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Catching up with Whidbey Island's pickleball star Riley Newman

Chris Egan decided to face off against one of the best pickleball players in the world.

CLINTON, Wash. — The biggest outdoor pickleball tournament in the state, the Seattle Metro Pickleball Classic, is underway.

The tournament runs through Sunday at Shoreview Park in Shoreline.

This year's tournament has over 650 participants. There are 12 events, 38 brackets, and over 750 matches.

KING 5's Chris Egan started playing pickleball in 1978 and decided to face off against one of the best players in the world, 29-year-old Riley Newman from Whidbey Island.

Newman grew up playing tennis, soccer, baseball and basketball. He was the middle child of five sisters and a brother that are all passionate about sports.

He was a three-sport star at South Whidbey High School and won a singles state championship in tennis.

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Newman continued his love for tennis in college, where he earned a scholarship at Seattle University. He played No. 1 singles and doubles for two seasons at Seattle University.

In 2017, Newman was introduced to pickleball and quickly fell in love with the game. He entered his first 5.0 tournament with his sister Lindsey Newman and took gold in the mixed doubles bracket.

"I love getting the chance to play with my sister, she's an amazing player, and we know each other's games so well," said Riley Newman.

Riley Newman has 12 career Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) titles and three major titles. In 2021, he won the national mixed doubles championship with sister Lindsey. He also won the 2021 men's doubles championship.

Riley Newman is currently ranked No. 1 in mixed doubles and No. 2 in men's doubles.

"I play on the PPA tour. I've played in 20 tournaments, winning gold and winning silver. This sport is for all ages, whether you're 7 or 70. That's the beauty of this game. Everybody can play it. It's the best game on planet Earth.

"When I first started playing, it was like $300 that you could earn in tournaments. Now you can make a good living playing pickleball full time. It's the best career in the world," he said.

Riley Newman now lives in Arizona, but he loves vacationing in his favorite part of the country, the Pacific Northwest. On September 10, Newman will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game. The Mariners will have a pickleball night at T-Mobile Park when they face the Atlanta Braves. 

"I can't wait to throw out the first pitch at a Mariners game. I'm humbled and honored to get the chance to represent the sport of pickleball on such a large stage," he said.

WATCH: Learning pickleball with a local legend

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