June 25, 2024

Sports in her blood: Mia Esteban hopes to carve a name for herself in pickleball

Sports in her blood: Mia Esteban hopes to carve a name for herself in pickleball
Mia Esteban is making steps to create a name for herself in pickleball. | Art by Mitzi Solano/One Sports

It runs in the blood.

Mia Esteban, younger sibling of Olympics-bound fencer Maxine Esteban, is hoping to follow the footsteps of her sister and carve a name for herself albeit in an entirely different sport.

Coming from a family of athletes, it’s only natural for Mia--who played volleyball in 2019 before she shifted to fencing and saw action in the UAAP--to find love in one of the fastest growing sports in the country.

That's pickleball.

It's a paddle sport that has combined the elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis.

What started as leisure for the 22-year-old Mia has now became a sport that she wants to compete in and be known for.

“I took up pickleball recreationally at first because I wanted to be able to play a sport wherein I can also encourage my mother to stay fit and work out with me. And I wanted to have a sport that both me and my boyfriend could play together,” shared the younger Esteban.

Mia, who graduated as cum laude of Management Engineering at Ateneo last year, even got a sponsorship deal with Joola, a renowned US-based paddle brand for pickleball and table tennis.

“It feels absolutely unreal to even have had this opportunity to be sponsored by Joola to train under them and Javaj Academy and one day compete representing them,” she said.

“I’m not exactly sure why they chose me out of all of the capable pickleball athletes out there, but I was told it was because of my ability to learn quickly, my teachability and the potential they saw in me to become a professional athlete,” she added.

Esteban admitted that it couldn't be helped that expectations are high for her--being a sister of an Olympic-caliber athlete and all. But Mia is using that as an inspiration to strive and become the best version of herself someday.

Don’t get Mia wrong. There’s no sibling rivalry here.

“To be a sister of an Olympian is both daunting and inspiring. She is everything I can only hope to be especially in the sports arena,” Mia said of her sister, Maxine, who will represent Ivory Coast in the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

“And while it is daunting to rise up and try to somehow match her, I also know firsthand that dreams happen when you put all of your heart into it,” she added.