief four-day rest following the Kansas City Open, Johnson and Sharpsteen ventured to the PPA Chicago Open but ultimately fell short of medaling. Reflecting on the experience, Johnson stated, “Every match teaches us something new. We’ll take the lessons we’ve learned, rest up, and focus on improving our consistency on the court.”
As Julie’s Pickleball journey continues, her remarkable achievements resonate not only within the sport’s realm but also within our local community. The presence of such an exceptional player actively engaged in this thriving and dynamic sport highlights the fantastic opportunities that Pickleball brings to our area.