Major League Pickleball Australia Season 2 Draft: Highlights and Top Picks

Monday, July 8, 2024

Major League Pickleball Australia Season Two Draft: Highlights and Top Picks

Key Highlights:  

  • Former World Number One, Kyle Yates, signed to the Brisbane Breakers.
  • Australian, Danni-Elle Townsend, drafted as the number one pick by NZ Hustle.
  • Record Participation from top-ranked players, featuring number ones from Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, alongside International talent.
  • Missed the draft? Watch the replay here!

Melbourne, Australia: Major League Pickleball Australia (MLPA) announces the selections for its Season Two Draft including former world number one Kyle Yates and the number one draft pick, Australian player Danni-Elle Townsend. 

The draft, broadcast live, drew significant audiences and featured players from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, India, and the United States. With hundreds of players entering the draft, the competition for the 36 selected spots was intense.

Notable international picks alongside Kyle Yates include top-ranked Carvana PPA Tour players Liz Truluck, Jamie Hass, Michelle Esquivel, and former US Open Champion Daniel Moore. India also saw strong representation with Armaan Bhatia and Harsh Mehta going in the first round.

From Australia, the top players selected included Emilia Schmidt, Joey Wild, and Roos van Reek. Sixteen-year-old Nicola Schoeman, a medal winner in recent Australian events, was also picked by the Brisbane Breakers. New Zealand’s Kyle Whatnall was another notable selection.

In Asia, captains Venise Chan of the Asia Aces and Pei Chuan Kao of the SEA Surge lead their teams with top players like Phuc Huyhn from Vietnam, former tennis pro Yu Chieh Hsieh, and  Philippines' number one ranked player, Leander Lazaro.

Adam Thompson, CEO and Co-founder of MLP Australia, stated: “Danni-Elle’s selection as the top draft pick demonstrates the exceptional talent we have in our region and having a former world number one like Kyle Yates join highlights the growing competitiveness of our league. In partnership with United Pickleball, we’re proud to offer players an exceptional platform to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.”

Season Two Commencement: MLP Australia Season Two will begin on August 30th on the Gold Coast, with 12 teams from Australia, New Zealand, and Asia competing for a $700,000 prize pool. The 2024 season will also travel to Vietnam and conclude in Melbourne.

Full Season Two Draft Results:

Asia Aces: Venise Chan (c), Phuc Huyhn, Jamie Hass, Neilson Chen

Brisbane Breakers: Ludovica Sciaky, Kyle Yates, Nicola Schoeman, Alex Fairbanks

Eastern Rush: Katy Hart (c), Armaan Bhatia, Jasmine Almaguer, Ollie Gray

Fast Fours: George Wall (c), Ting Chieh Wei, Lucas Pascoe, Liz Truluck

Gold Coast Glory: Sarah Burr (c), Vishal Masand, Roman Estareja, Sarah Jane Lim 

Melbourne Mavericks: Aaron Blitz (c), Roos Van Reek, Wesley Gabrielsen, Talia Saunders

New Zealand Hustle: Matt Carter (c), Dani Elle Townsend, Michelle Esquivel, Robert Stirling

Northern Crocs: Somer Dalla Bona (c), Harsh Mehta, Andie Dikosavljevic, Kyle Whatnall

South East Asia Surge: Pei Chuan Kao (c), Yu Chieh Hsieh, Marcel Chan, Leander Lazaro

Southern Stars: Jai Grewal (c), Michaela Haet, Jou Yu Ko, Daniel Moore

Sydney Smash: Mitch Hargreaves (c), Joey Wild, Selina Turulja, Xiao Yi Wang Beckvall

Western Vipers: Andy Horridge (c), Emilia Schmidt, Shelby Bates, Ryan Henry

Pickleball Association Australia Executive Officer, Brendan Lee, said: "This draft is a game-changer for pickleball in Australia. The level of talent in season two of the MLPA is unprecedented and will set new standards for excellence and competition."

MLPA and PPA Tour Australia League Commissioner Sange Carter added: "We're thrilled to welcome new players who will elevate the game and strengthen our community. With young talents like 16-year-old Nicola Schoeman being selected, we're excited about the next generation. Launching the Junior PPA will further our commitment to developing young talent."

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