Players to Watch – Matt Wright
A stellar collegiate tennis career at the University of Michigan, Matt Wright played #1 in singles and doubles for the Big Ten Wolverines all four years while he was in Ann Arbor. After graduating from the maize and blue, Wright went to the University of Kansas School of Law and is currently a commercial/corporate attorney in Wichita, his childhood home.
Just three short years ago, Wright was first introduced to the sport of pickleball with some friends and has not looked back since then. “We started playing a ‘makeshift’ game we called paddle tennis with a wooden paddle and deflated tennis ball,” recalled Wright. “We then learned about pickleball from a member at our local country club who has a sport court in his backyard, and whose house we had played paddle tennis on from time to time. We gave pickleball a try and fell in love with it.”
The game also fell in love with Wright who quickly took home gold medals in the Pro divisions at the 2017 and 2018 majors. Specifically, he was a gold medalist in Men’s Doubles Pro at the 2017 USAPA National Championships and 2018 US Open, Mixed Doubles Pro at the 2017 USAPA National Championships and 2017 and 2018 Tournament of Champions, and also captured silver medals at the Mixed Doubles Pro at the 2018 US Open, Men’s Doubles Pro and Mixed Doubles Pro at the 2017 US Open, and Mixed Doubles Pro at the 2017 USAPA National Championships. He also captured Gold in Men’s Doubles (35+) at the 2018 Nationals with Dave Weinbach, Gold in Mixed Pro Doubles with Lucy Kovalova and a silver medal with Weinbach in Men’s Pro Doubles. They both went on to win Gold at the 2019 US Open in Men’s Doubles (40+).
“One reason I believe I have achieved early success is the natural synergy between pickleball and tennis, yet the former being comparatively easier to learn and play at a higher level. In my opinion, the ‘pick up and play’ nature of pickleball is a critical component in its high retention rate, where players have more success at an early stage which, in turn, leads to more confidence and a greater desire to play.”
Like so many of his fellow competitors, Wright feels the move of the USAPA National Championships to a world-renowned venue has helped elevate the stature of the sport. “Simply put, the move to Indian Wells was a monumental moment in the sport’s growth, perception and credibility. I think it is important that we, the pickleball players and community, have embraced the move and continue to do everything we can to make it a success. In my opinion, this was a pivotal event and moment in our sport.”