Perhaps because it is a more modern invention, pickleball doesn’t seem to have the same gender bias as many older sports, meaning female players get just as much attention and renown as male players do. Here are ten of the best female pickleball players ever to grace the court!
The 10 Best Female Pickleball Players of All Time
Catherine Parenteau was previously a tennis professional, ranking in the top five female tennis players in her home country of Canada. In 2016 she was introduced to pickleball by her coach Simone Jardim while playing tennis at Michigan State University, and she has never looked back.
Within six months of starting the game, Catherine was competing at the US Open as a professional pickleball player. Not only did she compete, but she won, taking home the gold medal for the 5.0 skill level mixed bracket. Since then, Catherine has won two more US Opens and an incredible 16 PPA Tour championships.
She currently ranks #2 in women’s singles and #3 in women’s doubles worldwide, making her one of the best pro pickleball players ever to grace the game.
Anna Leigh Waters
There are prodigies, and then there is Anna Leigh Waters. Anna was born in Florida in 2007, but it was on a trip to her grandparents in Pennsylvania that she and her mother (Leigh Waters, a professional pickleball player in her own right) took up the game.
Just two years later, aged only twelve, Anna Leigh Waters competed in her first pro pickleball event, making her the youngest professional pickleball player in history.
Anna and her mother really burst onto the scene when they defeated triple crown winner Simone Jardim and her partner Corinne Carr at the Florida Grand Slam.
Since then, and still at a ridiculously young age, Anna has captured seven PPA (professional pickleball association) Triple Crowns, six US Open gold medals, and 6 USAPA nationals gold medals. Her success has cemented her status as one of the game’s top players – and all before she’s old enough to drink!
Lucy Kovalova is the first non-American on this list, hailing from her native Slovakia. She moved to the United States for college, playing tennis at Wichita State University and developing as a fearsome doubles competitor.
Like Catherine Parenteau, Lucy Kovalova switched to pickleball while at university. She won the women’s triple crown at the 2018 USA National Championships, triumphing with gold medals in the women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles events.
Though Lucy is an excellent singles player, it’s in doubles that she really shines. She has been ranked number one in mixed doubles and women’s doubles at various points in her career.
Simone Jardim is a Brazilian-American professional pickleball player, and is a legend of the game – reflected in the fact she features in two of the previous player’s origin stories on their rise to the top!
Like many of her fellow pickleball pros, Simone started as a college tennis prodigy, featuring as a two-time All-American in women’s doubles during her time at Fresno State University. After college, Simeone turned to coaching, including an eight-season stint as head coach at Michigan State University (where she coached fellow future pickleball pro Catherine Parenteau!).
In 2016, after a relocation to Flordia, Simone turned to pickleball and took the world by storm. She ranked number one in the world for four years from 2016 to 2020, during which time she won the gold medal at the US Open women’s singles four consecutive times.
Her doubles career has included stints at number one in both women’s doubles (with Lucy Kovalova as her doubles partner) and mixed doubles (with men’s legend Ben Johns).
In 2021 Jardim stepped away from singles play, but she continues to compete on the doubles circuit. She has returned to coaching, and is co-founder and co-director of Peak Performance Pickleball Academy.
Irina Tereschenko has one of the most exciting origin stories of the women on this list. Pickleball legend Chris Miller, knowing Irina was a former tennis player, paid to fly her to the Tournament of Champions to compete.
He believed that she would win, allowing her to pay him back for the flights, despite it being her first time competing at a pro pickleball event. That is exactly what happened!
Since then, Tereschenko has captured thirty-five career gold medals, including a US Open gold medal and two at the USAPA Nationals. She is sponsored by Paddletek.
Jennifer Dawson boasts one of the coolest records of all the legends on this list: she was the first ever Triple Crown champion, winning singles, mixed doubles, and women’s doubles crowns at the same US Open championship!
Her playing career saw Dawson capture over twenty professional gold medals on the pro circuit, while she is equally renowned for a three-decade-long career as both a pickleball and tennis coach.
Lea Jansen is one of the newer names on this list. She played tennis at university while gaining her degree in accounting, the field in which she started to work.
However, Jansen was childhood friends with Tyler McGuffin, a male professional pickleball player who had ascended to number one in the world at men’s singles. Jansen, a talented tennis player, followed suit. Within three years, she had achieved the number two rank among female pro pickleball players.
Amazingly, Lea Jansen became one of the world’s top pickleball players while still completing graduate school, continuing her studies as she dominated on the pickleball court. She was signed by Franklin Sports and is an ambassador for Neuro-Fit.
Andrea Koop is another Paddeltek-sponsored pickleball pro with an exciting second career, working as a lawyer winning cases when she’s not winning matches on the pickleball court!
Koop has three US Open gold medals and 14 other championship wins across her career, including 10 APP titles. She ranks as one of the top five female players on the APP Tour.
Lauren Stratman is a force to be reckoned with on both the APP and PPA Tours. It is on the APP Tour that she has made the biggest name for herself, ranking as the number one female player.
In 2021, Stratman captured three gold medals in women’s doubles pickleball tournaments: at the APP events in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and SoCal.
Vivienne David is a Canadian professional pickleball player whose family has been a huge part of the sport’s growing popularity.
Not only is she one of the top female pros in the sport, but her father is the founder of both Pickleball Global and Tennis and Pickleball US.
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