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Four winners of the Combine Competition Guaranteed Spots in 2024 Season

GRAPEVINE, TEXAS – March 20, 2024: The National Pickleball League® (NPL) conducted its second and final Pickleball Combine of the 2024 season for Champions Pros (age 50+) this past weekend. Over 100 male and female pickleball professionals from all over the US and as far away Australia and Canada, arrived ready to compete at the Chicken N Pickle in Grapevine, Texas. Players battled through a high-level two-day competition, showcasing their talents and abilities in the hopes that a representative from one of the twelve NPL teams looking on would take notice and select them in the upcoming player draft.

The top two male and female performers at the Texas Combine won guaranteed draft positions on an NPL team for the 2024 season. Tony Hoang of Crystal City, Missouri, and Eric Le of Newcastle, Washington took top honors for the men, while Leslie Ballard of Portland, Oregon and Stacy Zelenski of Morro Bay, California earned the coveted spots for the women.

Texas Combine Winners – Eric Le, Men’s Winner; Leslie Ballard, Women’s Winner; Tony Hoang, Men’s Winner

NPL Co-founder Michael “Hammer Mike” Chen conveyed his congratulations to the winners and remarked that the level of play at the second Combine was inspiring. “I really enjoyed seeing the incredibly high level of pickleball being played by these Champions Pros. In addition, they displayed great sportsmanship and respect for their fellow competitors. I was thrilled to hear from many of these participants that they love the NPL community and that it was the best pickleball event they have ever experienced. A big shoutout to all these players. I wish we could draft them all to play in the NPL!”

Stacy Zelenski – Womens Texas Combine

Rick Witsken, NPL Co-founder and a top male Champions Pro player commented on the intensity and energy on display at the Combine: "Every single player brought their A-game this weekend and left it all out on the court. Our team owners are going to have to make some very difficult decisions and the 2024 Draft is going to be off the charts!”

Registration will remain open through March 29th for qualified players who are interested in participating in NPL’s 2024 season to submit their names for the draft and can be accessed at The 2024 season will consist of 12 teams representing cities from across the country. Each team will have a roster of 14 players for a total of 168 pickleball professionals in the league. Players will learn if they have made it to the big leagues when NPL and the teams jointly announces the draft results at the Draft Reveal Party in Naples, Florida on April 14, 2024.

Once the teams are announced, NPL’s regular season kicks into high gear with competition event weekends taking place once per month from May to September, culminating in a season-ending Championships in October, where the Championship title and $150,000 in prize money will be on the line. All events in 2024 will be held at state-of-the-art indoor facilities across the country so there will be no weather inclement issues that could impact play.

Texas Combine Participants

About National Pickleball League®

The National Pickleball League® was founded in 2022 by Champions Pro players Rick Witsken, Beth Bellamy, and Michael “Hammer Mike” Chen. NPL Pickleball™ is a nationwide team competition for Champions Division (age 50+) professional pickleball players and made up of twelve teams in metropolitan locations in Indianapolis, Austin, Boca Raton, Naples, Denver, Oklahoma City, Houston, Seattle, Kansas City, Columbus, Coachella Valley and Princeton. National Pickleball League® is owned by National Pickleball League, LLC. The NPL is dedicated to expanding the reach of pickleball, fostering community engagement, physical and mental health, and elevating the sport to new heights. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities with NPL Pickleball™ can email for more information or visit the league’s website at

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