Relishing Pickleball: USA Pickleball National Championships

David Zapatka

The USA National Pickleball Championships were held for the third time at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif., this past December. With 2,342 players competing in 3,944 matches in 172 brackets, it was the largest tournament in the history of pickleball. Over $70,000 in prize money was up for grabs. Indian Wells has two more years on their contract with USA Pickleball to host the national tournament.

While at the tournament, I spoke with friend and CEO of Pickleball Central, Edward Hechter. Edward is an amazing man and has built the number one pickleball supply company in the world into a thriving business. They now employ over 75 people and still have difficulty keeping up with the demand. Pickleball Central was a major sponsor of the tournament.

Edward talked with us about the growth of pickleball compared to other racquet sports. Annual growth has been 9% until 2020 when COVID-19 hit. Growth exploded to over 21% annually during the pandemic. They could not keep up with the demand for nets, balls, and paddles as everyone was scrambling to set up places to play. Before COVID-19, while pickleball was growing at 9% annually, tennis, racquetball, and table tennis were declining by 2% to 4% annually. This is no surprise to our readers who have witnessed this in person.

Here are a few notable results from the USA Pickleball National Tournament.

The Pro Women’s Doubles was won by mother-daughter pair Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters. Anna Leigh is only 14 years old. To top that, Anna Leigh won the Pro Women’s Singles over Jillian Braverman, the youngest competitor to ever win that event. Adding to that accomplishment, Anna Leigh won bronze playing with Tyson McGuffin in the Pro Mixed Doubles. To see Anna Leigh play and watch some top-level pickleball, search YouTube for these videos.

Pro Mixed Doubles was won by our home-state favorites, brother and sister duo, Lindsey and Riley Newman. Now get this: Lindsey did this while six months pregnant. She was amazing!

Pro Men’s Singles had the fans out of their seats over and over as Tyson McGuffin added to his many national championships, beating Zane Navratil in a thrilling final.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].