Pickleball's growth attracted more and more talent from all over the country. Many new faces look to make a name for themselves on the pro tour. Read on to get to know three of them.
Last year, we saw the ultimate emergence of players such as: JW Johnson, Jorja Johnson, Dylan Frazier, James Ignatowich, Federico Staksrud, Anna Bright, the Brascia's, Hayden Patriquin, and more. These players made an official entrance to the biggest stages last year.
While steadfast names like Johns, Wright, Kovalova, and Parenteau have remained at or near the top of the sport for years, there are now more and more players making big runs at the podium each tournament. Gone are the days where the same few faces dominated the rankings year after year.
Now, there is a new generation of young and talented athletes who are pushing the boundaries of the sport and making their mark on the professional scene. New talent is emerging from all across America, eager to compete against the best.
In 2023 all the same, there are a host of even more up-and-coming players who are poised to make a big impact in the world of pickleball and make a name for themselves, ultimately announcing to the world that they belong on the feature courts for years to come.
Two pro pickleball players to watch in 2023:
There is not a lot of info out there about relative newcomer Etta Wright, but she has put up some seriously strong results in a short amount of time. In only a handful of tournaments, she has somehow already beaten most of the top pro ladies: Vivienne David, Lauren Stratman, Andrea Koop, Meghan Dizon, Lea Jansen, Callie Smith, Lucy Kovalova, Parris Todd, Anna Bright, Michelle Esquivel, Yana Newell, Leigh Waters, among several others. Insane! According to the PPA website:
"Marietta, or “Etta” Wright is a 30-year-old, recently turned pickleball pro hailing from American Fork, Utah. She played D-2 tennis at BYU-Hawaii as a college student and went on to become an assistant coach for her old tennis team. She also taught beginner level courses for the university in badminton, tennis, ping pong, racquetball – in fact, nearly every racquet sport besides pickleball! Born in New Zealand and raised in Menlo Park, CA, Etta has been all over, but has redirected the majority of her attention and energy into pickleball over the last year. Marietta also juggles being a stay-at-home mom to her 3-year-old daughter Isla with the help and support of her husband, Jake. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie, and her hobbies include trying lots of new restaurants." She was drafted 23rd overall in Major League Pickleball as the #1 female player for the Seattle Pioneers. Look for her to make serious waves both in MLP and the PPA tour in 2023. Wright was recently signed by JOOLA. View her Instagram page here.
A player who has already stirred the pot in very limited time is Christian Alshon, who attends the University of Chicago and now competes on the pro pickleball tour. He has a strong social media presence, with an active YouTube channel about his college life and training, and fun videos such as one in which he dinks against a wall for twenty minutes straight.
Alshon has already made a huge impact in Mens Pro singles, with wins over: Tyson McGuffin, Travis Rettenmaier, Rafa Hewett, Alex Neumann, Jay Devilliers, Dylan Frazier, and more. He also took Ben Johns to a tight three-game match at previous PPA, a match he could very well have won with a few more points going his way. While his doubles resume is not quite as robust, it can build to that point for sure. He has shown the potential. Alshon was drafted in the Major League Pickleball Challenger Division for the Bay Area Breakers, who won 1st place at the first MLP Challenger event in January. Look for Alshon to continue turning heads with his shot-making abilities and panache on the court. He has a serious chance to make some PPA podiums this year if he can build upon his recent results. Alshon plays for Diadem. View his Instagram page here.
Click here to browse Diadem pro tour paddles on PickleballCentral (Bonus) Sam Querrey:
The most polarizing figure to make the leap is former pro tennis player Sam Querrey, who hails from California and peaked at #11 in the world in tennis, with ten pro titles to his name. He has beaten Djokovic and Andy Murray at Wimbledon! Guy was incredibly fun to watch on the tennis court, but has now announced his desire to pursue professional pickleball. Querrey stirred the pot by announcing that he plans on cracking the top-10 in Men's Pro pickleball rankings within three months. He said that in the latter of 2022, but only began playing the pro tour in 2023, so we will give him until spring to make that happen. However, so far it is not looking like it will. He got crushed by Alex Neumann in singles and, while drafted #1 overall in the Challenger MLP, did not lead his team to a meaningful result. But it's ok.
It's still a long season and he will definitely be driven to silence some haters. He has brought serious publicity to pickleball, which is a great thing. The high standards he has set and been open about are admirable. Lots of folks will root against him, but many will support a figure like this bringing buzz to pickleball, and he is one to watch for in 2023 for sure. Sam Querrey plays for Team Franklin. View his Instagram page here.
What makes these new players so exciting is their youth, energy, and versatility. Fresh new faces bring new skills, styles, personalities, and approaches to the game, making it more dynamic and exciting to watch new compete against the established. Alshon has the forums buzzing with his tweener shots. He also has a YouTube channel, which is bringing great publicity to the sport. Etta Wright has put up insane results with a handful of different partners. And Sam Querrey will have all eyes on him every match he plays for all of 2023.
Brooke Buckner, Lacy Schneemann, Conner Garnett. Among many others!
Influx of talent like this augments the pro tour scene quite a bit beyond the gameplay on the actual court. They are not afraid to take risks and try new things, and their fearless attitude is inspiring to fans and players alike. There are more matchups, more chances for upsets, and more partnerships. These players are testing the vibe and limits of the pickleball scene.
So if you are a fan of pickleball or looking to get into the sport, be sure to keep an eye out for these new pickleball pros in 2023.
Find them on the live streams, social media posts, and YouTube videos, and enjoy their performance and energy. They are sure to make an impact and shape the future of the sport for years to come. And then of course there will be a new generation of players emerging next year and beyond, too!
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