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Major League Pickleball

Introducing a Handful of Major League Pickleball Draftees We'll Be Tracking in 2024

by Erik Tice on

This week, Major League Pickleball held two drafts for 2024 and beyond.

The Premier Level Draft was Tuesday, with the Challenger Level Draft the following night.

While many of the players selected are regular names on the pro scene, there were some names selected that weren't as familiar to the pickleball audience.

So we want to introduce you to a few who we think are interesting to track this season.

Kate Fahey, Premier Level, St. Louis Shock

Without a doubt, the least-known player drafted in the Premier Level was Kate Fahey, by the St. Louis Shock.

48 players were taken in the draft, Fahey was number 42. Kate played high-level D-1 tennis at the University of Michigan, compiling a fantastic college career. She earned All-American honors three times and was also a two-time Big Ten Conference Athlete of the Year. 

She lives in the New York City area and trains regularly with Lason Lui, Erik Forsythe, Matt Wilditz, and Andrew Yaraghi. Fahey recently played PPA Austin with John Cincola, winning matches over Jaume Martinez Vich, Mary Brascia, Rafa Hewitt, and Lindsey Newman.

We'll keep an eye on her for sure.

Max Manthou, Challenger Level, SoCal Hard Eights

Also known as "Purple Jesus," Max Manthou played college tennis from 2010-2014 at the University of Washington where he earned his nickname.

He is originally from Tacoma.

During his senior year, Manthou was captain of the Huskies tennis team. He went 12-9 in singles at both the No. 1 and 2 slots. He also earned the ITA Northwest Region Most Improved Senior award.

He has played pickleball on and off over the last few years. Recently, the super athletic Manthou, who stands at 5'8", caught the attention of many when he played with the 6'4" Erik Lange.

Lange, who was also drafted by the Hard 8s, likely played a role in the team drafting Purple Jesus with their final pick.

Eric Oncins, Challenger Level, Miami Pickleball Club

Oncins is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he is the top doubles player in men’s tennis.

Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oncins is currently playing tennis and pickleball. In fact, his conference tournament in college tennis begins in two weeks.

Oncins grew up with his dad, Jaime, coaching him in tennis at the Montverde Academy. Jaime was a Brazilian tennis star who even represented his country in the 1992 Olympics, making the quarterfinals. In pickleball, Oncins is fortunate to have two great mentors, Simone Jardim and Chad Edwards. 

All of the Miami Pickleballers are young and full of potential, and they are all from Florida. Oncins should fit right in with this group.

Mo Alhouni, Challenger Level, Las Vegas Night Owls

When researching this pick, I had a bit of trouble figuring out which Mo Alhouni was drafted by Las Vegas. There are actually three Mo Alhounis who play pickleball: brothers whose full names are Mohanad, Mouad, and Mota.

This particular Mo is the 28-year-old former D3 National Champion tennis player Mohanad. So far, the lefty has had the best results of the three in professional pickleball. 

Layne Sleeth, Challenger Level, Brooklyn Aces

I have to admit: I had never seen or heard the name Layne Sleeth before she was drafted in Challenger Level Wednesday night.

The Canadian is an extremely high-level college tennis player. She played for two years at the University of Florida before transferring to the University of Oklahoma for her final two years.

While at Oklahoma, Sleeth was named ITA All-American twice and Big Ten First Team twice. She was also the first woman to ever make it to the singles National Championship game in the NCAA Tournament.

Sleeth has only played a few pro pickleball matches, and none of them were televised, so someone either in the front office or on the Night Owls team must have seen her play somewhere.

This is a potential high-upside pick with quite a bit of risk.

Rachel Rettger, Challenger Level, Bay Area Breakers

Rettger played in MLP back in 2022. She also played well in the Arizona Pickleball League, where her Peoria Pythons finished as league runners-up in 2023, and she earned a reputation as a great and enthusiastic teammate.

Rettger played college tennis at Elmhurst College from 2015-2019 and then was a Grad Assistant for the team afterward while earning her MBA.

Now, Rettger works full-time for JOOLA in the marketing department. 

Christine Maddox, Challenger Level, SoCal Hard Eights

The 27-year-old played collegiate tennis at Pepperdine University, earning herself an ITA All-American honors her senior year for doubles tennis.

After college, Maddox pursued a professional tennis career while playing POP tennis.

A couple of years ago, she started playing pickleball. Last year, she had a knee injury. Maddox is super athletic, tall, and imposing on the court. 

In addition to racquet sports, Maddox is a Reiki Master. She attributes Reiki with helping her stay centered throughout her pickleball matches.

Erik Tice

Erik Tice

Erik produces content for The Dink related to pro and collegiate pickleball. He is an avid watcher of pickleball and became passionate about the sport in early 2022.

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