TONIGHT, LIVE AT 9 P.M. ET: The draft for the first season—featuring some of the world's best pickleball players and most famous celebrities—will take place in Las Vegas on December 15, and air on Tennis Channel.

Offering up to $5 million dollars in prize money, Major League Pickleball by Margaritaville is set to announce the first of its two 2023 seasons, drafting 24 co-ed teams at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas Thursday, December 15. The draft will air on Tennis Channel at 9:00 p.m EST.

The MLP by Margaritaville is the first American professional sports league to implement a promotion and relegation system, and its first season will take place across three events in Mesa, Ariz. (Jan. 26-29), Daytona Beach, Fla. (Mar. 23-26), and San Clemente, Calif. (Jun. 15-18), culminating with a Season One Championship Monday night on June 19.

“We’ve been growing MLP for just over a year and 2023 is going to be the year where we establish ourselves as a serious professional league with the best players, ownership, and events,” said MLP Founder and Chairman Steve Kuhn.

Major League Pickleball debuted in 2021 with eight teams competing in one event; the 2023 calendar boasts six total events over two seasons and two tiers of competition: the MLP Premier Level (featuring teams made up from the first 48 drafted players), and the MLP Challenger Level (teams comprised of the next 48 drafted players).


A re-draft will occur for the second 2023 season, which will begin in September at Life Time Peachtree Corners in Atlanta, Ga. Overall results from the year will determine a Top 12 that will compete in 2024’s MLP Premier Level, and a Bottom 12 that will face off in the Challenger Level, with the promotion/relegation system remaining in place.

“The division into the MLP Premier Level and MLP Challenger Level will ensure the highest caliber of competition while providing a pathway and opportunities for the next generation of pro pickleball stars to break through,” said MLP President and Commissioner Brooks Wiley. “Next year will be an exciting year of team competition that will set MLP up for long-term success with this strategic format.”

The MLP has seen heavy investment from the tennis world including Kim Clijsters, who is part of an ownership group with Tom Brady for one of the league’s newest teams. Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka is reportedly one of the latest tennis stars to enter the pickleball sphere, investing in a team alongside Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Some tennis players have made an even bigger investment, opting to experiment with actual pickleball careers. Noah Rubin and Sam Querrey have both announced they will be trading their racquets for pickleball paddles, each documenting the transition on social media.

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