NML Pickleball’s Under the Radar Players – Women
This is part 2 in our Under the Radar players installment in collaboration with The Dink. We had our under the radar men two weeks ago and now it is time for the women. We don’t think there is a good explanation for the fact that there are substantially less high-level female players out there, which is reflected in the smaller draws at major tournaments. There do seem to be some more women slowly starting to get into it and hopefully in time there will be closer to equal number of legitimate pro players compared to the men. With all that said, we have some under the radar women but there simply aren’t as many to choose from compared to the men’s side.
Jillian Braverman – Braverman may fall into that Wes Burrows mold. She is supremely talented and we think she is clearly the most talented of any of the women who is not consistently attending at the pro tournaments. She had a nice little run with Zane Navratil in mixed at the Newport Beach Winter Open last December. We think if she really wanted it, she would be one of the top players out there. The talent is undeniable.
Susannah Barr – We already highlighted Barr in our mixed rankings in the over 40 club but she still qualifies as under the radar at this point. Her mixed results are significantly better than her women’s results but you have to think the women’s results will start coming. Her weapons are high end. It just comes down to more consistency for her with her unique style of play.
Jackie and Jade Kawamoto – We are lumping them together as this sister duo broke out at the APP Cincinnati Open a couple of weeks ago. Their style of play is not one that makes you jump out of your seat. However, for a pair that has not played a ton of pickleball, they are very consistent, have strong hands to counter and are willing to mix things up enough to keep opponents on their toes. They also have a major sibling advantage both drilling and playing together all of the time we presume.
Michelle Lui – If you go through her tournament history, there isn’t that much that stands out about Lui. She’s someone you have to have seen in person to know why she qualifies for this list of under the radar players. In limited play, she has shown she can hold up against elite competition. Lui is a player who stands out for her elite power from both sides, but she has barely played any tournaments since the beginning of 2020.
Cierra Gaytan Leach – Gritty thinks he watched her play with Kyle Yates in Newport where she had a good showing but that footage has not been located for this post. She has some strong results and a very strong tennis background. Not necessarily the most fluid mover and her style is quirky, but she does have the talent. Gritty also tried to grind out some Texas tennis footage and it does appear she has a bit of quirk to her game there too. Regardless, she has been playing since 2017 and it seems she is getting back into playing more recently. Here is some footage from 2017 from what appears to be her first pickleballtournaments.com recorded tourney where she plays with Christine McGrath against Jennifer Dawson and Cammy MacGregor.
Honorable Mention – These are players that we either felt aren’t quite there to make the list or we simply haven’t watched enough of, but are aware of. The theme is that they all played D1 Tennis at some point.
- Meghan Sheehan-Dizon
- Mary and Maggie Barscia
- Jackie Urbinati
- Yana Grechkina (as per Matt Mayfield’s recommendation)
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