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Mastering the Court: A Look at the World’s Top Pickleball Players

Top Pickleball Players

As they swiftly navigate the court, strategizing their shots with precision, the best pickleball players illuminate the sport’s highest levels. Their skill and dedication not only captivate audiences but also motivate budding pickleball enthusiasts worldwide. 

So, embrace the challenge, learn from the best, and seize every opportunity to refine your game. With each match and practice session, you’re one step closer to mastering the art of pickleball.

Have you ever been stunned at how well the pickleball players moved the ball around? As players dash across the court, hitting hard and planning their moves, the world’s best pickleball players shine.

There are a lot of gifted and dedicated pickleball players out there, and this article looks into their world to find the leading five. 

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1. Ben Johns

Ben Johns is a household name in pickleball, known for his exceptional skills and dominance on the court. With an impressive career spanning several years, he has left an indelible mark on the sport. 

Beyond his pickleball prowess, Ben recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Materials Science & Engineering. His interests span far beyond the court, including traveling, reading, weightlifting, and dabbling in various sports like spikeball, golf, chess, and table tennis. 

Additionally, Ben is a co-owner of Pickleball Getaways and Pickleball 360, while also contributing to the development of his signature JOOLA Perseus paddle.

Ben Johns Pickleball player
Image Source: www.tennis.com

Achievements

  1. Held the #1 spot in all three divisions for most of the last three years.
  2. Boasts an impressive 108-match winning streak in singles.
  3. Clinched over 80 PPA titles in his career.
  4. Holds the record for the most Triple Crowns in male professional pickleball history.

Playing Style and Strengths

  • Versatility: Ben Johns is renowned for his versatility on the court, seamlessly transitioning between offensive and defensive strategies.
  • Exceptional Shot-making: He possesses remarkable hand-eye coordination, allowing him to execute precise shots with ease.
  • Powerful Serves: Johns’ serves are a force to be reckoned with, often putting his opponents on the back foot from the get-go.
  • Lightning-fast Reflexes: His quick reflexes enable him to react swiftly to his opponent’s shots, maintaining control of the game.
  • Adaptability: Ben can adapt his gameplay to suit various opponents and situations, making him a formidable opponent in any scenario.

2. Tyson McGuffin

Tyson McGuffin is another exceptional pickleball player who deserves recognition for his outstanding achievements. Before becoming a pickleball superstar, he played tennis competitively for two years at Scottsdale Community College and made it to the top 1500 on the ATP men’s tour. 

After transitioning to coaching at the Yakima Tennis Club, Tyson discovered pickleball and swiftly made his mark. Within just six months of taking up the sport, he turned professional, driven by an unwavering determination to succeed.

Outside of the pickleball arena, Tyson is deeply involved in promoting the sport’s accessibility and enjoyment. He conducts clinics across the nation, produces instructional videos, and actively advocates for pickleball as a game that anyone can learn and love. 

Tyson McGuffin Pickleball player
Image Source: www.joolausa.com

Achievements

  1. Winner of multiple US Open Championships such as Singles Open, Mixed Doubles Age 30+, and Men’s Doubles Age 30+
  2. Victorious in the Men’s Singles Open at the International Indoor Pickleball Championships in 2019.
  3. Champion of The Lakes Spring Fling and the Hawaii Open tournaments.
  4. Ranked #2 in the world in Mixed Singles, #5 in Men’s Doubles, and #4 in Mixed Doubles as of 2020.
  5. Attended tournaments like the Florida Grand Slam, the Hawaii Open, and the PPA Mesa in 2020, before the pandemic stopped pickleball games. 

Playing Style and Strengths

  • Aggressive and Powerful: McGuffin’s playing style is characterized by his aggressive approach, unleashing thunderous shots that keep opponents on their toes.
  • Incredible Strength: He possesses remarkable physical strength, allowing him to execute powerful shots with ease.
  • Strategic Shot Selection: Tyson is adept at controlling the pace of the game and strategically choosing shots to keep his opponents off balance.
  • Athleticism and Agility: His agility and quickness on the court enable him to cover ground swiftly and make impressive defensive returns.
  • Determination: McGuffin’s unwavering determination and commitment to success drive him to continually push the boundaries of his performance on the pickleball court.

3. JW Johnson

Hailing from Kansas, JW comes from a family deeply entrenched in pickleball, with both his mother and sister also making waves in the professional circuit. In pursuit of his passion, JW and his family boldly decided to relocate to Florida, which ultimately catapulted his career to new heights. 

At just 19 years old, JW made history by becoming the youngest player to clinch the men’s singles title in pickleball. 

JW Johnson Pickleball player
Image Source: www.majorleaguepickleball.net

Achievements

  1. Secured three Triple Crowns in his career.
  2. Earned a remarkable 47 medals in the year 2022.
  3. Won his second Triple Crown at the Association of Pickleball Professionals South Carolina Open in April 2022.
  4. Secured victory in Singles against Federico Staksrud with scores of 11-5, 11-8.
  5. Competed in Mixed Doubles alongside Simone Jardim, facing Michelle Esquivel and Rob Cassidy.
  6. Triumphed in Men’s Doubles with Zane Navratil, defeating Eden Lica and Andrei Daescu with scores of 13-11, 11-7.

Playing Style and Strengths

  • Finesse and Precision: JW’s playing style is marked by finesse and precision, demonstrating impeccable shot placement on the court.
  • Strategic Mindset: He possesses a keen ability to read the game, anticipating his opponent’s moves and executing strategic shots with finesse.
  • Consistency: Known for his consistency, JW rarely makes mistakes, putting consistent pressure on his opponents throughout the game.
  • Adaptability: He can adapt his gameplay to different opponents and situations, showcasing versatility and resilience.
  • Mental Toughness: JW exhibits remarkable mental toughness, maintaining focus and composure even in high-pressure situations, which contributes to his success on the court.

4. Anna Leigh Waters

Making history by turning professional at the young age of twelve, Anna Leigh Waters became the youngest professional pickleball player and champion ever. 

Partnering initially with her mother, Leigh Waters, Anna Leigh revolutionized the game with an aggressive playing style known as “banging” and “ripping”. This dynamic approach, rather than waiting for mistakes, accelerated the pace of play and garnered them a devoted fan base. 

While her mother remains her coach and manager, Anna Leigh now teams up with players like Anna Bright or Catherine Parenteau in doubles and often pairs with Ben Johns in mixed doubles. Beyond pickleball, she finds joy in soccer, shopping, cooking, and fashion.

Anna Leigh Waters Pickleball player
Image Source: www.ppatour.com

Achievements

  1. Gold in singles at the Newport Beach Showcase in 2021.
  2. Gold in singles at the Orlando Cup in 2021.
  3. Gold in singles at the Texans Open in 2021.
  4. Bronze in singles at the 2021 US Open.
  5. Silver in doubles and bronze in mixed doubles at the Acrytech Atlanta Open.

Playing Style and Strengths

  • Agility and Finesse: Anna Leigh excels in agility and finesse, effortlessly maneuvering around the court with precision.
  • Quick Reflexes: Her lightning-fast reflexes enable her to react promptly to her opponent’s shots.
  • Exceptional Shot-making: Anna Leigh possesses exceptional shot-making abilities, executing precise shots that keep her opponents off balance.
  • Strategic Anticipation: She anticipates her opponent’s moves with accuracy, allowing her to stay one step ahead in the game.
  • Competitive Spirit: Anna Leigh’s passion and determination drive her to succeed, making her a formidable competitor in women’s pickleball.

5. Lea Jansen

Hailing from Spokane, WA, Lea Jansen embarked on her athletic journey at a young age, excelling in tennis and eventually playing at Washington State University. 

After earning her degrees in accounting and healthcare management, Lea transitioned to professional pickleball, following the encouragement of her childhood friend, Tyson McGuffin. Since then, she has made waves on the PPA Tour, medaling in major tournaments and climbing the ranks in Women’s Singles worldwide. 

Her match against the #1 player, Anna Leigh Waters, marks a pivotal moment in her career, showcasing her resilience and dedication to the sport.

Lea Jansen Pickleball player
Image Source: www.majorleaguepickleball.net

Achievements

  1. Medaled in numerous major tournaments on the PPA Tour.
  2. Took home two PPA gold medals.
  3. Currently ranked #2 in Women’s Singles worldwide.
  4. Transitioned to professional pickleball in 2022.

Playing Style and Strengths

  • Aggressive Playing Style: Lea Jansen is known for her aggressive approach on the court, constantly applying pressure on her opponents.
  • Strategic Thinking: She possesses exceptional strategic thinking skills, allowing her to anticipate her opponent’s moves and capitalize on openings.
  • Athleticism: Jansen’s athleticism is a key asset, enabling her to cover ground swiftly and execute shots with precision.
  • Mental Toughness: She exhibits remarkable mental toughness, maintaining focus and composure even in high-pressure situations.

How to Become the Best Pickleball Player

Becoming the best pickleball player takes practice, patience, and determination. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Play with Those in Your Skill Level

To become the best pickleball player, it’s important to play with others who are at a similar skill level as you. This helps you improve your game gradually without feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. 

2. Stay Loose but Ready

Staying loose helps prevent tension in your muscles, allowing you to move more freely and react quickly to your opponent’s shots. With that, practice deep breathing and stay mindful of your body’s movements to promote relaxation on the court.

However, while staying loose is important, it’s equally essential to remain mentally and physically ready to react to the game’s demands. Keep your eyes on the ball, stay on your toes, and be prepared to move swiftly in any direction.

3. Progress to Deep Serves

Deep serves involve hitting the ball with enough force and accuracy to send it deep into your opponent’s court, putting them on the defensive right from the start of the rally.

To execute deep serves successfully, focus on generating power from your paddle and using proper technique to ensure accuracy. Practice serving drills to refine your skills and develop consistency in hitting deep serves. 

Be One of the Best Pickleball Players in the Future!

Indeed, as the sport continues to grow in popularity, these players serve as inspirations to aspiring pickleball enthusiasts worldwide. So, step onto the court with confidence, learn from the best, and never stop improving. Every match and every practice session is an opportunity to grow and evolve as a player. 

If you’re looking to elevate your skills and take your game to the next level, sign up to our membership here.

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