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Fine-Tuning Your Serve

Where Should I Hit the Ball?

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By Bob Nibarger

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Sixteen-year-old Nicky Golowich, living in Fort Myers, Florida, has spent a great deal of time becoming a true student and scholar of history, embellishing his cooking skills, and learning firsthand about America since his parents, Nick and Dana, took him across the country for two and a half years in a recreational vehicle. 

When his family landed in Georgia in early 2016, there was an opportunity to play a sport with which his dad was completely taken. When told that the name of the sport was pickleball, it took months for Nicky to get over what he had deemed as, let’s say, not a good fit for a seventh grader. Little did he know... 

Fast-forward to November, 2019. Nicky completed a very successful USAPA National Tournament in Indian Wells in which he earned his seventh junior national gold medal from the U.S. Open and the USAPA Nationals. He next headed south to Tres Palapas in Los Bariles, Cabo, Mexico. There, he earned gold in men’s doubles at the first Junior International Tournament, sponsored by the World Pickleball Federation. 

The road in between has been dictated by an immense amount of time spent volleying pickleballs off a concrete wall, learning as much as he could on YouTube and other channels about how to play the sport, and searching for two years for an accomplished adult to help him develop his game. Finally, in late 2018, U.S. Open senior doubles champion Barry Waddell took Nicky under his wing to fine-tune his development. 

Nicky’s game has since taken off. In addition to his national titles, another highlight was when he won the 5.0 men’s doubles championship at the USAPA South Atlantic Regionals in the summer of 2019. 

A firm believer in the future of pickleball, Nicky feels that the junior program needs to be spotlighted for the purpose of showing other young people what a terrific sport opportunity pickleball presents. He maintains that if pickleball is ever to become an Olympic sport, it must do so on the shoulders of young people, in whom established players can take an active interest to support and nurture for the future.


For example, accomplished superstar Frank Anthony Davis invited Nicky to play with him at the Heritage Tournament in Finley, Alabama, which earned Nicky his first 5.0 men’s doubles victory ever. Nicky says that copying the initiatives of FAD, Waddell, and tournaments dedicated to Junior players needs to become a priority for the USAPA community. 

A straight-A dual-enrolled student attending Southwest Florida University and Lee County Virtual High School, Nicky plans to enroll at an Ivy League school once he graduates. He is thankful for the opportunities given to him by his hard work and dedication to the sport of pickleball, and grateful to his current sponsors at Paddletek for their support. 

Nicky’s belief in the development of young players in the sport remains unwavering. One day, he may find himself on another international stage representing the United States, playing the sport with the weird name at the Olympics! 

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