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Rising Stars in Professional Pickleball Players for 2024

Professional Pickleball Players: Becoming a full-time professional pickleball player in 2024 is a dream shared by many athletes drawn to the sport’s rapid growth and competitive allure. Unlike traditional sports where professional pathways are often rigidly defined, pickleball offers a more accessible route to aspiring pros through organizations like the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and the Association of Pickleball Players (APP). These bodies provide a platform where players of varying skill levels can compete for recognition and prize money, marking a significant evolution in the sport’s professionalization.

Entry into Professional Circuits

One of the defining characteristics of pickleball’s professional landscape is its inclusivity. Unlike many sports where entry into professional ranks is restricted by stringent qualifications or elite academies, pickleball allows virtually anyone to enter the fray. Both the PPA and APP host tournaments open to all, where players pay registration fees to participate in singles or doubles draws. However, with growing interest and participation, tournaments often reach capacity, leading to qualification rounds for hopefuls seeking a chance to compete against established pros.

Professional Pickleball Players

Financial Realities and Investment

While accessibility is a hallmark of pickleball’s professional scene, the journey to establishing oneself as a full-time player is not without financial challenges. Prospective professionals must bear the brunt of their expenses, which can quickly accumulate. Entry fees alone for events in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles can approach $500 per tournament, multiplied across numerous competitions throughout the season. Beyond registration costs, players shoulder travel expenses, including airfare, accommodations, and daily expenses such as meals and incidentals. Estimates suggest that without substantial sponsorship, new pros may need to budget upwards of $40,000 annually to sustain their careers on the tour.

The Competitive Landscape and Player Profiles

In 2024, the professional pickleball circuit boasts a diverse array of talent spanning genders and age groups. Approximately 150 contracted players across the PPA and its affiliate, Major League Pickleball (MLP), form the core of competition. These pros benefit from contractual agreements that cover travel costs, entry fees, and in some cases, provide salaries, underscoring the professionalization of the sport. Despite these perks, the depth of talent within both tours ensures rigorous competition, where even seasoned professionals face challenges in qualification rounds preceding main draw tournaments.

Professional Pickleball Players

Notable Players to Watch

Ben Johns: A dominant force in men’s pickleball, Johns has amassed over 125 professional titles since the PPA’s inception in 2020. Known for his versatility across singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, Johns remains a perennial favorite in tournaments worldwide.

Anna Leigh Waters: Reigning from Delray Beach, FL, Waters epitomizes excellence in women’s pickleball. With a staggering 100+ gold medals to her name, Waters continues to elevate her game in both singles and doubles formats, setting a high bar for competitors.

Jack Sock: Transitioning from a successful tennis career to pickleball, Sock has swiftly risen through the ranks. His adaptability and skill have garnered attention, placing him prominently in men’s singles rankings and demonstrating the crossover potential between the two sports.

Meghan Dizon: Emerging as a formidable contender from Salt Lake City, UT, Dizon excels in women’s doubles. Her powerful playstyle and strategic prowess have propelled her to a top-five ranking, making her a force to be reckoned with on the court.

The Future of Professional Pickleball

Professional pickleball continues to evolve as a global phenomenon with expanding opportunities for growth and recognition. The sport’s grassroots appeal and inclusive ethos attract a diverse pool of talent, from former tennis pros to amateur enthusiasts-turned-competitors. As tournaments become more competitive and lucrative, the path to professional success requires not only exceptional skill but also financial resilience and strategic planning. Aspiring players must navigate the demands of training, competition, and sponsorship acquisition to establish sustainable careers in pickleball’s burgeoning professional scene.

Professional-Pickleball-players
Competitive pickleball players in action.

 

News in Brief: Professional Pickleball Players

The emerging stars in professional pickleball for 2024, detailing the challenges faced by new players in terms of expenses and competition. It also profiles top male and female players to watch, including Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters, emphasizing their achievements and rankings. Both the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and the Association of Pickleball Players (APP) tours are discussed, along with the increasing popularity and competitive nature of the sport.

Also read: Jeff Morse Secures Spot in US National Pickleball Championships

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