Akron Law student combines love of law with his pickleball passion


New faculty at the University of Akron School of Law.

Akron Law student John Enger is not only a U.S. Open Pickleball Championships medalist, he’s also a part-time law clerk with the world’s largest pickleball tournament association.

Before starting at the University of Akron (UA) School of Law in January 2023, John Enger earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA from Cleveland State University while playing competitive pickleball at a national level.

At the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, Fla., in spring 2022, Enger not only won the bronze medal in the men’s doubles 19-24 age group, he also met the general counsel of the PPA Tour, the world's largest pickleball tournament association.

“I was talking with a friend after playing mixed doubles, and a man who’d been standing nearby came over and introduced himself,” Enger said. “He’d overheard me talking about starting law school, and we became friends on Facebook after that. Then last February, a month into law school, he messaged me that he was looking for a part-time law clerk with a business background who knows the sport really well. I called him an hour later and he said, ‘When can you start? Tomorrow, if possible.’”

Passionate about pickleball, Enger jumped at the offer and started the following week as a part-time law clerk working remotely on a pro basis. The PPA Tour hosts tournaments where the top professional players in the world compete for the largest payouts in the sport.

“It definitely was a learning curve,” he admitted. “I had hardly any legal experience at that point. But I’ve learned so much while working there under the general counsel.”

Throughout the spring semester and then the summer, Enger met with the general counsel and other Tour executives at major pickleball tournaments to discuss what he was working on and the plans for projects to come. Since the start of fall law classes, he has been working 10 hours a week, switching from pro bono to a paid basis.

"One the best parts of my job is seeing where Akron Law 1Ls land each summer,” said Alecia Bencze ’15 director of career services and strategic initiatives. “Although John found his job with the PPA through his pre-law school connections, we worked together throughout the spring semester on a few things related to this position, and I was happy to see him end up somewhere where he can combine his passions with his legal career."

As much as Enger was enjoying the combination of law and pickleball, he wondered if he should diversify his hands-on, law school experiences.

“I talked with some of my professors. Professor [Emeritus John] Sahl told me that an opportunity like this—to be involved in an emerging new sport that I’m passionate about—just doesn't come around every day. His advice was to do whatever I had to do to stay with the general counsel and take on as much work as I’m able to handle. And that’s what I’m doing,” he said.

The word about Akron’s pickleball star reached the UA Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The Center has four pickleball courts laid out on basketball court #1, and they are often in use, said Center Director Nick Weber. Last spring someone at the Center contacted Enger about conducting a pickleball clinic for beginners. Unfortunately, Enger said, the proposed time conflicted with his first midterm exam, so he had to take a raincheck. He’s been busy.