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Major League Pickleball Mock Draft

by JB Jones

It's Draft Week

It’s draft week! The inaugural MLP Draft will take place this Friday, October 1 in Rockwell TX. So what can we expect? Let’s hit some details. 

The draft will start at 8pm ET following pro mixed doubles day of the PPA Texas Open. It will be a live in-person event at a venue in the Dallas area. The eight teams will draft 2 mens players and 2 womens players totaling 4 players per team and 32 players in the league. Visit the Major League Pickleball website for more league information. This draft explanation video will show how the process will work.

The draft order has been pre-determined and is listed here:

  • ATX Pickleballers (Brené Brown, Steve Alley, Charles Kiley)
  • Chimeras (Charles Attal, Charlie Walker) 
  • Discovery Warriors (Eric Kuo, Mike Meldman) 
  • The Lions (Marc Lasry, James Blake) 
  • Pickle Ranchers (Bryan Sheffield, Tim Klitch) 
  • Team BLQK (Ritchie Tuazon)
  • Team Clean (Wes Hurt, Tim Berry, Navdeep Sooch) 
  • Team Rally (John Raymond, Jim Toth)

Round 1

Now that were all caught up, let’s get to drafting. 

With the first overall selection in the MLP Draft the ATX Pickleballers select…..

#1 Anna-Leigh Waters - ATX Pickleballers

The 14-year old phenom has climbed the ranks in 2021 and now top the charts at number 1. If they win season 1 look for Waters to join Brené Brown in her next Ted Talk.

#2 Ben Johns - Chimeras

The second overall pick is the biggest no-brainer in the draft it is Ben Johns.

#3 Simone Jardim - Discovery Warriors

Jardim was the obvious number 1 choice earlier this year, but 2021 has seen new competitors shake up the rankings. Just one step down to number two for Jardim.

#4 Riley Newman - The Lions

Newman is an elite doubles player and this event will revolve around doubles. The unknown here is how Newman will fair if and when things go to a singles tiebreaker.

#5 Catherine Parenteau - Pickle Ranchers

CP is a top player in doubles and singles. She is a easy choice at #5.

#6 Jay Devilliers - Team BLQK

Devilliers has had a huge 2021 and is still improving. Great in men’s and mixed doubles he will be a solid start to any team.

#7 Jesse Irvine - Team Clean

It’s possible that Irvine climbs into that #5 pick on draft day. She has been on fire lately. She is another player that doesn’t enter the singles field very often but I’m sure she can hold her own in a tiebreaker.

#8 Dekel Bar - Team Rally

Bar will make a huge impact on whatever team he ends up on. I’m excited to see some different pairings with Big D. He typically pairs with Adam Stone but I could see Team Rally opting for even more height later in the draft like Jeff Warnick or Andrei Daescu. I wouldn’t mid seeing every point end in an Erne attempt if he were to get paired with Tyler Loong.

Round 2

#9 Lea Jansen - Team Rally

This feels late to take Jansen. She is battling AL for gold at all of the recent PPA stops and is a heavy hitter in womens doubles. Her and Bar will be a hot start for Team Rally.

#10 Tyson McGuffin - Team Clean

Got to be excited to have TM on your squad. He will have the whole team training together and hitting some cryotherapy before the event.

#11 Callie Smith - Team BLQK

Smith joins team BLQK at #11. She can carry a doubles team on her back and will be a huge asset in this competition. The singles game is getting better every tournament so she will be able to snatch up some points in a tiebreaker as well.

#12 Zane Navratil - Pickle Ranchers

Navratil is a bit of a wildcard in this draft. The chainsaw serve is extremely effective in mixed doubles so I could see him sneaking up a pick or two. After climbing the recent DUPR ratings everyone is still trying to find where Zane lands in the mens doubles field. He is pairing with Warnick at the Texas Open but they play on Saturday so we will not have results before the draft on Friday. I don’t expect him to make it past the #12 pick in this draft.

#13 Lindsey Newman - The Lions

You get Lindsey with Riley here, a pretty easy pick and very strong mixed team. Although I’m not sure Owner James Blake will stomach having two players without the high-level tennis background on his team. He might switch things up from the jump and go with Devilliers or Bar. 

#14 AJ Koller - Discovery Warriors

Koller is one of the hottest names in pickleball. That should land him in top 10 men selected in the draft. I think there is a strong case for him going at #14. A Koller Jardim mixed team would be a perfect example of MLP creating new partnerships and giving us a brand new look at the game.

#15 Irina Tereschenko - Chimeras

Tereschenko is a great pick here, strong in doubles and singles. She has history with Johns so good for team chemistry as well, can’t go wrong.

#16 JW Johnson - ATX Pickleballers

Johnson concludes round two. He is playing with Anna-Leigh on Friday so we will get.a little preview on how this mixed doubles team could compete. Johnson’s quiet demeanor might have him under the radar of the owners, but if you’re paying attention you know JW can get it done at the pro level and is only getting better.

Round 3

#17 Collin Johns - ATX Pickleballers

A little bit late on the Johns pick here. I would not be surprised to see him go much earlier in the draft. He hasn’t had the chance to prove he can be that number one on a team, but I think paring with JW is a great match and will allow each of them a chance to go off when hey have a hot hand.

#18 Leigh Waters - Chimeras

Waters is in a similar position to Collin Johns. Plenty of big game experience and probably drafted too late on my board. It will be great to see her mix up the partnerships and even go against Anna-Leigh at some point. She could also end up partnering with Ben Johns for some of the mixed action which would be an exciting team to watch.

#19 Adam Stone - Discovery Warriors

Stone is one of the best right side players in the game. His steady hands with the Koller offense will be a strong team in the men’s field. Be on the lookout for Corrine Carr in round four. These two might be able to partner up if she falls that late in the draft.

#20 Michelle Esquivel - The Lions

Esquivel is great in doubles but also in singles which this team needed help with. A solid choice at #20.

#21 Tyler Loong - Pickle Ranchers

Loong and Zane would be exciting to watch flying around the court. Let’s see if the Ranchers agree in the third round.

#22 Lauren Stratman - Team BLQK

A fan favorite and #1 ranked player on the APP tour. Stratman will be a welcomed addition to any team.

#23 Andrei Daescu - Team Clean

Another wildcard in the draft. If he is going to go anywhere I think this is a good spot. Reunited with TM and Team Selkirk.

#24 Vivienne David - Team Rally

David & Bar upset Jardim & Johns in Orlando. They train together down in Dreamland. The (Dallas) Stars could align for David to end up together on Team Rally.

Round 4

#25 Kyle Yates - Team Rally

If David goes #24, that frees up Jansen to play with the #25 pick. I think Yates is the perfect selection here.

#26 Jill Braverman - Team Clean

Braverman made some waves with her play earlier this year but has moved out of the spotlight after not playing in recent PPA events. I think she is a steal here. 

#27 Pat Smith - Team BLQK

PS & Jay, talk about a steal! Pat Smith gets to join Devilliers and his mixed partner Stratman on Team BLQK. He is a player that might fall in the draft due to not playing recently and not playing singles. He definitely will not fall past whichever team selects Devilliers in the first round.

#28 Andrea Koop - Pickle Ranchers

Koop does not play in most tournaments but makes an impact when she is there.She will have a familiar partner Zane Navratil as an option for the mixed field. She could also be successful playing the left side of the court if she is paired with Tyler Loong.

#29 Dylan Frazier - The Lions

The Lions could go any direction with this pick. Ryan Sherry to get some singles help, DJ Young to have a very solid mens doubles team. I think you can split the difference with Dylan Frazier. Fast hands for doubles and an improving singles game to contribute in a tiebreaker and plenty of paddle spins to keep your eyes busy. This round will definitely be up to the owner or senior pro’s preference. 

#30 Corrine Carr - Discovery Warriors

The new wave of players have moved Carr slightly down on this list, but with Stone already on the Discovery Warriors there’s no way Carr is not selected here. If Stone goes later in the draft it could mean Carr goes earlier to get them as a team.

#31 Rob Nunnery - Chimeras

It would be fun to see the Freestyle Boys playing together, let’s see if Charles and Charlie feel the same way.

#32 Susannah Barr - ATX Pickleballers

Barr’s performance at the Chicago Open really put her on the map for this draft. She seems like a great fit to try to step into Leigh Waters role. If nothing else, she has the option to just keep the ball in play and let Anna-Leigh do her thing.

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