BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (BVM) – If you are into sports even in the slightest way, you have likely heard about America’s fastest-rising game: pickleball. From August 2021 through August 2022, 36.5 million people played the sport according to an article from CNBC.
Some play it in only a casual manner, but the sport has grown from a professional standpoint as well.
Pickleball has three professional leagues (APP, PPA, and MLP) that load up their schedules with events around the country. And the teams’ celebrity owners, at least in the MLP, may be the driving force behind the sports’ success.
Tom Brady, Drew Brees, LeBron James, Brené Brown, Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Cuban and Heidi Klum just to name a few.
These owners have been crucial to backing pickleball, but the hope is that the young talent in the sport is what will create a lasting impact.
Pickleball’s No. 1 player on the male side is Ben Johns, who is just 24 years old. On the women’s side, it is Anna Leigh Waters, who is only 16.
Sorry Ben Johns, Anna Leigh Waters is the most dominant pickleball player on the planet. I chose this point, a rare one she actually loses, to show her dominance.
— The Kitchen Pickleball (@TheKitchenPB) May 7, 2023
But what makes a good pickleball player? Can someone in the tennis world step in and dominate? Not necessarily.
Matt Manasse, a pickleball coach used by many Hollywood stars, believes the traits of tennis’ biggest names do not translate. Whether it is a strong serve or forehand, that is not applicable in pickleball, especially when it comes to doubles.
“No, short answer. Hell no,” Manasse said. “If they pick up a paddle, you know, day one, they’d probably be pretty good at singles. Some of that translates a little bit better. Some of the groundstrokes from the back, naturally following the ball and all those angles. But then once you get into the doubles court, it is a completely different game.”
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Manasse has a lengthy background in tennis. He played collegiately at USC and Purdue prior to coaching at Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Duke. But once he found pickleball, it was life-changing and he believes that it could be for many others as well.