Pickleball was invented in 1965, but for five decades it was simply a recreational game, played in a few locations across the country (and perhaps in your middle-school gym class). But with the sport’s unprecedented rise in popularity, pro pickleball has quickly followed suit. Increased dedication from the athletes, combined with rapidly improving equipment technology, has catapulted the pro scene to unforeseen heights.
24-year-old Ben Johns and 16-year-old Anna Leigh Waters have established themselves as the undisputed GOAT’s of the sport. With the rest of the field chasing the standard of excellence these young stars have set, the level of play at the professional level has never been higher. With TV networks ESPN and Tennis Channel investing heavily in live coverage, prize money has increased, and being a “Pro Pickleball” player is now a legitimate and lucrative career for many of these athletes.
The recent USA Pickleball National Championships, held in Dallas, TX, featured over 50,000 spectators during the weeklong event. It’s clear that professional pickleball is here to stay, so let’s meet the stars of the sport, and find out what makes these players so special. Pickleball is a game with extremely low margin for error, so each one of these players must possess a special skill—or many skills— that separate them from the rest.
Check out the new “Champions” Attribute in MprooV to get to know the world’s best players.