Gerry Turner has captured the hearts of America this fall as the first-ever "Golden Bachelor," with the 72-year-old widower's search for love playing out live each Thursday night on ABC.

But this week, his other identity got time in the spotlight: He's also America's most beloved pickleball player.

The 72-year-old widower is in the midst of a star turn as the inaugural leading man in the senior-citizen focused spin-off in "The Bachelor" franchise. But, as fans of the series learned early on, the reality TV star is also an avid pickleball player, having played for the last three years in and around his hometown of Hudson, Ind. On Friday, he proved to be one of the people that fans were most excited to see at the USA Pickleball National Championships.

Turner grabbed his paddle to play pick-up games on Pickleball Boulevard, had a hit with some of the world's best pros in the afternoon, and also handed out medals to amateur competitors. Off the court, he signed autographs and took selfies with excited fans, calling the atmosphere at the Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas "fantastic."

"“Everybody’s having a good time. It’s an athletic environment. Look around, there’s no frowns, everybody’s happy," he said in an interview with the USA Pickleball website.


Turner's love for pickleball played out in the series, with an episode focused on his female suitors playing a doubles tournament for his affections, and the retired restaurateur calls the sport "the perfect activity."

“You get good exercise,” Turner said. “You’re out amongst people, so you’re staying alert and active, and then the social side of it where you’re making friends. I think it’s the perfect activity. It’s easy for every level of competency, and there’s the fantastic socializing side of it. When you’re sitting down in between games, you get to know people and you get to make good friends.”

While "Golden Bachelor" fans will have to wait a few more weeks to find out who won Turner's heart, there's no doubt that he's already winning on the court.