The new league announced its launch at an event at Dreamland on Sept. 21 alongside league owners and professional pickleball athletes.
The MLP is hosting a four-day, nationally broadcast tournament—dubbed the Pritchard Cup—at the Dripping Springs entertainment center for its inaugural season. The Pritchard Cup will run Nov. 5-8 at Dreamland, and every game will be livestreamed, the MLP stated in a Sept. 21 news release.
According to a news release from the MLP, the tournament will feature eight teams competing in women’s and men’s singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles. On the line is a $150,000 cash prize to the winning team.
Prior to the Pritchard Cup, the MLP will hold its inaugural draft Oct. 1 in Dallas. MLP team owners will use the draft to select four players—two men and two women athletes—to compete in the November tournament.
Former U.S. professional tennis player Jenny Klitch will serve as the first-ever MLP commissioner, the league stated in its news release. Team owners include former world-ranked No. 4 professional player and TV commentator James Blake, Austin FC minority owner Bryan Sheffield and founder of Austin Pickle Ranch Tim Klitch, among others.
“The launch of MLP is a proud moment for everyone in the pickleball community,” said Steve Kuhn, creator of the MLP, in the Sept. 21 news release. “Pickleball inspires joy, passion and a true love of the game among everyone who picks up a paddle, and MLP is going to showcase the sport to new audiences, helping build a long, healthy and sustainable future for our sport.”
The sport of pickleball was created in 1965 in the Pacific Northwest and has since grown in popularity, with more than 8,000 pickleball courts in the U.S. The game contains elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong and can be played in singles or doubles formats, according to the USA Pickleball Association. More than 4 million people in the U.S. played pickleball in 2020, per Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s 2021 Topline Participation Report.