by John Russel Jones

Pickleball is the new…tennis? badminton? ping pong? According to a recent story in The Hollywood Reporter, the racquet sport is the latest obsession of celebrities Matthew Perry, Jamie Foxx, and Leonardo DiCaprio; and “Pickled” is a celebrity pickleball tournament that’s in the works at CBS and Paramount+ for release later this year (can a Will Ferrell movie be far behind?). The sport, like many outdoor activities, got a lot more popular during the pandemic, but, according to USA Pickleball, has been around since 1965. Like any good sport, it also comes with a great line-up of gear, from paddles to balls to totes to apparel, and of course, professional players. Original Penguin by Munsingwear, a division of Perry Ellis International, has signed top-ranked pickleball professional Matt Wright as its brand ambassador.

“We are thrilled to have Matt Wright join the Original Penguin team,” said Oscar Feldenkreis, CEO of Perry Ellis International. “Matt has cemented himself as true star of the sport. We are confident he will represent Original Penguin with winning style on and off the court.”

Feldenkreis adds, “We are also ecstatic to be at the forefront of one of the fastest growing sports for men and women of all ages and see a tremendous opportunity to expand our footprint in a growing paddle sport community. Additionally, our sponsorship of USA Pickleball reaffirms our commitment to the pickleball community by bringing functional style and iconic logoed apparel to players, tournament officials, and referees.”

Wright, a former collegiate tennis player, is currently showcasing Original Penguin’s Racquet and Paddle Fall 2022 collection. The collection’s inspirations represent a fusion of retro heritage style with modern original twists while marrying classic silhouettes and unique prints. Fabrics include luxe sustainable recycled yarns with elastane blends such as Repreve and four-way stretch, extremely lightweight blends and includes moisture-wicking UPF sun protection. Detail elements feature power mesh for enhanced ventilation, piping, novelty logo details, and pockets.

“I grew up wearing the Penguin so I am incredibly humbled and excited to partner with such an incredible heritage brand like Original Penguin,” said Wright, seven-time U.S. Open Champion, and the number one ranked PPA Tour Doubles Player. “Original Penguin’s Racquet and Paddle collection provides functional performance, cutting edge designs, and comfort and I look forward to showcasing the Penguin on pickleball’s s biggest stages.”