Pickleball is a relatively new sport on the pro circuit, having really only gained steam in the last five years. During this time, a handful of rising stars in the world of pickleball have emerged, and for many, their names have become synonymous with the sport. So, who’s who in the world of pickleball? We’ve found the top 10 pickleball players in the world so that we can all learn a little more about them.
What’s interesting about this list of top players is that many of them started playing pickleball only a few years ago and quickly rose among the ranks of the very best. These ten champions of the game are the ones you want to watch.
At the top of our list is Ben Johns, a young American pickleball player at the top of the game in men’s doubles, singles, and mixed doubles. He is ranked at the top by several associations, including the Pro Pickleball Association, World Pickleball Rankings, and Global Pickleball Rankings.
Ben Johns picked up the love of playing racquet sports quite young, with an affinity for tennis starting at around the age of 8, and started playing competitive tennis shortly after. He discovered pickleball at the age of 17, just when his love affair with tennis began to wear thin.
Shortly after, he competed in his first tournament, and since then, in just a few short years, Benjamin Johns has won more than fifty gold medals, including eleven triple crown medals. His wins include such prestigious tournaments as the US Open Pickleball Championships,
As an unstoppable force at such a young age, Ben Johns is one of the most widely recognized names in pickleball and has even scored a rare endorsement deal with Franklin Sports.
Brazilian native Simone Jardim is one of the top female pickleball players in the world. She turned pro in 2015 and has since won more PPA titles than any other female on the circuit to date. She holds the top spot in the world for women’s doubles and ranks among the top two in the world for pro-women doubles. She has partnered with many other top players in the world, including Ben Johns and Lucy Kovalova.
Before becoming a master of pickleball, Simone Jardim was a former tennis player, playing tennis for Fresno State, where she led her team to win three WAC conference championships. She later went on to become a tennis coach at the College of Willian & Mary and also Michigan State University.
In 2015, Simone Jardim’s career took a turn away from college tennis and toward playing pickleball. The following year, she won her first US Open Pickleball Championship in the category of women’s singles. Since then, she has won more than ninety medals in her pickleball career, including two triple crown medals.
Lucy Kovalova, a native of Slovakia, is ranked top in the world for mixed doubles, giving Simone Jardim a run for her money. Lucy Kovaloca came to the United States, where she spent her college career at Witchita State, where she was among the top tennis players. After college, she gave up the idea of being a tennis pro and went full steam ahead with pickleball.
Kovalova has won distinguished medals and major tournaments, including the Women’s Triple Crown in 2018. She has gone on to add many more medals to her name, and you can often find her playing mixed doubles with long-time pickleball partner Matt Wright.
Tyson McGuffin started playing pickleball in 2015 and has since risen to be one of the top pickleball players on the circuit. He grew up in Washington, with wrestling being his primary sport of interest in high school. Once reaching college, his passion turned to tennis.
Tyson McGuffin spent several years coaching tennis and was a tennis pro at Yakima Tennis Club. It turns out he had an affinity for other racquet sports, which became obvious when he was first introduced to pickleball a few years later. Although the story goes that pickleball required a bit of a learning curve for him, it wasn’t long before his skill and competitive nature had him earning many medals.
Currently, Tyson McGuffin is one of the most decorated pro players. After multiple wins as a Grand Slam Champion and National Champion, Tyson McGuffin’s rankings have among the top pro-circuit players for both singles and doubles.
Matt Wright started with a love of competitive tennis at the University of Michigan, where he was a star tennis player. He began playing pickleball in 2016 when he quickly mastered and made his name known within the sport. Matt Wright ranks high in men’s doubles and especially in mixed doubles, where he often partners with another top player on our list, Lucy Kovalova.
Matt, who works as an attorney when not playing pickleball, has won prestigious titles in pickleball, including the 19+ age division of the US Open, and the gold medal of numerous open division Pro Pickleball tournaments in a single year. Matt Wright is widely regarded as a force to contend with on the pickleball circuit.
Anna Leigh Waters
Anna Leigh Waters is one of the youngest players winning medals in the world of pickleball. She’s fierce, she’s skilled, and she takes no prisoners when playing competitively. Anna Leigh Waters began playing pickleball in 2017 when her family had to evacuate their home due to Hurricane Ima. Turning tragedy into success, Anna used the time to not only learn the sport but also perfect her game.
A mere two years later, Anna Leigh Waters was defeating the best pickleball players in the world, including Simone Jardim, a top US Open Triple Crown winner. Anna often plays alongside her mom, Leigh Waters, in women’s doubles. Her other recent wins include the USAPA Nationals and the US Open Pickleball Championships.
Catherine Parenteau, from Montreal, Canada, has had a lifelong connection to racquet sports, which started at the tender age of 4 when she began to play tennis. She eventually became one of the top five tennis players in Canada for her age group. She ultimately came to the United States, where she attended both the University of Arkansas and Michigan State Univerisity, where she played tennis competitively.
Catherine Parenteau was introduced to the sport by another one of the top pickleball players, Simone Jardim, in 2015. It took her only a matter of months before she was competing in the US Open, winning the 5.0 mixed bracket. Most recently, Catherine Parenteau has claimed the title of winning the US Open Pro Women’s Doubles and only has more success in her future.
Riley Newman is one of the top pickleball players in the world, ranking only behind Ben Johns in men’s doubles and mixed doubles. He was introduced to the game in 2017, and with an exceptionally high skill level in the game of tennis, quickly took to pickleball and soon was taking to the pro circuit in the game.
Riley Newman sometimes plays mixed doubles with his sister, Lindsey Newman, where together, they have a penchant for winning gold. Riley has earned multiple titles in professional pickleball tournaments, including the PPA. He also has many wins in other tournaments, including the Texas Open, where he most recently won bronze, the Las Vegas Open, a silver in the Tournament of Champions, and the Chicago Open APP Tour, among many others.
Steve Deakin came to pickleball with a history as a tennis player. He was competing in the Canadian Nationals when he suffered a shoulder injury that took him away from tournaments, with no real idea of when he might be able to return to the sport. While this was a tragedy at the time, it turned out to be the impetus for his successful career in pickleball.
Steve Deakin turned to pickleball because it offered competitive play, a fast pace, and most importantly, was less stressful on the body and his injury. He took to the sport in 2017 and developed such a passion for it that he also played in his first tournament a few months later in that same year.
Compared to some of the other top players, Steve Deakin hasn’t been playing as long, but that hasn’t stopped him from adding an impressive list of titles to his name. Some wins that have landed Steve Deakin among the top official rankings include a gold medal in the International Indoor in Centralia Men’s Doubles, a silver in the US Nationals Indian Wells, a gold medal in Men’s Doubles at the Alberta Provincial Championships, and silver and gold medals in the Pickle Barrel Classic.
Rounding off our list, meet Zane Navratil, an American pickleball player that currently ranks number three in the World Pickleball Rankings for men’s singles. Living in Wisconsin, Zane Navratil currently holds more than eighty medals, which places him high among pickleball rankings.
Like many other players, Zane’s career began with mad skills in the game of tennis. He was introduced to pickleball in 2013, where after trying his hand at the game, he realized that earning a win in pickleball wasn’t the same as in tennis and that pickleball required both more strategy and nuance adding new layers of complexity. His passion and talent for pickleball have him sitting nicely with other top pickleball players in the world.
Who is the top-ranked pickleball player?
Ben Johns currently ranks as the best player in pickleball. He’s currently number one men’s singles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles by the World Pickleball Rankings. Keep in mind that these rankings change frequently.
Who is the highest-paid pickleball player?
Current estimates put Ben Johns as the highest-paid pickleball player, with nearly $150,000 in prize money. It’s also possible that other top pickleball players earn in this ballpark, or more since prize money alone doesn’t take into consideration money from sponsorships and endorsements.
How much does a professional pickleball player make?
There’s a wide range of income for professional pickleball players, with the average yearly earnings spanning anywhere from $50,000 – $200,000. A pickleball player’s yearly earnings depend on how many tournaments they play in, their wins, plus income from sponsorships and endorsements.
Who Will Be the Next Pickleball Champions?
Pickleball has exploded in popularity, and along with that, we’re seeing new names burst onto the scene, many proving to be a match for even the most fierce competition. Reading the stories of the top pickleball players is inspiring, especially considering how quickly many of them took to the game and mastered it. The next time you watch a pickleball tournament, see how many of these names you recognize, and also keep a watch out for up and comping pickleball champions.
1 thought on “Top 10 Pickleball Players”
I tarted playing Pickleball20yrs ago (I am 84)in our “Active” retirement community and at that time young people were reluctant to play the game as they said it was a”OLD FOLKS GAME” and not active enough. We put on clinics in schools and I am glad to see the attitude toward the game has changed for the better
This is a lLIFE TIME Game.