MLP Atlanta: Watch These 3 Teams

Major League Pickleball's 2024 event in Atlanta

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.

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