APP: Start by telling me your name and what you do for a living.
Bates: I am Shelby Bates and I am the assistant tennis and pickleball pro at Mirasol Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, now transitioning to touring pickleball professional pro.
APP: You grew up in New York. What was that like? Did you play any sports growing up?
Bates: I grew up on Long Island – in Jericho, New York. I played junior tennis there my whole life. I played other sports up until about middle school and my mom said I needed to pick one sport, so I picked tennis. I finished top 200 in the country when I was in junior tennis and then I went to play Division I college tennis at Coastal Carolina University.
APP: When did you first start playing pickleball?
Bates: I started playing pickleball around January or February of 2022. My club needed to add pickleball because it was growing as a sport. We had an exhibition at our club and that’s when I got started.
APP: And when did you first get involved with the APP?
Bates: My first tournament I played in was actually an APP tournament, at Plantation last February. That was in amateurs, and then I turned pro in September of 2022.
APP: Switching gears a little bit. What does pickleball mean to you?
Bates: : Pickleball is super inclusive, super fun and exciting. I love the energy that it brings, but it also allows everybody to participate and always have fun no matter what their skill level, no matter what their age or sports background is.
APP: Building off that, can you describe the APP in one word?
Bates: I’ll give it two words. Family and inclusive. They are so happy to have everybody here. They treat everybody like family. They’re super welcoming when you come to a tournament, whether you’re an amateur or a pro, and it’s just a super fun, exciting atmosphere.
APP: Two very good words! Do you have a favorite memory as part of the APP tour, looking back on the last year or so?
Bates: In my first pickleball tournament as an amateur at an APP tournament, I triple crowned. So now I’m going to look to do that as pro – we’ll see what happens!
APP: That’s awesome. One more question for you – what advice would you have for young athletes out there that are aspiring to be a professional athlete like yourself, not just in pickleball, but in any sport?
Bates: Make sure you really have a passion for it and you enjoy going out there because it is a job as a professional athlete. But if you enjoy it and you love being out there every day, it’s really not a job. Make sure that also on the side you’re putting in the work for yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and look to grind every day.
APP: Wise words, Shelby. Anything else you want people to know about you or your story?
Bates: Not much, other than this has just been so exciting and fun and I really want to run with this professional career and really see where it takes me!