The Dink Pickleball

The Dink Pickleball Logo
Pickleball Lives Here
Player Profiles

Future Looks Bright for Latest Tennis Convert Samantha Parker

by Erik Tice on

Samantha Parker came onto the scene in a big way at the PPA Houston Open two weeks ago, winning a silver medal in women’s singles. I hadn't heard much of Parker’s name prior to Houston, so I wanted to sit down and get to know her better.

Growing up and playing tennis with her father

Sam grew up in Grapevine, Texas, a northern suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Wong (maiden name) started playing tennis at the age of four or five under the tutelage of her father, Bill. In addition, Sam grew up studying the Filipino martial art of Arnis and has continued practicing that throughout her life, earning herself a black belt.

Sam played tennis mostly in Texas throughout juniors and high school. She played with and against Anna Bright when Bright lived in the DFW area before Anna moved to Florida. 

One highlight of her high school career was a win in 2016 (senior year) over Taylor Gray (then ranked No. 165 in the country in college recruiting). Playing for Grapevine High School, Sam won back-to-back state championships in 5A. 

Parker, bottom right, was part of the back to back Texas State Champions Grapevine tennis team as a senior

Parker moved up the recruiting rankings throughout her entire high school career, going from 424th in the country to 174th overall her senior year, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. In the state of Texas, Sam was always a top 25 recruit and had multiple offers to play tennis in college.

College Tennis in Arkansas and then back to Texas

Wong eventually chose to go to UAFS (University of Arkansas - Fort Smith) and played her freshman year in 2017-2018. Sam played in the No. 2 slot in singles and played on the top doubles team for the university. 

Samantha was named the Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year and second-team All-Heartland Conference while ranking top 50 in ITA doubles in the country.

Academics and homesickness became an issue at UAFS and Sam decided to transfer after her sophomore year. Parker went to UAFS for video game design, which the school dropped as soon as she got there. Parker didn’t see herself staying at UAFS, which was 4-5 hour drive from Grapevine, and she eventually decided she wanted to be closer to home.

Parker decided to forgo another D-II or D-I school and chose to attend the University of Texas - Dallas (Division III), which is 30 minutes from where she grew up. To say she thrived being around her family and friends is an understatement.

Here is a quick breakdown of Parker’s accomplishments at UT-Dallas:

  • 2x ITA All-American (junior and senior years)
  • 2x 1st Team All ASC East (American Southwest Conference)
  • 2x All-ASC Team
  • ASC East MVP in Women’s Tennis
  • Singles record during junior and senior year: 22-3
  • Doubles record during junior and senior year: 28-6
  • NCAA DIII Tournament Semifinalist in women’s doubles
  • 2x Academic All ASC 
Samantha Wong, Samantha Parker
Samantha Parker shined after returning to the Dallas area to finish her collegiate career.

Post College Career and Pickleball

Parker decided to major in Computer Science while at UTD and graduated in the spring of 2022. She then went on to work as a Systems Analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where she had interned during her senior year. She is still working there as a full-time Systems Analyst and loves her job.

Sam got introduced to pickleball by a co-worker about a year and a half ago and wasn’t really hooked at first. She had some fun playing locally in Grapevine and didn’t think much of it. Another friend asked her to play in a tournament and still, it didn't rock her world. Finally, after playing the Texas Open in June of 2023 and triple crowning at the 4.0 level, Parker was hooked.

Since then, Sam has been training and playing at the pro level. Parker has played in three PPA Tournaments. The first was in Minnesota at the PPA Indoor Championships, where she made a quarterfinal run in singles with wins over Lacy Schneemann and Taylor Garcia. 

But PPA Houston was Sam Parker’s coming out party. In the third PPA Tour stop of her career, Parker got a women’s doubles win with Emilia Schmidt and played mixed doubles with Pesa Teoni. 

In singles, Sam got a withdrawal in the first round and then beat No. 1 seed Mary Brascia in the Round of 16, Martina Frantova in the quarters, 11-7, 11-6, and then No. 4 seed Lacy Schneemann in the semis, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, in a match that went back and forth and couldn’t have been closer.

On Championship Sunday, Parker played Lea Jansen in the finals, losing 3-11, 2-11. Imagine that – second ever Pro Singles Draw on the PPA Tour for Parker and she beat the No. 1 overall seed and made it all the way to Championship Sunday. Not too shabby.

Moving Forward

The 25-year old had missed the competition that tennis had provided throughout most of her life but is now hooked on pickleball. Parker now trains in the gym 2-3 times per week, plays high-level rec games with local Dallas players 2-3 times a week, and spends her Sundays typically sharpening her skills with drills. All of this is being done while working full-time. 

United Pickleball Association Makes Some Under-the-Radar Signings This Weekend
In some unexpected news over the weekend, the United Pickleball Association (PPA/MLP) announced 15 player signings, including the “Johnson 5.”

Parker is sponsored by Thrive Pickleball as her paddle sponsor, a company based in Las Vegas. Luqi Grips is her grip sponsor. In her most interesting sponsorship, Parker is sponsored by Every Buddy Eats, a non-profit charity organization, aimed at making the world a better place. 

While Samantha has made her name known in the pickleball community, she doesn’t have any grand plans to become the world's best. She loves the competition and will continue to compete at the highest level possible while also maintaining her full-time job.

We will surely see Parker at the PPA Texas Open at the end of May. After that, she will play as many tournaments as she can, so I would expect to see her in 3-6 more tournaments in 2024. We will see if she can build on her singles success and turn that into some consistent doubles success as well.

I'm looking forward to tracking Samantha on her journey this summer.


Want to advertise with us?

If your company is interested in reaching an audience of active pickleballers, you may want to give us a shout.

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.

Read more