Arizona Pro Pickleball Team Joins Premier League in 2024

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By Jacob Jackson

Pickleball’s Rise in Popularity Puts Phoenix at Center Stage, Says Arizona Drive GM

As pickleball gains widespread appeal across the United States, Phoenix finds itself at the forefront of the sport’s advancement into the mainstream, Arizona Drive coach and general manager Morgan Evans informed supporters this week.

Arizona Drive Joins Major League Pickleball’s New Premier Division. The Arizona Drive will be one of 12 inaugural teams in Major League Pickleball’s recently announced Premier division next season. The Premier league will feature the top 48 drafted players in the country.

Arizona pickleball team
Arizona Drive owner Larry Fitzgerald. Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

Star-Studded Ownership Group Behind Arizona Drive

The ownership group behind the Arizona Drive boasts immense star power, including former Arizona Cardinal wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker, Phoenix-born country singer Dierks Bentley, Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, and local restaurateur Sam Fox.

Fitzgerald Envisions High School and Olympic Pickleball

“I believe pickleball is still in its early stages,” Fitzgerald stated to reporters this week. “My aim is to continue expanding the sport, and one day have it played in high schools. Recently you saw flag football approved for the Olympics. With any luck, pickleball will be an Olympic event in 8 years as well.”

The former Cardinals wide receiver envisions rapid growth for pickleball at the youth and international level in the years to come.

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Fitzgerald Frequently Plays Pickleball, Working on Backhand

Larry Fitzgerald shared that he plays pickleball multiple times per week, and is actively trying to sharpen his backhand technique. The Arizona sports icon is more than just an owner of the state’s new professional team – he’s an avid player working to master the sport.

Bentley’s Trash Talk and “Weird Bird Dance” Frustrate Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald revealed that he relishes competing against the other celebrity co-owners of the Arizona Drive, especially country star Dierks Bentley. According to Fitzgerald, Bentley employs an uniquely aggravating brand of trash talk, which includes a bizarre victory dance that Fitzgerald described only as a “weird little bird dance.” The taunting tactics of his musical co-owner seem to get under the former football star’s skin when they face off on the pickleball court.

What to watch: Major League Pickleball will host a tournament Feb. 17-25 in Mesa.

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