After an exhilarating 12 months, it’s finally in the rearview mirror. So much happened during 2022 on the pickleball courts that impacted both amateurs and professionals. Here is just a sampling of the year in review.
1. An Unlikely PPA/MLP Partnership
In 2022, PPA-contracted players were prohibited from playing MLP events. This was a huge disappointment for these PPA players. Afterall, MLP events have been a favorite of the professional players – in part because of the team concept and atmosphere – and, in part, because of the large prize purse for the winning team.
In late 2022, the PPA and MLP set aside their difference and merged – thus, paving the way for PPA-contracted players to play MLP and, arguably, unifying the sport so that the best players will now be competing against the best players during the 6 scheduled MLP events in 2023.
2. Joola Entry into the Pickleball Market
In April 2022, Joola – in partnership with Ben Johns – launched a series of paddles that has since taken the pickleball paddle market by storm. Although, at the time, known more for its table tennis paddle prowess, Joola pickleball paddles are now seen virtually everywhere.
From pros to amateurs, players seem to be gravitating to Joola. It doesn’t hurt that the best player in the world – who, by the way, has a Material Sciences & Engineering degree from the University of Maryland – helped design them!
3. Anna Leigh Waters Domination
At 15 years old, Anna Leigh Waters was absolutely dominant on the pickleball court throughout 2022. Whether it was playing singles, women’s doubles with her mom, Leigh Waters, or mixed doubles with Ben Johns, she rarely lost. You want proof? In 2022, Anna Leigh won 8 triple crowns.
Her year also consisted of being the first player (man or woman) selected in the December 2022 MLP draft. Oh yeah. Anna Leigh also made the Forbes 30 Under 30 List. Not too shabby. Did we mention she’s only 15 years old?
4. Ban of the One-Handed Pre-Spin Serve
Those who use it are, no doubt, disappointed with the ruling. Those who have a hard time returning it are delighted. In an effort to make the game “more like it was intended,” USAP banned, as of January 1, 2023, the act of adding pre-serve spin or manipulation on the release of the ball immediately prior to the serve.
5. MLP Ownership Groups
Making huge headlines in 2022 were the announcements of MLP ownership groups. Perhaps you’ve heard of Lebron James, Tom Brady, Mark Cuban, and Kim Clijsters, to name a few.
6. CRBN Paddles Banned by USA Pickleball
In April 2022 – in the middle of the US Open – USA Pickleball informed paddle manufacturer, CRBN, that a few of their paddles tested outside the standards for surface roughness (grit). Just a day later, CRBN paddles were temporarily banned from the USAP-approved paddles list. In response, CRBN did its customers right by honoring its customer satisfaction guarantee with free exchanges/refunds, and, in relatively short order, its new batches of paddles were once again approved.
In 2023, CRBN is poised for bigger and better things with its newly released CRBN Power Series of carbon fiber pickleball paddles.
DUPR made a huge splash in 2022. DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) was developed in 2021 by Steve Kuhn, founder of Major League Pickleball (MLP). DUPR is simply a rating system that strives to rate skill levels of players, regardless of age or gender. DUPR has been embraced by the PPA, MLP, and the Life Time clubs across the country. What’s your DUPR rating?
8. Pickleball on TV
2022 was the year of pickleball on television. We’ve all likely seen pickleball streamed to our favorite devices from YouTube or Facebook. In 2022, however, we saw pickleball televised on ESPN, ESPN Plus, CBS Sports, Tennis Channel, ABC, NBC, and CBS.
9. Expanding Footprint of Pickleball Venues
Wherever you are located in the country, you’ve no doubt, witnessed tremendous growth of pickleball venues. A new and exciting pickleball/entertainment concept is popping up seemingly everywhere. Locally in the Cincinnati area, Sawyer Point (18-dedicated outdoor courts) was renovated, and final touches are currently being done on state-of-the-art pickleball complexes, Aces Pickleball, and the Pickle Lodge – both of which are slated to open in early 2023.
10. Our Launch of Pickleball User Reviews
We developed the website, www.PickleballUserReviews.com, to be a destination site where you, as a pickleball addict, can find exciting listings (with user reviews) all in one place. Whether you want to review a tournament, a camp, or a venue, www.PickleballUserReviews.com will be your source for unbiased user reviews.
2022 was certainly an action-packed year in pickleball. So much has changed. Yet, with all these changes, pickleball is still a sport that, most importantly, kindles new friendships and a common passion – all while getting physical, social, and mental exercise.
See you on the courts!
Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.