This was a changing year for pickleball. There are now 15 to 20 tournaments occurring every week, and our sport cleared three million players in the continued player growth explosion. You might think with this many players, the voting and choice for player of the year would be tough, but Pickleball Rocks says, “These were the easiest choices we’ve ever made.”
For the women’s player of the year, a mother-daughter pair wins the recognition. This team has a 12-year-old who has not only caught the competitive attention of players at every level, but also endeared herself to everyone with her great attitude and example on and off the courts. Her hashtag #EatswithAL is quickly becoming legendary, and she has also helped everyone easily understand how to move up the ratings ladder. She simply started out the year at the 4.5 level, and with her mom as her partner, proceeded to beat such iconic pickleball teams as Kovalova/Tereschinko, Jardim/Carr, and Parenteau/Irvine. The UTPR computer took notice and elevated her rating in a hurry. Nine times this year her ladies partner happened to be her mom, and from the responses received, the pickleball world is in love with this partnership. People loved watching the obvious positive connection and the way they worked perfectly together to win tournament after tournament, including the world’s biggest pickleball stage, the USAPA Nationals at Indian Wells. Besides all the people who cast their votes for Team Waters, what caught Pickleball Rocks’ attention was the wonderful mother/daughter and family connection that was present every time they were seen on the tournament trail.
This pair entered nine Open Women Doubles events, playing against the strongest women’s teams in the world, and came home with nine medals: four golds, four silvers, and one bronze. Congratulations to 2019 Player of the Year: Team Waters: Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters.
Tune in next month for the male Player-of-the-Year announcement from Pickleball Rocks.
Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected]