Professional pickleball signs first international deal, looks to grow the sport in India

Business

A pickleball paddle and balls at the pickleball courts in Tropical Park on March 23, 2023, in Miami. (Jose A. Iglesias/El Nuevo Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Jose A. Iglesias | El Nuevo Herald | Getty Images

America’s fastest-growing sport, pickleball, is going after a new frontier: India.

The United Pickleball Association and Global Sports announced a deal on Thursday to bring the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball to the world’s most populous country.

It’s the first international deal and major announcement for the United Pickleball Association, which was created after a merger between Major League Pickleball and the Professional Pickleball Association last February.

The PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball retained their own distinct brands after the merger. The PPA Tour features an individual bracket-style tour, while MLP is a team-based format.

Terms of the deal were not available.

“The PPA Tour India and MLP India will create a pathway for players to compete on pickleball’s biggest stage and reach the top of the sport. With the partnership of Global Sports, we will elevate the game and introduce it to millions of new fans,” said Connor Pardoe, founder and CEO of the PPA Tour.

As part of the partnership, the PPA Tour will make an official tour stop in India next February. The Indian Open event will be the debut PPA Tour event in Asia and is expected to bring players from all over the world to participate.

The deal will also launch PPA Tour India, offering ranking points to players at events around the country.

Major League Pickleball, the team-based league, will hold a competition in India featuring a mix of players from India, as well as MLP and PPA Tour professionals.

United Pickleball Association said the group also plans to hold an open process to sell MLP franchises, with the goal of launching a full 12-team season in 2025-26.

Franchises are expected to cost in the seven-figure range, according to sources.

In September, Major League Pickleball announced its expansion into Australia.

The APP Tour, which represents both amateurs and seniors, has also been active in bringing the sport overseas to India, the United Kingdom, Spain and Sweden.

Global Sports, which was at the forefront of bringing pickleball to India, operates courts and organizes tournaments in India.

“Pickleball in India has grown by leaps in the last couple of years, and this will give existing players a platform to compete at the highest level,” said Shashank Khaitan, partner at Global Sports.

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