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Major League Pickleball

These Notable Players Are Not Playing MLP in 2024

by Erik Tice on

The 2024 Major League Pickleball Premier Level Draft is on Tuesday. Due to negotiations and discussions between the newly formed United Pickleball Association (PPA and MLP) and professional pickleball players, we don’t know which pros are eligible for the draft.

However, according to various sources, we do know that several notable players have withdrawn. 

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Let’s look at those players not expected to participate in Major League Pickleball in 2024.

Update (4/1): JW Johnson, Dylan Frazier, Jorja Johnson, Gabe Tardio and Milan Rane have committed to the United Pickleball Association (MLP/PPA) for the next three years. The "Johnson 5" had originally appeared here while a potential contract dispute was addressed.

Major League Pickleball Secures the “Johnson 5” on the Eve of the 2024 MLP Draft
In a last-minute development on the eve of the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft, the “Johnson 5” – JW Johnson, Dylan Frazier, Jorja Johnson, Gabe Tardio, and Milan Rane – have committed to playing United Pickleball Association (MLP/PPA) for the next three years.

Julian Arnold and Lauren Stratman - Choosing not to play

Mr. Andiamo himself is not playing MLP in 2024.

Rumor has it that both he and Lauren had extended negotiations with both the MLP and PPA during the "Tour Wars" saga in the summer of 2023. It sounds like since they both eventually signed with the PPA for a high-dollar amount, they also put it in their contract they would only have to play a small number of MLP events, or maybe even none at all.

Again, these are all rumors and neither Lauren or Julian have made any announcements on social media, so this could change even up to the day of the draft.

Mary and Maggie Brascia - Choosing not to play

The sisters from SoCal originally signed with the PPA way back in July during the "Tour Wars". While they have been great in the MLP format, they will not be playing MLP 2024. Maggie is still a junior at Concordia University Irvine, so it may have been too much on her schedule to also be playing MLP.

Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova - Choosing not to play

In terms of hand speed, Matt Wright is among the top five on tour. His speedups are great, and his counters are even better. Sure, he is up there in age, and his foot speed is near the bottom, but Matt is still an elite competitor.

Wright is better suited for men’s doubles but still performs well in mixed with his on- and off-court partner, Lucy Kovalova.  

Lucy and Matt have publicly said they do not enjoy pickleball as much if they aren’t playing together, so the decision not to play MLP was mutual. Lucy is a strong right-side woman player and would have been drafted at the Premier Level.

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Rob Nunnery - Injury

Nunnery made the APP Punta Gorda men’s doubles finals but withdrew due to an injury. On his podcast, It Feels Right, he announced that he is not playing MLP in 2024 to focus on his health, and adding the MLP matches to his APP Tour plans didn’t make sense. Nunnery had been playing well and had a shot at Premier Level, but more likely would've been drafted early in Challenger.

Jill Braverman - Choosing not to play

The podcaster, former DUPR CEO, and MLP Chief of Staff is opting out of playing MLP in 2024. She would have had a chance to go to the Premier Level, and definitely would have been a first round pick in Challenger, had she fallen that far.

Susannah Barr - Choosing not to play

Barr is very close friends with Megan Fudge and plays women’s doubles with her on the APP Tour. It seems that this was a teammate-type decision. Barr has been playing great as of late and probably had an outside chance at Premier Level if someone needed a super solid right-sided player in Premier.

Megan Fudge and Ryler DeHeart - Choosing not to play

The couple would have probably been drafted at the Challenger Level, with an outside chance of Megan getting drafted to Premier. They will continue playing the APP Tour.

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Megan Fudge DeHeart has withdrawn her name from the upcoming 2024 MLP Draft. If recent history has shown us anything, she won’t be the last.

Yana Newell - Choosing not to play

Newell played extremely well in the second half of 2023 on both the PPA Tour and MLP. She was on the Hard Eights in the Challenger Level, and they won every match they played. Newell hasn’t been playing as much in 2024 and has decided not to play MLP this year. She would have been a late-round draft pick in Premier or a first-round Challenger Level selection.

What This Means

With so many top pickleball pros withdrawing their eligibility for the 2024 MLP Draft, it will be interesting to see which players take their places and how competitive new MLP events compare to previous seasons.

Be sure to follow our coverage of the MLP leading up to the draft and throughout the season.

 

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