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13 Pro Pickleball Players + The Paddles They Use in 2023

(Image credit: Kerry Pittenger) Pro Player Jocelyn Devilliers

While the vast majority of our readers have no intention of becoming pro pickleball players, you still may be curious about who the pros are, how they started – and the paddles they play with.

Although you never know how obsessed you might get with this sport, one player documented his journey to becoming a pro player for us in 2020 – shortly after playing pickleball for the first time!   You may be wondering how what it takes to make it, how much they can earn, and what kind of equipment are they playing with?

Since we launched this website, we’ve seen the quality of paddles rise to a new level (with price tags to match). Five years ago many of the top paddles were selling in the $75 range, with only a few special edition models edging just over the $100 mark.

Since then, the use of premium materials including specialized cores made of high-end composites and carbon fiber or graphite paddle surfaces has become more common. Because of those factors, along with the increased number of competitive players looking for high-quality gear,  it’s now very common to see models over $100, with some of the high-end ones now topping $175 – a full hundred dollars more than just a few years ago.

While those prices might seem crazy to someone using a beginner paddle – it’s worth noting that pro tennis players like Djokovic (Head Graphene 360 Speed Pro) and Nadal (Babolat AeroPro Drive Original) use rackets that are in the mid-S200 range and above (and the actual racket those players use is most like a pro-stock model – a more expensive customized reiteration of the one you can buy).

Another interesting trend is that pro pickleball players are working together with brands to come up with new paddles with weight, shape and balance that best suits their playing style, a couple of good examples of those are the Selkirk INVICTA -Signature Tyson McGuffin design or the Onix Evoke Premier that was co-designed by Pickleball National Champions Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova (both mentioned below).

So, who are these pro players and what paddles do they use?  Below is a list of ten of the top men’s and women’s pro pickleball players in 2021. There are plenty of noteworthy pros out there,  this is just a partial list to get you started.

Pro Pickleball Players + Their Paddle

Jay Devilliers – Vulcan 560

Jocelyn “Jay” Devilliers is a French professional pickleball player who is currently ranked top 5 in the world. Devilliers was born in France and started playing pickleball when he was just a child. He quickly rose to the top of the sport and has proven himself to be one of the most exciting players to watch. Devilliers has won numerous titles in all three divisions and is one of the most popular professional pickleball players on tour. Devilliers grew up in a small town in France and was always interested in sports.

He played various sports growing up; tennis, soccer, handball, swimming, squash, badminton, table tennis, and even skiing, but it was pickleball that really caught his attention. He eventually left his hometown to train in Barcelona, Spain to become a professional tennis player. Soon though he experienced a severe injury and could no longer bring his dream of being a professional pickleball player to fruition.

It was not until he graduated college that he discovered the game of pickleball. The rest is history. He has now won numerous titles in all three divisions and is one of the most popular professional pickleball players on tour. Devilliers is known for his fiery personality and his exciting style of play. He is also known for his positive attitude and his willingness to always communicate with his partners. Devilliers is a fan favorite thanks to his large stature, rugged good looks, and French charm. If you are a fan of pickleball, then you definitely need to check out Jay Devilliers. He is one of the most exciting players in the sport and is sure to entertain you every time he steps on the court.

He uses the Vulcan 560 paddle. The Vulcan v 560 control pickleball paddle is a great choice for touch and placement players who play a high-percentage tactical game. The paddle’s Classic Shape, with 13mm polypropylene core and fiberglass blend face, along with extended handle (5.5″ long with 4-1/4″ circumference), provides excellent control and feel. The paddle’s standard weight (8.4 oz.) is perfect for players who want a little extra power behind their shots. The Vulcan Max Control Pickleball Grip on the handle provides a comfortable, slip-resistant grip.

Jw Johnson – Ben Johns Franklin Sig Series

JW Johnson is a professional pickleball player from the United States, he changes up his paddle preference from time to time, but he does use the Ben Johns Sig Series. He was born and raised in California, and comes from a family of athletes. His father was a professional baseball player, and his mother was a professional tennis player. JW Johnson started playing pickleball when he was a child, and quickly developed a passion for the sport. He played in various tournaments and leagues throughout his childhood and teenage years. JW Johnson is one of the most successful pickleball players in the world.

Jw Johnson‘s family is very supportive of his pickleball career. His father is his biggest fan and his mother is his biggest critic. Jw Johnson started playing pickleball because he loved the sport of tennis, but wanted a less competitive environment. He has won numerous tournaments and is a twotime US Pickleball Association National Champion. Jw Johnson is a wellrounded player and is known for his quick reflexes and powerful strokes. Jw Johnson‘s childhood was very active.

In addition to playing pickleball, he also played tennis, basketball, and football. He was always very competitive and loved to win. Jw Johnson‘s father instilled a love of competition in him from a young age. His father would often take him to watch tennis matches and then challenge him to a game. Jw Johnson‘s father was a very successful tennis player and taught his son everything he knew about the game. Jw Johnson is a very dedicated pickleball player. He spends countless hours practicing and perfecting his game. He is always looking for ways to improve his skills. Jw Johnson is also a very positive role model for younger pickleball players. He is always encouraging and supportive of other players. Jw Johnson is a true pickleball ambassador. He is passionate about the sport and loves to share his knowledge with others. He is a true asset to the pickleball community.

Zane Navratil – Blue Ben Johns Sig paddle

Zane often plays with a blue version of the Ben Johns Signature paddle. They now both have a partnership with Franklin Sports.

Zane Navratil is a pickleball player from the United States. He has been playing pickleball for over 10 years and has won numerous tournaments. His family is originally from Czech Republic and he currently resides in Florida with his wife and two children. Zane‘s parents introduced him to the game of pickleball when he was just a child. His father was a professional tennis player and his mother was a recreational player. Zane began playing in tournaments when he was 11 years old and quickly began to rack up the wins.

Over the years, Zane has won many prestigious tournaments including the US Open Pickleball Championships and the Pan American Pickleball Championships. He is currently ranked #1 in the world in both singles and doubles. Zane is a fierce competitor on the court but is also known for his friendly demeanor off the court. He is a family man and enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children when he is not traveling for tournaments. Whether you are a pickleball fan or not, Zane Navratil is definitely a player to watch. He has an exciting style of play and is always a crowd favorite. With his impressive record of wins, there is no doubt that Zane Navratil is one of the best pickleball players in the world.

Ben Johns – Franklin Signature

Franklin Sports Pro Pickleball Paddle - Pro Tournament Pickleball Paddle - Extra Grip MaxGrit Technology - Ben Johns Signature Pickleball Paddle, Model:52783
Ben Johns Signature Pickleball Paddle

Ben Johns discovered pickleball in 2016 when he was still a student at the University of Maryland.  By 2017 he had won the gold medal in Men’s Pro Singles at the US Open and gold in Men’s Singles 19+ at the USAPA National Championships among others. From there he has continued to dominate on the court and as of 2021 was ranked the #1 Men’s player in Doubles, Singles, and Mixed Doubles!

Ben Johns is one of the best pickleball players in the world. He was born on 18 March 1999 in Laytonsville, Maryland. His father works as a software designer and his mother is a children’s primary teacher. He has six siblings, one of whom is also a professional pickleball player.

He has won numerous championships and is considered one of the top players in the sport. Ben Johns began playing pickleball in his early twenties and quickly rose to the top of the sport. He has won the US Open Pickleball Championship four times and is a twotime Pickleball World Champion. Ben Johns is known for his aggressive style of play and his ability to make shots from anywhere on the court. He is also known for his pickleball trick shots, which he often performs during exhibition matches. Ben Johns is one of the most popular pickleball players in the world and has a large following on social media. He is also an accomplished businessman and has his own line of pickleball products. Ben Johns is a true ambassador for the sport of pickleball and is helping to grow the sport worldwide.

In 2019 Johns signed an endorsement deal with Franklin and plays with a paddle that is aptly named: the Ben Johns Signature Paddle. The Ben Johns Signature Paddle is obviously a top-of-the-line pickleball paddle but is also favored by many of the pros, not just Ben. The paddle’s carbon fiber face is engineered for speed and spin, creating the perfect balance of power and control. The dense 13mm polypropylene core ensures durability and a large sweet spot for effortless shot-making. The MaxGrit surface coating increases grip on the ball to achieve optimal spin for maximized control and precision. The paddle is also USAPA certified for competitive and tournament play.

Simone Jardim – Prince Response

Simone Jardim is a professional pickleball player from Brazil. She is currently ranked as the number one player in Brazil and is ranked in the top 10 in the world. Jardim started playing pickleball in 2013 after she saw the sport being played on television. She was immediately hooked and started playing at her local club. She quickly rose through the ranks, winning her first tournament in 2014.

Since then, Jardim has gone on to win numerous tournaments in Brazil and around the world. She has also represented Brazil at the Pan American Games and the World Pickleball Championships. Jardim is known for her tenacious style of play and her powerful swings. She is also a very consistent player, which has helped her to achieve success at the highest level. In 2019, Jardim made history by becoming the first Brazilian player to win a gold medal at the World Pickleball Championships. She is currently the only Brazilian player to have won a gold medal at this event. Jardim is a very popular player in Brazil and is quickly becoming a global star in the sport of pickleball. She is an inspiration to many young players and is helping to grow the sport in her home country.

A former tennis player and coach during her tennis career, she is now one of the most widely known and respected ambassadors of the game.

Jardim started playing in 2015 and has since won over 90 medals, a two-time triple crown US Open Champion. She has also helped attract other top players to the sport – including Catherine Parenteau (see below) – one of the players she coached while at Michigan State University. She is the co-founder and co-director of Peak Performance Pickleball Academy offering private lessons and training camps.

She is sponsored by Prince Pickleball and plays with the Prince Response Pro, instantly recognizable for its unique rounded body shape. In February 2021, she announced she will be collaborating with Nike Pickleball Camps.

Matt Wright – Onix Evoke Premier

ONIX Evoke Premier Pickleball Paddle, Blue, Heavy weight
ONIX Evoke Premier Pickleball Paddle

See Amazon Price & Reviews

Matt Wright is a former tennis player from the University of Michigan started playing pickleball in 2016 and at the young age of 19 paired up with Lucy Kovalova in the US Open to win  19+ age mixed doubles. He has gone on to win many tourneys since then and as of early 2021 is neck-and-neck with Ben John’s in Men’s Doubles ranking and also towards the top of the pack in Mixed doubles. Some of his past wins include:  USA National Champion, US Open Champion,  Tournament of Champions Gold Medalist (2018), and multi-year wins at USA National Champion – US Open Champion – Tournament of Champions Gold Medalist.

Matt Wright is one of the top pickleball players in the world. He has won multiple national and international championships, and is considered one of the best players in the sport. Wright has a quick playing style and is known for his powerful shots. He is also an excellent strategist and is able to make quick decisions on the court. Wright is a dedicated athlete and has worked hard to improve his game. He is always looking for ways to improve and is constantly striving to be the best player he can be. He is a role model for other pickleball players and is an inspiration to those who want to achieve success in the sport. Wright is a true champion and is someone that any pickleball player would be proud to emulate.

He is sponsored by Onix and plays with their Evoke Premier paddle.

Lucy Kovalova – Onix Evoke Premier

Lucy Kovalova played tennis in her native country of Slovakia where she was a Junior Nation, later coming to the US to play tennis for four years at Wichita State. After college, she swapped her racket for a paddle and quickly rose to the top of the rankings.

Since winning the Women’s Triple Crown (Gold in Doubles,  Mixed Doubles and Women’s Singles) in 2018 she has gone on to win many medals and continues to be one of the top women playing in doubles and mixed doubles.

Lucy Kovalova is a pickleball player who is known for her precise strokes. She has a strong backhand and is able to place the ball wherever she wants it to go. Her opponents often have trouble returning her shots. Kovalova is a very strategic player and is always thinking a few steps ahead of her opponents. She is very calm and composed on the court, and her cool demeanor often throws her opponents off their game. Kovalova is a fierce competitor and a great role model for young pickleball players and is always willing to help them improve their game.

Lucy Kovalova is sponsored by Onix and plays with the same Evoke Premier paddle mentioned above – that she helped design for Onix along with Matt Wright.

Riley Newman – Selkirk Amped Epic

Riley Newman is a native of  Whidbey Island, Washington – on Puget Sound – just north of Bainbridge Island where pickleball was invented.  A multi-sport athlete growing up and Division I tennis player he quickly adapted to pickleball when he started playing in 2017 and was soon playing competitively and winning medals and prize money. Newman plays uses a two-hand backhand, a more common tactic as more tennis players cross over to the sport. You can follow him here on Instagram.

He is sponsored by Selkirk and plays with the Amped Epic paddle, this paddle has a longer 5 ¼ handle that works well with his 2-handed backhand.

Jessie Irvine – Engage Elite Pro Maveri

Irvine started playing tennis at the age of 10 and quickly became one of the top-ranked junior players eventually playing tennis at the pro level for a few years until she retired due to injury. From there she went on to POP Tennis and became one of the top players in the sport. Later moving on to pickleball where she has again risen in the ranks. She has taken Gold & Silver at the Tournament of Champions (TOC) and a USAPA Nationals Gold Medalist & Open Silver Medalist.  You can follow her here on Instagram.

Engage Elite Pro Maverick Pickleball Paddle | USAPA Approved | Textured ChemTEK Fiberglass Face & ControlPRO Polymer Core | Standard Weight 7.8-8.3 oz | Jessie Irvine | 4 1/4” Grip
Engage Elite Pro Maverick (Jessie Irvine Edition)

She is sponsored by Engage Pickleball and was last seen playing with an Engage Elite Pro Maverick – the light blue and pink model pictured above -as you can see it has her signature at the base of the paddle.

Tyson McGuffin – Selkirk INVICTA

Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddles - Made in The USA - Use The Paddle of The Pros (2019 Invikta Charcoal Ice Midweight)
Selkirk INVICTA -Signature Tyson McGuffin design

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Tyson McGuffin, originally from Lake Chelan, Washington was a competitive athlete from a young age and, like several others on this list, come from competitive tennis. While still playing tennis he discovered pickleball at a local YMCA and turned pro only six months after being introduced to the game.  He is one of the top two Men’s singles players in the sport. He plays with the paddle that bears his name: the Tyson McGuffin Signature Edition  – it averages 8.1 ounces for extra power on hard drives from the baseline to match Tyson’s powerful playing style that helps him dominate in singles. He is a also certified instructor.

Irina Tereschenko – Paddletek Bantam EX-L

Paddletek Bantam EX-L Pickleball Paddle | Aurora (Purple)
Paddletek Bantam EX-L

With a competitive tennis background playing at the college level for Texas Tech, Irina Tereschenko quickly advanced in the rankings shortly after picking up a paddle. Rumor has it that Tereschenko’s pickleball career actually started on a dare from a friend to enter the 2015 Tournament of Champions with no pickleball experience.  Since then she has gone on to win more than 35 gold medals.  She often competes (and wins) in women’s pro doubles, often partnering with Lucy Kovalova.

She is sponsored by Paddletek and plays with the Bantam EX-L.  The responsive PolyCore is a good balance of power and performance that matches her all-around play.

Paul Olin – Gamma Legend

Gamma Legend NeuCore Pickleball Paddle, Black
Gamma Legend NeuCore

Paul Olin played Division I tennis for the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and is now a retired Naval Aviator.  He is one of the top men’s players on the senior pro singles circuit playing against other top seniors such as Scott Moore.

He is sponsored by Gamma Pickleball the and the black version of the Gamma Legend is called the “Paul Olin Edition”.  has been seen promoting the Mizuno Wave Exceed Tour as his preferred pickleball shoe

Catherine Parenteau – Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle | Standard Grip | Riptide (Blue)
Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro

Catherine Parenteau came on the scene in 2015. She previously played college tennis at Michigan State University and was introduced to the sport by her coach at the time, Simone Jardim.

She is currently ranked in the top 5 for all three categories: Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles – where she’s often paired up in mixed doubles with Joey Farias (if you’re curious – he plays with the edgeless Gearbox GX6 Power (Joey Farias Signature Paddle).

Those are just ten of the most competitive players but as the sport continues to grow I’m sure we’ll see new names and rising stars. Whether they’ll be able to unseat these top players will remain to be seen.

As with any sport, the rankings are constantly in flux so this list may not match the current rankings when you are actually reading the article.

If you don’t see your favorite player on the list, please comment below.

This sport is getting serious!  Some people who are getting started with pickleball may be surprised that find out that you can make money playing. In addition to the official Pickleball Association (governing body), there is a Professional Pickleball Association that organizes a pro circuit of pickleball tournaments, including three Grand Slam Tournaments that pay out $100K in prize money. Along with this growing trend comes more brand sponsorships and available prize money which is sure to attract more athletes to the sport.

6 thoughts on “13 Pro Pickleball Players + The 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!!!!

      • 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

    • 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


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