Major League Pickleball is Taking the World by Storm in 2023

Pickleball is seeing major growth and taking the world by storm! However, with that fast growth has come growing pains and drama. A few years ago, 2 professional pickleball tournament tours began (PPA and APP). Those tours offer traditional doubles and singles tournaments. The tours travel across the United States providing tournament play for amateurs and showcasing professionals in tournaments on a center court.

Major League Pickleball 2023

In addition to those tours, another professional tournament came on the scene in 2021. Major League Pickleball is different from the other professional tours in the sense that it is team-based. Since coming on the scene, it has created a growing base of players and fans, offered exciting competition, large money prizes, and plenty of opportunities for team owners and sponsorships. Major League Pickleball is geared solely toward professional pickleball players.

At the end of 2022, the PPA created a VIBE League which was similar to Major League Pickleball. For the good of the sport, both leagues agreed to a strategic merger to offer a greater pickleball experience. In doing so, the opportunity for more sponsors, greater prize money, more teams, and well-known team owners grew.

The founder of Major League Pickleball has the vision to grow the sport to 40 million players by 2030. If the recent changes and growth in Major League Pickleball are an indicator, 40 million players by 2030 seem achievable.

For a better understanding of the League that is taking pickleball by storm, let’s dive into MLP’s history, rules, draft, owners, and more!

What is Major League Pickleball?

Major League Pickleball exists to create innovative new platforms to showcase professional pickleball players, help them grow their brands, and to attract new talent and fans to the sport we love.

MLP wants to be the league that shows the world how extraordinary pickleball really is. Their mission is to elevate pickleball in everything they do, from the thrilling events to the unparalleled content they create.

In 2023, the MLP is comprised of 2 levels – the Premier level and the Challenger level. Each level has twelve unique co-ed teams of 4.

The Premier Level consists of the top 48 in-demand team players drafted while the Challenger Level is the next draft group of 48 up-and-coming top talents of tomorrow. Those players have the opportunity to make their ascension to the top of the league.

History of MLP

The MLP was founded in 2021 by Steve Kuhn. The first league had 8 teams comprised of 32 players. The first player draft was held in Dallas, TX on October 1, 2021.

The first event was held at Dreamland in Dripping Springs, TX on November 5-8, 2021. Capturing the first-ever Pritchard Cup in MLP history was team BLQK consisting of Ben Johns, Rob Nunnery, Irina Tereschenko, and Andrea Koop.

Major League Pickleball Draft

In an effort to create competitive balance on the teams, the MLP utilizes a dual snake-style draft format. The MLP partners with DUPR which provides real-time player ratings.

Prior to the draft, a random lottery selected by the commissioner of the league predetermined the sequential first-pick order for the twelve teams.

The MLP held a 2023 Premier Level Draft Reveal live at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas on December 15. It was televised on the Tennis Channel.

Tournament Format and Rules

In 2023, Major League Pickleball will offer six events. The events are broken into two seasons with the first season championship held in June and the second championship held in December.

Results from the first two events will contribute to the seedings for the season championship.

During each event, teams compete against each other over the course of several days.

Teams compete against each other in Matches that consist of four Games to 21 (win by 2). The four games are as follows:

  • One women’s doubles Game
  • One men’s doubles Game
  • Two mixed doubles Games

If two teams are tied after the four games, they go into a tiebreaker which is called the “DreamBreaker™”. The DreamBreaker is one of the things that is unique in MLP. By rotating all four players, they first play each other in round-robin play, then square off in a single-elimination format.


Games are played to 21, win by 2. Games use rally scoring until a team reaches 20 points. Once a team reaches 20, they are frozen on rally scoring and must score all future points while serving.

Once the trailing team reaches 18, they will also be subject to a freeze on rally scoring and must score all future points while serving. If both teams are tied 19-19, then both teams are immediately frozen when it becomes 20-19.

Players change sides once a team reaches 11 points.

Since rally scoring is used, players do not switch serving sides after winning a point.

Time Out and Replay

Each team is allowed 1, 1-minute time out per game. Each team is allowed 1 instant replay challenge per game. A successful challenge will result in the team keeping that challenge. An unsuccessful challenge results in a loss of that challenge. No more challenges may be used by that team for the rest of that game.

2023 Schedule

The 2023 year is divided into two “seasons”. Each season consists of three events.

In the first season, 12 teams will compete in the MLP Premier Level and 12 teams will compete in the MLP Challenger Level. “The teams will then flip levels and re-draft players for the second season.”

Following is the 2023 schedule:

Season 1

  • Jan. 26-29 – Mesa, AZ – Legacy Sports USA
  • March 23-26 – Daytona Beach, FL – Pictona at Holly Hill
  • June 15-18 – San Clemente, CA – Life Time Rancho San Clemente
  • Season One Championship: Monday night, June 19

Season 2

  • Sept. 21-24 – Atlanta, GA – Life Time Peachtree Corners
  • Nov. 2-5 – La Quinta, CA – LaQuinta Resort & Club
  • Dec. 7-10 – San Clemente, CA – Life Time Rancho San Clemente
  • Season Two Championship: Monday night, December 11

MLP Sponsors

For the 2023 season, Margaritaville joined the MLP as their Title Sponsor. In addition to Margaritaville, the following are MLP sponsors:

  • Michelob Ultra
  • Cirkul
  • Ora
  • HSS
  • Grillo’s Pickles
  • Skechers
  • Knockaround Sunglasses
  • ProXR Pickleball
  • Franklin
  • DUPR

Major League Pickleball Teams and Owners

Did Tom Brady buy a pickleball team? Why yes he did. He is one of the owners of the Las Vegas Night Owls. In addition to Brady, other famous sports owners are Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Lebron James, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Rip Hamilton, Dirk Nowitzki, Justin Verlander, James Blake, Kim Clijsters, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, and Naomi Osaka.

It’s great to see players from other sports come together and support pickleball!

The teams for the 1st half of 2023 consist of the following:

Premier Level

ATX Pickleballers
Players: JW Johnson, Jackie Kawamoto, Jade Kawamoto, Gabriel Tardio
Owners: Brene Brown, Charles Kiley

Cabo Vamos!
Players: Jay Devilliers, Simone Jardim, Allyce Jones, Erik Lange

California BLQK Bears
Players: Andrea Koop, Dylan Frazier, Federico Staksrud, Maggie Brascia
Owners: Ritchie Tuazon, Justin Watson

Florida Smash
Players: Jessie Irvine, Jorja Johnson, Travis Rettenmaier, Collin Johns
Owners: Travis Rettenmaier, Molly Joseph, Graham D’Amico

Frisco Clean Cause
Players: Zane Navratil, Matt Wright, Yana Newell, Lina Padegimaite
Owners: Brad Beckworth, Nav Sooch, Tim Berry, Wes Hurt

Las Vegas Night Owls
Players: Vivienne David, Dekel Bar, Lauren Stratman, Kyle Yates
Owners: Tom Brady, Kim Clijsters, Tom Wagner, Matt Alvarez, Callie Simpkins, Kaitlyn Kerr

Los Angeles Mad Drops
Players: Catherine Parenteau, Irina Tereschenko, Julian Arnold, Thomas Wilson
Owners: Zubin Mehta, Drew Brees

Milwaukee Mashers
Players: Callie Smith, Lucy Kovalova, Andrei Daescu, DJ Young
Owners: James Blake, Marc Lasry

New Jersey 5’s
Players: Anna Leigh Waters, James Ignatowich, Lea Jansen, Hayden Patriquin
Owners: Gary Vaynerchuk, Ryan Harwood

NY Hustlers
Players: Anna Bright, Tyson McGuffin, Rafa Hewett, Lacy Schneemann
Owners: Lebron James, Draymond Green, Kevin Love, Mav Carter

Seattle Pioneers
Players: Ben Johns, Etta Wright, Meghan Dizon, Tyler Loong

Social Hard Eights
Players: Riley Newman, AJ Koller, Mary Brascia, Lindsey Newman
Owners: Kevin Huang, Timothy Parks, Rick Chan

Challenger Level

Atlanta Bouncers
Players: Hunter Johnson, Brooke Buckner, Ben Newell, and Christine McGrath
Owners: Anheuser-Busch

AZ Drive
Players: Wes Burrows, Sarah Ansboury, Andreas Siljestrom, and Sarah Burr
Owners: Larry Fitzgerald, Devin Booker, Dierks Bentley, Doug Hirsch, Sheila Gulati, John Merwin, Sam Fox, Brian Frakes, Mark Dalton, and Richard J. Schnall

Bay Area Breakers
Players: Pablo Tellez, Ewa Radzikowska, Christian Alshon, and Rachel Summers
Owners: Jeremy Lin, Mimi Mercado, David Mercado, Geoff Nguyen, Stacey Nishi, Jeff Nishi, Wayley Louie, and Kathleen Louie

Brooklyn Aces
Players: Cierra Gaytan-Leach, Rob Nunnery, Corinne Carr, and Greg Dow
Owners: Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s 35V

Chicago Slice
Players: Susannah Barr, Emily Ackerman, Connor Garnett, Ryler DeHeart
Owners: Ron Saslow’s 35 Capital, Heidi Klum, Tom Ricketts, David Justice, Doug Ellin, Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport, Tracy Austin, Gigi Fernández, David Dobrik, Joe Bonamassa, Ted Foxman, and Steve Bellamy

Columbus P. C.
Players: Milan Rane, Becky Ryan, Yates Johnson, and CJ Klinger
Owners: David Kass, Doug Ulman

Dallas Pickleball Club
Players: Megan Fudge, Chuck Taylor, Brandon French, and Christa Gecheva
Owners: Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki, John Isner, Robert Herjavec, Chandler Parsons, and Todd Wagner

D.C. Pickleball Team
Players: Sam Querrey, Stefan Auvergne, Shelby Bates, and Monica Paolicelli
Owners: Al Tylis, Sam Porter, Eva Longoria, Justin Verlander, Mesut Ӧzil, Kate Upton, Shawn Marion, and Rip Hamilton

Miami Pickleball Club
Players: Alix Truong, Regina Franco, Jeff Warnick, and Matt Manasse
Owners: Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios, Patrick Mahomes, Rich Paul, Darius Garland, Mardy Fish and Alex Davis at Disruptive Sports Group, Alex Cohen at Heights, Stuart Duguid, The Palm Tree Crew, Prakash Amritraj, Matthew Pritzker, Mark Ein, Romie Chaudhari, Swimmy Minami

Texas Ranchers
Players: Lee Whitwell, Pat Smith, Genie Erokhina, and Steve Deakin
Owners: Tim Klitch, Dan Ferreri, Bryan Sheffield, Kit Sheffield, and Richard Veitenheimer

Utah Black Diamonds
Players: Michelle Esquivel, Spencer Smith, Olivia McMillan, and Rob Cassidy
Owners: The Pardoe Family

Valhalla Volleys
Players: Bobbi Oshiro, Callan Dawson, Rachel Rettger, and Todd Fought
Owners: TBA

Major League Pickleball Salary

After years of players having to foot the bill if they wanted to play in a tournament, 2023 plans to offer a big payoff. Major League Pickleball players can make quite a bit of money over the course of a year.

The MLP boasts the highest payout schedule in pro pickleball. In 2023, they are offering a player prize pool of between $8-10 million.

In addition to prize money for winning an event, players earn money from being offered a Gold or Silver card. In order to participate in MLP, players have to have a gold or silver card, commit to 2 years, and also play in some PPA events. Gold cards give the player an appearance fee, benefits, and double their earnings if they win an event.

Growing the Sport

Major League Pickleball is exciting and will continue to grow the sport. As MLP Founder and Chairman Steve Kuhn says, “We’ve expanded from eight teams and one event in 2021 to an astounding 24 teams, six events, and $5 million+ in prize money and payouts in 2023.” He’s expecting 2023 to “be chock-full of exciting matches, dramatic storylines, beautiful venues, and memorable moments.”

Be sure to check out Major League Pickleball in person, or on TV in 2023!

See you on the court!

By: Teresa Jungling
Title: Major League Pickleball is Taking the World by Storm in 2023
Sourced From:
Published Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2022 21:07:39 +0000

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