Featured Player: Milan Rane

Featured Player: Milan Rane

The APP is home to incredible pickleball players, of all ages and performance levels, who come with a rich range of stories that brought them to the sport we love. In our APP Player Spotlight series, we shine the light on the vast range of pickleball players and give them a platform to tell their own stories. Up next is Milan Rane, fresh off a bronze medal at the 2023 APP Mesa Open. The 24-year-old Boca Raton resident loves playing pickleball and hanging out with her family.

APP
|
April 12, 2023
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 APP: When and how did you start playing pickleball?

Rane: I started playing pickleball during COVID in 2020 when there was nothing else to do. My brother moved out of town and was playing with a group of four and kind of volunteered me to play with them.

APP: From that moment to now, how did you decide that going pro was something that you wanted to do?

Rane: I actually didn’t decide going pro was what I wanted to do. It was a hobby turned into obsession, and then it just carried forward from there, and now I feel guilty when I don’t play.

 

APP: Why do you feel guilty? 

Rane: I feel guilty because I feel like I could be competing and making some money and just having a blast out there.

APP: Building off that, what are your goals for this year? 

Rane: My goals for this year are to his play as many tournaments as I can, and to medal in as many as I can. Also, to not go negative in my PTO with my full-time job.

APP: What’s your full-time job?

Rane: I am a paid search specialist for Overstock.

APP: You have this story, much like a lot of other people, of coming into this sport during the COVID pandemic. And now, there’s been more than 48 million Americans who have played this sport. How far do you think pickleball can go?  

Rane: I think there is no limit for pickleball. It’s just going to keep getting bigger. More people are going to play full-time and I’m going to slowly fall out, but hopefully not too quickly.

APP: What would it mean to you to see pickleball in the Olympics?  

Rane: Seeing pickleball in the Olympics would be amazing just because I saw where high-level pickleball started and I could see where it ended up and that I was a part of that. If I could represent my country in the Olympics, that would be a dream come true.

APP: Who are your biggest supporters?

Rane: My parents are my biggest supporters, and my brothers are my second-biggest supporters. They think it’s amazing I’m a professional pickleball player. My brothers are both doctors and they put up my livestreams in the doctor’s lounge at their hospital all the time. My parents hold little parties at their retirement community when I’m playing. Their support means a lot.

APP: How did you first get involved in the APP?  

Rane: I first got involved in the APP when they hosted the Delray Beach Open in 2022. I had played a couple of 5.0-level matches by that point and had done pretty well – so I thought I’d go out there and see how I’d do.

APP: If you had to describe the APP in one word, what would that be? 

Rane: If I had to describe the APP in one word, I would use inspiring because they let anyone come in and build their career through them and just go from start to finish.  

I think that’s important for players to build community within the APP’s players, their referees, their volunteers and their staff, and make them feel a sense of community as they grow their career in the professional pickleball world. From when they start at the bottom to when they go all the way up winning gold medals, the APP is still their biggest advocates.  

APP: Reflecting on your background, what’s been the biggest challenge for you in your journey becoming a pickleball pro?  

Rane: The biggest challenge for me personally is the mental aspect of it. Coming from tennis, the reason why I actually quit the sport was because the mental aspect was too much for me. With all these tennis players coming in to pickleball, it almost feels like it starts out like that same way. But then when they realize that the pickleball community is not as vicious or aggressive as you might see in tennis, they learn and become part of that community.

In tennis, it’s just you on the court and when you’re in a downward spiral, it just keeps going. It was really hard to bring myself back up sometimes, and with that came a lot of losses that maybe I shouldn’t have had.

Pickleball is very different because you can come off a hard loss and you still have all your friends there, even the person you just played against, telling you that you played great, telling you what you could have done better, telling you how you could have beat them. In pickleball everyone, even when they’re your competitor, is still your friend, there for you, and wanting you to do your best.  

APP: What’s one piece of advice that you’ve been given or that you would give to a young person aspiring to be a professional pickleball player?   

Rane: One piece of advice that I would give to an aspiring pickleball player is to keep going. The pressure starts as a lot, but the more times that you’re in those pressure situations, the more times you will get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

APP: That’s great advice. Switching gears a bit with some rapid-fire questions now. Outside of the world of pickleball, who is your dream pickleball partner?

Rane: Caroline Wozniacki. I grew up watching her play tennis and she was my favorite.

APP: Do you have pre-match music or a favorite song that gets you to in the right headspace? 

Rane: I have a variety of music on my phone. It goes from country to rap to house music. It depends on what mood I’m in, but usually I’ll play some upbeat hip hop.

APP: Any particular artists that you like listening to right now?  

Rane: Right now, I’m kind of on a country run, so Morgan Wallen is who I’m listening to right now.  

APP: What’s your favorite pre-match snack?  

Rane: I sometimes find it really hard to eat before I play, so usually something that I could just eat really quickly – like a granola bar or a banana.  

APP: How about post-match?

Rane: Post-match I’ll eat anything because I’m so hungry. I love a good taco place, or Italian is good too.  

APP: Do you have any hidden talents?  

Rane: I was a group fitness instructor in college at FAU, and I can juggle.

APP: Any guilty pleasures? 

Rane: I love a really good chocolate chip cookie. Also, High School Musical and Camp Rock.

APP: Lastly, what motivates you?

Rane: What motivates me to get out of bed, and play pickleball, and work, and get a master’s degree [in Digital Strategy at the University of Florida], is my future. I’m so motivated to create this life for myself that my parents gave me. I want to be as successful as I can and take advantage of every opportunity that I’m given. 

Rane and the rest of the APP pros return to action at the 2023 APP Sunmed Sacramento Open, April 26-30 at Johnson Ranch Pickleball Complex in Roseville, California. Stay tuned for the next installment of the Player Spotlight series.

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