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Pickleball is Popping Off in Vietnam

Pickleball is Popping Off in Vietnam

Pickleball may still be the fastest-growing sport in North America, but calling it that overshadows how significant its growth is in other areas of the...

Pickleball is Popping Off in Vietnam

Pickleball may still be the fastest-growing sport in North America, but calling it that overshadows how significant its growth is in other areas of the world - especially in Asia.

Over 10,000 courts and 100 million players are expected in China over the next five years.

But there's another Asian nation that's taking pickleball infrastructure seriously.

"Vietnam has the most pickleball dedicated centers and players in Asia," says pickleball pro Quang Duong in a recent Instagram post.

The 18-year-old rising pickleball star explains he visited a few months ago and saw first hand how popular the sport has become.

Unsurprisingly, he says, its growth rate has exceeded that of tennis, just as it has in the United States.

"Many pickleball tournaments running weekly thru out the country. Their system is like 1.0-2.0 lower rating than DUPR, but don't be fool[ed] by it. A 3.5 Vietnamese player is like a 5.0 equivalent in DUPR."

In the three years since pickleball was reportedly first introduced in Vietnam, it seems to have skyrocketed in popularity. 

“This sport is very suitable to Vietnamese people because they are fast and they are quick learners,” Vincent Nguyen, who manages courts at Câu lạc bộ Pickleball, told Dan Fellner for his travel blog.

Badminton is cited as the second-most popular sport in Vietnam, so it comes as no surprise that pickleball has seen success since its inception in the country.

Pickleball in Vietnam: More Signs of Growth

 We dug into the growth of pickleball in Vietnam and found some impressive facts:

  • In Ho Chi Minh City alone, there are reportedly "several dozen" courts with "more being added continually." - one fan told us there's a new court added every week.
  • Around 500 athletes recently competed at the VTV Times Pickleball tournament in Hà Nội last month.
  • Vietnam's Truong Quang Vu won gold in the men’s 35+ singles division at the 2023 World Pickleball Championship in Bali.

Read Next: Pickleball and Soccer Share More Than You’d Think

Pickleball may still be the fastest-growing sport in North America, but calling it that overshadows how significant its growth is in other areas of the...

USAP and UPA-A are now certifying pickleball paddles. This image displays a paddle with a check mark on it

USAP and UPA-A Respond to Pickleball Paddle Certification Questions

Representatives from USA Pickleball (USAP) and United Pickleball Association of America (UPA-A) answer important questions about the state of paddle certifications.

USAP and UPA-A Respond to Pickleball Paddle Certification Questions

The pickleball community now has two organizations certifying pickleball paddles for professional use in tournaments: USA Pickleball (USAP), the first American governing body in the sport, and United Pickleball Association of America (UPA-A), the newcomer under UPA, the organization that formed earlier this year to operate the merged PPA Tour & Major League Pickleball.

Since UPA-A announced its formation after the aforementioned league merger, the pickleball community has posed serious questions about its existence and what it is trying to accomplish. 

Then last week, a UPA-A update described a new paddle certification process pertaining to pro-level paddle brands that will launch later this year and feature input from Pro Pickle Labs and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

Many have wondered about the legitimacy of both organization's methods for testing and certifying paddles for use across all levels of pickleball play. 

In fairness to both organizations, we asked their representatives to comment on the state of paddle certification:

UPA-A

The Kitchen: How is this new certification program different from USAP's? What is the justification for it?

Jason Aspes, President of UPA: First and foremost, this is only about the pro game. We can't monitor 2,000+ brands that address the recreational market, and we don't want to get into that. Not now, at least.

USAP’s Certifications have until now been materials-based. Now, we're moving towards something performance-based.

We'll measure Exit Velocity, RPM's, and audio tone. USAP does a deflection test up to 7 pounds; we do our onsite testing up to 42. Materials have improved along with engineering, so we need to make sure there's a threshold on power.

Exit Velocity: Exit velocity, in certain paddles, has become too high in general; and not only that, but Exit Velocity can even change throughout the lifecycle of a paddle. We're going to test paddles with “destructive testing” conditions that mimic wear and tear. We're going to set a threshold and make sure that the peak of a paddle's power is not too high.

RPMs: Basically a test for spin. The standard test is for grit, or the peaks and valleys of a material like carbon fiber. But there are other materials at the top of the game making this test obsolete. We're not worried about materials, we're worried about the overall spin capability not exceeding a certain level. We're also going to conduct destructive testing to test this.

Audio tone: We're trying to anticipate that at the pro level, there's money on the line for the players. They're looking for advantages wherever they can find them. Working with our manufacturing and player advisory committees, we recognized that a silent paddle, or one that strips away any audio cue of pace or placement, would provide a distinct advantage. If it doesn't make that sound, the opponent is left at a disadvantage.

Currently, USAP does not test for any of these factors except grit.

For the remainder of 2024 and the foreseeable future, we are only focused on the UPA professional game. That is all we're trying to monitor: keep it fun to watch, fair, and competitive.

We were hoping USAP would have gotten it right, but having seen where paddles are going - unchecked - we knew that hope wasn’t a business strategy and felt we needed to step in and regulate for our own pro scene.

The Kitchen: What can you say about the expense of pursuing UPA certifications? How will you ensure that smaller brands who can't afford the fee will still be able to have a fair chance at pursuing certification?

Jason Aspes: We're figuring out the pricing. It's an absolutely valid piece of feedback and I've spent tons of time having very honest conversations with all different paddle manufacturers and their leaders.

I want dissenting voices providing a well-rounded point of view for whatever we do. It doesn't mean they're always going to get their way, but they will be a voice at the table.

I don't think pursuing our certification should be an "easy" decision for paddle brands. We want to ensure that only brands truly seeking innovation are creating what we believe will be the gold standard of paddles for the highest level of pickleball.

TRANSPARENCY STATEMENT: Jason Aspes is a co-founder of The Kitchen Pickleball who is now employed at UPA. We take our reputation seriously and do not wish to hide this from you. 

Because Jason has direct input into UPA-A's certification planning, we felt there was no better contact at UPA to interview for this story, and we've taken extensive measures to ensure our coverage is fair and balanced. 

USA Pickleball

The Kitchen: Does USAP have any formal response it would like to make to the establishment of this new certification program and/or the UPA-A in general?

USA Pickleball: USA Pickleball takes the development and certification of its equipment testing standards seriously. We have nearly a decade of working experience with Element U.S Space & Defense, an accredited independent third-party testing facility with significant sports engineering expertise.

Based on our experience in equipment testing, we have concerns about market confusion arising from multiple approvals and inconsistencies among equipment manufacturers.

We are eager to find a sustainable long-term solution that will continue to positively enhance the sport of pickleball.

The Kitchen: Does the establishment of the UPA-A's certification system bring any urgency to USAP to reveal more about its own certification system?

USA Pickleball: USA Pickleball’s equipment testing and certification process is provided to manufacturers in full transparency when they register to have equipment tested.

We maintain standards by overseeing a testing roadmap that is developed in collaboration with and shared among the manufacturing community.

We always have and always will test to standards while minimizing impact to manufacturers and addressing the advances to the sport through any equipment performance trends.

The Kitchen: Is it true that USAP's certification program does not test for the above-mentioned factors?

USA Pickleball: USA Pickleball has been testing for power, spin and acoustics for years.

Through our partnership with Element U.S. Space & Defense, USA Pickleball initiated the development of PBCoR (or exit velocity) with the introduction of the first true "power" paddles late last year and launched the testing process to manufacturers this spring.

We are committed to staying on top of equipment trends and advances. Currently, our team is developing a direct spin test to enhance our current testing methods in this area.

USA Pickleball is dedicated to growing the sport of pickleball which includes technological advances including our Quiet Category program and testing. Acoustic testing has been a part of our program since late summer 2023 because we believe part of an inclusive sport is ensuring it’s supported by all.

USA Pickleball offers development and certification of its equipment testing and standards. We collaborate with over 1,800 equipment manufacturers to ensure best practices and advances in our equipment testing to support the sport of pickleball.

Why does this matter?

Decisions made from either organization now may have impacts on which paddles and paddle innovations make it to competitive play -- and that's not just at the pro level, it affects officially-sanctioned tournaments by either of these two organizations.

We've even seen lawsuits filed surrounding paddles and their certifications.

This controversy has been called pickleball's next war, but is it really a war? Can both organizations actually coexist, especially if the UPA-A does simply exist to govern PPA/MLP play?

It's important we follow along. Rare is the chance to see a sport's history made right in front of you.

It feels like that happens every other week in pickleball.

Representatives from USA Pickleball (USAP) and United Pickleball Association of America (UPA-A) answer important questions about the state of paddle certifications.

UPA logo, "update" also included

New Pickleball Paddle Certification Program Established by UPA-A

UPA-A announces the formation of a new pickleball paddle certification process and has teamed up with Pickle Pro Labs & UMass Lowell.

New Pickleball Paddle Certification Program Established by UPA-A

The United Pickleball Association of America (UPA-A) announces they've solidified their UPA Certification Program in partnership with the third party and independent equipment testing organization Pickle Pro Labs (PPL). 

The certification will also involve input from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, known for its work with Major League Baseball on bat and ball testing.

"This partnership aims to create the most advanced and rigorous testing program in pickleball," a UPA press release says.

Interim Certification

Leading up to the program's formal launch later in 2024, UPA-A says they will use a short-term certification process based on Paddle Face Deflection and RPM measurements.

Their release says more details about the Interim Certification testing will be made available in the next 30 days.

"All paddles certified by UPA-A will be subject to an ongoing compliance program to ensure that the paddles submitted for certification match the paddles made available to consumers," their release says.

Once the full UPA certification is established, it will be mandatory for all paddles used in United Pickleball Association (UPA) professional events (MLP, PPA, & other UPA-branded events) to pass the program.

Independent Brands Added to Advisory Board

The UPA's website previously announced an Equipment Manufacturer Advisory Board consisting of the following brands: 

  • Franklin
  • Gearbox
  • Joola
  • Onix
  • United Pickleball Paddles (Paddletek/ProXR)
  • Selkirk
  • Vulcan

Note, all of these brands qualify as relatively large, profitable paddle manufacturers, leading some within the pickleball community to wonder if smaller, independent brands could keep up with UPA-A's impending certifications process.

But according to the announcement, representatives from independent brands have been added to the board to "provide a wider range of views" pertaining to UPA's operations.

The UPA-A Equipment Manufacturer Advisory Board will now include reps from these brands:

  • Volair
  • ACE
  • Six Zero

In fairness to both UPA-A and USAP, we have reached out to both parties for further information. We'll update you with that as soon as possible.

Read Next: Adding Weight to Your Pickleball Paddle: The Complete Guide

UPA-A announces the formation of a new pickleball paddle certification process and has teamed up with Pickle Pro Labs & UMass Lowell.

Pro pickleball player Connor Garnett mid-point at a PPA Tour event

A Day in the Life of a Pro Pickleball Player

Pro pickleball player Connor Garnett explains how pro players spend their time in order to continue competing and growing as personalities in the space.

A Day in the Life of a Pro Pickleball Player

Pro pickleball players have some of the most unique day-to-day schedules in all of sports.

Competition is more intense than it's ever been before. Sponsorships require players to provide more value than just tournament wins.

Coaching keeps us out of debt. And when you're not practicing, you're looking for other opportunities.

Add travel between pro events to the mix, and it can be pretty exhausting.

But I find it valuable to continue to build on past experiences such as investment banking and D1 college tennis to help grow and learn in my pickleball career.

How Pickleball Pros Make Their Living

The four main areas of pickleball professionals focus on practically every day include:

  1. competing in the leagues and the tournaments
  2. sponsorships (this can also be impacted by not only results but also marketability)
  3. coaching
  4. other business ventures

Starting out, I was trying to do as much of all these as I could simultaneously and seeing what stuck.

This took so much time and I made many mistakes; however, I feel like I have achieved a reasonable balance where I now can focus on my pickleball game predominantly while pushing forward in my other endeavors.

I focused on clinics and merchandise along with bringing on a team to help manage everything.

The results of these efforts can be seen on my website through "twoey" merch, my newsletter, paddles and more (if you're unfamiliar, I am known for my two-handed backhand shot).

It was awesome to see how quickly the twoey hats sold out after winning gold at the LA Open in singles.

Competition

With a growing awareness for pickleball, competition has become much more challenging and forced the leading players to raise their level.

A pro qualifying draw has expanded monumentally, and the evolution of the game's quality is exciting to see.

Therefore, it is important to make sure you have a training regimen to advance your game, stay in shape and be injury free.

Related: The Hidden Costs of Being a Pro Pickleball Player

Maintaining a schedule like this can require club memberships, travel to hotbeds of pickleball talent, paid coaching lessons, and more.

This plus tournament entry fees, travel, and lodging adds up quickly making the player that bets on himself/herself that much more impressive.

A top-down photo of a PPA Tour pro pickleball event.

Sponsorships

It is always an interesting decision seeing how people approach the question of choosing between quality or salary.

  • I have been fortunate to have ProXR pickleball by my side throughout that whole journey providing excellent paddles and looking at continued advancements of their technology.
  • Recently, Florence Marine has been another great partner providing performance wear.
  • Thorlo Socks and Luqi Grips are two more sponsors that have been great to work with.

It is important to add value to your sponsors outside of competing, and this requires time and effort looking to create content, syncing promotional calendars, conducting events, and more.

Some people in pickleball go the agent route, and this can be good for tapping into a larger network - but I have found that with my background and hands on approach, it's more enjoyable handling some of this myself and not being tied to anyone.

Everyone has a different preference here, and I have brought in some non-exclusive agents from time to time, but the freedom of being able to conduct your own business is pretty appealing to me.

Coaching

Coaching in professional pickleball is the lowest hanging fruit for pros to stay competing without going into debt.

If you can teach a few lessons a week, this subsidizes much of the costs associated with pro pickleball.

Coaching is also an awesome way to connect with people, build a fan base, and travel to different areas of the country.

I have traveled to camps and clinics all over. This allows me to explore areas I wouldn't normally get to and is an awesome way to see the country.

This does require a lot of outreach and community engagement ranging from outbound emails to clubs, coordinating schedules, and more. It is super rewarding though being able to teach and see the enjoyment of people learning and having fun on the court.

Business

The business pillar isn't as prevalent in the pro scene; however, there has been a massive influx of pickleball brands.

This allows pro pickleball players to partake in this space, whether it's opening up a club in Seattle like my dad and I did, the TWOEY merch line, or whatever else we can dream up.

This is another avenue that capitalizes on the buzz surrounding pickleball and can be a major activity in the day-to-day.

Of course, all of these activities need to be balanced against actual trainingAbout 50% of my time goes exclusively to that.

Connor Garnett - PPA Gold Medalist, Home of the Twoey and former investment banker. Everything about Connor, twoey gear, and more found on his website.

Pro pickleball player Connor Garnett explains how pro players spend their time in order to continue competing and growing as personalities in the space.

Competitive Pickleball After 50: National Pickleball League Gives Senior Players a Platform

Competitive Pickleball After 50: National Pickleball League Gives Senior Players a Platform

The first of its kind National Pickleball League, NPL, gives older pro pickleball players the chance to compete.

Competitive Pickleball After 50: National Pickleball League Gives Senior Players a Platform

There’s an expression you’ll hear at pickleball courts around the world: “I just got beat by a grandpa/grandma,” or something to that effect.

Sometimes, it’s said with an ageist attitude, as if the younger player could not possibly believe they were defeated by someone older than them. But mostly, it’s uttered in respectful awe of the smart, capable playing they just witnessed (and fell victim to).

Until the first competitive leagues gave younger athletes a springboard to pickleball stardom, the sport was known as a “senior activity” – again, often said with disdain and ageism.

“Why would you want to play that old person’s game?” was another common refrain from those who had no idea of the sport’s physical demands at all levels of play.

Now, the scales have tipped in the opposite direction:

  • Millions of people in the United States alone have taken up playing pickleball more than once per week
  • Several professional leagues have cropped up, drawing competition from tennis and other sports
  • Some of the most well-known players in the game are below the age of 30; several are less than 20 years old

With the youth taking over high-level pickleball, a couple top-ranked players in the Champions division (ages 50 and above) wanted to ensure those in their age range could still play competitively.

Enter: NPL

Beth Bellamy is a pickleball legend in her own right, having earned 43 golds at the senior level in 2022 alone.

But now, she has another legacy: co-founding NPL with Rick Witsken and Michael Chen.

“We really liked the idea of the league as something different from the many regular individual tournaments that we had been playing,” Beth says. “We knew that players 50+ would love the idea of being on a team.”

It also was important to the three of them to create the kind of first-class events that they enjoyed attending:

  • Full service venues
  • All matches indoors to avoid rain delays
  • A daily schedule that ended at a decent hour to leave room for socializing

“I really didn’t know what I was getting into or what it would entail (which was probably a good thing!), but I was excited about the possibility of creating additional opportunities for Champions (50+ players),” Beth says.

Paul Bamundo, who’s since joined as CEO, may be able to share the sentiment of not knowing what he was getting into.

Apparently, a friend texted him last year while he was at a Jackson Browne concert, asking if he was interested in being the CEO of a pickleball league.

NPL's next event is this weekend! Live stream it here.

“I just said ‘sure’ and went back to watching the concert,” Paul says.

“But when I was introduced to Michael Chen, I told him how I wanted to grow something for years to come and put my stamp on it.

“They went through a long search, but when they came back to me and some other finalists, I told him that I wanted to come to the October [2023] championships. He got back to me suggesting I book a hotel and flights, but I already had.”

“Those championships were really impressive, especially for a year-one effort. I felt I could help professionalize the league more, and they brought me on.”

All About Location

Of course, a league that exclusively plays indoors faces one considerable challenge: where to host events.

While indoor venues keep popping up in every state in the USA, few of them offer enough space and courts to meet the needs of an NPL event.

Most that do are based in the Midwest, which is why most of the events on this year’s NPL calendar are in that region.

“A huge piece of the puzzle was that Chicken ‘N Pickle agreed to hold each of our events for our 2023 season,” Beth says.

“They were incredible partners and we are so grateful to them for helping us get the league off the ground!”

National Pickleball League Structure

NPL offers a team-based structure, but it’s different from any format we’ve seen in other tours:

  • Men and women play together on the same team
  • 12 total teams are comprised of 14-16 players on each team (7 or 8 men & 7 or 8 women)
  • Player drafts take place in April after tryouts
  • Team owners and GMs determine their own rosters
  • Regular Season involves 5 events in 5 different cities
  • In 2024, teams will compete for $150,000 in prize money

“The democratization of pickleball is impressive when you consider NPL’s structure,” Paul says.

“We’ve got the best 50+ players in the world. Dayne Gingrich, Beth Bellamy, Rick Witsken, Jennifer Dawson, Dave Weinbach…it’s awesome to hear from players that they like the format better than anything they’ve done.”

Heisman Trophy Winner Danny Wuerffel

Of the many memorable faces within NPL’s 2024 team rosters, football fans may recognize one from his storied career with the Florida Gators, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, and more.

Danny Weurffel finished his collegiate career by completing 708 of 1,170 passes for 10,875 yards with 114 touchdown passes, the best in SEC history and second-most in major college history.

Danny left college as the Heisman Trophy winner and was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the 1997 NFL Draft.

But what happens to athletes when it’s time to retire from their main sport?

That’s the question Danny had to answer in 2004 when he made the decision to stop playing professional football. At only 34 years old at the time, his body was still in great shape.

But he chose to pursue activities to occupy his mind – and heart.

In the ensuing years, Danny started working with Desire Street Ministries, a nonprofit focusing on spiritual and community development around New Orleans

He also started the Danny Wuerffel Golf Classic, a charitable tournament in Florida.

Before pickleball, Danny lived an incredibly noteworthy, accomplished life. Then coronavirus struck, and he found himself in a familiar situation to many in the sport now.

“I first got into pickleball during COVID with my son,” he says.

“Like a lot of people, there wasn’t much you could do, but we were able to go to the park and play this new, little game. We both fell in love with it and have never looked back.”

A few short years later, he found a new athletic calling, and was soon drafted by the Denver Iconics. Danny had just turned 50 years old.

“Lots of times in life, turning 50 can be discouraging as you’re getting older and your body is falling apart,” he says.

“However, pickleball makes turning 50 fun as you get to enter into a new era of competition. The first NPL tournament was in Chicago. It was awesome.”

“Pickeball has been a great addition to my life in my efforts to make the world a better place.”

The Impact on Players & Fans Alike

Danny isn’t the only player who’s found a competitive purpose in his involvement with NPL.

“We have had many players tell us that this experience has been life changing for them,” Beth says.

“To be a part of a team again, to have their own goals of improving and succeeding both personally and along with their team, and to have all of the fun we have at our events and parties is something a lot of players didn’t see as a part of their futures.”

Similarly, NPL’s growing fanbase – not all ages 50+, mind you – see themselves and their individual strengths in these players.

“The thing that comes to me from both viewers and players is that we are relatable,” Paul says. 

“I’ll watch the younger pros from other leagues and be impressed, and obviously our players will never play like that 17-year-old phenom. But we love hearing that people like watching us because they can learn something. In this age range, it’s all about skill level.”

Learn more about NPL and meet its teams on their website.

NPL's next event is this weekend! Live stream it here.

The first of its kind National Pickleball League, NPL, gives older pro pickleball players the chance to compete.

Ben Johns reaches for a return during a pickleball match

3 Surprising Facts About Ben Johns, Pickleball's Top Men's Player

A few unexpected facts about the best men's pickleball player, Ben Johns.

3 Surprising Facts About Ben Johns, Pickleball's Top Men's Player

You may not be surprised to learn that the top men's pickleball player, Ben Johns, is a multimillionaire. Ben recently revealed his 2024 salary is over $2 million, and that's not including endorsements.

While the audience for pro pickleball is significantly smaller than the total number of recreational pickleball players, being the best at anything is bound to get you noticed (and paid).

But there's so much more to a person than what they make in a year, and in Ben's case, there's quite a lot more.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Ben called himself "equal parts jock and nerd."

While we all know that pickleball and its athletes do not always align with sports stereotypes, we couldn't help but be surprised at some of the revelations about Ben from his interview.

Here are some of the most interesting facts about Ben Johns:

He's a Magic: The Gathering Fan

Not familiar with Magic: The Gathering? We're not surprised.

It's rare for the worlds of fantasy/trading/strategy card games and professional sports to have a through-line.

MTG requires players to build decks, manage resources, and anticipate opponents' moves; pickleball involves strategic shot placement, positioning, and anticipating opponents' actions. I guess it tracks.

Still, all I'm going to think about now whenever I see Ben win a point is, "board wipe!"

He Had to Be Bribed with Powdered Doughnuts to be Collin's Hitting Partner

Way back when Ben's brother and doubles partner Collin was a 14-year-old aspiring tennis player, he had to bribe Ben to hit around with him.

Ben was 8 at the time, and apparently, powdered doughnuts provided ample motivation.

Ben would also go on to become a reputable tennis player and baseball pitcher before getting serious about pickleball in 2016.

He's Only Going to Play Five More Years...

...At least, if he doesn't change his mind. The 25-year-old told WaPo that he doesn't plan to play competitively past 30.

Ben isn't interested in churning out victories for decades. He says athletes like Michael Jordan or Tom Brady dedicate their entire lives to their sports, but he hasn't even been in pickleball for a decade.

Read Next: These U.S. Cities Have the Most Pickleball Courts Per Capita

"So when your whole life has not revolved around the sport, it’s hard to call it your legacy, right?" he tells the Washington Post.

Who knows, maybe we'll catch a 31-year-old Ben cleaning up at competitive Magic tournaments. Perish the thought.

A few unexpected facts about the best men's pickleball player, Ben Johns.

Photoshopped image of a pro pickleball player holding up a $100 bill

The Hidden Costs of Being a Pro Pickleball Player

How much a pro pickleball player can make in a year depends greatly on how much they can clear after these inherent costs.

The Hidden Costs of Being a Pro Pickleball Player

As if reaching skill levels over 5.0 wasn't already difficult enough, pickleball players aspiring to go pro have another obstacle to contend with: the costs of entry.

Fan and aspiring pro Tanner Wallace recently tallied up the bare minimum cost to play professional pickleball for a year and posted his results in our Facebook Group.

We know that it typically costs $500 to play in a PPA Tour event. That means if you played in the 22 PPA events this year, you'd have spent $11,000. 

But of course, that doesn't account for the numerous other expenses needed for traveling to these events.

Table showing how much money you'd need to play pro pickleball over the course of 22 events

The Hidden Costs of Playing Pro Pickleball

The amount of money a pro pickleball player can make each year is obviously bolstered by any sponsorship money from brands. Those brands also sometimes cover travel and/or entry costs. 

Still: the costs themselves are significant enough to require planning, especially if you're a player not yet signed by a brand or professional tour.

Tanner's research based on the above tour schedule breaks down like this: 

  • Flights average $450 round trip
  • Four-night hotel stays average at $200 per night, due to having to play qualifying rounds
  • Food for four days works out to about $100, assuming most tour events do provide daytime catering for professional players and parties associated with them

"It all adds up," Tanner says in his post.

"And while splitting costs with a partner might alleviate some of the financial strain, finding a reliable and compatible teammate presents its own challenges. It's a harsh reality check for many aspiring athletes."

But there may be a silver lining in this problem.

Read Next: Pickleball Stories: Deaf Player Experiences the Best Thing About The Sport

"There are still avenues to compete, improve, and find fulfillment in pickleball, even if the bright lights of the professional circuit remain out of reach," Tanner says.

"Whether it's through local tournaments, club play, or simply hitting the courts with friends, the essence of the sport – the joy of playing – remains accessible to all."

How much a pro pickleball player can make in a year depends greatly on how much they can clear after these inherent costs.

A preview of England's upcoming largest pickleball facility.

England's Largest Pickleball Venue is Coming

Within a year, England will see the opening of the largest pickleball facility in the country.

England's Largest Pickleball Venue is Coming

Across the pond, England is preparing for a major milestone in the development of pickleball. The nation's largest dedicated pickleball club is coming to Kingston Upon Thames, Greater London in early 2025.

Franklin Sports, the American brand known for sponsoring pickleball athletes like The Johnsons and for their signature X-40 pickleball, teamed up with MCMX for the state-of-the-art facility.

The pickleball club will feature:

  • 10 total courts
  • 4 show courts equipped with seating designed to accommodate international tournaments and events
  • Changing rooms with showers & warm-up areas
  • A café and bar with viewing balcony and social areas
  • Professional retail shop

Located in Fairfield Trade Park, the club will be easily accessible by foot, bike, train, bus, or car.

Karen Mitchell, Chair of Pickleball England, says the building will mark a significant development for the sport in the country.

"This collaboration will undoubtedly elevate the profile of pickleball and provide a world-class facility for players to hone their skills and enjoy the game to the fullest," Mitchell says.

Much like in the United States, it's difficult to locate an accurate estimated total of English pickleball players. Pickleball England's website reports at least 4,000 players, while a recent Tennis 365 post says it's closer to 30,000 (it is unclear if that post counts Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales).

Read Next: Franklin FS Tour Paddle Review

The project remains subject to planning permission from Kingston Upon Thames Council, with a decision expected in the summer of 2024.

Within a year, England will see the opening of the largest pickleball facility in the country.

USAP is the target of a lawsuit made by JOOLA, both organizations' logos are included against a backdrop of a pickleball match.

JOOLA Files Lawsuit Against USA Pickleball

JOOLA has filed a lawsuit against USA Pickleball pertaining to the latter organization de-listing JOOLA's Gen3 paddles from the approved paddle list.

JOOLA Files Lawsuit Against USA Pickleball

JOOLA has filed a lawsuit against USA Pickleball (USAP) to address the de-listing of their Gen 3 paddles from the USAP approved paddle list.

According to a press release, JOOLA filed the lawsuit on June 12, 2024 in the United States District Court for Maryland.

"We firmly believe our Gen3 paddles are compliant with all applicable published rules (as evidenced by their prior approval) and should not have been removed from the Approved Paddle List," the statement says.

"We are disappointed that we were forced to resort to legal measures, but after pursuing multiple avenues in attempts to reach a mutually acceptable resolution, we believe the filing of this suit was both warranted and necessary."

JOOLA says they will continue to prioritize the needs of their customers who have been impacted by the de-listing. The company have offered refunds for paddles affected by the decision.

 

    Recap of Events Leading to JOOLA Lawsuit

    Pickleball equipment has come a long way in a short time, particularly paddle technology. There's bound to be a few hiccups when it comes to setting limits on that tech, right?

    ...Except it's difficult for players who purchase premium pickleball paddles worth hundreds of dollars apiece to dismiss these "hiccups" when they're prevented from using their new investments in tournaments and, in some cases, even within recreational circles.

    Within the last month and a half, a few shakeups pertaining to pickleball paddle standards occurred that prompted conversations across the pickleball community:

    A new organization, UPA of America (UPA-A), operated by the same organization which now owns the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball, announced itself as a new, “proactive governing body” for pickleball which aims “to protect, grow and champion the sport of pickleball globally.”

      Meanwhile, USA Pickleball, the first governing body of the sport in the USA founded in 1984, obviously did not sanction this competitor organization.

      Then, USAP de-listed the JOOLA Gen 3 line from the approved paddle list.

      For weeks, the community - particularly those who purchased one of the de-listed paddles - wondered if USAP would stick to their decision to de-list them. 

      Not only did they announce they would, but it's come to light that other paddle companies have been notified that some of their models were on the chopping block for de-listing as well:

      • Vatic Pro's Oni 
      • Ronbus' Ripple (not even released yet, now it won't be)

      It's worth noting these company's responses to the de-listing seemed tonally respectful, even if some of them call into question the legitimacy of USAP's standard-setting.

      JOOLA seemed the most willing to litigate over the decision despite their careful statement:

      "While we are confident the current Gen3 paddles are materially and structurally the same as those approved by USAP in September 2023 and therefore comply with USAP standards, we care deeply about our customers and the inconvenience and confusion the USAP decision has caused...We plan to dispute USAP’s decision to remove Gen3 paddles from the list, and the process employed to do so, in forthcoming legal proceedings." - JOOLA update from early June.

      Response from USA Pickleball Pre-Lawsuit

      Naturally, the pickleball community posed lots of questions about the USAP decision: 

      • What went into the decision behind de-listing these specific paddles?
      • Which technical guidelines did they infringe on?
      • Why is it that these paddles are banned when other paddles which utilize similar technology are not?
      • Does this sudden slew of paddle de-listings have anything to do with the recent formation of a competing governing body, which aims to make safety-related decisions about paddle technology?

      We asked USA Pickleball for a comment to try to clear up some of the confusion. Here's what they told us:

      "USA Pickleball has and will continue to test, through an independent and accredited third party lab, equipment submitted by manufacturers for certification.

      "Scrutiny of potentially non-compliant equipment may be triggered for different reasons, such as market inputs, firsthand evaluation, or potential risk factors relevant to certification specifications.

      "Development of the PBCoR test (Pickleball Coefficient of Restitution) has been in earnest since late December, and the use of that test to SCREEN potential candidates for further testing, teardown, etc. to identify materials and configurations of concern, correctness of attestation, etc. was initiated in April.

      "Outcomes of that screening and testing identified issues with several manufacturers in terms of those concerns.

      "There is no correlation in timing to the announcement of intent by another party to provide governance to the sport. Initial communications with manufacturers of concern related to the above commenced in mid-April."

      ______________________________________________

      Parts of the statement above may be used in USAP's defense. We will continue to update this story as we learn more.

      Read Next: What To Do With Your Old or Broken Pickleball Paddle

      Where is Paddle Testing Headed?

      The Kitchen founders sat down recently, this time on opposite sides of the table, to discuss all of this paddle drama going on in pro pickleball.

      Jason Aspes, the new President of UPA, digs in to the decision to fine top player Andrei Daescu, and provides his perspective on the JOOLA GEN3 paddle delisting.

      Watch it here:

       

      JOOLA has filed a lawsuit against USA Pickleball pertaining to the latter organization de-listing JOOLA's Gen3 paddles from the approved paddle list.

      Biden and Trump Both Using Pickleball to Their Advantage

      Biden and Trump Both Using Pickleball to Their Advantage

      Both the Joe Biden campaign and the Donald Trump campaign have used pickleball to earn voters or fundraise. We'll see if it has any positive...

      Biden and Trump Both Using Pickleball to Their Advantage

      Let's hope pickleball fans aren't single-issue voters, because both of the major US presidential candidates have utilized the sport in their fundraising and campaining efforts.

      On the Left

      President Biden's reelection campaign is sticking to two classic activities to engage with senior voters - bingo and pickleball.

      Seniors for Biden-Harris is hosting a pickleball tournament in Virginia this week, targeting a key battleground state.

      The Hill's report notes that seniors are typically very active voters compared with other demographics and likely serve an important role in the Biden campaign strategy.

      On the Right

      While former President Trump's campaign hasn't used pickleball events to sway voters (to the best of our knowledge), they have hopped on the custom paddle train for fundraising.

      You can buy a Trump Pickleball Set featuring two paddles with the name "TRUMP" written on them, a case, and two balls for $118.

      Interestingly, the person editing that site's copy seems to have confused the sport of pickleball with golf in the first sentence.

      The product description on trumpstore.com reads: "Make your approach shot one that will really intimidate your opponent with the limited edition Trump Pickleball racquet set. Matching paddles for you and your teammate and and carrier set makes this a perfect gift for your pickle ball friends. Includes 2 balls."

      Now that we think of it, this isn't the only connection between the former president, golf, and pickleball:

      While we hate to bring politics to pickleball, we also can't help but wonder if either of the two candidates' pickleball-related efforts will have any significant effect on their results.

      There are over 30 million players, after all.

      Both the Joe Biden campaign and the Donald Trump campaign have used pickleball to earn voters or fundraise. We'll see if it has any positive...

      Rodney Grubbs of Pickleball Rocks

      Details Emerge in Pickleball's Biggest Financial Scandal

      We've learned more details regarding Rodney Grubbs' Pickleball Rocks scandal.

      Details Emerge in Pickleball's Biggest Financial Scandal

      Usually, we see pickleball land in The Wall Street Journal or some other large publication and think, "oh, great, another one-sided story about noise" or "another article about how 'PB is everywhere.'" 

      Not this time. WSJ just dropped an article with the title, The Multimillion-Dollar Scandal Rocking Pickleball. Color us intrigued. 

      Actually, the story's been developing since December of 2023 when a well-intentioned pickleball fan and investor uncovered a scandal involving Rodney "Rocket" Grubbs and his apparel line, Pickleball Rocks.

      “The world’s most recognized pickleball apparel brand,” as Grubbs referred to his company, was mostly funded by the founder issuing promissory notes typically worth $25,000 at 12% interest. 

      Court documents show Grubbs owes $47.5 million - but hasn't been charged with a crime; only given a cease and desist order from his home state of Indiana.

      The People Affected by Grubbs' "Endeavors"

      Pickleball Rocks received investments from over 500 people around the United States and the world, very few of whom have seen their correct return.

      According to The Wall Street Journal, a group of creditors compelled Grubbs into involuntary bankruptcy following a hearing in federal bankruptcy court. 

      That forced him to close his brick and mortar store and withdraw from tournament participation. 

      Read Next: This Year's Pickleball Crime Spree Sadly Isn't Over

      WSJ's reporting shows Grubbs is worth $1.6 million. He recently told the media outlet that he "never issued a loan he didn’t intend to repay" and that he does not have any hidden assets. 

      Grubbs claims that the pandemic significantly impacted his business, which he says he hoped to reinvigorate before being forced to declare bankruptcy. 

      Regardless of Grubbs' intentions, we hope those who invested in his company - including one 87-year-old who says he pressured her into dipping into her nest egg - receive their due financial compensation. 

      We've learned more details regarding Rodney Grubbs' Pickleball Rocks scandal.

      Andrei Daescu and his paddle during a pro pickleball match.

      Pickleball Pro Responds to $50K Fine, Suspension

      Andrei Daescu was fined and suspended temporarily from play for his paddle failing more than one legality test at a recent pro pickleball event.

      Pickleball Pro Responds to $50K Fine, Suspension

      Not even halfway through his 2024 season, pro Andrei Daescu has already experienced massive highs and crushing lows.

      In March, he and temporary partner Anna Bright pulled off a win against the juggernauts Anna Leigh Waters & Ben Johns.

      Now, Andrei is suspended from play for 60 days, has to cough up a whopping $50,000 fine to UPA (PPA's/MLP's new parent company), and is "on probation" for a whole year.

      How'd Andrei End Up Here?

      • On Tuesday, UPA drops a statement identifying Andrei as the player whose paddle failed an onsite test during MLP Atlanta.
      • Further testing revealed an illegal substance was indeed on the paddle's face.
      • The statement confirms that "at no point was the paddle in question used during competition in Atlanta."

      Since that announcement earlier this week, we'd read countless posts claiming that this was an accident; that Andrei or a teammate accidentally replaced a legal, unaltered paddle with an altered one.

      We've also heard that pros sometimes alter their practice paddles to simulate certain conditions while drilling. They'll have a hitting partner use the altered paddle to make returning the ball more difficult (again, during practice).

      His Response

      On Thursday, Andrei released a statement via his Instagram and Threads accounts which affirms suspicions that this mishap was unintentional:

      "I am pained by the recent events," his statement begins.

      "This was an unfortunate mishap. I would NEVER cheat.

      "There was no intent to use the paddle in question during competition; it was mistakenly submitted for testing. The paddle has never been used in competition.

      "The UPA has rules and policies. Paddle testing is the player's responsibility. I will abide by their decision."

      Considering that, not too long ago, $50K used to be an unattainable yearly salary for pro pickleball players, we can't help but be stunned by the punishment. But we are admittedly pretty impressed with the professionalism in Andrei's response.

      Clearly, UPA is trying to make an example of the situation.

      Andrei Daescu was fined and suspended temporarily from play for his paddle failing more than one legality test at a recent pro pickleball event.

      This Year's Pickleball Crime Spree Sadly Isn't Over

      This Year's Pickleball Crime Spree Sadly Isn't Over

      Pickleball is the target of a series of crimes around the country, according to multiple reports since February.

      This Year's Pickleball Crime Spree Sadly Isn't Over

      Where is Pickleball Batman when you need him? If he were real, we'd be flashing the Bat Signal with purpose right now.

      A string of pickleball-related crimes affecting the Atlantic Coast have left local courts in disarray and racquet sport shop owners out of paddles.

      In Manhattan's Upper West Side, police have confirmed reports of a recent vandal shredding nets at the pickleball courts in Riverside Park, costing the city about $2,500.

      Clearly, the person or people responsible are trying to send a message. After shredding the permanent nets, they stuffed them into a nearby trash can.

      Pickleball players in the area are nothing if not resilient, though. To counteract the pickle-terrorism, they've purchased temporary nets that they break down each night. 

      “I know there has been controversy with pickleball, player Gil Eplan told ABC 17 News, "But there’s a highway. We aren’t next to anyone’s home. Just let us enjoy our park.”

      Pickleball Thieves on the Loose

      It's not just pickleball vandals on the loose - it's thieves, too.

      The Washington Post reports that tennis and racquet sport shop owners in the D.C. region have started warning each other in a text chain about a pattern of pickleball and other racquet merchandise thefts

      “Just a heads up. There is a group of 3 people going to racquet specialty stores stealing paddles. 2 women in flowing … clothing and 1 man says he is from France age 28-32 acting as decoy pretending to purchase shoes for his father. Women hide paddles under clothing and they all leave store."

      Sadly, it seems these thieves aren't the only group to target pickleball paddles.

      A store owner in Colorado says they lost $30,000 worth of paddles earlier this year. In Las Vegas, another store owner lost $4,000 in paddles in mid-April. In the latter case, a woman in flowing clothing is hiding the paddles as she exits the store.

      When will this despicable behavior end?

      Read Next: These U.S. Cities Have the Most Pickleball Courts Per Capita 

      Pickleball is the target of a series of crimes around the country, according to multiple reports since February.

      Cincinnati Open unveils plans for $260M upgrade, including pickleball courts.

      Cincinnati Open Invests $260 Million in Improvements, Including Pickleball Courts

      The Cincinnati Open will look a lot different in 2025, growing its entire venue significantly and adding some pickleball courts to boot.

      Cincinnati Open Invests $260 Million in Improvements, Including Pickleball Courts

      Tennis and pickleball: new best friends? Just on the heels of The French Open announcing it will feature pickleball as a sideline event, we've learned that The Cincinnati Open tennis event will include pickleball in its slate of renovation projects.

      The work will total $260 million in improvements to the Mason campus, including a new 2,000-seat stadium, extensive landscaping, a restaurant, and...six pickleball courts.

      "The majority of the work to expand the campus will be to the south and west of the venue’s current footprint," according to a press release.

      "Additional parking will be added to the north of the campus and multiple new access points to the parking areas will be created in the coming years."

      The campus will grow from 21 to 31 total courts.

      Padel, Too

      What may interest pickleball fans, and those of other racquet sports, is that the Mason campus will also receive two padel courts.

      If you haven't heard of padel, it's a fast-paced racquet sport similar to doubles pickleball where many of the points are earned in volleys:

      @thekitchenpickleball I’d give my left nut to be as good as these guys. 🌰 #padel #pickleball #padelvideos #padelamateur #padeltime #padelove #padeltennis #padelchallenge #highlights #foryou #thekitchen ♬ original sound - The Kitchen Pickleball

      Players are surrounded by a topless glass cage with two parallel doors on either side, which they may exit from at any point to return far balls. A bit like pickleball, but obviously more so related to squash.

      The sport was originally invented in Acapulco, Mexico and has since gained popularity outside of the United States. It is only now beginning to spread in the States, mostly around Miami, but faces higher financial barriers to entry than pickleball.

      Read Next: First Ever By-Women, For-Women Pickleball Event to Raise Awareness for Breast Cancer Research

      The Cincinnati Open will look a lot different in 2025, growing its entire venue significantly and adding some pickleball courts to boot.

      City Pickle pickleball courts in NYC

      These U.S. Cities Have the Most Pickleball Courts Per Capita

      Trust for Public Land research reveals the top pickleball cities in terms of courts per capita.

      These U.S. Cities Have the Most Pickleball Courts Per Capita

      When was the last time you saw anything grow by 650% (besides inflation)? Good news: that's the unbelievable statistic which represents the increase in public outdoor pickleball courts in U.S. cities over the last seven years.

      According to the Trust for Public Land, the number of outdoor pickleball courts in the 100 most populous American cities skyrocketed from 420 in 2017 to 3,182 in 2024.

      Even within the last year, the number of total courts available increased by 14%, according to their findings.

      In 2017, less than half of those cities even had any dedicated courts. Now, it's hard to find a major city which isn't struggling to meet demand.

      Any guesses as to which three U.S. cities have the most pickleball courts per capita?

      If any of your guesses were cities in Florida, Texas, or California, you...would be wrong.

      The cities with the most courts per capita are Louisville, Kentucky, Madison, Wisconsin, and Honolulu, Hawaii.

      Top Pickleball Cities - Full List

      Clearly, the above three cities' parks and recreation departments have worked extra hard to provide for the increased pickleball court demand. 

      But there are some expected cities in this list if we expand our view to the top 10 cities...

      Top 10 cities with the most courts per 10,000 people:

      1. Louisville, KY (3.8)
      2. Madison, WI (2.3)
      3. Honolulu, HI (1.9)
      4. St. Petersburg, FL (1.8)
      5. Port St. Lucie, FL (1.6)
      6. Bakersfield, CA (1.6)
      7. Boise, ID (1.5)
      8. Albuquerque, NM (1.4)
      9. Virginia Beach, VA (1.2)
      10. St. Louis, MO (1.2)

      We're a little surprised not to see cities in either Utah or Arizona on this list, but again, this is just evident of great investment by these cities, not necessarily reflective of the overall demand for pickleball anywhere else.

      Read Next: Nudists Are Flocking to Pickleball

      If you're a pickleball fan who's considering a move, you could do far worse for yourself than any of the above locations!

      Trust for Public Land research reveals the top pickleball cities in terms of courts per capita.

      An image taken at a previous French Open of a tennis player about to serve.

      French Open to Debut Pickleball at This Year's Event

      The 2024 French Open kicks off later this month, and the major tennis event will feature pickleball on some of the courts.

      French Open to Debut Pickleball at This Year's Event

      Will there always be a need to write "vs." between the words "tennis" and "pickleball?" Maybe not.

      In a surprising twist, the hallmark tennis event, the French Open, announces it will feature pickleball as a sideline event. 

      This year's Open runs May 26th to June 9th on the famed red clay courts of Roland-Garros. From the 26th-1st, spectators can see pickleball played on the Philippe-Chatrier north forecourt.

      For the remaining days, a second pickleball court on Court 5 will see action.

      While it was not announced who will be playing pickleball, we're eager to catch any highlights if they make it to video.

      French Tennis Scene Embraces Pickleball

      The global tennis community hasn't exactly opened itself up to pickleball.

      If anything, tennis players either look down their noses at pickleball, referring to it as "not a real sport" -- or they become defensive when their (typically less-used) tennis courts are replaced or even temporarily covered by pickleball lines.

      Image of pro pickleball video still and comments to the right, which chide the sport as "rubbish," etc.

      But maybe we're rounding a corner, at least within the French Tennis world.

      Putting tennis on display at the same event that Rafael Nadal will compete in is a considerable risk for the French Tennis Federation. We imagine it opens them up for critique from tennis purists.

      Of course, we can't help but feel like the phrase "tennis purists" is sort of ridiculous.

      Tennis and pickleball are two very different sports, after all; no more alike than ping pong and badminton.

      Related: Pickleball ‘Bangers’ are (Mostly) Good for the Sport

      The notion that pickleball could ever "replace" tennis is the result of a tennis snob's overactive imagination (no matter how much banter happens between the two sports' fans).

      Anyway, it seems the French Tennis Federation's investment into pickleball won't stop there. A note at the bottom of their press release says they'll launch a "pickleball license" for the 2024/2025 season.

      What that license allows is anybody's guess. 

      The 2024 French Open kicks off later this month, and the major tennis event will feature pickleball on some of the courts.

      Image of pro pickleball player Ben Johns holding a trophy during a PPA Tour stop.

      What the #1 Men's Pickleball Player Makes in a Year

      Ben Johns' pickleball playing salary is over $2.5 million, which is more than the number one men's players make in Major League Soccer and comparable...

      What the #1 Men's Pickleball Player Makes in a Year

      Ben Johns recently told CNBC that he'll clear $2.5 million in salary this year, not including income from endorsements or sponsorships.

      The 25-year-old pickleball phenom is probably the most well-known player next to his regular doubles partner, the worldwide top-ranked player Anna Leigh Waters.

      As of May 13, 2024, Ben has 123 PPA Tour titles under his belt. 

      If a six-figure salary isn't impressive enough, consider that Ben's salary increased by over 900% in only about two years. In 2021, his salary was $250,000, according to CNBC.

      Meanwhile, the average salary for an NHL player sits at $2.6 million.

      Let that sink in:

      • Organized hockey has over 100 years' head start on pickleball's inception
      • Pickleball was only invented in the 1960s
      • Organized pickleball has only received hardcore investment from outside sponsors within the last few years

      We couldn't help but wonder how Ben's annual income compares with athletes' in other sports.

      Top Pickleball Salary vs. Those in Other Sports

      Our findings demonstrate that pickleball has come a long way in a remarkably short time in terms of outside investments and capital growth considering the sport's more recent establishment of pro-level league play.

      Here are the average salaries of players in other popular sports:

      • $8.32 million - pro basketball
      • $3.26 million - pro football
      • $4.03 million - pro baseball

      Equity in Pro Pickleball Salaries

      While pickleball's tremendous growth over the last few years is undoubtedly the reason behind the investments which make Ben and other players' high salaries possible, we can't help but wonder if there's also a "personality effect" in sports right now.

      Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever basketball team is a great example. She's driven increased ticket sales and viewing ratings for both her team and the WNBA in general.

      Clearly, now is a good time to be a bright personality in an "underdog" sport. 

      Pickleball players will tell you their game is an underdog in the sports community, but financially, the numbers are starting to tell a different story

      The average salary in the WNBA was $147,745 in 2023, meaning Ben Johns makes over 177% more than the average women's pro basketball player.

      While we don't have much public data available on pickleball's top female athletes' salaries, we know Anna Leigh Waters made $1 million last year.

      Read Next: First Ever By-Women, For-Women Pickleball Event to Raise Awareness for Breast Cancer Research

      If that's true, pickleball is currently the only place where female athletes can earn salaries comparable to the pros of other popular sports (except for golf and tennis).

      Ben Johns' pickleball playing salary is over $2.5 million, which is more than the number one men's players make in Major League Soccer and comparable...

      The APP Women's Open logo

      First Ever By-Women, For-Women Pickleball Event to Raise Awareness for Breast Cancer Research

      UPDATE 6/25/24: Amateur and pro player registration is now open on theapp.global through September 23. Cross off another item on the list of "firsts" for pickleball....

      First Ever By-Women, For-Women Pickleball Event to Raise Awareness for Breast Cancer Research

      UPDATE 6/25/24: Amateur and pro player registration is now open on theapp.global through September 23.

      Cross off another item on the list of "firsts" for pickleball. The Association of Pickleball Players (APP) announced a new global platform for female competitors at all levels: The APP Women's Open.

      This APP Signature tournament will offer $75,000 in prize money and feature women competing in doubles and singles (including skinny singles for women 50 and over) from October 4-6 in Columbus, Ohio.

      In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the event will also feature programming designed to celebrate and fuel the growth of pickleball for women, according to a press release.

      In addition, all key elements of the event will be presented by women—from players and referees to administrators and broadcasters.

      Read Next: What It’s Like Being a Pro Pickleball-Playing Mom

      The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, a leading cancer research hospital, will sponsor the event.

      The James has been named the official and exclusive hospital of the upcoming 2024 APP Vlasic Classic in Cincinnati on May 7-12, and for the APP Tour beginning in 2025.

      Additional information on registration, tickets and more will be available at theapp.global.

      UPDATE 6/25/24: Amateur and pro player registration is now open on theapp.global through September 23. Cross off another item on the list of "firsts" for pickleball....

      Major League Pickleball's 2024 event in Atlanta

      MLP Atlanta: Watch These 3 Teams

      MLP Atlanta 2024 will have some intriguing matchups, but our predictions and observations are designed to give you the most out of your viewing experience.

      MLP Atlanta: Watch These 3 Teams

      Major League Pickleball (MLP) matches look a little different this year. Instead of teams “winning” entire events, they’ll seek to win as many matches as possible culminating in playoffs at the end of the year.

      With MLP Atlanta – the first event in 2024 – coming up this week, we thought we’d highlight some of the more interesting storylines coalescing on the courts in Peachtree Corners, GA. 

      We’ve obviously not seen these players together with their respective teams until now. It’ll be especially interesting to see who has the most energy, who has the most innate chemistry, and if those two team aspects align to form an early favorite for the playoffs.

      Some exciting new MLP-drafted players to watch:

      • Augie Ge, Dallas Flash (formerly “Dallas Pickleball Club”)
      • Kate Fahey, St. Louis Shock
      • Will Howells, New Jersey Fives
      • Kaitlyn Christian, Arizona Drive
      • Jack Sock, New York Hustlers 

      This lot made the jump from relative obscurity to the Premier Level in the last draft (we graded the 2024 MLP draft picks here, by the way). 

      Note, everyone in the above list except Jack Sock have yet to make their mark on the PPA Tour. Jack transitioned from a top-ranked tennis career and won a PPA title in mixed last year with Anna Leigh Waters.

      We have seen Sock, Ge, and Christian find some success on the PPA Tour already. But speaking of PPA-to-MLP transitions…

      Even before the first MLP match of the year is played, it’s safe to assume that personalities who’ve found success on the player-focused PPA Tour are not guaranteed to find it in team-based play.

      Anna Leigh Waters, the young GOAT, is consistently the best player on the PPA Tour but hasn’t found anywhere near as much success in terms of team wins in MLP.

      Conversely, the world’s other number one Ben Johns seems to perform well in both. 

      Then there’s Ewa Radzikowska, a name you probably won’t recognize if you’ve never previously tuned in to MLP because that’s where she’s found most of her success.

      Meanwhile, the pickleball world (and certainly MLP team owners) are watching Christian Alshon, Andrei Daescu, and Jack Sock. These players were all picked in the first round of the 2024 draft and will need to prove their ability to carry the load. 

      Three Teams to Watch During MLP Atlanta

      AZ Drive (Lacy Schneemann, Kaitlyn Christian, Andrei Daescu, Dylan Frazier)

      Andrei & Dylan are an amazing men’s team. Andrei can face off with the best of them. Consider his recent partnership with Anna Bright where the two took down Ben Johns & Anna Leigh Waters

      Andrei has also proven himself in the testing grounds of MLP, while Dylan hasn’t found success in the format yet. His upside, though, is pretty high. 

      Dallas Flash (Hurricane Tyra Black, Jorja Johnson, JW Johnson, Augie Ge)

      This marks the first time that siblings JW & Jorja have played together on an MLP team. Considering they’d easily fall within the top 10 doubles partners across the sport, we expect big things from the brother-sister duo in mixed.

      A year ago, Tyra and Augie were unknowns. Now, they’re playing with one of the most successful doubles partners. The current arrangement favors Tyra’s left side strength in both mixed and gender doubles…this team should be magnetic.

      Columbus Sliders (Brooke Buckner, Meghan Dizon, Connor Garnett, Riley Newman)

      This team really lucked out in its draft. Connor & Riley have strong potential as partners, and Riley of course has led MLP teams to victory in the past. 

      Meghan performs well in the MLP format, and Brooke has shown some recent upside in PPA matches.

      MLP 2024 Scoring Changes

      It's worth noting there are some minor changes to MLP's format this year. 

      There are two categories of gender-specific doubles matches: men's and women's, with each match contributing one point to the overall score.

      The sequence of these games is established through a coin toss, allowing the victorious side to choose the play order. Following these, two mixed doubles matches take place, each also valued at one point.

      A coin toss again dictates the sequence of these games. If the score is tied 2-2 after all four matches, the competition proceeds to a Dreambreaker (a singles match where one player from each team alternates every four rallies, and teammates tag in to continue the game until a team secures a win).

      Matches are played to 21 points, and a team must win by a two-point margin and on their own serve to claim victory.

      MLP Atlanta 2024 will have some intriguing matchups, but our predictions and observations are designed to give you the most out of your viewing experience.

      Top-down view Holly & Carl Peterson's home, featuring the pickleball court in the backyard circled

      SF Couple Finally Forced Out After Feud with Pickleball Players

      The Presidio Wall court controversy has reached an inflection point as the woman who filed a petition against pickleball in the area has decided to...

      SF Couple Finally Forced Out After Feud with Pickleball Players

      Generations from now, this will come to be known as "The Battle at Presidio Wall."

      Of course, we're referring to the months-long controversy that rocked pickleball players in the Presidio neighborhood of San Francisco, California. 

      In case you haven't heard about this, here's the short version:

      • In August of 2023, multi-millionaires Holly & Carl Peterson launched a petition to shut down pickleball courts at Presidio Wall Park, which they live near.
      • The couple asked the city to halt play there due to a range of issues, including fears that the noise "threatened native ecosystems" and that the "flood of fanatics" lowers neighborhood home values

      So far, this may sound like a familiar story. Plenty of neighbors across the country don't like pickleball for a whole host of reasons. But this story has a twist.

      Soon after the Peterson's petition launched, a Reddit forum post revealed that Holly has "been trying to sell her overpriced house for over two years," -- and that their house features a pickleball court in its back yard.

      "So, I guess the noise from her own pickleball court affects the neighbors differently than the ones in the nearby park?" the post's author adds.

      The couple didn't succeed completely. But in response to the controversy, the city decided to close six of the 12 pickleball courts to smooth things over in the short term, much to the dismay of players, who already found the space in need of more courts.

       A (Somewhat) Happy Ending

      Holly's claim that pickleball somehow lessens the value of real estate is, of course, demonstrably false.

      Either way, their claim didn't prevent the couple from listing their century-old home for sale at a cool $36 million.

      The most recent publicly-available update lists the home as 'pending' with a $29 million sale price.

      In an interview with Mansionglobal.com, Holly says cites the reason for selling is that their teenaged children are away at boarding school and they're focusing on renovating another of their homes.

      Read Next: Pickleball ‘Bangers’ are (Mostly) Good for the Sport

      Now that the couple is moving, local players have petitioned the city to reopen the six courts they closed. 

      As local pickleball activist Lisa Shaw told the SF Chronicle“She’s got her millions. We’d like our lines!”

      The Presidio Wall court controversy has reached an inflection point as the woman who filed a petition against pickleball in the area has decided to...

      Rival pickleball rating systems are about to engage in battle

      Two Sides Emerge in the Pickleball Ratings War

      In one corner: USA Pickleball and UTR Sports. In the other: DUPR and the UPA (PPA Tour/MLP). Who will emerge victorious? Only time will tell.

      Two Sides Emerge in the Pickleball Ratings War

      USA Pickleball and UTR Sports have announced a partnership establishing UTR as the technology, software, and ratings partner of USA Pickleball, which includes their events, tournaments, leagues, and recreational activities.

      This is interesting because UTR comes from the world of tennis and is relatively new to the world of pickleball, but does have a strong reputation as being a leader in the world of tennis.

      This announcement comes just a week after DUPR announced a similar partnership with UPA, the newly formed entity overseeing the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball.

      With this decision, USAP is vacating their antiquated rating system, UTPR, which was not able to keep up with the times.

      Related: One of the Biggest Partnerships in Pickleball History Just Announced

      This was never more apparent than at last year’s USAP’s National Championship in Dallas where players with DUPR 5+ ratings were being forced to play in 3.5 brackets.

      It is good to see USAP ripping the band aid off and making a decision to go with something other than UTPR. However, it feels like we are in for another battle with UPA siding with DUPR and now USAP choosing to go with UTR.

      • DUPR is better positioned in the marketplace, having a couple of years head start in pickleball
      • That doesn’t mean UTR can’t mount a viable defense and compete for the crown
      • When it comes to ratings, the sport would really benefit from having a single rating system as there is enough confusion in the marketplace as it is

      We hope this is a case of good old fashioned capitalism and the competition makes them both better, catering to the needs of the players and organizers of tournaments, leading to a better experience for us all.

      In one corner: USA Pickleball and UTR Sports. In the other: DUPR and the UPA (PPA Tour/MLP). Who will emerge victorious? Only time will tell.

      MLP's First Team Base is a Stunning, $25mil Pickleball Club

      MLP's First Team Base is a Stunning, $25mil Pickleball Club

      Premier level Major League Pickleball team, the Utah Black Diamonds, will build a $25 million pickleball facility in South Jordan, Utah -- the league's first...

      MLP's First Team Base is a Stunning, $25mil Pickleball Club

      Premier level Major League Pickleball team, the Utah Black Diamonds, will build a $25 million pickleball facility in South Jordan, Utah -- the league's first team home base and club for members.

      The team partnered with GCTM Investments and The Picklr for the development, which is slated to complete in summer 2025.

      Located just south of Salt Lake City off of I-15, the facility will feature a slate of impressive specs:

      • 36 pickleball courts
      • 1,500-seat Championship Court with VIP box seating
      • Two grandstand courts
      • Full gym & recovery center
      • Café, bar, and social centers
      • Pickleball Central Pro Shop

      Unlimited pickleball play and access to all of these amenities will be available for one price. 

      Programming will include open play, clinics, tournaments, league play, ladders, and more.

      Construction begins this October.

      Read Next: Grading the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft Picks

      Premier level Major League Pickleball team, the Utah Black Diamonds, will build a $25 million pickleball facility in South Jordan, Utah -- the league's first...

      One of the Biggest Partnerships in Pickleball History Just Announced

      One of the Biggest Partnerships in Pickleball History Just Announced

      Landmark deal between pickleball's consolidated pro leagues, DUPR rating system, and the company that owns tournament bracketing solutions brings major consolidation to organized play.

      One of the Biggest Partnerships in Pickleball History Just Announced

      Some of the biggest names in organized pickleball have announced a landmark partnership that could stand to change the landscape of ratings and tournament experience in the sport.

      Pickleball Inc., the United Pickleball Association (UPA, a.k.a. the parent company of Major League Pickleball & PPA Tour), and DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) have announced a partnership to "provide pickleball players with a best-in-class experience when engaging...in tournaments, leagues, club and recreational play," according to a press release.

      Whew. We're glad we didn't have to read that part out loud. There's a lot going on here.

      So: what does this all actually mean?

      Breaking Down the Partnership

      UPA has designated DUPR as the official rating system across its properties and competitions.

      It's no secret the UPA - and, more specifically, Connor Pardoe and the PPA Tour - favors the DUPR rating system. 

      Pardoe himself even left this post in our Facebook group just days before the announcement went live:

      It’s time for everyone to understand the best thing for pickleball is to universally adopt DUPR as the ONLY rating system. Anything else hurts the sport. DUPR is by far the best and has the most market share. We all have things to improve on but anyone not using DUPR is silly. It took us awhile to find a path forward but at the end of the day we need to make decisions that help us grow the sport and move it forward. Adopting DUPR does just that.

      While the main competitors to UPA, USA Pickleball and the Association of Pickleball Players (APP) have taken the side of DUPR's rating competitor UTR, it seems PPA/MLP have chosen DUPR for the long term.

      This new deal also means Pickleball Inc. will adopt DUPR as the exclusive rating provider for its software and technology, including Pickleball Brackets, Pickleball Tournaments, and Pickleball.com’s club, league and ladder software.

      When DUPR was cut off from the data at pickleball brackets, it lost key data points, making some question the app's overall accuracy.

      Now, in striking this relationship between all of these brands, DUPR has the lion's share of tournament data which will ultimately fuel the efficacy of the app's algorithm.

      Read Next: Zillow: Backyard Pickleball is a Big Real Estate Trend

      DUPR does allow for recreational games to be included, with a different (read: lighter) weight of importance given to such games. 

      Ultimately, consolidation over basic aspects like player ratings should help keep pickleball on a steady growth trend and eliminate confusion across the board.

      Landmark deal between pickleball's consolidated pro leagues, DUPR rating system, and the company that owns tournament bracketing solutions brings major consolidation to organized play.

      Anna Leigh Waters playing during the 2024 PPA Tour North Carolina Cup

      Highlights & Impressive Moments from PPA North Carolina 2024

      The 2024 PPA North Carolina Cup featured upset after upset...but also, some fairly expected results from the Young GOAT.

      Highlights & Impressive Moments from PPA North Carolina 2024

      You’d be (partially) forgiven for assuming that the PPA North Carolina Cup 2024 was just another pro event. After all, it’s a busy month for the PPA and pro pickleball in general.

      But there were some serious standout moments during the event that made for a very entertaining – and unexpected – watch.

      Here are a few important moments from pro pickleball last week:

      She Did It

      In our “3 Reasons to Watch” preview article, the headlining story was that the young GOAT, Anna Leigh Waters, was going for her 100th PPA Tour title.

      Naturally, she did. But let’s examine what makes this such an achievement, regardless of the 17-year-old’s age:

      • ALW holds more Triple Crowns (winning singles, doubles and mixed doubles in the same event) than anyone in the sport with an astounding 24
      • Her totals in each category now consist of 36 singles titles, 31 women’s doubles titles, and 33 mixed doubles titles
      • She is the all-time leader on the women's side in PPA Tour titles
      • Her 100 total gold medals is 63 more than her nearest competitor on the women’s side (doubles partner Catherine Parenteau is next with 37)
      • ALW has won at least one gold medal in 41 of 45 PPA Tour events played

      Watch the moment she defeats Catherine Parenteau for 100 titles (swipe right):

      Key Upsets from New Faces

      It feels like 2024 will be the Year of Upsets on the PPA Tour - and not necessarily just among the cream of the crop. 

      Some new personalities are stepping into pickleball's Big Leagues. Augie Ge, recently drafted to MLP's Premier League, teamed up with Jaume Martinez Vich for a finals run where they claimed a game (but not a match) against the Johns Brothers.

      Genie Bouchard, the celebrated former tennis player, hadn't shown much result prior to this tournament. She beat Lauren Stratman for her first win on the PPA Tour.

      See that match here:

      Audrey Banada and Sarah Ansboury, the #15 seeds, got the win over Anna Bright and Rachel Rohrabacher in the round of 16. 

      For more pickleball updates…

      Did you know we recently revamped our entire newsletter? We call it The Kitchen 2.0…But we hope you’ll think it’s 5.0. 

      Click here to subscribe. It’s free, it won’t take up much of your inbox, and it’ll have something for every pickleball fan inside, every week (not to mention some giveaways). 

      ALSO: Two of The Kitchen’s founders just started experimenting with a new short-form video recap series called “The Pickleball Report.” 

      Check out the first episode below:

      The 2024 PPA North Carolina Cup featured upset after upset...but also, some fairly expected results from the Young GOAT.

      Franklin X-40 pickleball set against pickleball court background

      Franklin X-40 is the Official Ball of the APP and UTR Sports Amateur Series

      The Franklin X-40 pickleball is now the official ball of two large-scale organizations and their events.

      Franklin X-40 is the Official Ball of the APP and UTR Sports Amateur Series

      If you've played pickleball, chances are you've played with a Franklin X-40.

      The USA Pickleball-approved ball is one of the most commonly-seen in recreational pickleball and has become the ball of choice for over 500 tournaments worldwide each year.

      “Our propriety process begins right out of the gate when our custom powder blend is poured into the cavities of the rotation molding machine," says Director of Product Management Ryan Fritschy.

      "The balls are then removed and placed into our patented robotic drilling system, which drills our specific 40-hole pattern in under 5 seconds. The balls are then tested, analyzed, and inspected to ensure each ball is built up to our standards before being packed and sent out the door. “

      Franklin recently announced some major news for the ball and where it's being used in large-scale capacities.

      APP's Official Ball

      The Association of Pickleball Players (APP) announced they've renewed their partnership with Franklin in a multi-year agreement where the X-40 is now the official ball of the APP Tour and APP Next Gen Series events.

      “Over the years we have found a shared foundational commitment to creating greater visibility for pickleball and providing exceptional pickleball experiences for all levels of pickleball athletes," says Adam Franklin, President of Franklin Sports.

      "We are happy that experience will now see athletes of all levels utilizing the number one pickleball in the sport, the Franklin X-40, at all APP Tour and Next Gen Platform events.”

      UTR Sports Partnership

      UTR Sports, the pickleball and tennis ratings/events platform, has also announced Franklin as their official ball partner.

      The UTR Sports Pickleball Amateur Series is a new year-round series of pickleball tournaments held across the United States throughout 2024.

      Two of the Pickleball Amateur Series events are USA Pickleball Golden Ticket qualifiers, where players have a chance to earn the opportunity to pre-register for the 2024 USA Pickleball National Championships.

      The UTR Sports Pickleball Amateur Series will offer multiple guaranteed games, competitive matches, and quality playing environments for registrants, according to a press release.

      All participants in the Pickleball Amateur Series will compete with Franklin X-40 pickleballs, including at the Golden Ticket events. 

      The next UTR Sports Golden Ticket events will take place May 29-June 2, 2024 in Macon, GA, and July 10-14, 2024 in Arvada, CO. Divisions will include men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles, at multiple skill and age levels.

      Read Next: Jorja Johnson’s Achievement is a Familiar Story in Pro Pickleball

      The Franklin X-40 pickleball is now the official ball of two large-scale organizations and their events.

      Grading the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft Picks

      Grading the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft Picks

      Major League Pickleball just completed its 2024 Premier Level draft, meaning we're starting to understand where professional, team-based pickleball is headed this year. Before I...

      Grading the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft Picks

      Major League Pickleball just completed its 2024 Premier Level draft, meaning we're starting to understand where professional, team-based pickleball is headed this year.

      Before I dive in to the grades, a few surprising things that I want to mention...

      Notable veteran players not drafted: Rafa Hewett (MLP DAWG), Pat Smith (who has been playing great lately), Irina Tereschenko (5-time MLP champion), DJ Young (though was Challenger last year too), AJ Koller (could be injured), and Travis Rettenmaier (also might be injured).

      Notable up-and-comers not drafted: Jaume Martinez Vich (he's a beast and improving by the day), Jack Munro, Roscoe Bellamy, Daniel De La Rosa, Collin Shick (thought Jack would draft him maybe), Ewa Radzikowska (winning machine at MLP), Vivian Glozman, Brendan Long, and I'm sure I'm missing others.

      The draft format and production must be better: No one had a clue what was going on leading up to the draft. The format was confusing. It should have been $1M dollars for everyone.

      Not sure why they needed to do yet another cash grab from owners. The production was really lacking. When will they learn?

      MLP 2024 Draft Results & Grades

      Seattle Pioneers (Ben Johns, Andrea Remynse Koop, Jessie 'Trinity' Irvine, Collin Johns) = B+

      I don't know how teams allowed Ben to get Collin. Someone should have bit the bullet. This team has by far more pickleball reps than any team in the league and there's something to be said about old trusty vets who have played A LOT together and against each other.

      Ben and Collin might lose a couple of games all season, and while Jessie and Andrea aren't spring chickens, they are smart, solid, and will hold down the fort.

      I think Collin and Andrea make for a great mixed team and obviously Ben and Jessie will be dangerous. Jessie will know her role and is as smart as any player out there. Actually, the IQ level of this team is off-the-charts.

      Columbus Sliders (Riley Newman, Meghan Sheehan-Dizon, Connor Garnett, Brooke Buckner) = B+

      The men's duo of Riley and Connor is different and potentially very strong. I'm surprised Connor dropped to the third round. Meanwhile, Meghan seems to be at her best in MLP.

      I don't know a ton about Brooke, but if she can hold her own, then this team could definitely be holding the trophy when all is said and done.

      Dallas Pickleball Club (JW Johnson, Jorja Johnson, Tyra Black, Augie Ge) = B+

      JW and Jorja together is a total home run, and the combo of Tyra/Jorja is going to be lethal.

      I haven't seen a ton of Augie, but he's definitely been a name to watch lately and having three solid all-stars will definitely make him more comfortable in his first go-around at MLP.

      JW hasn't been at his best in the team format since the early MLP days, but with Jorja by his side, I think we'll see the upside of JW.

      DC Pickleball Club (James Ignatowich, Rachel Rohrabacher, Dekel Bar, Allyce Wilson-Jones) = B-

      I love this mix of young blood in James and Rachel with the old guard in Dekel and Allyce.

      James and Dekel will be a force at the baseline and the kitchen while Rachel and Allyce will play with more heart than any women's duo out there.

      I also love the potential mixed pairs of James with Rachel and Dekel with Allyce. Dekel hasn't been great at MLP since I can remember, but I think this might be the right mix to get him there.

      Arizona Drive (Andrei Daescu, Dylan Frazier, Lacy Schneemann, Kaitlyn Christian) = B-

      Andrei Daescu might be the best player in the world right now, and Dylan Frazier might have as much potential as any player in the world.

      Dylan has never truly shined at MLP, and if it's going to happen, it might very well be with Andrei. Their hands are going to be tough to get a single ball by.

      The women's side of things is a bit more of an unknown. Lacy has had moments of greatness at MLP, but I've also seen her look a bit lost. I don't know much about Kaitlyn, but she's one of the hot names on tour, so perhaps she's this year's Rachel Rohrabacher.

      New York Hustlers (Jack Sock, Jackie Kawamoto, Lea Jansen, Carson Klinger) = B-

       

      The combo of Jack Sock and CJ Klinger are going to be fast, odd, and furious. You won't find two more athletic guys on the same team, and I can't wait to see Jack try to bring more personality out of the 'youngin.

      I surely hope they face-off against the Johns bros. Jack and Jackie or Lea is going to be dangerous. I think Lea could soar with Jack by her side as he'll keep her positive and Lea will likely respect Jack's pedigree.

      Jackie is as solid as they come, so whether she's with Jack or CJ, she'll absolutely be the rock. Lea and Jackie also will be an interesting duo and could cause some serious static.

      LA Mad Drops (Catherine Parenteau, Thomas Wilson, Jade Kawamoto, Hunter Johnson) = B-

      This team is gonna be real fun to watch. Catherine Parenteau and Thomas Wilson are proven MLP entities and won a championship together with the Mad Drops.

      Hunter Johnson was a Premier League fill-in before last season and got dealt a bad hand with his former team. Thomas and Hunter are great friends and played excellent pickleball at PPA Austin, so I expect big things out of them.

      Jade, like her sister, will be a rock for this team and will pair nicely with Hunter or Thomas.

      St. Louis Shock (Anna Bright, Hayden Patriquin, Gabriel Tardio, Kate Fahey) = B-/C+

      I am really torn here on their grade. On one hand I don't know ANYTHING about Kate Fahey, but on the other hand I trust Anna Bright to pick diamonds in the rough. She proved she could do it with Viv Glozman and Rachel Rohrabacher.

      Anna Bright and either Hayden or Gabe are going to bring some potency, and Gabe and Hayden together will be as fun to watch as any men's team.

      Gabe seems to be really coming into his own right now and Hayden is an MLP beast. Their grade ultimately will come down to if the masked woman Kate Fahey can hold her own.

      Orlando Squeeze (Federico Staksrud, Vivienne David, Parris Todd, Jay Devilliers) = C+

      On paper this team looks good, but I think what happens in reality is anyone's guess. Federico Staksrud has come leaps and bounds since this time last year, and Parris Todd has won two MLP championships.

      With that said, Parris took time off from MLP and hasn't fully come back to form since then. Vivienne David will be all smiles and I think a fun partner for Parris. I'm guessing she'll play mixed with Jay.

      I really don't understand why Fed didn't choose his homie Pablo or Jaume. It doesn't make any sense. Jay is a weird one. He still has all the tools, but I can't remember the last time he sat atop a podium. With that said, I'll always root for the Flying Frenchman, and this team as a whole is very easy to root for.

      EDIT: Jason Aspes just informed me that "Parris and Viv both right side players. Fed couldn’t pick Pablo because he’s a lefty and neither girl comfortable playing left with Pablo."

      New Jersey 5's (Anna Leigh Waters, Zane Navratil, Mari Humberg, Will Howells) = C-

      It's hard to give any team with ALW a C-, but I'm struggling to find matchups that this team will win beyond maybe ALW and Zane.

      Anna Leigh has been streaky in the MLP format, and while Zane has had a ton of success at MLP, I'm curious how they would be as mixed partners.

      I know next to nothing about Mari and Will except for the fact that Will trains with Anna Leigh in Florida, and one must guess that she didn't draft these two without knowing a thing or two about their abilities.

      At the very least, this will be an interesting team to keep an eye on.

      Utah Black Diamonds (Tyson McGuffin, Callie Jo Smith, Tyler Loong, Alix Truong) = C-/D+

      There are so many question marks with this team:

      1) Is Tyson McGuffin healthy?

      2) Is Callie still able to be the beast that she once was?

      3) Will Tyson and Tyler kill each other?

      4) Is Alix Truong ready for primetime?

      It really feels like owner Connor Pardoe may have been trolling pickleball fans with this team. Callie and Tyler make sense given the Utah connection, but Tyson and Tyler have been known enemies and had a couple of run-ins.

      Perhaps this is just what they need to squash their beef, and in theory, they could be quite good together.

      Callie and Alix will be an interesting combo as well. Who knows, I could be totally wrong here, but my gut says the three leaders on this team are on the back half of their careers.

      Texas Ranchers (Christian Alshon, Marietta Wright, Tina Pisnik, Pablo Tellez) = D-

      From the beginning of this draft, this team had me scratching my head.

      Christian is a great player, no doubt, but felt like a reach at #7 and for $560k. I believe he could have absolutely been had in the 2nd round, and while he's had a ton of success at MLP, he's always been on great teams with Alphas or amazing women.

      I'm not certain he's ready to be the leader of a Premier team, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

      I love Etta. She is a beast. Nothing to fault with this pick.

      Tina Pisnik felt like a massive reach as well. She went ahead of a TON of talented women and I wouldn't have been surprised if she dropped to Challenger.

      I'm guessing the Ranchers know something I don't know. Pablo Tellez feels like a steal in the last round, and he and Christian did win Challenger together a couple of seasons ago.

      But that was against much lesser talent. I struggle to see how this team will win any matches. I think they are going to have to stack the lineup with Christian and Etta and hope the rest can eek out some wins.

      Now, we await the Challenger Picks. Find a full MLP event schedule here.

      Major League Pickleball just completed its 2024 Premier Level draft, meaning we're starting to understand where professional, team-based pickleball is headed this year. Before I...

      Image of the pickleball courts that will host the 2024 PPA Tour North Carolina Cup

      3 Reasons to Watch: PPA North Carolina Cup 2024

      A preview of the 2024 PPA Tour North Carolina Cup, featuring moments we’re sure will make for some interesting TV.

      3 Reasons to Watch: PPA North Carolina Cup 2024

      Watching pro pickleball can be overwhelming, even for those who already consider themselves enthusiasts. So we’ve taken note of some of the most exciting or otherwise interesting storylines, rivalries, and projections for upcoming matches to bring you “3 Reasons to Watch.”

      Here are some moments to look forward to during the PPA North Carolina Cup this week, from Thursday’s qualifiers through Championship Sunday.

      Will Pickleball’s GOAT Earn 100 Triple Crowns?

      Anna Leigh Waters, the number one pro pickleball player, currently has 99 PPA Triple Crowns under her belt, among many other distinctions.

      But that means this weekend, she could walk away with a record-breaking 100.

      Here’s the breakdown on her stats thus far:

      • 35 titles in singles
      • 30 titles in women’s doubles
      • 32 titles in mixed doubles

      McGuffin & Ignatowich Return

      We haven’t seen Tyson McGuffin in a while due to an injury that left him out of the last two tour stops. This week, however, he’s cleared to play in all three events.

      Meanwhile, James Ignatowich is also back from injury.

      At the last PPA event in Austin, James’ friend and regular drilling partner Andrei Daescu took two titles in his place, most notably defeating Anna Leigh Waters & Ben Johns with Jame’s usual partner Anna Bright (more analysis on that match here).

      We’re eager to see if James & Anna can pull off a title of their own.

      Doubles Partners to Battle in Singles

      Genie Bouchard, a notable tennis player and relative newcomer to pickleball, will take on Dominique Schaefer – the same player she’ll partner with in the women’s doubles event.

      Potentially awkward for them, but exciting for us.

      Bonus: Celebrity Pro-Am

      A celebrity pro-am match will take place Saturday, April 6 from 2-3pm ET featuring Carolina Hurricanes Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour, former players Cam Ward and Justin Williams, and UNC Basketball Legend Tyler Hansbrough. Learn more here.

      Where to watch the PPA North Carolina Cup: Catch the action starting 11am ET Wednesday on Amazon Prime and Pickleballtv.

      A preview of the 2024 PPA Tour North Carolina Cup, featuring moments we’re sure will make for some interesting TV.

      Images of Rod Brind’Amour, Cam Ward, Justin Williams, Tyler Hansbrough, Jack Sock and Genie Bouchard.

      NC Sports Legends to Play Jack Sock & Genie Bouchard in Exhibition Match

      Rod Brind’Amour and former players Cam Ward and Justin Williams will join UNC Basketball Legend Tyler Hansbrough

      NC Sports Legends to Play Jack Sock & Genie Bouchard in Exhibition Match

      Some of North Carolina's most important sports icons will compete against Genie Bouchard, Jack Sock, and other top PPA Tour pros during the North Carolina Pickleball Pro-Am on Saturday, April 6 from 2-3pm ET at Cary Tennis Park.

      Carolina Hurricanes Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour and former players Cam Ward and Justin Williams will join UNC Basketball Legend Tyler Hansbrough in the exhibition, which will be broadcast live on Amazon Prime Video.

      • Rod Brind’Amour has served as the Hurricanes’ head coach since 2018-19. He became the first head coach in franchise history to win the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year.
      • Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP during the Hurricanes' memorable championship run in 2006.
      • Justin Williams is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, winning titles with Carolina in 2006 and Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014.
      • Tyler Hansbrough is a UNC Basketball legend - an NCAA Champion, NCAA Player of the Year and 3x First-Team All-American. 

      The event comes on Semifinal Saturday of the Fanatics Sportsbook North Carolina Cup, a stop on the PPA Tour.

      Tickets and registration are available at ppatour.com. Broadcast coverage of the Fanatics Sportsbook North Carolina Cup will be hosted across Amazon Prime Video, ESPN2 and PickleballTV.

      Rod Brind’Amour and former players Cam Ward and Justin Williams will join UNC Basketball Legend Tyler Hansbrough

      From 17 Colleges to 130 in a Year

      From 17 Colleges to 130 in a Year

      That's the number of college campuses which have either installed pickleball courts or even instituted competitive pickleball clubs.  Ben Van Hout at DUPR told KWTX...

      From 17 Colleges to 130 in a Year

      That's the number of college campuses which have either installed pickleball courts or even instituted competitive pickleball clubs. 

      Ben Van Hout at DUPR told KWTX News that it’s not just the big schools that take the sport seriously. "From 17 schools to 130 in a year is pretty tremendous. I probably see it doubling or tripling next year.

       
      Official board members of Tuft University's Pickleball Club
       

      Pickleball Scholarships? 

      The NCAA hasn't officially recognized pickleball - yet - but regardless, every new semester brings more reports of schools offering scholarship money for pickleball players.

      Drury University's pickleball program will be one of the first in the U.S. with a full-time head coach, scholarships for student athletes and an on-campus facility.

       
      Drury University's new on-campus pickleball facility.
       

      NCAA's regulations state at least 40 schools must sponsor a sport before "championship" consideration. Only a percentage of that 130 schools who currently have pickleball clubs have done that - but surely 2024 will be the year that benchmark is met. 

      Read Next: Pickleball in Africa Just Reached a Major Milestone

      That's the number of college campuses which have either installed pickleball courts or even instituted competitive pickleball clubs.  Ben Van Hout at DUPR told KWTX...

      Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu battling Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters (not shown)

      How Anna Bright/Andrei Daescu Beat ALW/Ben Johns

      Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu’s victory over reigning gold medalers Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns was hard-fought and well-earned. We break down the match.

      How Anna Bright/Andrei Daescu Beat ALW/Ben Johns

      If you haven’t already heard, the best-performing doubles team in pro pickleball was recently taken down for the first time in over a year by Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu. 

      We caught up with Andrei after the win to glean more on how he and Anna defeated Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters – a pair who previously hadn’t lost a single gold medal match. 

      Following are some insights from Andrei:

      The winners’ mantra was simple: stick to the plan

      “We respected them, but knew we had a chance for victory if we executed our plan,” Andrei says. 

      In game 1, the pair’s plan seemed to stick. Even when they were on the defensive, they doggedly pursued resets to shape the course of the point. 

      One amazing example of this: 

       

      “We put together a tactic that played to our strengths,” Andrei tells us. “And we stuck to it.”

      It all hinged on game 2

      Take a look at the scores for all three games played in this match: 11-3, 11-9, 11-3. Where game 1 was a closeout for Daescu/Bright, game two was critical. 

      Some early misjudged speedups on Anna Leigh by Andrei and several lead changes slowed the pair’s progress.

      “Game 2 was tough, I was getting shut down by Anna Leigh. But Anna was great at coming in and taking timeouts at the right times, talking to me and telling me what I needed to hear.” 

      An unsuccessful point challenge by Anna Leigh Waters at 9-9 ultimately set favor back on Daescu/Bright, and it wasn’t long until they clinched game 2.

      Takeaways for recreational or competitive players

      We tend to think of the pro and recreational scenes as completely different beasts. But are they? 

      “The court is the same dimension and the balls and paddles are more or less the same no matter the level of play,” Andrei says. “Really, the only difference might be overall athleticism.”

      And while that can only be gained by intense training, there are some things Andrei says players at all skill levels can glean from watching this match

      Stay focused, even when you gain momentum. Two out of three games were easy wins for Daescu/Bright – not that it was easy to do, just that they stayed locked onto their mission and stuck to the strategy they set for themselves. 

      But they also knew they’d face some points that wouldn’t go their way, so they had to be ready to accept pressure and reel it in when it counted.

      We asked Andrei if there was a particular moment during the match that he felt most confident in securing their victory…in hindsight, that may have been a stupid question.

      “You gotta go in believing you can win. It would be arrogant to expect it, but you have to believe,” Andrei says. “If you start thinking about winning while you’re playing, you’re not playing anymore, you’re spectating.”

      Understand your team’s strengths. “A lot of players play kind of randomly. We were prepared for most situations knowing what to do when things didn’t go our way because we knew we’d picked a strategy that played to our strengths.”

      A great example of the theme of this match: Daescu floats a ball that could be wide, but the team takes advantage of ALW hitting it anyway, staying locked-in during the reset to ultimately pounce on a speedup:

      No, you shouldn’t expect a recurring Bright/Daescu partnership

      Many may now wonder: will the Bright/Daescu team strike again? Andrei wants to get ahead of any rumors that could spark now that the pair achieved such a momentous win.

      “There’s no intention whatsoever of me getting in the way of Anna’s playing partnership with James. I live less than 30 minutes away from them and we practice together often. I’m confident they’ll dominate together once James is healed.”

      Read Next: A Hot Take Re: Pickleball Line Call Etiquette

      Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu’s victory over reigning gold medalers Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns was hard-fought and well-earned. We break down the match.

      MLP announces its 2024 draft dates and formats

      MLP 2024 Draft Dates Announced, Changes Made to Challenger Format

      MLP's 2024 Premier Draft will take place April 2, and Challenger will take place the next day. However, this cycle's Challenger looks a little different...

      MLP 2024 Draft Dates Announced, Changes Made to Challenger Format

      Pro pickleball's team-style league, Major League Pickleball (MLP), will hold their 2024 Drafts for both Premier Level and Challenger Level early next month.

      The news comes just about a week after the league announced their 2024 schedule of events.

      The Premier Level draft will take place Tuesday, April 2 at 6 p.m. ET. The Challenger Level draft will go down on Wednesday, April 3 at 6 p.m. ET. 

      Both drafts will be held remotely.

      Differences between Premier and Challenger drafts

      The Premier Level draft of 48 players will, as always, feature four players per team with two men and two women on each roster. 

      Here's how the Premier process works:

      • Interested teams submit bids for the first overall draft slot
      • Teams may bid more than once
      • The team with the largest financial commitment has three minutes to select any player from the available player pool
      • The process will repeat for each pick until 48 players have been selected

      "A unique dynamic bidding process will be used and teams will have a budget to spend on a total of four winning bids to develop their roster," according to an MLP press release.

      Meanwhile, the Challenger team draft is a bit different this year.

      This time, 72 total players will be drafted: six per team, three men and three women, allowing for lineup decisions and substitutions during events.

      A snake format, where the draft order will reverse in even-numbered rounds, will be used for this draft.

      Draft slots will be randomly assigned at least one week before the draft and teams will have three minutes to make each pick once they are on the clock, MLP says in their release.

      Read Next: Riley Newman's Decision Means We'll See Less of Him on the PPA Tour

      MLP's 2024 Premier Draft will take place April 2, and Challenger will take place the next day. However, this cycle's Challenger looks a little different...

      Waters/Johns Fall to Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu

      Waters/Johns Fall to Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu

      Bright and Daescu staged an awe-inspiring performance, outmaneuvering the top-seeded Waters and Johns with scores of 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 to clinch the title.

      Waters/Johns Fall to Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu

      The pro pickleball world witnessed history unfold this morning as Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu achieved what many deemed impossible - they toppled Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns in a gold medal match.

      Even more remarkable: they did so without conceding a single game.

      Seeded at number four, Bright and Daescu staged an awe-inspiring performance, outmaneuvering the top-seeded Waters and Johns with scores of 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 to clinch the title. 

      See the final point here (scroll right): 

       

      The matchup marked Bright and Daescu's debut as partners in a PPA event, with Daescu filling in for James Ignatowich, who is currently recuperating from a shoulder injury. 

      For Waters and Johns, accustomed to dominance on the court, the defeat served as a stark reminder of the sport's unpredictability. It marked the first loss for the Waters/Johns duo in nearly a year.

      Weather conditions added an extra layer of complexity to the encounter, with gusts of wind favoring Bright and Daescu.

      Read Next: Jorja Johnson’s Achievement is a Familiar Story in Pro Pickleball

      Despite a fleeting opportunity for Waters and Johns in the second game where they held an 8-4 lead with the serve, Daescu and Bright swiftly regained control.

      We’ll have more analysis on this historic match once PPA Tour has uploaded it in its entirety. Stay tuned.

      Bright and Daescu staged an awe-inspiring performance, outmaneuvering the top-seeded Waters and Johns with scores of 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 to clinch the title.

      Jorja Johnson, professional pickleball player

      Jorja Johnson’s Achievement is a Familiar Story in Pro Pickleball

      Jorja Johnson is the third woman and the youngest person to win 3 APP Triple Crowns. The impact of young people and, particularly, young women...

      Jorja Johnson’s Achievement is a Familiar Story in Pro Pickleball

      There’s something familiar about pickleball pro Jorja Johnson making headlines at last week’s APP Sacramento Open.

      The 17-year-old made APP Tour history as the third woman to win a triple crown, and simultaneously, the youngest to do it. 

      Only Simone Jardim (at Delray Beach in 2022) and Parris Todd (at Newport Beach and Punta Gorda in 2023) had achieved the distinction before her.

      "It was an incredible feeling to earn the Triple Crown,” Jorja told The Kitchen. 

      “It’s been one of my goals for a long time and to be able to do it while I’m still a teenager makes it even more special.”

      Jorja’s presence in the sport, in addition to other high-ranking young people like World No. 1 Anna Leigh Waters or Hayden Patriquin, no doubt paves the way for the next generation of elite pickleball players.

      But her arc to success is remarkably similar to those of other recent pros:

    • She’s pickleball-native: similar to her contemporary and fellow Franklin-sponsored player Hayden Patriquin, Jorja Johnson doesn’t come from a tennis background (but her brother, JW, does).
    • She’s in high demand among the pro tours: the Johnson siblings have been difficult to track throughout the Tour Wars. They opted for APP this past week but have also regularly played for the PPA Tour and have signed with MLP in the past.
    • She’s fearless at the net: Jorja shows no hesitation in battling players – regardless of their age, gender, or stature – with backhand attacks and fast hands. In a sport often dominated by men with tennis backgrounds, Jorja’s bravery does not go unnoticed.
    • She’s part of a family dynasty: you could say that Jorja and JW were born for this. The Johnsons join several other families in pro pickleball (like the Newmans, Johns, or Kawamotos) that prioritize sports to this extent. 
    • The irony of us writing this article and talking about the effects of media attention on young people is not lost on us. But as the world takes pro-level pickleball more seriously, we’ve seen coverage of its athletes skyrocket, even from outside the pickleball media sphere.

      Forbes, for example, has an entire profile on 17-year-old Anna Leigh Waters, who’s made countless headlines in national publications already; another commonality between young pros.

      But so far, Johnson seems to be taking the attention humbly and with a healthy outlook.

      “The media attention was definitely never something I anticipated Going through but I’m just really thankful for everyone who cheers me on through tough matches and most importantly, my family and friends who are always there to keep me humble,” she says.

      Jorja Johnson is the third woman and the youngest person to win 3 APP Triple Crowns. The impact of young people and, particularly, young women...

      MLP released it's 2024 season update to its events calendar

      Major League Pickleball's Updated 2024 Schedule Just Dropped

      A new 2024 Major League Pickleball 2024 schedule has been announced: eight regular season events, a mid-season tournament, and two rounds of playoffs.

      Major League Pickleball's Updated 2024 Schedule Just Dropped

      MLP by Margaritaville (Major League Pickleball) have updated their 2024 schedule of pro pickleball events.

      Fans of pro pickleball have likely waited on this news for some time. It marks the first official announcement from the league since it finalized its merger with the Carvana PPA Tour (PPA Tour).

       

      MLP's new 2024 schedule

      Major League Pickleball's updated 2024 schedule of events

      The 2024 MLP schedule will feature 11 total events, hosted across 10 different states.

      The schedule comprises eight regular season events, a mid-season tournament, and two rounds of playoff events.

      All MLP teams will appear in four of eight regular season events, with a combination of six Premier Level and six Challenger Level teams in action at each event.

      According to a company press release, more details on the 2024 MLP competition structure, individual 2024 MLP team schedules, and the 2024 Premier and Challenger Level Drafts will be announced soon.

      Based on the new event timeline, we can only assume a draft will take place within the month or early next month -- though that is only conjecture at this point.

      A new 2024 Major League Pickleball 2024 schedule has been announced: eight regular season events, a mid-season tournament, and two rounds of playoffs.

      APP announces it's doubled its 2024 broadcast coverage

      APP Doubles its Broadcast Coverage for 2024 Events

      Over 200 additional hours of Association of Pickleball Players matches will be broadcast across major networks and streaming platforms in 2024.

      APP Doubles its Broadcast Coverage for 2024 Events

      Last year, the Association of Pickleball Players (APP) announced broadcast deals with CBS Sports and ESPN. Now, the league is doubling down on distribution. 

      Live coverage of all standard 2024 events will be broadcast by CBS Sports, ESPN, and FOX Sports in a slate of deals that ultimately doubles the amount of live coverage from 2023, according to an APP press release.

      Over 40 hours of live pickleball plus over 200 hours of livestream coverage for three of the five competition days will be broadcast at every APP Tour event.

      “Our events are exciting, engaging and feature some of the world’s best talent," APP Chief Marketing Officer Tom Webb says.

      "We’re excited to showcase these players and additional stories that exemplify what pickleball is all about. We’re grateful for the support from CBS Sports, ESPN and FOX Sports for providing the APP and the sport of pickleball with a platform to share these stories with the world.”

      Read Next: Real Clear Stats – “Pickleball by the Numbers”

      The APP also dropped a full calendar of broadcast events for 2024. Find that below:

       2024 APP broadcasted event schedule

      Over 200 additional hours of Association of Pickleball Players matches will be broadcast across major networks and streaming platforms in 2024.

      Zillow: Backyard Pickleball is a Big Real Estate Trend

      Zillow: Backyard Pickleball is a Big Real Estate Trend

      The real estate website’s 2024 Hottest Home Trends report says pickleball references are up 64% in home listing data.

      Zillow: Backyard Pickleball is a Big Real Estate Trend

      The “not in my backyard!” mentality we’ve seen countless communities take up against pickleball and its noise doesn’t seem to phase homebuyers.

      In the housing market, pickleball has instead become a feature, not a detraction, from a home’s worth.

      Zillow, the home buying, selling, and renting website, just dropped its 2024 Hottest Home Trends report, which examined about 300 home features and design styles mentioned in for-sale listing descriptions on Zillow. 

      They identified keywords showing up far more frequently than they did a year ago…lo and behold, pickleball made the list.

      This fast-paced paddle sport is becoming a sought-after amenity in backyards and neighborhoodsIn New York City, StreetEasy is seeing a 100% increase in the share of for-sale listings highlighting a home’s proximity to public or private pickleball courts. Nationwide, pickleball references are up 64% on Zillow compared to last year. – Zillow report

      “Pickleball courts have become a great selling feature because they appeal to athletes of all ages,” says Joy Kim Metalios, a Zillow Premier Agent. 

      “I’ve seen homeowners converting their driveways into courts by using portable nets. Players with ultra-luxury homes are painting new pickleball lines on their sport courts or tennis courts.

      Related: Pickleball is Getting Dangerous

      "Since pickleball is such a social sport, an at-home court has become the latest entertaining feature, like an outdoor kitchen or a pizza oven.”

      Tips for pickleball-loving home buyers

      Now that the housing market is catching on to pickleball-as-a-feature, finding something that either has or is close to a court may become challenging. 

      Metalios suggests those looking to add a pickleball court to their own space should keep an eye out for other keywords in listings:

      • Basketball courts: even a half-court may be placed in an area where there’s enough space for a full pickleball court to replace it.
      • Tennis courts: whether the property in question has its own tennis court or is close to a municipal or school court, consider the possibility of buying a pickleball net (see our nets here) and some tape.
      • Squash: you won’t see in-home squash courts as often as you will basketball or tennis, but it is a popular pastime in some areas. Regardless, these spaces transition easily for pickleball.

      “There’s lots of spaces where one could place a court,” Metalios says. “You just have to keep an eye out.”

      The real estate website’s 2024 Hottest Home Trends report says pickleball references are up 64% in home listing data.

      Riley Newman's Decision Means We'll See Less of Him on the PPA Tour

      Riley Newman's Decision Means We'll See Less of Him on the PPA Tour

      Riley Newman chooses to keep his original contract with MLP, which has implications surrounding his availability to play in PPA events in the future.

      Riley Newman's Decision Means We'll See Less of Him on the PPA Tour

      Riley Newman, ranked number 2 in Men’s and Mixed, likely won’t continue playing on the PPA Tour this year – at least not as frequently as he did last year.

      Instead, he’s chosen to keep his original contract with Major League Pickleball (MLP), which has certain implications involving his schedule. 


      More from Riley Newman:

      Back in August of 2023 when I agreed to my original MLP contract I was very excited about the next 3 years of my pickleball career.

      The MLP deal allowed me to play my favorite events in pickleball (team tournaments), teach engaging clinics across the country, and continue to travel all over the US and beyond spreading the love of pickleball.

      When PPA made their offer, I was grateful and appreciative, but at the end of the day I wanted to do what I thought was best for me and my future (both on and off the pickleball court). 

      I have thoroughly enjoyed competing on the PPA Tour since the start of 2020, but I’m ready to look ahead and embark on a new pickleball journey with MLP! 

      More on what’s changed

      Riley’s statement above is phrased very carefully. He didn’t say he won’t play in PPA events – just that he’s excited to play in MLP. 

      Months ago, before the two tours consolidated under one company, the PPA Tour asked pros to take voluntary pay cuts in order to keep the merged business model sustainable. This was after both tours engaged in a bidding war for players’ exclusive contracts (some of which reportedly came with big sign-on payouts).

      The renegotiation allowed MLP players to fold in to PPA events with all expenses paid – as long as they renegotiated their contracts.

      We can only assume the original deal Riley struck with MLP might be more lucrative than if he’d won every single PPA event in the calendar year.

      What would you have done? Hard to fault Riley for having a preference on where he makes his money. But we’ll miss wondering who he’ll partner with.

      Riley Newman chooses to keep his original contract with MLP, which has implications surrounding his availability to play in PPA events in the future.

      PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball Announce They’ve (Finally) Merged

      PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball Announce They’ve (Finally) Merged

      The PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball have announced their merger is complete. Here's what we know so far.

      PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball Announce They’ve (Finally) Merged

      The landscape of pro pickleball has changed dramatically over the last few years. Most recently, it was war-torn as Major League Pickleball (MLP) and the PPA Tour jockeyed for dominance in the pro scene. But an agreement has been struck that could bring order to (and inject some much-needed cash into) the sport.

      The two former competitors have announced they’ve closed the deal on their merger, consolidating themselves into a unified pro pickleball holding company.

      The deal is backed by $75 million in investments from private equity firm SC Holdings, D.C. Pickleball Team owner Al Tylis, PPA Tour owners Tom Dundon and the Pardoe Family, and some existing MLP team owners, according to a joint press release.


      Wait, why does this matter?

      Regardless of your interest in watching pro pickleball, this deal matters for a few reasons:

      • It brings a significant amount of money to the pro scene, which serves as a platform for some of the most talented players in the world
      • The more money and unification in the pro scene, the more large-scale exposure pickleball as a sport can afford to invest in
      • The merger combines two formats of play – geographically-defined teams (think NFL, NBA, etc.) & individual (like PGA) – under one umbrella
      • The investment and harmony brought by a merger should make it more accessible and easier to tune in to different types of high-level matches 

      Players no longer have to take sides

      Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the PPAxMLP merger closing is that over 150 professional pickleball athletes no longer feel pressured to pick a side or sign their life away in some exclusive contract.

      According to the release, the players have now signed multi-year contracts with the new conjoined entity, with many agreeing to play within an expanded slate of events that will combine individual, PPA-style matches with team-based MLP matches. 


      The players will also stand to earn more than ever before. 

      “Combined annual player payouts under the new unified organization in 2024 are expected to increase by nearly 250%, compared to 2023, which will provide more players with the opportunity to approach the sport as a full-time career,” the press release says.

      Following the completion of the merger, the 2024 Carvana PPA Tour will include a calendar of events that began on January 9 at PPA Tour: The Masters in Palm Springs, California, and will feature 25 tournaments culminating with the PPA Tour Finals in San Clemente, California, on December 5-8. 

      The 2024 MLP season schedule will feature a collection of regular season events, in addition to the 2024 MLP Mid-Season Tournament in July, and the 2024 MLP Playoffs in November. The league’s 24 teams will be divided across two levels - Premier and Challenger - with each team appearing at numerous regular season events.

      Side note: we’d be remiss if we did not mention that this newly-unified entity is technically not the first pro pickleball league to offer both team- and individual-style play. 

      Last year, the Association of Pickleball Players (APP) – traditionally an individual-style format – announced it will add team-based events to its 2024 roster.

      UPDATE 3/27/2024: The holding company representing the merged entities of PPA Tour and MLP has announced its name and logo, as well as a new tour called United Pickleball State Championship Series.

       

      No further details have been announced in regards to the United Pickleball State Championship Series, though we can only assume it will build on the amateur experience built by the PPA Tour.

      The PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball have announced their merger is complete. Here's what we know so far.

      Pickleball World Series May Finally Make Competitive Pickleball Global

      Pickleball World Series May Finally Make Competitive Pickleball Global

      Pickleball World Series is a new slate of events promising to unite competitive and casual players alike from around the globe.

      Pickleball World Series May Finally Make Competitive Pickleball Global

      India’s foremost media mogul wants pickleball to be a worldwide phenomenon – or at least, more of one.

      The Times Group, an Indian news and entertainment company, has announced its Pickleball World Series. The series of six events will begin in the United States and travel across different continents.

      The Times Group touts this as the “first tournament with global ambitions” (for the record, one could argue that title already belonged to one of a few international competitions like the inaugural APP Atlantic Cup set to premier this year). 

      The World Series events aims to “provide action-packed competition along with scintillating entertainment built around the game,” according to a press release. 

      Pickleball World Series format

      In the first year, the Pickleball World Series will comprise 64 players in the individual format and six teams of four players each, from the US and the rest of the world, including India.

      Individuals representing their respective countries will compete in individual Series events. Top players will then split into teams led by owners as opposed to countries. 

      Pranav Kohli of Pickleball Asia and new Series CEO, says the format is also based on a complementary points-based rating system called Pickleball World Rankings, a system categorizing amateur and professional players from around the world.

      “This year, we will see widespread adoption of Pickleball World Rankings across the globe. We aim to sanction 1000-plus PWR events next year. So there will be plenty of points available in 2025.”

      Kohli says once teams form, Pickleball World Series will ensure owners are “diverse and global.”

      A global vision

      While pickleball was invented in the United States and gained most of its initial popularity there and in Canada, we were curious to know if Kohli felt that it was important to show North Americans that other parts of the world take the sport just as seriously. 

      But he had a different take:

      “I do not think that we need to show it to anyone. One country has to really take lead and adopt a sport fully for other countries to follow suit and this is what happened to Pickleball during pandemic and post. The sport has faced its own challenges, with opposition…questioning whether the sport has the capability to hold crowds – both in the stadium and on TV.  

      “I think we, the pickleball community, are answering these questions from every corner of the world. Pickleball World Series is the embodiment of this spirit of the community. It is the tour and league Pickleball deserves.”

      Kohli says the initiative is also about giving power back to the players.

      "It seems like they have to sign something to get the most out of their careers in pickleball. We want to create a great product that they can just show up to," he says.

      More details about the Series’ initial schedule are expected later this year.

      Pickleball World Series is a new slate of events promising to unite competitive and casual players alike from around the globe.