The Association of Pickleball Players (APP) announced a significant addition to its front office, welcoming Melissa McCurley—one of pickleball’s most experienced stewards—to the organization’s leadership team as the executive vice president of the APP’s competition initiatives.
“Melissa is one of the forefront leaders in the pickleball industry, significantly shaping the sport’s growth and resources over the last decade,” said APP Founder Ken Herrmann. “When I was starting the APP back in 2019, Melissa was a trusted advisor who helped ensure our vision and objectives were established for long-term, enhanced player experience. Her continued commitment to growing pickleball as an inclusive sport is inimitable, and we are thrilled to have her join the APP family as we expand opportunities for recreational play.”
In this new role, McCurley oversees the APP’s competition space while sharing her knowledge and expertise in the grassroots pickleball initiatives across the organization. Her prior experience includes nearly a decade as owner and CEO of PickleballTournaments.com, a leading pickleball tournament management software platform. Under her leadership, the company grew as a global powerhouse from supporting 93 tournaments serving about 10,000 players in 2014 to now supporting more than 1,200 events and 300,000 players.
McCurley also helped USA Pickleball create and launch the sport’s first algorithmic data-driven rating system. McCurley regularly oversaw tournament draws with thousands of players, becoming the first person to run tournaments with more than 800 players then growing to run the first tournament with more than 3,000 players. Her savvy leadership, calm stewardship and honesty enabled the emerging pickleball industry to grow and adapt events to the needs for both amateurs and professionals.
“I couldn't be more thrilled about becoming a member of the APP family,” McCurley said. “With the continued rapid growth of the sport and the ongoing changes to consumer needs coupled with the equipment and technology advances in the industry, I just couldn't stay retired.”
McCurley continued: “The APP's focus on the grassroots and growth of the sport across multiple offerings provides a perfect match with my vision, core skills and values. I look forward to bringing a decade of unique experience that aligned with the most explosive decade of growth in pickleball’s 58-year history. I’m excited to continue supporting the growth, access and advancement of pickleball with APP by developing innovative, creative and motivational approaches to launch major pickleball brands.”
McCurley’s accolades as a prominent figure in the pickleball industry include being referenced as the “Most Influential Person in Pickleball” by sports media; receiving the “Pickleball Service Industry Award” from the Racquet Sports Industry group in 2020; a nomination for the Pickleball Hall of Fame in 2023; and earning the US Open Pickleball IMPACT Award in 2022. The latter award annually recognizes the person or group who has had a great impact on the sport of pickleball and the growth and success of the US Open Pickleball Championships.
Before her career in sports business and technology, McCurley served in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman for eight years during Operation Desert Storm, caring for military members, their families and World War II veterans. Her service to our country continued in various roles at Electronic Data Services (EDS), including: leading the installation and technology build out of the Navy and Marine Corps first common infrastructure and office environment; setting up the Navy’s Crisis Response Center at the Washington Navy Yard, which cared for families impacted by the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the U.S. Pentagon; and establishing the Navy’s Emergency Response Team that restored Naval communications impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
McCurley is one of three female leaders added to the APP’s front office this quarter. They join as the APP announced a new pro team competition and new amateur format while also preparing to kick off 2024 campaign with its new U.S. Collegiate Championships and Midwest Open on Jan. 3-7 in Westfield, Indiana. Player registration and ticket information are available on theapp.global.