· By Ameen Hafez
Orlando Squeeze 2023 Draft Preview
Now that the Orlando Squeeze are fully aware of where they’ll be selecting in the 2023 Season 2 Premier Level Draft, they’ll evaluate which players will be worthy of their picks, who will potentially be available, and what other teams around them might do.
As mock drafts start to fill up various outlets and rumors start to swirl, let’s take a look at a few possibilities for what could happen in the top 3 picks.
With the first pick in the 2023 Season 2 MLP Premier Level Draft, the Chicago Slice select….
Ben Johns? Anna Leigh Waters? Perhaps an unprecedented trade?
This is a very interesting position for a team that just won the Challenger League Super Final who now sits nicely at the number three position for the current standings across both levels. The team is owned by ProXR, and some speculate that Ben John’s lifetime sponsorship deal with Joola could perhaps pose some conflict with the official paddle sponsor of MLP by having him on their roster, or, maybe it won’t be an issue at all and ProXR + Joola will just have to deal with it for the next three events.
ALW was the first overall pick by the New Jersey 5’s for the first draft this year and she continues to dominate PPA events left & right, plus the 16 year old pickleball phenom helped lift her team to the San Clemente finals, could that warrant back-to-back selections at number one?
With the second pick in the 2023 Season 2 MLP Premier Level Draft, the Utah Black Diamonds select…
Ben Johns? ALW? Riley Newman?
Assuming Ben goes number one, Utah, owned by the Pardoe family, who owns the PPA, would most likely select their poster-child, Anna Leigh Waters (which comes as a package deal to include her mother Leigh Waters as the team coach), to be the face of their franchise for the rest of 2023.
Or perhaps they shake things up and take Riley Newman in order to lock in a strong left-sided male for both Men’s & Mixed doubles, and although he typically doesn’t play singles, he’s held his own in Dreambreakers.
With the third pick in the 2023 Season 2 MLP Premier Level Draft, the Orlando Squeeze select…
If somehow either Ben or ALW are available, they would be the logical choice here as an incredible steal, but in the likely case that they are not:
Here are a few options for who the Orlando Squeeze could draft while on the clock:
The 29 year old from Dallas, TX is ranked number 3 in the 2023 PPA standings for men’s doubles and second for mixed doubles. He boasts a 6.90 DUPR, has already won 17 PPA medals this year, and his 6’2” reach gives him a noticeable advantage in battles around the NVZ. He typically finds his way to Championship Sunday with whoever he is partnered up with, and rumor has it he will have a newly even-more-fine-tuned Takeya paddle ready for season 2 of Major League Pickleball. Riley was the 6th overall pick in the Season 1 draft, and the 3rd male taken.
The 20 year old from Boynton Beach, FL sits at number 5 in the 2023 PPA standings for men’s singles & doubles, plus number 3 for mixed doubles. He boasts a 6.99 DUPR, has already won 14 PPA medals this year, led the ATX Pickleballers to the semifinals with a 4-1 record at San Clemente, and arguably has the fastest hands in the game. He has a big game and an even bigger smile to back it up, just don’t ask him to hit a golf ball. JW was the 3rd overall pick in the Season 1 draft, and the 2nd male taken.
The 32 year old from Austin, TX sits at number 18 in the 2023 PPA standings for men’s doubles, 11th in mixed doubles, plus number 13 for singles. His DUPR is 6.87, and he led the LA Mad Drops, alongside Catherine Parenteau & Irina Tereschenko, to win the first event in Mesa, plus the Season 1 Premier League Super Finals over Ben Johns’ Seattle Pioneers. He loves the spotlight, and will engage in multiple staredowns in between points, finger wags to his opponents, and relentless energy to rile up the crowd and his teammates. Julian was considered to be the biggest steal in the Season 1 Premier draft at the 29th overall pick, as the 13th male taken. ¡Andiamo!
The 28 year old from Naples, FL sits at number 3 in the 2023 PPA standings for women’s & mixed doubles, plus number 2 for singles. Her DUPR is 6.01, she has already won 20 PPA medals this year, and alongside Julian Arnold, she most recently helped the LA Mad Drops win the Season 1 Premier League Super Finals over Ben Johns’ Seattle Pioneers. She boasted a 20-9 W/L record across the three MLP events, as LA won the championship in Mesa, to sit comfortably in second place, behind Seattle. Catherine was the 5th overall pick in the Season 1 draft, and the 3rd woman taken.
The 23 year old from Boca Raton, FL sits at number 2 in the 2023 PPA standings for women’s & mixed doubles, plus number 11 for singles. Her DUPR is 5.94, she has already won 13 PPA medals this year, and helped the NY Hustlers to the number 4 ranking position for Season 1. Her energy on the court and on the sidelines as a cheerleader for her teammates strengthen her case for an early pick in this draft, along with her stellar podcasting skills. Anna was the 4th overall pick in the Season 1 draft, and the 2nd woman taken.
The 25 year old from South Florida sits atop the 2023 APP standings across almost all events. Her DUPR is 5.91, with 3 triple crowns in 2023 already (which means gold in singles plus women’s and mixed doubles), 3 singles titles as well as 7 women’s doubles. Although she did not participate in the 2023 MLP Season 1, she was integral in leading her MLP team, BLQK, to win 2 out of the 3 tournaments MLP had in 2022. Parris was the number 1 ranked player, and the tournament MVP in the final event of MLP that year. She also was the only player to beat world number 1, Anna Leigh Waters.
Note: The contents of this page have neither been reviewed nor endorsed by the Orlando Squeeze. All opinions expressed by Ameen Hafez are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Squeeze or their ownership group, partners or sponsors.
I love seeing this insight into a team with a top 3 pick. Pretty cool stuff!!
Dustin Bilodeau on