This exhibition featured renowned Dallas sports figures Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, John Isner, Scottie Scheffler, and Marty Turco, who shared the pickleball court with some of the sport’s prominent pro players, including World No. 1s Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters, Jay Devilliers, Catherine Parenteau, Julian Arnold, Lauren Stratman, and Allyce Jones.
Among the memorable moments, Dirk Nowitzki displayed a deft touch as he executed an “ATP” (around the post) off a dink from Parenteau, while Scottie Scheffler jokingly rebuked Johns following an overhead smash, although he did have his moment when he beat him in a rally on the edge of the kitchen. Waters demonstrated her pickleball prowess by tagging John Isner with an Erne putaway.
The event also provided a platform for celebrity athletes to demonstrate their abilities in this swiftly growing sport on a national platform, with the initial hour of the event being televised on ESPN.
Notably, Scheffler, the top-ranked golfer globally, collaborated with Waters prior to the event to exchange insights from their respective sports.
Reflecting on his experience, Scheffler emphasized the significance of sustained focus during extended doubles points, noting that he sometimes tends to let his partner take charge:
“I can get a little lazy where I’ll just let my partner do all the work,” he admitted. “You gotta stay locked in.”
However, in the match against Johns and former top American tennis player Isner, Scheffler’s efforts were pivotal in securing an 11-5 victory.
Little And Large
For professional players like PPA pro Allyce Jones, participating in this event presented a unique opportunity to compete alongside their sports idols.
“I’ve been a Dirk fan my whole life,” she explained. “I’m a big basketball fan, so I’m just excited to see him on the court.”
Jones, who stands at 5-foot-2, teamed up with the towering seven-foot-tall Nowitzki, a basketball Hall-of-Famer, for one of the matches.
The height contrast added an amusing element and contributed to their success, culminating in a decisive 7-0 win against Parenteau and former Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco.
Dirk commented, “For me, the amazing thing is to see how far this thing has come. This is like rockstar level. I’m super impressed with the setup; how many players are here.
It is insanity on another level how big this sport has gotten,” before adding with a smile, “There is some amazing pickleball talent, and I’m not one of them!”
A Full House
The event attracted a full house, with notable Dallas sports figures such as Mavericks All-Star point guard Luka Doncic and former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in attendance. This served as a prelude to the commencement of the pro singles and doubles draws on Wednesday.
However, the event was not universally acclaimed. Reports on awfulannouncing.com seemed to try and focus on the negative, sharing some not-so-complimentary social media posts.
This celebrity pickleball match on ESPN right now is absolutely awful… it’s John Isner and Dirk Nowitzki (!) vs. Scottie Scheffler and Jason Kidd. I should be interested in this! But pickleball is just so wildly unwatchable on TV— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 8, 2023
Why in the HELL is ESPN showing a celebrity pickleball contest in primetime?— RepublicanDore (@RepublicanDore) November 8, 2023
They only posted the detrimental ones, of course, although various articles have questioned the attraction of pickleball on TV, with it appearing pedestrian to first-time watchers.
We can only go by the sold-out arena and enthusiastic response from the spectators.
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