Big Weapon in a Small Package

A 10-year-old from northern Utah has been the youngest player to enter the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships for the past two years. At 8 years old, Danny Phillips won bronze in Junior Boys Doubles with his partner Tate Klein at the 2018 Championships. In 2019, the pair took silver in the same division. Danny has also played in many other USA Pickleball and recreational pickleball events, medaling a dozen times—half of those being gold—while playing against adults.

Wherever he plays, Danny draws an appreciative crowd. He surprises spectators as well as opponents with his powerful baseline strokes, soft hands at the net, natural court savvy, and remarkably consistent lobs. He likes to try trick shots and loves to slice, drop, and go around the post. Added to this, Danny has a charming personality that makes him a favorite of adults and juniors alike.

When he was 7 years old, Danny accompanied his dad at a tournament in southern Utah. Though he was too young to play as a participant, he continually looked for opportunities to get on courts between games and hit with any willing player. During a rain delay, pickleball legend Scott Moore saw Danny playing and joined him on court for an impromptu foursome exhibition. When they came off the court, a couple who had been watching stopped Danny and asked him to sign their pickleball. They said they wanted to be the first to get his autograph because they expected to see him as a pro one day.

Danny has been playing pickleball for four years. In addition to playing in tournaments and in adult recreational leagues, he practices regularly with his large family. Danny is the youngest of eight children born to Vic and Lisa Phillips. The Phillips family came to pickleball from a strong tennis background, and they are all hooked. They have made pickleball a huge part of their lives by playing in and supporting each other in tournaments, organizing community clinics and leagues, and most recently adding a pickleball court to their own backyard.

“I’m glad I have a family who always wants to play pickleball because that’s what makes me better,” Danny says. “I love to go to Nationals because I get to hang out with the other juniors and meet so many new people.” He always looks forward to the Junior Party “where we get to play with the pros like Kyle Yates and Ben Johns.”

As much as he loves pickleball, Danny also has many other interests and talents. He plays competitive soccer, baseball, basketball, and tennis. He is an honor student and excels academically. Additionally, Danny loves to sing and act. He is a veteran of community musical theater, having performed regularly in shows since the age of 6. Some of his past roles include Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol,” Michael Darling in “Peter Pan,” and Fletcher in “Freaky Friday.”

Danny fulfilled one of his pickleball goals this summer when he joined his dad as a sponsored player with Paddletek. Two of his sisters are also sponsored players. Danny’s future goals for pickleball include winning a gold medal at Nationals, becoming a 5.0 rated player by age 15, and eventually becoming a pro. He thinks it would be “cool” one day if pickleball became an Olympic sport and he could represent the USA. We both expect and look forward to seeing a lot more of Danny in the future!

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