Holy crap! What a ridiculous time to be alive if you are a follower of pro pickleball. Imagine if there was mainstream media coverage of the events that have transpired over the past 3 days. Saturday has been the most insane day so far as MLP and the PPA have both publicly announced a slew of signings, some minor and some major, which signals a return back to the dark diluted days of 2022 pro pickleball.
This list of signings is ever changing but as of around 5pm EST, here is the list as per the Dink (follow their live blog for more constant updates):
It appears for the time being that the signings have stopped, but there are still some big dominos to fall. Namely, JW Johnson, Dylan Frazier and Jorja Johnson. Another notable name we threw out there on Twitter is Jack Sock, who was anticipated to play a lot more pro pickleball in 2024.
One late signing that we did see was the PPA announced that they had signed tennis pro Donald Young. Obviously this leads to further Sock speculation as you could argue that he could move the needle in terms of viewership and interest more than any pro out there right now.
(Update 3:40 am EST, Aug 27 – The PPA announced the signings of Jack Sock and Sam Querrey. The Sock signing is the big one that adds a new layer to all of this but it is still the Johnson’s and Frazier who are the biggest fish left in the sea. The other interesting thing is Connor Pardoe was supposed to appear on the Dink podcast last night, but it has been postponed to Sunday allegedly.)
We will have far more detailed thoughts on all of this tomorrow and in the coming days, but the initial reaction has to be that MLP is winning. However, they are still in an awkward spot with the clear best two players in the world in Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters playing for the PPA. How do they make their players become known as the best in the world? I also have to wonder if Ben, Anna Leigh and Catherine Parenteau could be having any second thoughts? Do they want to spend the next three years playing tomato cans on their way to Championship Sunday, which is the way it currently appears to be set. Also do JW and Dylan also want to face zero competition on their way to playing the Johns brothers 30 times next year?
We are far from finished here, but with MLP having momentum on most of the player signings here, if they do sign the final key players they will have the indisputable majority of the top 20 men and women, and much of the depth beyond that. This would also lead to PPA having a very serious talent void, and a difficult product to sell. Can I interest you in Ben and AL versus Matt and Lucy twenty some times next year?
It sounds like the phones are still burning not only for the unsigned players, but also the signed players as both sides are trying to secure as much of the talent as they can. So the next few days could be very interesting.
It is notable, there were a couple of big PPA defections in Tyson McGuffin and Riley Newman, but it’s pretty clear that the majority of the long time PPA vets have remained loyal to the PPA. On the other hand, almost all of the new players and rising stars chose to sign MLP. I have to think the clear favoritism that the PPA has displayed over the years worked both for and against them here. Most of the players that they have favored over the years remained loyal, while the newer stars who often felt they did not get a fair shake left.
There are so many questions that are left to be answered? What will each tour look like for the remainder of this year? What will their schedules look like next yet? Where will new players go to develop? And call me crazy, but there has to be a slightly greater than zero percent chance that there could be another merger with the entities, and where would that leave the players then?
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