Meet The Pros – Tonja Major
Tonja Major has been competing at the USAPA Nationals since 2011. She loves to compete and she practices good sportsmanship with folks at all levels of the game! Enjoy!
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2017 US Open – Mixed Doubles 35+ – Gold
2017 The Lakes Spring Fling Professional Pickleball Federation (PPF) – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2016 International Indoor Championship – Women’s doubles – Gold
2016 Pacific NW Regionals, Bend Oregon – Mixed Doubles – Silver
2016 US Open – Mixed Doubles – Bronze
2016 Canadian Nationals West – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2015 Canadian Nationals West -Mixed Doubles – Silver, Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2014 Oregon State Games – Women’s Doubles – Gold
2014 Tournament of Champions – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2013 Tournament of Champions – Women’s Doubles – Bronze
2012 USAPA Nationals – Women’s Doubles 19+ – Gold
What paddle do you play with and why?
The Glen Peterson Signature Omni Graphite paddle @ about 7.2- 7.3 ounces. I love the touch that it has and the extra length I get from it. It’s a nice light paddle that is forgiving and has the shorter handle which is better for my choked-up grip. The moment I tried the prototype in the early stages, I didn’t want to use anything else. I liked my shots off the paddle better right away.
What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I met my husband, Lavon Major, at the gym where I worked. He was playing pickleball there on a hard carpet court. He called me at work to ask me out and we started to date. Shortly after that he introduced me to pickleball. I played other sports at the time and pickleball wasn’t huge 20 years ago like it is today, so it took a while before I started to play more seriously and competitively. Over the years though, it was something we always did together and has brought lots of fun and maybe even a few fights to our marriage.
What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
If you had asked me a year or so ago, I probably would’ve said indoor, but now I’ve changed my mind. I like outdoors better. I used to like not having to worry about the weather, shadows, wind, sun, temperature and all that. Now I prefer the challenge and faster speed of the outdoor ball.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
Doubles… I’m better at it.
What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
My favorite place to play would be wherever all the other players at my level are playing. 😉 It’s hard to pick a favorite so I would say just about anywhere with the perfect temp, little wind, a good group of fun and high level players and no wait for a court. That would be my ideal place to play.
What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
Well if I shared then it wouldn’t be a secret, so I’m probably going to keep that one to myself! There are some things I won’t even share with my partners because there’s a good chance I’ll be playing against them at some point, too.
Tips… hmm… I would say, BE A GOOD SPORT! No one likes a poor sport; and there’s always something you can be working on, learning or getting from playing with lower level players when you are sharing a court with them.
What’s your day job?
I’ve been an aesthetician for over 14 years and now work part-time in our home.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
Probably about 6-9 hrs. a week on average. I also spend extra hours volunteering my time at the YMCA to teach pickleball. I just started giving lessons to beginners as well. Lucky for me, I make my own schedule so I can base a lot of what I do around when I want to play pickleball.
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
Not really, but I do have a meditation/inspiration type of reading that I quickly go over a day or so before I start most tournaments.
Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
My current goals are to focus more on actual drilling for practice rather than just games to prepare me for a tournament. I also hope to add some extra agility and speed training to work on faster movement and endurance.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
I always want to remind people: Don’t be that player who thinks they’re too good to play with and share a court with lower level players. We’ve all been in a place where we wanted to play with others better than us because it’s not only fun and cool, but helps us get better. A lot of players look up to, admire and aspire to be better players, like the ones they want to play with. So, before you brush them off when they want to join in occasionally or ignore when you’ve been asked to join them, stop and think what everyone could take from the experience.