At the age of 12, Anna Leigh Waters became the youngest professional pickleball player in history. After a little more than three years of career, she is already number 1 in women's singles and mixed doubles.
In 2017, Waters and her family evacuated their Florida home due to Hurricane Irma. The family made their way to Waters' grandparents in Pennsylvania. Up to this point, her grandfather had been playing pickleball for years. After showing the family how to play, they played every day for the few weeks they spent on the east coast. When they returned home and found a local pickleball club where they learned more about the rules, the rest is history.
With its simple gameplay and fast-paced action, the sport has become the fastest growing in America, with the likes of LeBron James, James Blake and Drew Brees recently investing in Major League Pickleball.
“Pickleball is so athletic and the points are so long. It's just a really cool and different sport to watch," said Waters. "A lot of people compare it to tennis, but when you look at a doubles game in pickleball, there's so much lob, drop shots and fast hands - there's just a variety of things and not every point looks the same."
M&F met Anna Leigh Waters at the unpacking and walked us through some of her court favourites.
Courtesy of Anna Leigh Waters
They're not just for style, they're prescription glasses, so I need them to see the ball.
- Buy Flak 2.0 XL: $184, at Oakley
rmatec Hyperice Hypervolt 2 and Hyperice Venom Go
These are super important. Without them, I would have walked onto the pitch super cold. I love them, especially for the recovery afterwards. I feel much better the morning after using the Venom Go. The good thing about the gun is that I can carry it with me and just use it between games. I like to use it before games to warm up and afterwards to relax. I also use both the gun and Venom between games. With pickleball, you don't know if you're going to take a long break or a short break, so they're really good. I can quickly turn them on or off, warm up before the next game.
Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Anna Leigh Waters Edition Lightweight hybrid pickleball paddle
I use the Peddletek TS-5 paddles. The first tournament I ever competed in I used this paddle. I've been using it for about five years now. I don't know what I would do without it.
- Buy Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Anna Leigh Waters Edition Lightweight Hybrid Pickleball Paddle: $99.99 at JustPaddles
I usually keep a few in my bag for practice between games. A big part of Pickleball is making sure you're warmed up and ready as you have many games throughout the day.
- Buy Pickle Balls (pack of 3): $9.99 at Target
I use the resistance band when warming up before a game and try to stay loose between games. Pickleball tournaments are long days, so I have to make sure my body is ready for every match.
- Buy resistance band set: $2.78 at Temu
I put these on my shoes so I can quickly pull them up after a game and my shoes are off. It really helps secure my laces so I never have to worry about retying my shoes.
Paddletek Pickleball Tour backpack
I can put a lot of things here. There are many small pockets on the inside so I can organize everything. Sometimes I throw my phone in here, which is probably not smart because I'll lose it. But there are a lot of good bags that I can store a lot of stuff in and it's a pretty big bag.
FILA Brandon Maxwell training pants
I usually have these to wear between games, especially when I've been out in the cold or a cool climate. I put them on to keep the body warm.
Follow Anna Leigh Waters @alwaters_a1