Our 2023 year in pickleball recap covered some fairly predictable but still important aspects of the industry over the past year. But 2023 was also a year chock full of surprises.
Consider that in the last few months alone, the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball agreed to merge; then, Steve Kuhn stepped down from his role at MLP; and now, the future of the merger itself is in question. And that's just covering one pickleball news angle.
But despite 2023's plot twists, some things seem too likely to ignore. Members of The Dink's staff were recently asked to prognosticate pickleball's immediate future – here's what they think will happen in the new year.
The Dink's founder says: the merger won't go through
Thomas Shields has quite the take on the status of the merger.
Even though he says he loved the chaos of covering it, the merger between MLP and PPA apparently seems too unlikely to The Dink's founder.
He probably feels that way because of a particular portion of a recent MLP email to their pros:
"If the merger is not completed by Jan. 31, 2024, these new agreements will be null and void, and deals will revert to the contracts you signed with MLP or PPA, which will leave the future viability and sustainability of MLP uncertain,” the letter says.
Basically, that's about a month to sort out all the many issues facing both the financial and pro roster sides of the business. Not much time considering the complexity of both. Read more here.
Alina says: notable names will leave their paddle companies and not re-sign
As paddle technology is advancing, so are the the companies trying to keep up trying to bring out the next best thing. Our partnerships manager Alina feels that companies like Proton will make a splash in the pro space.
"A positive thing that has come out of the Player Collective is the player’s ability to have a voice. I feel that because players started advocating more for themselves, they will too with their 2024 paddle deals."
Luke says: Junior and College pickleball is going to become way more popular
Young pickleball made major headway in 2023:
- Several schools announced shiny new facilities and even some scholarship money
- The APP Tour officially expanded into the high school arena with its inaugural Midwest High School Pickleball event
- PPA announced Junior PPA, a branch dedicated to fostering youth pickleballers through competitive and developmental programs at Tour stops
Our Chief Growth Officer Luke says this pickleball trend will only continue to accelerate, bringing the next generation of players into the sport sooner than we think.
JB says: We finally see a pickleball Netflix documentary
Pickleball has already featured in several reality TV shows this year, including LA Fire & Rescue, The Golden Bachelor, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and the work-in-progress, Pickleball Paddle Battle...Never mind all the small-scale, repetitive local news show programs.
But it's only a matter of time until a proper full-length documentary hits the screens.
Matt says: Riley Newman and Christian Alshon become the men's doubles team that challenges the Johns'
Our social media manager says the chemistry between Newman & Alshon during MLP make them the pair to watch in 2024.
Newman and Alshon made it look easy in men’s doubles winning 21-12.
"Alshon feels like a good complement to Riley because he’s becoming more disciplined on the right but also extremely athletic," Matt adds.
We want to know what you think – what are your predictions for 2024? Do you agree or disagree with the above? Email us your thoughts here.