MCHENRY – Nothing like a little encouragement from a parent to start a new journey in life, and that’s how it happened with John Cincola in 2018.

The native of Moline and resident of McHenry had been playing and instructing tennis most of his life, but his mom pushed him to try pickleball. It was a tough thing for Cincola to consider since he was a standout tennis player at UIC and then was a teacher of that sport for 15 years.

“They kept mentioning it to me over and over again that I should try it and I kept saying ‘No, it sounds stupid,'” said Cincola. “She eventually wore me down. I went out with her one time and played, and it was pretty much was immediate addiction.”

Five years later, Cincola is entering his second full season as a professional player in the sport on the Association of Pickleball Professionals. He’s taking part in the Daytona Beach tournament this weekend and will likely be at the tour’s event in the Chicago area when it visits Highland Park August 30-September 3.

“I felt like pickleball was all of the skills that I enjoyed about tennis and table tennis kind of in one game,” aid Cincola.

While he’s found success in playing the sport, he’s also found his niche in teaching pickleball as well. He’s not only started in-person instruction, like he did with tennis, but also gone virtual with his teaching of the sport with a YouTube channel – John Cincola Pickleball.

After his first video post in July 2020, the page now has nearly 11,000 subscribers.

“I feel like I have a bit of a unique perspective on how I teach and the people that I work with seem to like it,” said Cincola. “So I wanted to try to get that message out to a broader audience.”

Larry Hawley has more on Cincola’s story on WGN News Now in the video above.