The Small-Town Kid Who Became a Pickleball Superstar! Dylan Frazier's Inspiring Story

Dylan Frazier: A Pickleball Prodigy’s Rise to the Top

Dylan Frazier, at just 22 years old, has already carved out a significant presence in the pickleball world. His journey began at age 13, starting at the 3.5 level and steadily ascending through the ranks.

With his recent victory alongside JW Johnson at the PPA Orange County Cup, Frazier has dethroned the legendary Ben Johns, widely regarded as the greatest men’s player in the sport, to become the PPA Tour’s New Top-Ranked Men’s Doubles Player.

Dylan Frazier’s Pickleball Journey: From Small Town to Stardom

Hailing from Ashland, Missouri, a small town near Columbia, Dylan Frazier grew up in a lively household with his parents, Shawn and Cindy, and three adopted siblings. His early days were filled with baseball, basketball, and football, but little did he know that his true calling was yet to come. In 2016, a family vacation to Florida changed everything. At a local rec center, they stumbled upon pickleball courts and decided to give it a try.

Dylan’s mom, Cindy, had played during her college days at Mizzou, so she taught the family the rules. Dylan was immediately captivated by the sport. Back in Columbia, Dylan and his mom joined a local pickleball group and started playing regularly. They soon entered their first tournament, where Dylan secured a silver medal in singles at the 3.5 levelHowever, his partnership with Cindy in mixed doubles didn’t quite synchronize, failing to medal. Yet, this setback only intensified Dylan’s resolve to enhance his game.

Dylan Frazier’s Journey to Pickleball Excellence

Dylan’s dedication to pickleball was unwavering. He practiced tirelessly with friends in Columbia, honing his skills and gradually rising through the ranks. Within two years, he reached the 4.5 level, a testament to his hard work and perseverance.

A pivotal moment came in 2019 when Dylan traveled to Wichita, Kansas, to train with the best in the sport. Generously, Pat Smith offered him accommodation, and Jay Devilliers and Chris Heck became regular drilling partners. Although Dylan was still developing, playing with these pros pushed him to new heights.

A chance to play with the legendary Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova left Dylan initially starstruck and nervous. However, they offered invaluable encouragement and guidance, helping him to settle in and eventually hold his own against the elite group. With each passing day, Dylan’s skills improved, and he began to make his mark in the pickleball world.

Dylan Frazier’s Rise to Success: Partnerships and Perseverance

Dylan’s early success in the pro circuit was largely attributed to his partnership with Lauren Stratman, with whom he achieved notable victories on both the APP and PPA Tours. Lauren not only helped Dylan find his footing at the professional level but also played a crucial role in introducing him to his current men’s doubles partner, JW Johnson. Lea Jansen, another key figure in the pickleball community, also contributed to this introduction, recognizing the potential of the two young players.

The partnership between Dylan and JW has been a resounding success, with the duo playing together for nearly three years. To hone their skills, Dylan would frequently travel to Florida to train and play with JW and his sister Jorja, surrounded by a community of up to 15 other pros. He eventually became a regular fixture at the Johnsons’ household, leading to him setting up an apartment in Boca Raton with Pablo Tellez.

When in Florida, Dylan focuses intensely on playing and drilling, while his time in Columbia is dedicated to strength training, working out at the gym, and practicing with local 4.5 to 5.0 players. Dylan’s exceptionally fast hands have become a hallmark of his game, with many in the pro pickleball scene acknowledging him as one of the quickest. When asked about his secret, Dylan attributed it to:

“Anticipation and understanding opponents’ patterns and tendencies. It’s not just about reflexes; it’s about preparation and being ready for those intense hands battles.”

Dylan Frazier’s Quest for Excellence: Enhancing His Game

Dylan is dedicated to elevating his skills in two key areas:

  1. Mastering the Two-Handed Backhand: He is diligently working on perfecting every aspect of this shot, including the drive, hybrid drop, and kitchen line counters. Dylan believes that a two-handed backhand will become an essential tool for all pro players within the next two to three years, providing versatility and power against opponents’ attacks.
  2. Achieving Consistency: Dylan emphasizes that consistency is the ultimate differentiator in pickleball, across all levels. He strives to maintain a high level of consistency in his game, which has earned him an impressive track record.

Stats Wrap: A Testament to Consistency

The PPA Tour’s “Stats Wrap” highlights Dylan’s remarkable consistency:

  • 5 consecutive finals appearances with JW Johnson, with only one loss
  • 94.9% third shot percentage in the last 5 men’s doubles championship matches (112 accurate shots out of 118)
  • 60% success rate in speedups initiated over the same 5-match span

While the men’s doubles game is trending toward a drive-and-crash approach, Dylan and JW focus on reaching the kitchen line, adapting their strategy to suit each opponent. Dylan stresses the importance of understanding team patterns and adjusting strategies to achieve success in doubles pickleball.

Dylan Frazier’s Rise to the Top: A Testament to Hard Work and Dedication

Dylan’s journey to becoming the No. 1-ranked men’s doubles player on the PPA Tour is a shining example of the power of purposeful practice and strategic partnerships. Since 2016, he has steadily honed his skills, leveraging drills with a purpose and playing alongside pros like JW Johnson in Florida. This focused approach has yielded remarkable consistency and improvement.

Dylan’s Tips for Success

  1. Drill with a purpose: Make every practice session count.
  2. Play with players slightly better than you: Push yourself to improve.

A Family Affair

Dylan credits his parents, Cindy and Shawn, for their unwavering support. Cindy helped him develop his game in the early years, while Shawn handled the logistics of his tournaments, a task that requires dedication and organization.

A Role Model for the Sport

As pickleball continues to grow, Dylan’s professionalism and passion for the game make him an excellent ambassador. His story serves as an inspiration to young players, showing that with hard work and the right support, they too can achieve greatness.