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Chris Haworth’s Tennis to Pickleball Champion Transition

Chris Haworth’s Tennis to Pickleball Champion Transition: In December 2023, Chris Haworth made a bold New Year’s resolution: to claim a gold medal in professional pickleball, a milestone he had yet to achieve. Little did he know, he wouldn’t have to wait long for that dream to become reality.

By the third week of January 2024, at the APP Punta Gorda Open, Haworth secures the men’s pro singles title, swiftly fulfilling his resolution with a golden flourish. That victory set the tone for a remarkable year ahead, where he went on to grab consecutive golds in Delray Beach and New York, punctuated by a bronze in Sacramento—all in the intensely competitive singles category. Halfway through the year, Haworth had surpassed his resolution not once, but thrice, marking a demonstration of his growing skill in the sport.


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Just a year ago, Haworth’s life revolved around mentoring young talents at a tennis academy near his Oklahoma City home, he was employed as the director of a tennis academy. A former standout junior tennis player who was ranked sixth nationally among 18-year-olds, Haworth had pursued tennis at Oklahoma State University before briefly entering the professional circuit. In spite of a promising start in tennis, by August 2023, Haworth found himself at a crossroads, considering a shift that would redefine his sporting career.

Chris Haworth's Tennis to Pickleball Champion Transition

It was during a long-awaited Thanksgiving break that same year when pickleball unexpectedly entered Haworth’s life. A casual game during the holiday built an immediate fascination that would change his path. Intrigued by the sport’s mix of familiar tennis elements and unique gameplay, Haworth quickly incorporated pickleball into his daily routine, reshaping his career aspirations.

“So I played, I was hooked right away. I played every single day that week, and I started scheduling my tennis lessons around when I could be playing pickleball. So pickleball slowly took over my life,” said Haworth.

By March 2023, Haworth had entered the competitive arena of pickleball tournaments, initially balancing his new passion with his coaching responsibilities. However, a decisive moment during a summer vacation cemented his commitment: he chose to pursue pickleball full-time, stepping away from his position as a tennis director. This bold move proved successful at the 2023 APP Sunmed St. Louis Open, where Haworth secured a bronze medal in his singles debut, pushing him into the pickleball spotlight.

“I was doing okay, but it was hard, The people that are playing are playing full-time, they don’t have jobs, they’re practicing all day and training like a professional sport” expalined Haworth

Chris Haworth's Tennis to Pickleball Champion Transition

Reflecting on his rapid rise in pickleball, Haworth attributes his success to careful attention to detail and a disciplined approach to training. Transitioning from tennis to pickleball presented both challenges and rewards, with Haworth particularly drawn to the strategic nuances demanded by doubles play—which contrasts sharply with the individual skill needed in singles competition. His current focus lies on refining his doubles game, targeting a prestigious medal by the end of the year—a concrete ambition that drives his relentless pursuit of peak performance.

“From there, it all just happened quickly, and here we are 10 months later, So it was a little bit of a whirlwind the last year, but super fun”–Haworth

Residing in Oklahoma City with his husband, Jackie, and their beloved dogs, Haworth finds comfort in his close-knit family and community connections. In spite of the lure of relocating for his growing pickleball career, Haworth remains rooted in his hometown, valuing the proximity to loved ones and the familiar environment that supports his professional ambitions.

“I like being close to home and having my parents and my sister close by – not even to see them that often, but it’s just comforting for me to have them there, I talked about moving for pickleball, but for me, it’s not worth it to be away from my family for a career, no matter what the career was. I’m really big into family”–Haworth

As the top-ranked men’s singles player on the APP Tour, Haworth’s journey continues to inspire—a foundation for perseverance, strategic foresight, and a deep-rooted love for the rhythmic sound of pickleball, which he finds oddly satisfying amid the intensity of competition.

“I’m definitely satisfied with my progress of where I’ve come, so happy with where I’m at yes, but I also know that where I’m at is not my end goal, Doubles is my main focus right now, so being ranked top-five in doubles – that would be my New Year’s resolution if I had to make it right now.”


In Haworth’s narrative, pickleball isn’t just a sport; it’s a symphony of ambition, family values, and persistent dedication—a journey uniquely his own, with each stroke resonating towards new heights of achievement.

News in Brief: Chris Haworth’s Tennis to Pickleball Champion Transition:

Chris Haworth’s transition from tennis to pickleball has been a rapid success. In December 2023, he set his sights on winning a gold medal in professional pickleball. Just a month later, at the APP Punta Gorda Open in January 2024, he achieved this goal by claiming the men’s pro singles title. This victory marked the beginning of a stellar year, with subsequent gold medals in Delray Beach and New York, along with a bronze in Sacramento, highlighting his swift rise in the sport.

A standout junior tennis player and briefly on the professional tennis circuit, Haworth discovered pickleball during a Thanksgiving break and quickly integrated it into his daily routine. After winning a bronze medal at the 2023 APP Sunmed St. Louis Open, he made the bold decision to leave his position as a tennis academy director to pursue pickleball full-time.

Transitioning from tennis to pickleball presented challenges, particularly competing against full-time athletes. However, Haworth’s training and dedication paid off. He has since focused on mastering doubles play while maintaining strong ties to his hometown of Oklahoma City, where he values family support and community connections.

Looking ahead, Haworth aims to achieve a top-five ranking in doubles by the end of the year. His journey exemplifies resilience, strategic adaptation, and a profound commitment to pickleball—a sport that has not only reshaped his career but also enriched his personal life with newfound achievements and aspirations.

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