Best Pickleball Players in the World
Few sports in our lifetimes have experienced the surge in popularity that pickleball has seen over the last three years — going from a niche sport to being played in seemingly every corner of the United States, if not the world.
With that popularity has come the rise of professional pickleball, where the best men's and women's players compete in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, just like on professional tennis tours.
While the sport will likely keep growing on the professional level, it seems like pickleball's overall growth isn't going to slow down anytime soon — here's a look at the best men's pickleball players in the world.
15. Alex Neumann
Year born: 1998
Hometown: San Mateo, California
Bottom line: Alex Neumann played tennis on the practice squad at Northwestern and was a member of Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign before he turned pro in 2022, just one year after picking up pickleball. Neumann is quickly recognizable on the court because of his signature look — he rocks a visor during matches.
All world pickleball rankings and statistics are updated through Sept. 5, 2023.
14. Travis Rettenmaier
Year born: 1983
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
Bottom line: One of two players in the Top 15 in their 40s, Travis Rettenmaier was only 16 years old when he started playing college tennis for UCLA and went pro in 2002. Rettenmaier played on tour for a decade, rising as high as No. 57 in the doubles rankings. He is one of the co-owners and a player for Major League Pickleball's Florida Smash.
13. Hayden Patriquin
Year born: 2006
Hometown: Yucaipa, California
Bottom line: The youngest player on this list, Hayden Patriquin had never played racquet sports before his grandfather taught him to play pickleball when he was 13 years old. Patriquin takes high school classes online to focus on his pickleball career and already has a sponsorship with Franklin.
12. Ryan Sherry
Year born: 1983
Hometown: Fort Myers, Florida
Bottom line: One of two players in their 40s in the Top 15, Ryan Sherry grew up in Florida and played tennis for the University of Florida. While Sherry's pickleball success is something to commend, it pales in success to his accomplishments in the business world.
Sherry is one of the co-founders of Legacy Pro Sports, which helps NFL players file disability claims following the end of their pro careers. Through 2023, that includes over 5,000 players and more than $200 million in disability benefits paid out.
Sherry also gave an all-time interview after winning the North Carolina Open in 2022.
11. Julian Arnold
Year born: 1991
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, California
Bottom line: One of several former UCLA tennis players on this list, California native Julian Arnold taught tennis for nine years following his college career and turned pro as a pickleball player just one year after learning the sport. Arnold is also a member of Major League Pickleball's Los Angeles Mad Drops and has earned 14 medals in PPA events.
10. James Ignatowich
Year born: 2001
Hometown: Darien, Connecticut
Bottom line: James Ignatowich was a high school tennis star in Darien, Connecticut, before playing college tennis for Vanderbilt. Ignatowich won two gold medals at the 2023 PPA Indoor National Championship and is a frequent doubles partner of pickleball star Tyson McGuffin.
9. Pablo Tellez
Year born: 1995
Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Bottom line: Pablo Tellez played college tennis at the University of West Florida, where he helped lead his school to the NCAA Division II national championship.
Tellez signed up for a pickleball tournament on a whim in 2019. After losing all of his matches, he dug in and learned the sport — three years later, he turned pro. Tellez also plays for the Atlanta Bouncers in Major League Pickleball.
8. Dylan Frazier
Year born: 2002
Hometown: Columbia, Missouri
Bottom line: Dylan Frazier is one of the few ranked players without a pickleball background after having first been introduced to the sport when he was 14 years old and turning pro in 2020, at 18 years old. Frazier has somehow managed to continue working on his business degree from the University of Missouri while balancing his pro pickleball career.
7. Christian Alshon
Year born: 2000
Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida
Bottom line: Christian Alshon started playing pickleball just a few weeks after he went 18-0 and won the NCAA Division II singles national championship for the University of Chicago in 2021 — the same year he wound up going pro in pickleball. Do you know what's a hard shot in tennis and pickleball? Tweeners. Not for Alshon, though. That's kind of his signature.
6. JW Johnson
Year born: 2003
Hometown: Pittsburg, Kansas
Bottom line: JW Johnson and his family picked up pickleball after the family moved from Kansas to Florida to help pursue tennis careers for Johnson and his sister — little did they know they had a future in another sport.
Johnson became the youngest player to win the PPA singles title in 2022, at just 19 years old. That same year, he medaled 47 times and won three PPA Triple Crowns.
5. Jay Devilliers
Year born: 1995
Hometown: Indre-et-Loire, France
Bottom line: At 6-foot-3, Jay Devilliers is one of the taller players on the PPA Tour and is ranked in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. He won the PPA mixed doubles title in 2021, playing alongside Jessie Irvine. Devilliers still lives in Wichita, Kansas, where he played college tennis for Wichita State from 2013 to 2017 and was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection.
4. Connor Garnett
Year born: 1997
Hometown: Costa Mesa, California
Bottom line: Few players on the PPA Tour can boast the credentials of Connor Garnett, who played college tennis at NCAA Division I Santa Clara University and has been a hitting partner for 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Novak Djokovic. Garnett turned pro in pickleball in 2022 and finished as runner-up in singles and doubles in his first tournament.
3. Tyson McGuffin
Year born: 1990
Hometown: Rathdrum, Idaho
Bottom line: Ask casual sports fans to name just one professional pickleball player, and more often than not, the answer will be Tyson McGuffin.
McGuffin played college tennis at Scottsdale Community College before embarking on a pro career on the ATP Tour and ultimately became the head pro at Yakima (Wash.) Tennis Club. One of the veterans on this list, McGuffin turned pro in 2016, just six months after he picked up the sport.
2. Federico Staksrud
Year born: 1996
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bottom line: One of the few foreign players to make this list, Argentina's Federico Staksrud played college tennis at the University of New Orleans and Tennis Wesleyan before spending time as a coach at Florida Gulf Coast University while earning his master's degree.
1. Ben Johns
Year born: 1999
Hometown: Laytonsville, Maryland
Bottom line: Hands-down the greatest pickleball player of all time, Maryland's Ben Johns turned pro in 2016 when he was just 17 years old. Johns ran off a streak of 108 consecutive singles wins in a row at one point and owns 80 PPA titles, as well as more Triple Crowns than anyone in the sport.
The Maryland native already owns two pickleball-related businesses — an all-inclusive pickleball vacations company called Pickleball Getaway and an instructional pickleball video service called Pickleball 360.