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Beyond Anna Leigh Waters: The TOP Female Pickleball Pros

Women Dominating Pro Pickleball Today

December 13 2023

Pickleball's rapid rise in popularity this year has ushered in a new wave of female athletes atop the sport. Here are some of the best in the world right now:

 Anna Leigh Waters

Anna Leigh Waters; Professional Pickleball; Professional Pickleball Association; Team USA

Any discussion of the top female pickleballers has to start with Anna Leigh Waters. The Florida native tops the rankings no matter how you slice it. And it’s not even close. DUPR score? She’s .17 points clear of any other woman in both singles and doubles. PPA tour points? Her 18100 are nearly 5000 points clear of her closest competition. Most recently, she took first place in women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles at both the PPA Tour finals and the USA Pickleball National Championships.

And she’s doing this all at just 16 years of age. Waters routinely faces players a decade older than her. Two out of the PPA’s top six players are well over twice her age. She’s eight years younger than anyone else in the PPA’s top 15. If she keeps improving, the results will be scary.

Catherine Parenteau

Catherine Parenteau; Pickleball; pickleball court; profesional pickleball; won the PPA Tour Finals with Anna Leigh Waters

The only player who can come close to Waters is Catherine Parenteau. She might be 4500 points behind Waters in the PPA standings, but she’s 4800 points ahead of third place. Similarly, her singles DUPR score is .17 behind Waters’s but .12 ahead of anyone else. Parenteau has won three U.S. Open titles, even though she originally hails from Canada.

Anna Bright 

Anna Bright; Professional Pickleball; Pickleball court

Anna Bright is a doubles specialist. The 24-year-old ranks No. 3 in women’s doubles and No. 2 among women in mixed doubles, despite not even ranking in the top 25 in singles, per the PPA. She tore through the MLP this season, leading the Orlando Squeeze to the top spot in the standings and a second-place finish. That’s not to take away from her on-court accomplishments though. The former top-15 ranked collegiate tennis player is a dominant pickleballer, even if sometimes she needs a teammate to bring that out.

Jorja Johnson

Jorja Johnson; Pickleball Tournaments; Professional Pickleball

If it wasn’t for Waters, Jorja Johnson would be considered the best up-and-coming player in the sport. At just 17, Johnson ranks No. 3 among women in mixed doubles on the PPA tour, and No. 16 in singles. DUPR rates her singles skills much more favorably – she currently sits at No. 7. At this rate, she and Waters will be competing for the top spot in the sport for years to come.

Irina Tereschenko

Irina Tereschenko; PPA tour; Professional Pickleball; pickleball court; International competition

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Irina Tereschenko, Still hanging with the best at age 40, Tereschenko ranks No. 6 on the PPA tour in women’s singles, and No. 12 in doubles. Originally from Russia, the former Texas Tech Red Raider has more MLP titles than any other player.

Callie Smith

Callie Smith; Professional Pickleball Association; Pickleball Tournaments

Another doubles specialist, Callie Smith ranks No. 4 on the PPA tour in women’s doubles, and tenth in doubles per DURP. The former University of Utah tennis won gold in doubles at the 2021 US Open alongside Parenteau.

Lucia Kovalova

Lucia Kovalova; Pickleball; gold medals; pickleball court; pickleball tournaments; prize money

Lucia Kovalova has seen her standing slip slightly as her former doubles partner – and arguably the best women’s player of all time – Simone Jardim’s career has wound down. Kovalova remains a formidable player in her own right though. A four-time gold medal winner at the USA Pickleball National Championships, Kovalova still ranked No. 5 in women’s doubles on the PPA Tour this year.

Lea Jansen

Lea Jansen; PPA tour; pickleball court

A jack-of-all-trades, Lea Jansen had a breakout year on the PPA Tour this year. The Spokane, WA native took gold at three PPA events and currently ranks No. 3 in women’s singles. Her No. 7 and No. 8 doubles rankings (in women’s and mixed, respectively) aren’t too shabby either.

Judit Castillo

Judit Castillo; Professional Pickleball; Picked up the sport months earlier

Another recent breakout star, Judit Castillo rapidly rose up the rankings this season. After playing the sport for the first time in 2022, the Spain native climbed all the way up to the No. 8 spot in PPA Tour women's singles rankings. She capped her impressive season with a bronze medal at the USAP Pickleball National Championships in November.

Lacy Schneemann

Lacy Schneemann; Pickleball Court; Major League Pickleball

Perhaps the most controversial inclusion on this list, Schneemann ranks No. 13 in singles on the PPA Tour this year, and No. 16 in doubles. But she gets the nod in large part due to her heroics at MLP’s playoffs earlier this month. With her Chicago Slice on the brink of elimination in the decisive fifth game of their semifinal matchup, the aerospace-engineer-by-trade took the team on her back. Schneemann won four straight points to clinch the slice a spot in the championship match. What’s even more incredible? She did it again the next day, sealing the victory in another tiebreaker set and earning herself Premier Level MVP honors.

Stay-tuned for more on the rapidly growing popularity of pickleball as a mainstream professional women's sport.




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