Marcos del Pilar

Day of destiny awaits PPL draft hopefuls

More than 300 players will find out on Tuesday if they have been successful in being drafted to compete in this year’s Pro Padel League.

Just 23 players are guaranteed to be chosen in the draft for the second PPL season which begins in April and has an increased prize fund of $1m.

The draft features 10 PPL teams, with three newcomers – Houston Volts, Flowrida Goats and New York Atlantics – having the first three picks . This will be followed by two rounds featuring all of the teams, with the second round picks being the reverse order of the first round.

Marcos del Pilar, co-founder and commissioner of the North American-based league, was tight-lipped on who was in the draft but confirmed it does feature some of the world’s best male and female players and also had a spread of players from across the globe.

He said: “I'm not allowed to disclose any names but we are really happy and excited to have some top players in the world apply for the draft, both men and women.

“Just like last year, I had applications from over 20 different countries. This year it is more or less the same. We have people applying from all over the world - Asia, Middle East, Europe, of course and the Americas, both the Americas.

“We're pretty excited to have some of the best players from other circuits applying for PPL, which is showing the international interest in PPL.”

Last year the inaugural draft featured more than 600 players as all of the teams selected the majority of their squads via the draft. This year, teams have already signed up some of the world’s best players, resulting in fewer draft picks this year.

It has also resulted in a different formula, which means there is still an opportunity for players who miss out on the draft still being involved in the PPL this year. Team sizes have increased from 10 to 12, meaning 120 players will feature this year.

“Last year teams were allowed to choose only two players before the draft and everyone else needed to be picked from the draft,” explained del Pilar.

“However, based on the amazing interest that we received from some of the best players that have already been announced by some of the teams, we switched the approach of this year’s draft.

“After the draft, there is a possibility some teams won’t have filled their player roster, so they will be able to pick some external players as free agents.”

The draft is an important element to PPL, as it replicates a system used in other major sports in North America such as the NFL (American Football), MBL (baseball) and NBA (basketball).

del Pilar added: “I wanted to give importance to the draft because we are making the sport closer to the American mentality. We wanted to keep it as a way to familiarise the sport with the American audience. It was also a way to provide a broader range of opportunities for more players.

“Part of the mission when we created the league was to build the next generation of superstars in America. The draft is aligned with that intention of letting the teams pick some American names that will be the next generation of superstars and the guys that will be leading the movement in the upcoming years.”

The draft will take place at 12pm PT, 3pm EST on February 13 and will be hosted virtually this year. The PPL will reveal the picks in specially created content across its social media platforms.

The 10 teams competing for the PPL Cup in 2024 include defending champions Las Vegas Smash, Cancun Waves, Miami Padel Club, Flowrida Goats, San Diego Stingrays, Los Angeles Beat, Arkansas Matrix, Toronto Polar Bears, New York Atlantics, and Houston Volts.

The season will feature four rounds of matches, two in April and two in August, before the PPL Cup final in November.