Star power has been a part of Major League Pickleball’s growth playbook for some time now. But today’s announcement might be the biggest use of star power to date.
Just days after their 2023 Premier Level draft, the MLP announced its Challenger Level’s team names, players, and owners.
Effectively a who’s who of professional athletes, actors, models, musicians, entrepreneurs, and brands, this smattering of celebrity influence will help the league roll into 2023 with incredible momentum.
“The diversity in the backgrounds and expertise of our fantastic new owners is an incredible asset as we aggressively expand Major League Pickleball to reach more fans than ever.”Brian Levine, Major League Pickleball CEO
Although the Challenger Level draft was not televised like the Premier Level draft, players were drafted the same night, with the full roster announcements coming today.
Draft pick #1 came from D.C. Pickleball Club, owned in part by Eva Longoria, Mesut Ozil, Kate Upton & Justin Verlander. They selected Sam Querrey, a recently retired professional tennis player.
MLP Challenger Level Teams, Rosters & Owners
Roster: Hunter Johnson, Brooke Buckner, Ben Newell, and Christine McGrath
Team Owners: Anheuser-Busch
Roster: Wes Burrows, Sarah Ansboury, Andreas Siljestrom, and Sarah Burr
Team Owners: Larry Fitzgerald, Devin Booker, Dierks Bentley, Robert Gary, Doug Hirsch, Sheila Gulati, John Merwin, Sam Frakes, Mark Dalton, and Richard J. Schnall
Bay Area Breakers
Roster: Pablo Tellez, Ewa Radzikowska, Christian Alshon, and Rachel Summers
Team Owners: Jeremy Lin, Mimi Mercado, David Mercado, Geoff Nguyen, Stacey Nishi, Jeff Nishi, Wayley Louie, and Kathleen Louie
Roster: Cierra Gaytan-Leach, Rob Nunnery, Corinne Carr, and Greg Dow
Team Owners: Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s 35V
Roster: Susannah Barr, Emily Ackerman, Connor Garnett, Ryler DeHeart
Team Owners: Ron Saslow’s 35 Capital, Heidi Klum, Tom Ricketts, David Justice, Doug Ellin, Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport, Tracy Austin, Gigi Fernández, David Dobrik, Joe Bonamassa, Ted Foxman, and Steve Bellamy
Columbus Pickleball Club
Roster: Milan Rane, Becky Ryan, Yates Johnson, and CJ Klinger
Team Owners: David Kass, Doug Ulman
Dallas Pickleball Club
Roster: Megan Fudge, Chuck Taylor, Brandon French, and Christa Gecheva
Team Owners: Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki, John Isner, Robert Herjavec, Chandler Parsons, and Todd Wagner
D.C. Pickleball Team
Roster: Sam Querrey, Stefan Auvergne, Shelby Bates, and Monica Paolicelli
Team Owners: Al Tylis, Sam Porter, Eva Longoria, Justin Verlander, Mesut Ӧzil, Kate Upton, Shawn Marion, and Rip Hamilton
Miami Pickleball Club
Roster: Alix Truong, Regina Franco, Jeff Warnick, and Matt Manasse
Team Owners: Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios, Patrick Mahomes, Rich Paul, Darius Garland, Mardy Fish and Alex Davis at Disruptive Sports Group, Alex Cohen at Heights, Stuart Duguid, The Palm Tree Crew, Prakash Amritraj, Matthew Pritzker, Mark Ein, Romie Chaudhari, Swimmy Minami
Roster: Lee Whitwell, Pat Smith, Genie Erokhina, and Steve Deakin
Team Owners: Tim Klitch, Dan Ferreri, Bryan Sheffield, Kit Sheffield, and Richard Veitenheimer
Utah Black Diamonds
Roster: Michelle Esquivel, Spencer Smith, Olivia McMillan, and Rob Cassidy
Team Owners: The Pardoe Family
Roster: Bobbi Oshiro, Callan Dawson, Rachel Rettger, and Todd Fought
Team Owners: TBA
2023 Schedule & Format
- The number of teams increased from 12 to 24.
- The number of events increases from 3 to 6.
- $5 Million in prize money and payouts.
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