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Meet Kate Fahey: A Fresh Face Ready to Shock Pro Pickleball

by Erik Tice on

Kate Fahey was recently drafted 42nd overall by the St. Louis Shock in the 2024 MLP Premier Level Draft. The college tennis star and former pro tennis player was relatively unknown to most casual pickleball fans prior to last week.

We recently got to sit down with Kate to learn more about her background, her transition to pickleball and her upcoming MLP season.

Growing up and thriving in tennis

Fahey was born and raised in Fair Haven, New Jersey. The 27-year-old grew up playing all kinds of sports: soccer, basketball, gymnastics, lacrosse, tennis, and even some horseback riding. She has a younger brother, Matt, who is three years younger and is a great athlete in his own right, playing baseball at D-1 Manhattan College for a couple of years. Kate's parents, Tom and Elena, were both athletes themselves and encouraged their children to play as many sports as they could.

Around the age of 14 is when Kate started getting really good at tennis. At that time she decided to quit lacrosse to focus solely on that. She played for her local high school, Rumson-Fair Haven, except her junior year. During her junior year – the most highly-recruited year in tennis – Fahey was homeschooled and played on the junior circuit to stand out more to colleges.

According to the Tennis Recruiting Network, during her junior and senior year of high school, Fahey bounced between the top overall 2015 recruit and the No. 3 recruit. To say she was a blue-chip college prospect would be an understatement. Fahey decided to play at the University of Michigan and majored in International Studies.

Bringing her talents to Ann Arbor

If I were to list out all of Kate’s collegiate tennis accomplishments here, it would be a 45-minute read. She is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the University of Michigan, and if she isn’t inducted into the school's Hall of Honor within the next decade, I would be shocked.

Here is a very high-level rundown of some of Kate’s major accomplishments:

  • Freshman (2015-2016)
    • Won 15 straight matches
    • Went 9-0 in Big Ten play
    • Went 21-3 in duals, as the No. 2-3 player on the team
  • Sophomore (2016-2017)
    • Named an ITA All-American in singles
    • Won 16 straight matches
    • Went 9-0 in Big Ten play for the second year in a row
    • Went 36-7 in singles, second-highest win total in school history
    • Reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championship
    • Played in the NCAA Doubles Championship along with fellow pickleball pros Martina Frantova (NC State) and Christine Maddox (Pepperdine)
  • Junior (2017-2018)
    • Went 18-3 at the No. 1 singles slot
    • Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year
    • Earned a second-straight singles berth to the individual national championships
  • Senior (2018-2019)
    • Two-time ITA All-American (Singles and Doubles)
    • Finished as a runner-up in NCAA Championship doubles with partner Brienne Minor
    • Went 21-1 as the No. 1 singles player for Michigan in duals
    • Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year


  • 3x ITA All-American titles - two in singles and one in doubles
  • All-Big Ten Women’s Tennis team all four years
  • 2x Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year
  • Named University of Michigan Female Athlete of the Year (2019)
  • Holds University of Michigan career records in: 
    • Singles wins (132)
    • Winning percentage (.815)
    • Highest season ending singles ranking (3rd)
    • Tied for best season ending doubles ranking (7th)
  • 3x Academic All-Big Ten
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Time to go pro

Being the competitor that she is, after college Fahey pursued pro tennis on the WTA Tour. Kate played professionally for approximately two years in both singles and doubles. A few highlights from her pro career include:

  • Winning the ITF/UTSA $25,000 Orlando Doubles in 2019 with Fernanda Contreras
  • Winning the ITF/Tennis Europe $15,000 Les Contamines Montjoie doubles with Chiara Lomer
  • Quarterfinalist in the ITF/UTSA $25,000 Evansville 2019 in singles
  • Semifinalist in the ITF/UTSA $25,000 Sumter 2019 in singles
  • Winning the ITF/Tennis Europe $15,000 Dijon 2019 in singles

Fahey’s highest WTA rankings were No. 505 in singles and No. 487 in doubles, both in 2019.

Fahey’s tennis career was cut short due to a wrist injury, where she had to have four surgeries on her non-dominant left wrist throughout her college and pro career for issues with her Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC), a very common injury in tennis.

Let's give this pickleball thing a try

Fahey picked up a pickleball paddle just last summer, and has since become obsessed. Fahey lives in the New York City area and still has a full-time corporate job, but aspires to be able to go full-time pickle in the future. 

After being turned on to the sport by a co-worker, Kate has been playing and practicing as much as she can. In New York, she practices regularly with Erik Forsythe, Jason Lui, Matt Wilditz, Andrew Yaraghi, and Kelsey Grambeau. To give you an idea of how players with full-time jobs get the reps they need, Fahey said she has been practicing sometimes until 1am.

Fahey was signed by the PPA in the summer of 2023, during the "Tour Wars'' battle. Even though she had very little experience in pickleball at the time, Kate was signed due to her potential, her willingness to put in the work, and her proven track record in extremely high-level tennis.

"I am confident in my ability to prove myself in pickleball. I can promise you I am gonna compete my ass off. I won’t go down without swinging." - Kate Fahey

Recently, at the PPA Austin, Fahey and John Cincola played together in mixed doubles, getting wins over Jaume Martinez Vich and Mary Brascia and then Lindsey Newman and Rafa Hewitt.

While she doesn’t have the resume or results to warrant a Premier Level draft pick, Fahey has shown flashes that she has the potential to be really great. This MLP Draft, more than any other before, involves potential. Teams can keep a player for up to three years, so the thought of drafting someone who is still on an upward trajectory with an extremely high ceiling is extremely appealing.

Obvious comparisons to Rachel Rohrabacher are there, since Anna Bright also thought Rohrabacher would be good. I am not sure Fahey is at the level yet that Rohrabacher was when Bright drafted her last year to the Orlando Squeeze, but the potential is there.

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At 5'8" and bringing extreme athleticism, Fahey can cover the court. She loves both her forehand and two-handed backhand drive and her counter ability on speedups. She's working on being more aggressive as the attacker – both in the air and off the bounce – at the kitchen line. Between playing and practicing with her new teammates and getting solid coaching from the Hubschmans (St. Louis Shock coaches) she should see a large jump in her game in the next 3-6 months.

Bring on Major League Pickleball

When I asked about her MLP excitement, Fahey was through the roof. She had such a big smile on her face thinking about the opportunity she has in front of her. To say she’s been training hard is an understatement. In fact, Kate missed our first scheduled interview because she was on the practice courts for the fourth time that day. 

"I am just super competitive and I'm gonna give it my all and try my best," Fahey told me. "I compete really well. I love being on a team and I love playing for something bigger than myself."

Fahey is completely obsessed with pickleball and getting better very quickly. She has learned to be a great teammate from her college tennis career and has a serious desire to perform well and compete for her teammates. I could easily see Fahey becoming a top 20 talent in women’s pro pickleball by the end of 2024.

"I am confident in my ability to prove myself in pickleball. I can promise you I am gonna compete my ass off. I won’t go down without swinging."

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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