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12 Pro Pickleball Players and the Pickleball Paddles They Use In 2023

Paddles That Power the Pros

Contributors: Kerry Pittenger, Nick Uzunyan

What paddles do pro pickleball players use? Professional players use a variety of paddles based on their style of play and sponsorship deals. Some players partner with manufacturers to design pro pickleball paddles specifically to suit the preferences of the player. Thinking that buying the same paddle as your favorite pro will turn you into a professional player is like believing eating the same cereal as Usain Bolt will make you a world-class sprinter. However, a good-quality paddle can make a difference and at least make you feel like a pro.

1. Anna Leigh Waters

(Image credit: Nick Uzunyan)

At just 16 years old, Anna Leigh Waters is one of the top five professional pickleball players in the world. The 5’6″, right-handed player turned pro in 2019 at the age of 12. Anna Leigh competes in Women’s Doubles and Singles and the Mixed Doubles events.

When she debuted in 2019, Anna Leigh was the youngest professional pickleball player in the sport’s history. She used to play Women’s Doubles events with her mother Leigh Waters until she got injured and now focuses on coaching Anna Leigh.

Anna Leigh’s playing style is a mixture of power shots and reflex volleys combined with top-notch defense and resets. Dominating both the singles and doubles courts, she forms an unstoppable duo with Ben Johns in doubles play. Together, they’ve soared to the pinnacle of Pro Pickleball, boasting an impressive near-perfect record this year.

Waters’ consistent play and dominence have won her a devoted fanbase. When she is not playing pickleball, she enjoys shopping, soccer, fashion, and cooking. Anna Leigh currently uses the Paddletek Bantam TS-5 paddle. She has been with Paddletek since 2018 and has no plans to change anything because she keeps winning. If I was ranked #1 I wouldn’t change anything either – hence why she resigned earlier this year in February.

Paddletek Bantam TS-5

Paddletek began as a small family business and grew into one of the top pickleball paddles brands. The Paddletek Bantam TS-5 is available in five colors and retails for about $100. It comes standard with a 0.125″ edged shock guard and Ultra Cushion High Tack Performance Grip.

Paddletek rates the Bantam TS-5 as a 7.5 out of 10.0 for power, 8.0 for control, and 7.5 for forgiveness. The paddle weighs 7-7.5oz and has a 4.25″ grip circumference and a 5.0″ grip length.

The Bantam TS-5 has a textured fiberglass epoxy hybrid surface and a Bantam PolyCore core made from a high-grade polymer composite honeycomb. The paddle is 15.625″ long, 7.75″ wide, and 12.7mm thick.

You can find a special Anna Leigh Waters edition of this paddle that Anna Leigh designed with Paddletek. These lightweight pickleball paddles are a good choice for players who have quick hands and want to be able to swing fast and control rallies without sacrificing power.

2. Collin Johns

(Image credit: Nick Uzunyan)

Collin Johns is a 30-year-old, right-handed player who turned pro in 2018. Johns is a top 10 player in Men’s Singles and Doubles. His younger brother, Ben Johns, is his regular Doubles partner. The pair have won 27 professional pickleball titles, including back-to-back U.S. Open titles in 2021 and 2022.

JOOLA and the Professional Pickleball Registry sponsor Collin Johns, who was a professional tennis player for five years before becoming a pickleball pro. Johns reached an ATP ranking of #978 in singles and #939 in doubles. He also played table tennis and baseball before his younger brother taught him pickleball.

JOOLA Collin Johns Scorpeus CFS 16

Johns uses a JOOLA Collin Johns Scorpeus CFS 16 paddle. JOOLA started in 1952 and has been one of the top manufacturers of professional table tennis paddles for over 15 years. JOOLA launched its pickleball paddles line in 2022.

JOOLA partnered with Collin Johns to design the Collin Johns Scorpeus CFS 16 paddle. It retails for about $250. The paddle features JOOLA’s Carbon Charged surface technology enhanced with a durable carbon friction textured surface for crisp, powerful shots with maximum spin.

The paddle body has a wide sweet spot to provide a larger hitting area and an optimum mixture of control and forgiveness. The paddle’s carbon frame gives it durability and strength so that players get a consistent experience.

These pickleball paddles feature a 16mm reactive honeycomb core. JOOLA rates the paddle as a 94 for control, 95 for power, and 96 for spin. The paddle is 16″ long, 8″ wide, and weighs 8oz. It has a 5.25″ Feel-Tec Pure grip with a 4.25″ circumference and is USAPA approved.

3. Anna Bright

(Image credit: Nick Uzunyan)

Anna Bright is a 23-year-old, right-handed player. She is 5’8″ tall and turned pro in 2018. Anna played tennis in college and discovered her love of pickleball after playing with her parents.

Bright played for the MLP Team Ranchers and played on the APP circuit before joining the PPA. She currently plays on the New York Hustlers MLP team with Rafa Hewett, Tyson McGuffin, and Lacy Schneemann.

Anna credits the consistency, fast hands, and good anticipation she developed as a tennis player for her success on the pickleball court. JOOLA is her current sponsor, and she plays with a JOOLA Anna Bright Scorpeus CFS 14 paddle.

JOOLA Anna Bright Scorpeus CFS 14

The JOOLA Anna Bright Scorpeus CFS 14 paddle features a 14mm core and retails for about $250. JOOLA designed the paddle for powerful put-aways and drives.

The paddle’s Charged Carbon surface technology gives it enhanced pop to make countering fast shots easier, and the carbon friction textured surface maximizes spin. The paddle also features a wide, sweet-spot optimized paddle body to provide a balance of control and forgiveness and a carbon-framed design for durability and strength.

JOOLA rates the Anna Bright Scorpeus CFS 14 USAPA-approved pickleball paddles as a 93 for control, 95 for power, and 96 for spin. The paddles are 16″ long and 8″ wide and weigh 7.8oz. Their Feel-Tec Pure grip is 5.25″ long with a 4.125″ circumference.

4. Ben Johns

(Image credit: Nick Uzunyan)

Ben Johns is a 24-year-old, right-handed player. He is 6’0″ tall and since turning pro in 2016 has arguably become the greatest pickleball player of all time.

Johns has held the #1 spot in all three divisions most of the time since 2020 and once had a 108-match win streak in Men’s Singles. Ben has won more than 80 PPA titles and has more Triple Crowns than any other male professional pickleball player despite being one of the youngest players on the PPA Tour.

Ben regularly plays doubles matches with his brother Collin. When he isn’t playing pickleball, he enjoys reading, weightlifting, traveling, and playing other sports, such as golf and table tennis. He also co-owns two pickleball-related businesses. Jigsaw Health and JOOLA Pickleball sponsor Ben Johns, and he helped develop the JOOLA Perseus paddle he plays with.

JOOLA Ben Johns Perseus CFS 16

The JOOLA Ben Johns Perseus CFS 16 pickleball paddles feature JOOLA’s Charged Carbon surface technology for impressive pop and power and retail for about $250. JOOLA designed the paddle to deliver precise shots and included a sweet-spot optimized hitting area to enhance the player’s connection to the paddle and improve control.

The paddle has a carbon friction textured surface to create maximum spin and a carbon-framed design for durability, strength, and consistency. The JOOLA Ben Johns Perseus CFS 16 paddle has a 16mm reactive honeycomb core.

JOOLA rates this USAPA-approved paddle as a 94 for control, 95 for power, and 96 for spin. The paddle weighs 8oz. It is 16.5″ long and 7.5″ wide, featuring a 5.5″ Feel-Tec Pure grip with a 4.25″ circumference.

5. Catherine Parenteau

(Image credit: Kerry Pittenger)

Catherine Parenteau is a 28-year-old, right-handed player. She is 5’5″ tall and turned pro in 2016. As a former top-five Canadian tennis player, Parenteau is one of the best-known female athletes in professional pickleball.

Catherine started playing tennis at age four and competed in Division I tennis at the collegiate level before discovering her love of pickleball in 2015. She quickly found success at the professional level, claiming the U.S. Open Pro Women’s Doubles title with Callie Smith in 2021.

When not playing pickleball, Catherine enjoys running, skiing, and teaching as an IPTPA-certified instructor. She currently uses the Selkirk VANGUARD Power Air Invikta pickleball paddle.

Selkirk VANGUARD Power Air Invikta

Selkirk is a family-owned business that overlooks the Selkirk Mountains. The father and sons team of Mike, Rob, and Jim Barnes started the business with a mission to produce high-quality pickleball paddles and promote the sport of pickleball.

Selkirk developed the VANGUARD Power Air Invikta with the help of top pickleball pros to address the need for a professional paddle that provides both spin and power. The paddle features Selkirk’s VANGUARD Power Air technology and retails for about $250.

Selkirk markets the Air Invikta as the preferred paddle for power players whose playing style includes controlled, aggressive drives. It has a larger sweet spot than traditional pickleball pro paddles and generates superior spin, making shots difficult to return. Selkirk recommends the paddle for tennis players and singles players.

The Power Air Invikta weighs between 7.7 and 8.1oz. It has a 4.25″ circumference Selkirk Geo grip and a 5.25″ handle. This paddle is 16.5″ long and 7.375″ wide. The face is a hybrid blend of fiberglass and carbon fiber. The polymer honeycomb core is 0.5″ thick.

6. Federico Staksrud

Federico Staksrud is a 27-year-old, right-handed player. He is 5’11” tall and turned pro in 2021. Federico began his sports career as a tennis player and transitioned to pickleball after training with Simone Jardim, Kyle Yates, Brendon Long, and other high-level players.

This well-educated athlete holds bachelor’s degrees from Tennessee Wesleyan and the University of New Orleans and a master’s from Florida Gulf Coast University. JOOLA and Patak Meats sponsor Staksrud, and like Ben Johns, he currently uses JOOLA Perseus pickleball paddles.

7. Lea Jansen

(Image credit: Kerry Pittenger)

Lea Jansen is a 31-year-old, right-handed player. She is 5’10” tall and turned pro in 2022. Jansen’s fiery on-court personality and competitive nature make her one of the most exciting up-and-coming players on the PPA Tour.

Jansen got her start in tennis at the age of eight. She played tennis at the collegiate level at Washington State University before getting into pickleball in the summer of 2019. Jansen has claimed two PPA gold medals so far.

Lea is a type 1 diabetic and enjoys experimenting with diabetic-friendly cooking and baking. When she isn’t playing pickleball, she spends time with her dogs and skis, hikes, and snowshoes in the Pacific Northwest. Lea Jansen also uses the JOOLA Perseus pickleball paddles used by Ben Johns and Federico Staksrud.

8. Riley Newman

Riley Newman is a 30-year-old, right-handed player. He is 6’2″ tall and turned pro in 2018. Riley comes from a passionate sports family and frequently partners with his sister Lindsey in the Mixed Doubles event.

Newman played basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis as a child and played basketball and tennis as a Division I college athlete in Seattle, Washington. His friend and former referee Mark Cook introduced him to pickleball in 2017.

Riley won a gold medal in Mixed Doubles with his sister Lindsey in his first 5.0 tournament. Newman credits the energy of the fans with hooking him on the sport of pickleball.

Takeya Sport Titan Elite 14-L

Riley Newman uses a Takeya Sport Titan Elite 14-L pickleball paddle. Takeya is probably best known for its innovative water bottles. In addition to a variety of pickleball gear, the company sells a Newman Pickleball Series insulated water bottle.

The Takeya Sport Titan Elite 14-L pickleball paddles retail for about $170. Takeya designed the Sport Titan Elite for precision and power. The paddle features an aerodynamic design and a carbon fiber surface for smooth swings and maximum spin.

The Titan Elite’s thermoforming seal technology gives it strength and stability. This USAPA Pickleball-approved paddle is available in four sizes.

9. Jessie Irvine

(Image credit: Kerry Pittenger)

Jessie Irvine is a 34-year-old, right-handed player. She is 5’8″ tall and turned pro in 2019. Jessie is a top-five player in all three divisions of women’s professional pickleball, and fans love her athleticism and on-court passion.

Irvine plays Mixed Doubles with Jay Devilliers and Women’s Doubles with Catherine Parenteau. Before becoming a pickleball pro, Irvine was a WTA Pro Tennis player and a top Women’s POP tennis player.

Jessie found early success in professional pickleball, winning gold in Mixed Doubles and Women’s Doubles in 2019. She has since won gold and silver medals at top tournaments, such as the 2019 Tournament of Champions and the 2020 PPA Las Vegas Championships.

When she is not playing pickleball, Jessie likes to hang out with friends, coach, watch movies, dance, and play golf. Jessie Irvine uses an Engage Pursuit MX Rebel Edition pickleball paddle.

Engage Pursuit MX Rebel Edition

Engage Sporting is a U.S.-based sporting goods manufacturer that makes a full line of sporting goods apparel and equipment. Engage’s goal is to become the largest sporting goods manufacturer in the world by taking an innovative approach to every product it makes.

Engage markets the Pursuit MX Rebel Edition pickleball paddles as part of its Pursuit Graphite Jessie Irvine Edition line. The Pursuit is Engage’s flagship paddle and retails for about $200.

The Pursuit paddle features a proprietary graphite skin the company designed to work with its black core, which it claims is the softest core on the market. According to Engage, this combination makes the Pursuit the most responsive pickleball paddle.

The skin has a rough texture that Engage says lasts longer than the overlay textures commonly used on other paddles. Engage designed the skin to increase friction and keep the ball on the paddle longer.

The MX shape is 16.5″ long and 7.5″ wide with a 5.75″ handle. The paddle is available with either a 0.625″ core for maximum control and feel or a 0.5″ core for increased power.

These rebel pink pickleball paddles come in standard, LITE, or featherweight models that weigh from 7.1oz to 8.3oz. The core is a proprietary polymer composite and the skin is proprietary omnidirectional friction-based graphite.

The grip circumference is 4.375″ for the 0.625″ core or 4.25″ for the 0.5″ core. The paddle is USAPA approved and optimized to pass the most stringent community noise requirements.

10. JW Johnson

(Image credit: Nick Uzunyan)

JW Johnson is a 20-year-old, right-handed player. He is 5’10” tall and turned pro in 2020. Johnson is a former tennis player who is now one of the top 10 professional pickleball players.

JW began playing pickleball in 2011 and won four gold medals in the first half of the 2023 season. In addition to playing Men’s Singles, Johnson plays Men’s Doubles with Dylan Frazier and Mixed Doubles with Jorja Johnson. Franklin, Yobow, and Day One currently sponsor JW Johnson. He uses a 17mm Franklin Signature Carbon STK Paddle.

17mm Franklin Signature Carbon STK Paddle

Franklin Sports began as a family-owned regional sporting goods brand in 1946 and has affiliated with some of the top athletes in the world, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Dan Marino, Joe Namath, and Barry Bonds. Franklin is probably best known as the preferred manufacturer of MLB batting gloves. In addition to its pro pickleball paddles, the company has partnerships with MLB, NHL, NFL, and MLS.

The 17mm Franklin Signature Carbon STK Paddle features an enhanced polymer core, perimeter protection edge guard, elongated handle, and nitro-infused carbon surface. This USAPA-approved paddle retails for about $150 and is also available in a 14.5mm option.

The STK paddle has a polypropylene core and features a lightweight, high-performance design. The natural texture of the Carbon STK carbon fiber surface layer increases traction to create more spin and finesse without reducing power or pop.

The one-piece, solid polypropylene core is durable and strong. The paddle’s non-slip comfort grip increases control on the court. These 17mm pickleball paddles feature a 4.5″ handle circumference and a 5.6″ handle length. The paddles weigh 7.9-8.3oz and are 16.5″ long and 7.5″ wide.

11. Irina Tereschenko

(Image credit: Kerry Pittenger)

Irina Tereschenko is a 40-year-old, right-handed player. She is 5’10” tall and turned pro in 2016. Irina has coached and played racquet sports for more than 20 years. She is one of the top-ranked women’s professional pickleball players in the world in all three divisions.

Tereschenko is a five-time Major Champion in Women’s Singles and Doubles. Before becoming a pickleball pro, she was a top player in singles and doubles tennis for the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

After college, Tereschenko coached Division I college tennis at Texas Tech University and The University of Washington. She is currently an adjunct lecturer at the School of Professional Advancement at Tulane and a research assistant at the Center for Leadership in Athletics at the University of Washington.

When she is not playing pickleball or working in academics, Irina enjoys snowboarding, camping, kiteboarding, and surfing. Irina Tereschenko currently uses a Paddletek Bantam EX-L pickleball paddle.

Paddletek Bantam EX-L

The Bantam EX-L pickleball paddles feature an Ultra Cushion High Tack Performance Grip. Bantam rates the paddles as 8.5 out of 10 for power, 7.5 for control, and 7.0 for forgiveness. The Bantam EX-L has a 4.25″ grip circumference and a 5.0″ grip length. The surface is a velvet-textured polycarbonate, and it has a Bantam PolyCore that is 12.7mm thick. The paddle is 15.625″ long and 7.75″ wide.

12. Tyson McGuffin

(Image credit: Nick Uzunyan)

Tyson McGuffin is a 33-year-old, right-handed player. He is 5’10” tall and turned pro in 2016. Tyson is a top-ranked player in all three pro pickleball divisions but is best known for his singles play and his rivalry with Ben Johns.

McGuffin’s play style is athletic and quick and he never gives up. He plays Men’s Doubles with James Ignatowich and Mixed Doubles with Catherine Parenteau in addition to playing for the New York Hustlers MLP team. Tyson McGuffin currently uses the same Selkirk VANGUARD Power Air Invikta paddle as his Mixed Doubles partner Catherine Parenteau.

Get More Pickleball Paddles Information

Are you interested in learning more about the top pickleball paddles and the players who use them? Visit Pickleball Portal for the latest in pickleball news, guides, product reviews, and information. Whether you are a professional player or are brand-new to the sport, we have you covered.

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About Dan Langston

With experience in the ecotourism industry and time well spent as a fly fishing guide in the remote absaroka mountain range for 6 years, Dan brings a unique perspective on customer service to the digital world. As the operator, Dan is now committed to revitalizing Pickleball Portal and plans to build a support system for content creators and provide helpful information for the pickleball community. dan@pickleballportal.com

12 thoughts on “12 Pro Pickleball Players and the Pickleball Paddles They Use In 2023”

  1. When a company delves into developing and Marketing wooden paddles, then we’ll be on to something big. In my personal opinion wood paddles have significantly more power AND control than plastic paddles. Actually, I don’t believe this is an opinion. It is a fact. It has something to do with physics.
    I have yet to find the perfect wooden paddle. Probably because they don’t make one. Most go for $13.99. I would be with willing to pay for a light wooden paddle with the hardness of marine wood.
    I have a paddle made of marine wood that would be perfect if it wasn’t 13.3 oz!!!
    Hitting a plastic wiffle ball with a plastic paddle is pure folly. And they are all plastic. Graphite and fiber aside. C’mon folks. Make a decent wooden paddle!!!!

    Reply
      • Have you tried the Gearbox GX6 Power? It’s got the solid core (seems like some wood) that you’re referring, I believe. I got a couple from a Gearbox rep to try and it’s amazing the ball action. I’m sold on solid core and can’t figure out why they all seem to use that honeycomb construction – especially after I saw that Utube video where they tore apart a bunch of paddles.
        John W

        Reply
    • Have you tried the Gearbox GX6 Power? It’s got the solid core (seems like some wood) that you’re referring, I believe. I got a couple from a Gearbox rep to try and it’s amazing the ball action. I’m sold on solid core and can’t figure out why they all seem to use that honeycomb construction – especially after I saw that Utube video where they tore apart a bunch of paddles.
      John W

      Reply
    • You need a basswood wood paddle. Basswood is used for strong large Japanese fishing lures.

      Negs with wood are vibration and weight.

      Reply
  2. In the article on your website re. paddles the pros used in 2023 – in the comments section – ‘Matt’ from Pickleball Portal commented on March 9, 2021 (strange to see a comment from 2021 posted for an article in now 2023), that he wanted to know – ‘why no one makes a really high quality, light wooden paddle’. A previous commenter – Dave H. – stated that ‘wooden paddles have significantly more power & control than plastic paddles’. Matt seemed to agree w/Dave H…
    This is from 2021. Does ‘Matt’ still believe that now, in 2023 – that a wooden paddle is more powerful & has more control than a plastic paddle? Especially with all the more recent thermoformed raw carbon fiber faced paddles?
    Joola’s background in ping pong paddles would be the perfect company to do this, as they go in depth on their website in ranking the attributes of specific chosen wood species to make their ping pong paddles.
    Thanks in advance for your thoughts, Larry Marks

    Reply
    • Matt is no longer part of Pickleball Portal and I can’t speak for Matt. Also, this article was updated and redone this year, which is why you see 2023 for the publishing date even though it was originally published before that. The dates for the comments will remain the same.

      Reply

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