Founder Stories

Jack Hansen - Co-Founder of OYA

Jack grew up in a small town in southwest Minnesota (Dawson, MN) and fell in love with tennis at an early age. For Jack, tennis was a family affair. Jack and all three of his brothers played collegiate tennis at St. John's University. Post college, Jack discovered a new passion that inspired him to pause his career as a software developer and pursue a new dream: making innovative pickleball products and services.

In 2020, Jack co-founded "Poach", a pickleball app designed to connect pickleball players, track improvements/ratings, and host pickleball tournaments and leagues to grow the sport. And in 2023, Jack co-founded "OYA", a pickleball paddle company creating unique and innovative paddles that emphasize tennis players’ strengths.

However, Jack's journey has not been without challenges. In 2017, Jack scheduled a doctor's appointment citing pain and discomfort and was confronted with a gut-wrenching diagnosis--testicular cancer. Jack spent 2 months undergoing  3 rounds of chemotherapy and treatment, lost all of his hair, and felt as if he aged 50 years in the span of 2 months.

After  Before

Shortly after beating cancer, Jack was back out on the tennis and pickleball courts enjoying life. However, as a result of the chemotherapy treatment, Jack was experiencing terrible hip pain and discomfort, limiting his ability to play the sports he loved. Jack was diagnosed with avascular necrosis--a hip condition that requires constant physical therapy, and likely, may necessitate a full hip replacement in the future.

Throughout his struggles with health, Jack has maintained an overwhelmingly positive attitude on life. Jack is grateful to be alive, grateful to have the opportunity to pursue his passions, and most of all, grateful for his wife Ashely and 1-year-old son Oliver. For Jack, pickleball is an outlet for him to be competitive, active, and mentally relaxed while being low-impact on his hips. Jack wants the OYA brand to embody these values: being bold, positive, and overcoming obstacles.

Mohaned Alhouni - Co-Founder of OYA

Mo, a top pickleball and tennis professional in Minnesota, was born and raised in Tripoli, Libya. His father sent him and his older brother to Minnesota in 2011 during a period of political protests and violence in Libya that eventually led to a revolution. Mo and his older brother both continued to look for more opportunities through academics and tennis while in the US.

Mo has been playing tennis competitively for 15+ years and coaching for the last 7 years. He played collegiate tennis at Gustavus Adolphus College as number one singles and doubles, won one national championship, had four all-conference team selections, was the 2017 ITA Scholar/Athlete of the Year, and was named Gustavus’s athlete of the decade for 2010-2020. By his senior year, Mo became the first Division III athlete ever to compete against Division I tennis players in the Fall ITA Oracle Cup National Championships.

He has been recognized by his coaches as a leader on and off the court for his positive behavior and interaction with others. Mo traveled and competed all over the Middle East and North Africa representing Libya. These experiences taught him the art of diplomacy and what it means to publicly represent a country and culture as an elite athlete.

Mo’s pickleball journey began 3 years ago when he first stepped on the court with his brothers to play for fun and was sucked in like everybody else. His love for being around people, being active, and helping others improve is what made him fall in love with pickleball. He has been teaching the sport for the last 2 years and truly believes that developing OYA’s paddles is a way to give back to the community.

He speaks multiple languages fluently, including English, Arabic, and Libyan, which allows him to expand his network internationally across the world. Currently, Mo is a Lead General Manager at Life Time, runs an Elite Academy, is a Pro player on the PPA Tour, and is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota with a Master's Degree in Sports Management.

Ryan Meger - Co-Founder of OYA

Ryan grew up in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, and was introduced to tennis around 4th grade. Ryan was immediately captivated by the sport, as it offered a unique blend of competition and camaraderie among his peers.

Ryan played DIII collegiate tennis at Saint John's University (Collegeville, MN), winning all-conference honors for 4 consecutive years. At SJU, Ryan met OYA Co-Founders Jack and Jess Hansen, and competed against OYA Co-Founder Mohaned Alhouni. This is a perfect example of why Ryan was initially captivated by tennis, as tennis promotes meaningful relationships with both teammates, and competitors.

Ryan believes that Pickleball promotes camaraderie and competition to an even greater degree than tennis. The rapid pace of play, public accessibility, and growing community of Pickleball has fostered numerous new connections and relationships in Ryan's life, while offering an exciting outlet for competition.

After graduating from SJU with a degree in physics, Ryan attended law school at the University of Iowa. In July of 2022, Ryan passed the Minnesota Bar Exam and is currently practicing as an attorney specializing in intellectual property law.