Jazz Jimmy Paddleball Profile No 37 by Mike Melendez
He has a low-key quiet demeanor, but don’t let that fool you! He is a music promoter, a paddleball promoter, loves to travel and can be found shopping in many of the high-end clothing stores around the city. He loves to eat out, as reflected by the tons of photos on his Facebook page of gourmet meals at restaurants around the city. I think the guy is working on his Gourmet Chef degree! But, like many of us, John Cherry, Jazz Jimmy as he likes to be called, feels most comfortable on the paddleball courts.
Jimmy’s paddleball story started thirty-five years ago at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn NY, where he was born and raised. The famous Carmine Street paddleball courts in the Village is where Jimmy fell in love with the sport back in the 80s. Jimmy recalls, “I used to go down to Carmine’s and watch the players from the gate and it was just the excitement that got me interested in the sport.” At Fort Greene there weren’t any top players, just regular locals playing, hanging out and having a good time. One winter Jimmy decided to take his game to George McFadden’s Paddle Sports indoor courts, looking to upgrade his skill by playing stiffer competition. At this facility he played with the likes of Jimmy Gibson, Godfrey Brown, Pineapple Eddie, Jimmy Hoey and Pete Pilarte. The next summer Jimmy came back to Carmine, this time not to watch from the gate, but to compete with the top players such as the late Clarence Davis, Andr’e Hopkins, Freddy Diaz and many others. Jimmy had arrived to the big league of paddleball!
He has always been a fan of most of the seasoned players, but the one player he looked up to was Robert Chielli. He said, “In my opinion Robert was the best right-side player and that’s why I love playing that side so much.” Jimmy is a very good player with pop in his right and a very good left hand. But the essence of his game is based on placement and smart shot selection. His favorite shot is down the right side and a deadly right to left cross-court. Not surprisingly, these are two of the shots Chielli was known for.
In the late 90s, like most players, he transitioned from paddleball to racquetball. The switch was primarily due to the lighter racquets and the lack of tournaments in paddleball. But, like the majority of players that made this transition, he has returned to the exciting game which he fell in love with back in the days of Carmine. Presently Jimmy plays paddleball twice a week. During the summer season, his home park is Colucci Park in the Bronx, where mainly big ball is played, and in the winter, it’s Zerega Indoor.
On the personal side, he is obviously a food lover and his favorite is West Indian cuisine. When it comes to sports role models, he has no favorite individual but he loves his football Giants. His other sport is basketball, which he also loves to play.
Back to paddleball, Jazz Jimmy is one of the paddleball players today actively promoting our beloved sport and is very well liked by the paddleball community. I asked Jimmy if he feels paddleball has a future. “I think the sport still has room for growth, we just need to promote it more. I think if we can get more organizations involved and pitch a group story about the game and keep getting the youth involved, it would grow.” I asked him how do we get there? “More players must volunteer and go out and work with the younger generation and teach them about this amazing sport.” I hear you Jimmy! He also said that “It would be great if we can continue to work together to support each other and recruit new players.” This writer agrees with you 100%, Jimmy! His advice to his paddleball peers is, “Continue to play paddle and enjoy what you know best and that’s Having Fun!” About the PFA, he said, “I think the PFA is doing an excellent job promoting the game, it is well organized and lots of information about the sport can be found in its paddleballfamily.com website.” Our sport needs more individuals like Jazz Jimmy!