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Top pros at US Open Pickleball Championships include Parris Todd, Simone Jardim

A collection of the world’s best professional players will be in Naples this week for the eighth annual Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships. Matches begin Saturday at East Naples Community Park.

The tournament continues through next week, with the men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles finals broadcast on CBS Sports Network on April 19 and April 20.

Here's a look at some of the top male and female pros set to showcase their skills in Naples, including a few local standouts.

Parris Todd

The 25-year-old Todd, who moved to Fort Myers in 2022, captured the triple crown at last year’s US Open, winning the women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles events. In all, she won more than 25 medals on the Association of Pickleball Players and Pro Pickleball Association tours in 2023, he second full season as a pro. The Newport Shores, Calif. native also plays for Major League Pickleball’s Orlando Squeeze, which was formed in 2023 by the DeVos family, owners of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

Simone Jardim

Simone Jardim (left) and Parris Todd teamed up to win the women's doubles event at the APP Daytona Beach Open in February.
Simone Jardim (left) and Parris Todd teamed up to win the women's doubles event at the APP Daytona Beach Open in February.

One of the sport’s most acclaimed female players, the 44-year-old Southwest Florida resident is the only pro open player to have won gold in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles at all three majors: Nationals, US Open and Tournament of Champions. Jardim teamed with Todd last year to win the mixed doubles title at the US Open and has played in every Open since its inception in 2016. She was named the APP’s 2023 Player of the Year in female pro doubles.

Anna Lee Waters

World number one woman pickleball player Anna Leigh Waters demonstrates the sport to students at Gerald Ford Elementary School in Indian Wells, Calif., Mar. 7, 2024.
World number one woman pickleball player Anna Leigh Waters demonstrates the sport to students at Gerald Ford Elementary School in Indian Wells, Calif., Mar. 7, 2024.

The 17-year-old pickleball prodigy turned pro at the age of 12, becoming both the youngest pro player and champion in the sport’s history. In 2019 she won Nationals, teaming with her mother Leigh, and earned his first triple crown in 2021. She’s ranked among the top 5 female players in the world and her resume includes 10 PPA triple crowns, six US Open gold medals, and six Nationals golds. Waters was the MLP’s No. 1 draft pick in 2023 and plays for the New Jersey 5s.

JW Johnson

Johnson won a pro men’s singles title at age 19, becoming the youngest player in pickleball history to achieve the feat. Now 21, Johnson teamed with Dylan Frazier to win the men’s doubles gold at the APP Vlasic Classic in Delray Beach on April 7, defeating Andrei Daescu and Gabriel Tardio. He also captured a silver medal in men’s singles and a bronze in mixed doubles. Johnson’s younger sister Jorja teamed with Tardio to win a mixed doubles gold at the same event.

Andrei Daescu

The 6-foot-4 Daescu, nicknamed "Andrei the Giant," is a native of Romania and a former pro tennis player who competes out of Palm Beach Gardens. Daescu, currently No. 1 in the APP’s pro men’s doubles rankings, won silver medals in the category at the PPA’s Mesa Open in February and again at the APP’s Vlasic Open in Delray Beach earlier this month. He was named the APP’s 2023 Player of the Year in both male pro doubles and male pro mixed. Daescu also plays for the Major League Pickleball's AZ Drive.

Hunter Johnson

Parris Todd and Hunter Johnson react after winning the mixed doubles final at the Pro US Open Pickleball Championships Hunter at East Naples Community Park on Saturday, April 22, 2023.  They played against Simone Jardim and Kyle Yates.
Parris Todd and Hunter Johnson react after winning the mixed doubles final at the Pro US Open Pickleball Championships Hunter at East Naples Community Park on Saturday, April 22, 2023. They played against Simone Jardim and Kyle Yates.

A native of Taos, New Mexico, Johnson and his twin brother Yates are both former pro tennis players who made successful transitions to pickleball. Hunter, a former top 200 ATP-ranked tennis player, won 14 pro doubles titles with Yates. Johnson is currently No. 1 in the APP’s pro men’s singles rankings. He was named the APP’s 2023 Player of the Year in male pro singles. Johnson plays for the MLP’s Los Angeles Mad Drops.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: US Open Pickleball Championships: Top players to watch in Naples