Leigh Waters Out for All of 2023 With Torn ACL
With all the pro pickleball adjacent news, we had a major drop of player news from Leigh Waters herself on Monday. Through her social media, Leigh Waters let the world know that she will be out for the entire 2023 season with a torn ACL. It’s a brutal injury for Leigh, who will now miss an entire year of playing pickleball with her daughter, Anna Leigh. Leigh injured her knee while played mixed doubles at Nationals about two and a half weeks ago.
The injury to Leigh was overshadowed by the domino effect of the partnership drama that ensued with Catherine Parenteau dropping Allyce Jones. If it wasn’t for the partnership drama, we probably would have been talking more about the possible long-term impact of what appeared to be a devastating injury to Leigh. In today’s medical climate, a torn ACL is not a death sentence the way it was many years ago, but the future of the elder Waters’ pickleball career will have to be a question mark going forward.
As it did at Nationals, the injury to Mama Waters opens the door for Anna Leigh partnerships in a way that we could only speculate about previously. So, who will Anna Leigh partner with in 2023?
The obvious answer is Catherine Parenteau. When all the Partner-Gate stuff went down at Nationals, it came out that Parenteau did not have a partner secured for 2023 because no one wanted to commit to her. Parenteau noted in her apology that there had already been discussions of she and Anna Leigh partnering together in the future prior to Nationals. Unless something changed in the past couple of weeks, we have to think that she is available should Anna Leigh want to go down that route. It would be quite something if Parenteau’s poor treatment of past partners over the years put in her in the position to be 100% available for Anna Leigh.
The complexity of this dilemma for Anna Leigh is that most of the best women outside of Anna Leigh likely have their 2023 partnerships locked in at this point, whether it is one partner or multiple partners. After all that happened with Catherine Parenteau, are other top players going to open the lines of communication with Anna Leigh or will Team Waters reach out to other top players about a potential 2023 partnership? Are players willing to risk their reputation for the opportunity of playing with the undisputed number 1 female in the world? With all the flux of the PPA vs. APP tour stuff, we also don’t know whether new options will be made available if certain players decide to make the switch to the PPA.
The other question mark is whether Anna Leigh wants to commit to any single player for an entire year. Catherine Parenteau is one of the best out there, but it is worth asking whether she has mostly plateaued as a player. We already saw what Anna Bright and Parris Todd have done in a short period of time to this fast changing sport. There are inevitably going to be new female stars *cough* *Etta Wright* *cough*. Whether it is Parenteau or someone else, we also have seen first-hand evidence in 2022 the difficulty of navigating both the on and off-court side of a year-long partnership.
These considerations may matter less for Anna Leigh, who will probably win with anybody she plays with. Nevertheless, there is still a lot that will go into this decision for the teenager and her entire team.
It is also worth noting, that we have luckily seen few injuries of this magnitude in pro pickleball’s short existence. Lots of players are often playing through injuries, but there have been relatively few injuries that have knocked the top players out for a significant period of time. Steve Deakin, pops to mind as a player who missed a year due to injury and the “It Feels Right” boys, Adam Stone and Rob Nunnery have seldom felt right this year, but overall there have been a relatively low number of serious injuries.
Unfortunately, we have to wonder whether we may be set to see an uptick in serious injuries in pro pickleball. With the grind of the schedule only set to increase next year and with many players now having the cumulative effect of a few years of steady grinding, you have to think the risk of serious injury will go up between the fatigue and general wear and tear. We hope it is not the case, but it seems likely to be a reality unless something changes with the players scheduling, which is unlikely to change at this point due to their obligations to meet financial incentives.
It’s truly a shame that an injury will deprive the Waters of their opportunity to stay on top of the pickleball world as a mother-daughter for another year. The reality, though, is that Anna Leigh will have to move on, and her choice of partner(s) has the potential to define the female pickleball landscape in 2023.
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22 thoughts on “Leigh Waters Out for All of 2023 With Torn ACL”
Thank you for posting. Dear Anna Leigh Waters. Please don’t team up with Catherine P. Two years, five years from now. IMO, you’ll look back and think you did the right thing by not partnering up with someone who had no scruples, treated other players like dirt, and had zero honor and integrity. Thank you for your time. 🙂 PS. I hope your mom gets better soon.
It’s scary to watch the video and see how quickly it happened to poor Leigh. I wish for the best of luck and an easy recovery.
Now things are about to get very interesting! Will any of the female pros who participated in Dayne Gingrich’s campaign of harassment Parenteau eat some serious crow now that they have an unexpected chance to partner with Anna Leigh? Think of all the pros who’ve ruled themselves out by acting like partner switching is the worst thing possible, unless they want to be seen as the most egregious hypocrites? My popcorn is ready!
It will be very interesting to see what players do considering this opportunity that presents itself. It would have been easier to do before the Parenteau thing but now not so much
I think if Leigh comes back, it could be as a coach, but it won’t be with AL. That ship has sailed. If the Waters have been paying attention, an AL/CP partnership might not be the best decision to make.
They surely have been paying attention. We’ll have to see
If I were ALW/Team Waters, I’d pair with CP for the next few tournaments – they’ve played together and had success, and I’m sure most other people are locked up anyway. I agree with the statement that CP has plateaued, though. Following the next couple tournaments, I think it’d be smart to try to get a rotating cast of partners in an audition process, if you will, for the rest of the year. AB, Parris, Jessie, Etta, Lindsey Newman, and Koop (if she’s amenable to PPA) all come to mind. If Team Waters can be exceptionally clear they’re not trying to break up established 2023 partnerships other than for a single tournament or two, I’d bet some people would absolutely be willing to partner with ALW (especially if they have a gold card and can double their tournament winnings).
Another thought, ALW will have a women’s partner she’s never/rarely played with before in MLP, so it’d be smart for her and her MLP women’s partner to get regular tournament reps to work out any kinks. Maybe she can use that reason to drop Colin’s brother in Mixed, too, for part of the year. Or she and Riley have already decided that they’ll go all gas, no breaks, and be truly unstoppable.
Making a soft commitment to Catherine is a good idea. We wonder whether other players are doing like a half year commitment to keep options open. MLP would depend on how they format the draft for level of her partner
i don’t think you are seeing the CP situation that clearly. think of rising stocks and falling stocks. that will give you the framework.
Interesting comment about AL and the MLP. More generally, one could say — since she’s so good that she actually doesn’t have to pick the best partner available, what creative or business-minded reasons might she use for picking?
CP’s stock way down recently. Other PPA players may be locked already (or hated anyway). For the APP players, not sure if anyone is truly locked with everything in flux with MLP pushing gold cards. Anna Bright would seem a good fit – young, good competitor, good teammate, improving, similar in play style to the Waters already. They live nearby so practice would be easy. I have to believe a big reason for the success of the Waters was lots of practice reps.
The APP options are very good. Todd, Bright, Koop, David. But they may have some commitments. A rotating cast could be possible early in the year
I don’t for one minute think it will happen but Jorja Johnson could be incentivized to sign with PPA if she was partnered with Anna Leigh. Would not it be something to see two 15-16 year olds wipe the floor with their power and quickness?
It’s clear Anna Leigh depends on Leigh’s coaching. If Leigh isn’t available after her surgery for a few tournaments, I wonder how that will effect AL’s game. I also imagine she depends on her for an emotional reset. And we’ve seen videos of them pumping each other up. Without all that available immediately on the sideline when needed, will it affect AL’s game? And will the schedule start feeling like a grind to AL without it. Right now she seems to be the only player not effected by the grind as she knocks out triple crowns over and over.
Finally, what about future sponsorship deals. Mother/daughter duo was an attractive aspect for many sponsors who could go after two age demographics with one signing.
Dad already had a lot of responsibility but now that would seem to double. I have nothing but respect for how Steve handles all of it.
I wish all the Waters family strength in the challenges they will face.
Jorja is a great thought. She has immense talent. The question is whether she has the steadiness to fit with AL in a role. It is not ideal for them from a sponsorship side, another year would have beenn great but she is still very marketable herself
you don’t need steadiness when you go blow people off the court with your power and athleticism.
That could be true
My dream team would add Ms. KOOP to A. L. Waters. WOW!
That would be a fun team!
my first guess would be Anna Bright
my second would be jorja johnson
my third would be andrea koop
my fourth would be jesse
my fifth would be CP
let’s see how I do!
We’ll keep tabs!
As I predicted, it appears that Anna Leigh has chosen Anna Bright as her partner for 2023.