The Waters'. A pickleball duo you can't help but loveJun 16, 2022
It’s March 29th in Austin, Texas.
I’m standing at center court watching a pro match. During a timeout, I realize Leigh Waters is standing to my left.
She doesn’t know it, but I’m a big fan. I’d watched her play many times and loved her game.
What seemed complicated to me was effortless to her. A powerful ball striker with a vicious backhand. A fierce competitor with an aggressive mindset.
During the timeout, I turn and say, “Hey Leigh, I’m Kyle. I love your game. You’re one of my favorite players to watch.”
Her response is a bit shocking.
“Really?” She says with a humble surprise.
Almost as if she hasn’t heard that in awhile.
And maybe that was the case because her doubles partner and 15 year old daughter, Anna-Leigh, is the #1 player in the world.
And she garners most of the attention — well deserved of course.
A few minutes later, Anna-Leigh walks over to tell mom it’s time to start warming up for their championship match. Leigh introduces me to her and we all talk for 90 seconds before they head off to get loose.
I stand there, thinking, “that was cool. They’re really kind people.”
And then went on with the day.
A few hours later, they’re walking in my direction, about 15 feet away.
I just came off the court after winning my own match, so I didn’t know if they’d won theirs.
We make eye contact and I yell, “how’d it go?”
They both reply, in unison, we won!!
We high five, and then I ask if they’ll do a quick interview and make a fun video.
They graciously say yes (and here’s the video below).👇
A month later, I see Leigh and Anna-Leigh again at a tournament and we spend a few minutes talking.
A couple weeks later, I see them again and again — we talk for a few minutes. And never once, do they treat me like I’m some lower level player not worthy of their time.
They treat me like a human. A friend even.
And what I realized, over time is, that’s just who they are.
I’ve watched them interact with fans. I’ve watched them invest time answering questions with upcoming players. I’ve seen social media posts of them surprising people at random parks and complexes.
And yes, they’re impressive pickleball players. But to me, it’s more than that.
Even with the busyness of life, they take the time.
Even with the constant requests I’m sure they get, they take the time.
Even with the wins and the losses (which don’t often happen), they take, the time.
And that means something. Because here’s the thing…
You hear the c’mons and you see the championships. You observe the paddle touches and watch the epic hand battles.
You notice the wicked backhands and dominating overheads.
But what you don’t always see when it comes to Anna-Leigh Waters and Leigh Waters is…
How they treat people off the court around the sport.
And I’ve been fortunate to be one of those people.
In fact, yesterday, they were kind enough to come play some rec while they were in Phoenix.
Because, like I mentioned above, that’s just who they are.
Leigh and Anna-Leigh, if you’re reading this,
Thanks for taking the time.
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