At the age of 12, Anna Leigh Waters became the youngest professional pickleball player in history. Just a little over three years into her career, she’s already ranked No. 1 in women’s singles and mixed doubles.

In 2017, Waters and her family evacuated their Florida residence due to Hurricane Irma. The family made their way to Water’s grandparents in Pennsylvania. Her grandfather had been playing pickleball for years up to that point. After showing the family how to play, they found themselves playing every day during the few weeks they spent on the East Coast. Once they returned back home and found a local pickleball club, where they learned more of the rules, the rest is history.

With its ease of play and fast-paced action, the sport has become the fastest-growing in America, with names like LeBron James, James Blake, and Drew Brees making recent investments in Major League Pickleball.

“Pickleball is so athletic, and the points are so long. It’s just a really cool and different sport to watch,” Waters said. “A lot of people compare it to tennis, but if you watch a doubles match in pickleball, there are so many lobs, drop shots, and fast hands — there’s just a variety of things and every point doesn’t look the same.”

M&F caught up with Anna Leigh Waters as she unpacked and walked us through some of her court favorites.

Pickleball champion Anna Leigh Waters holding a pickleball trophy
Courtesy of Anna Leigh Waters

Oakley Shades

They’re not only for style but they’re prescription glasses, so I need them to see the ball.

  • Buy Flak 2.0 XL: $184, at Oakley

Normatec Hyperice Hypervolt 2, and Hyperice Venom Go 

These are super important. Without them, I would be going on the court super cold. I love them, especially for recovery afterward. I feel so much better the morning after I use the Venom Go. The good thing about the gun is I can carry it with me and in between matches, I can just use it. I like using that before matches to warm me up and afterward for recovery. I also use both the gun and Venom in between matches. In pickleball, you don’t know if you’re going to have a long or short break, so they’re really good. I can quickly turn them on or off, get myself warm before the next match.

Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Anna Leigh Waters Edition Lightweight Hybrid Pickleball Paddle

I use the Peddletek TS-5 Paddles. The first tournament I ever played in, I was using this paddle. I’ve been using it for about five years now. I don’t know what I would do without it.

  • Buy Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Anna Leigh Waters Edition Lightweight Hybrid Pickleball Paddle: $99.99, at JustPaddles


I usually keep a couple of these in my bag for practicing in between matches. A huge part of pickleball is making sure you’re warmed up and ready because of how many matches you have throughout the day.

  • Buy Pickle Balls (3 pack): $9.99, at Target

Resistance Band

I use the resistance band if I’m warming up before a match and trying to stay loose in between matches. Pickleball tournaments are long days, so I have to make sure my body is ready for each match.

  • Buy Resistance Bands Set: $2.78, at Temu

Lock Laces

I put these on my shoes, so after a match, I can quickly pull it up and my shoes are untied. It really helps keep my shoelaces secured, so that I never have to worry about retying my shoes.

Paddletek Pickleball Tour Backpack 

I can fit a lot of things in here. There are a lot of little pockets on the inside, so I can keep everything organized. I do throw my phone in here sometimes, which is probably not smart because I lose it. But there are a lot of good pockets that I can keep a lot of stuff in and it’s a pretty big bag.

FILA Brandon Maxwell Track Pant

I usually have these to put them on in between matches, especially if were in the cold or a chilly climate. I’ll throw them on to help keep the body warm.

Follow Anna Leigh Waters @a.l.waters_a1

Person playing pickleball and holding a pickleball paddle

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