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Preview and Predictions for Much Anticipated Season-Opening MLP Atlanta

by Erik Tice on

Major League Pickleball is finally back.

There will be no more talks of mergers, un-mergers, player contracts, or player buyouts. We will get real, live pickleball. 

I hope you are as excited as I am about this weekend!

Major League Pickleball announces 2024 Competition Structure
Major League Pickleball announced its competition structure ahead of the 2024 season, which kicks off later this week. We break down the key changes.

Let's talk about MLP Atlanta

Where: Life Time Peachtree Corners, a northeast suburb of Atlanta

When: Thursday - Sunday

How to Watch

Championship Court: PickleballTV & Amazon Prime Video - Live TV

  • Both Thursday Matches
  • Coverage starts at Noon Friday-Sunday

Grandstand Court: Major League Pickleball YouTube

  • All Thursday and Sunday Matches
  • Coverage starts at 12:30pm on Friday & Saturday

Events Schedule

Weather Forecast

Thursday rain during the day may be an issue. Friday morning could also be an issue. After that, we have clear skies.

New MLP Players for 2024

First, let's explore new players in the Premier Level.

Jack Sock, New York Hustlers – The most successful tennis star to play pro pickleball thus far. Sock moves as quickly as any other player in pickleball. His forehand and overhead are extremely lethal. He loves to play with the crowd, so MLP is a great event for him.

Kate Fahey, St. Louis Shock – The two-time All-American tennis player from Michigan has played a few pro tournaments, but this will be her first time on the big stage of MLP.

Meet Kate Fahey: A Fresh Face Ready to Shock Pro Pickleball
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Will Howells, New Jersey 5s – Howells has quickly made a name for himself in pro pickleball in 2024. He has five medals on the APP Tour in men’s doubles and singles. He has elite hands and a great drive from both sides. In our most recent power rankings, Howells is listed in both the top 20 in men’s singles and men’s doubles.

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Kaitlyn Christian, AZ Drive – Christian has made a name for herself this year in singles. She’s in the top 10 of our most recent women’s singles power rankings. Christian hasn’t played with partners as good as her AZ Drive teammates yet, so seeing how she fares in MLP will be exciting.

Pickleball Profiles: Kaitlyn Christian
Kaitlyn Christian came onto the scene in a big way at the PPA Desert Ridge Open in early February. If you are a tennis fan you probably know her name already. Early Playing Career Kaitlyn grew up in Orange, Calif., and played junior tennis starting at the age of seven.

Augie Ge, Dallas Flash – Ge has proven himself as one of the best lefties in the game. He is one of three left-handed men in the Premier Level (Loong and Tellez are the others). Augie made his name in the Arizona Pickleball League and is now on pickleball’s biggest stage.

PicklePod: Unique Pickleball Drills that Fueled Augie Ge’s Rapid Rise
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Now, let's look at some of the new Challenger Level players.

Angie Walker, Atlanta Bouncers – Walker also comes from the Arizona Pickleball League. She is now on the big stage with the Bouncers for her first MLP event.

Christine Maddox, So Cal Hard EightsMaddox is an extremely athletic former tennis player who lives in SoCal. She hasn’t had partners as good as her MLP teammates thus far, so she should do well in the Challenger Level.

Max “Purple Jesus” Manthou, SoCal Hard EightsThe former University of Washington star tennis player is very good friends with his teammate, Erik Lange. They both live in the Pacific Northwest. Manthou, while on the shorter side, is super quick and will take up a bunch of the court.

Patrick Kawka, Bay Area Breakers – Kawka is another product of the Arizona Pickleball League making his MLP debut. Kawka played tennis at BYU with Tyler Loong and now lives in the Las Vegas area. Fun fact: Kawka is the only pro pickleball player who is also a pro padel player.

Layne Sleeth, Brooklyn Aces – Sleeth is a Canadian who played college tennis at the University of Oklahoma. She finished her collegiate career about a year ago. She was a two-time All-American. Seeing her on the big MLP stage will be exciting because she hasn’t played too many pro matches.

Roscoe Bellamy, Miami Pickleball Club – Bellamy played college tennis at UCLA, the arch rival to his mother and brother’s alma mater, USC. He finished his collegiate tennis career two years ago and now plays pro pickleball. The Floridian has started to make a name for himself on the APP Tour. 

Eric Oncins, Miami Pickleball Club – Oncins is another college tennis player with a senior pro pickleball parent. Oncins’ dad, Jaime, was his coach throughout his career and is also a very good senior pro pickleball player. Eric just finished his college tennis career last month and is jumping into pro pickleball in a big way.

Most Intriguing Matchups

Now that we have some of the notable newcomers out of the way, let's examine the most intriguing matchups of the week.

NY Hustlers vs. Columbus Sliders - 6pm ET Thursday

This will be the first time Jack Sock and CJ Klinger play at the Premier Level of MLP. The Klinger pick felt like it came from left field a bit – not to say he isn’t a very good player, but I had not heard any connections between him and Sock before the draft. 

On the other side, I am interested in seeing how the Sliders arrange their mixed doubles teams and which guy will take most of the left side in men’s. Lastly, it will be nice to see Riley Newman playing pickleball again, because we haven’t seen him in the last three months.

LA Mad Drops vs. New Jersey 5s - 12pm Friday

Anna Leigh vs. her women’s doubles partner, Catherine Parenteau, will be fun to watch. Last year, Hunter Johnson was on one of the worst MLP teams of all time for the Bouncers.

Let’s see if he can hold his own at the Premier Level. Speaking of holding their own, I am excited to see what Will Howells and Mari Humberg can do at the Premier Level as well. 

St. Louis Shock vs. Texas Ranchers - 4pm Friday

We have predicted that these two teams will be the best in 2024. The Ranchers are the best, ready-to-win-now team in MLP. The Shock has all the potential in the world if they can get Kate Fahey up to speed.

I would be surprised if the Ranchers lost this match, but crazier things have happened. An early-season matchup of two great teams is a must-watch.

Miami Pickleball Club vs. Bay Area Breakers - 12:30pm Saturday

I have no statistics to support this statement, but I can’t imagine being wrong – this is the youngest matchup in MLP. At 31, Patrick Kawka is the "old man" of the group.

Miami has incredible potential, but I think they will struggle early in the season. The Breakers have a little more chemistry and experience, and I think they will win this one easily.

Florida Smash vs. SoCal Hard Eights - 1:30pm Sunday

The Smash and Hard Eights are two teams we picked to get promoted from Challenger Level to Premier Level in 2025. These are two of the best teams playing in Challenger in Atlanta.

There are a ton of pickleball veterans in this matchup with Maddox, Frantova, and Manthou making up the newer pickleball cohort with a ton of potential. 


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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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