Players to Watch – Leigh Waters
Most often, natural disasters can have a profound impact on an individual or families. Such was the case in the summer of 2017 as Hurricane Irma came barreling through the east coast of Florida. Leigh Waters and her family were without power, so they made their way north to Leigh’s father’s home in Pennsylvania to wait out the storm. While there, he introduced her family to pickleball. A twist of fate or a blessing amidst a major storm. Either way, the Waters have never looked back.
Recently, Leigh and her twelve-year-old daughter Anna Leigh won the Women’s Pro Doubles bracket and in so doing, never dropped a game en route to the gold medal. “Anna Leigh started playing pickleball the same day I did in Pennsylvania,” said Leigh. “I can’t tell you what an absolute privilege it is to get to play with her. She amazes me every time I step on the court with her. She is smart, encouraging, and her skills just keep getting better. Having her by my side on the court is so comforting and I have total confidence in her. We have that mother/daughter intuition that helps us play as a true team on the court. Winning a Major title together is something that we set out to do—but I didn’t think it would come so soon. I think we both knew it was possible at TOC, but I don’t think we expected it.”
Leigh played collegiate tennis for the Gamecocks at the University of South Carolina and her transition into the sport of pickleball has been seamless. At the 2018 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships, she, along with her partner, Catherine Parenteau captured a gold medal in Women’s 19+ Doubles defeating the formidable tandem of Irina Tereschenko and Lucy Kovalova. At the 2019 US Open, she took home a bronze medal in Women’s Pro Doubles and gold in Mixed 40+ Doubles.
Hurricanes never make their way to the west coast, but Leigh and her daughter Anna Leigh are taking the world of pickleball by storm. Indian Wells and its spectators at this year’s Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships will not only see outstanding action but witness firsthand the future of the game.