PPA Tour Mesa Arizona venue with crowd
The 2023 PPA Mesa Arizona Grand Slam. PPA Tour

Mesa Arizona Cup marks four-year anniversary of PPA's inaugural tournament

DALLAS, TX – The upcoming Carvana Mesa Arizona Cup marks a special moment in PPA Tour history.

On Feb. 13, 2020, the PPA hosted its inaugural tournament at the Mesa Tennis Center.

Pro pickleball has certainly come a long way over the last four years.

For one, the first event in Tour history was held just before the global shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while tournaments were subsequently cancelled due to safety restrictions, the sport boomed in popularity because it catered to social distancing and had a low barrier of entry.

Since then, pickleball has grown to 36.5 million players nationwide, making it America’s fastest-growing sport - which means the Tour has only continued to grow as well.

In 2020, there were 618 registered players for the Arizona event. In 2024, there are over 1,400.

Some familiar faces on Championship Court four years ago included the sibling duo of Riley and Lindsey NewmanCatherine ParenteauIrina TereschenkoTyler LoongTyson McGuffin, and the Johns brothers.

Ben Johns didn’t just take home the gold medal in men’s singles - he actually claimed his first-ever Triple Crown. And he didn’t play men’s doubles alongside Collin in achieving the feat. In fact, Ben joined forces with Matt Wright to best Collin and Adam Stone for the top spot.

Ben Johns and Matt Wright holding a big prize money check after winning gold in men's doubles
Ben Johns and Matt Wright at the PPA Mesa Slam in 2020. PPA Tour

It wasn't until the following season that Ben and Collin partnered up and eventually became the most dominating male tandem in the game.

Another notable event in 2020, Anna Leigh Waters played women’s doubles alongside her mother and current coach, Leigh Waters. The pair won silver against Simone Jardim and Lucy Kovalova.

Back then, there were a total of 106 pros competing in Mesa. This week, there's 312. There's nothing but growth. 

Pro women's doubles had a particularly big increase in numbers. Going from ten pro teams in 2020, to 46 teams in 2024. 

Additionally, PPA only planned on hosting five tournaments that year.

Today, there are 26 tournaments on the docket, four of which are classified as Grand Slams, and hosted at some of the most beautiful venues across the country in places like California, Texas, and Florida. Pickleball is only getting bigger.

And how about this? The cash prize for gold in mixed doubles was $5,000 in 2020. Today, the prize is $11,000. The stakes are definitely higher.

This tournament has survived the park’s name change, mergers, and a meteoric rise in players, and it remains a staple on the PPA Tour calendar.

The week ahead will be a good one for the estimated 12,000 fans in attendance.

Just 2,000 people took in the festivities 48 months ago. Talk about remarkable growth.

Promotional pro pickleball tournament hype video from PPA's first tournament in Mesa, AZ in 2020
PPA Mesa promo video from 2020. PPA Tour