Two tournaments in two beautiful, tourist destinations this weekend for pickleball. We have Cincinnati, Ohio for the PPA and the APP Atlanta Metro Open being held in Griffin, Georgia, about an hour outside of Atlanta. Like we said, tourist destinations. You wouldn’t really know there was a dueling PPA event looking at this APP draw. It’s not a fully loaded event, but clearly the APP players have come out to play for the tier 1 event. The fact is that these top 10 APP men and women are getting “stipends” for attending these tier 1 events and that’s a significant amount of money for what is really an appearance fee. Why would you attend a PPA event where your sponsor is only covering your registration and you aren’t getting paid to attend? Really, it is the fans lose out on these types of weekends. These split fields at allegedly the premiere events for the tours are simply not ideal for showcasing the best that pickleball has to offer. As with the PPA being on Tennis Channel, we should be seeing a good chunk of the APP coverage on ESPN+ with this being a USA Pickleball event, which means the fans lose out again.
Random note is that the most hyped player that no one has ever seen play, Christian Alshon, is playing mixed and men’s this weekend with Shelby Bates and Johnny Goldberg respectively. Alshon was not in the singles draw when we did this draft on Tuesday but he’s in there now. We’ll be very interested to see how he fares in his first pro event. No one has been hyped up more than Alshon in our brief time following pro pickleball.
Slim is up 3 going into the weekend in fantasy for the year now. Slim won the toss for both drafts and gets to pick first again here.
(1) Simone Jardim / JW Johnson (Slim)
(2) Dekel Bar / JW Johnson (Gritty)
(3) JW Johnson (Gritty)
(4) Simone Jardim / Parris Todd (Slim)
(5) Jorja Johnson (Slim)
Slim – Simone/JW have been pretty much a lock in APP mixed events. If healthy, I love Simone/Parris but there are health questions with both of them. Parris’ power fits very well with Simone’s consistency. Jorja Johnson is the most experienced player in a thinner than usual women’s singles field.
Gritty – I’m trying to take Slim’s JW corner but I may be getting in too late. JW has not been quite the lock he has been in the past, especially in singles. There isn’t a men’s team as strong as Daescu/Frazier this weekend though so I like the doubles spot. In singles, I’ve got to see him lose a couple of more times before I go away from him as a #1.
(6) Jorja Johnson / Andrea Koop (Gritty)
(7) Federico Staksrud (Gritty)
(8) Jorja Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Slim)
(9) Andrei Daescu / Zane Navratil (Slim)
(10) Dylan Frazier / Kyle Yates (Gritty)
(11) Andrea Koop / Zane Navratil (Gritty)
Slim – Dylan/Jorja are a very good team as Dylan keeps getting mixed results. Andrei is coming off an impressive gold in Chicago and will be looking to repeat this weekend, this time partnering with Zane who he has had success with. Andrei’s heavier schedule in 2022 has put him in a place where he is establishing himself as a true left-sided force in pro pickleball.
Gritty – Federico is my JW insurance. Without James Ignatowich in the field, Staksrud is the clear #2 as Zane has been faltering a little recently with players getting more used to his serve. Jorja Johnson/Andrea Koop are the team I had above Simone/Parris due to injury concerns so I’m happy to get them as the 2nd women’s team. Frazier/Yates did not go so well last time they partnered together but that was before Yates had fully accepted his optimal role on the right. I’m going back to the well with Koop/Navratil, who are another team that have an argument to be the #2 team out there this weekend.
(12) Megan Fudge (Slim)
(13) Mary Brascia (Slim)
(14) Etta Wright / Susannah Barr (Gritty)
(15) Zane Navratil (Gritty)
(16) Parris Todd / Dekel Bar (Slim)
(17) Adam Stone / DJ Young (Slim)
Slim – I would expect Megan Fudge and Mary Brascia to both make the podium this weekend in women’s singles despite Mary having trouble away from the west coast. The Dekel Bar and Parris Todd partnership has a high ceiling, I just worry that Dekel takes too much court in mixed. If Dekel lets Parris play they should do well. I worry about Adam Stone not having played in so long but DJ Young is playing too well not to take them here.
Gritty – I lost out on the next two women’s singles players but I’m still comfortable with getting Etta Wright/Susannah Barr. Etta is showing out recently as her power and length could be a scary thing next to Susannah Barr. Zane Navratil lost to Dylan Frazier last weekend and should have lost to him the time before. I’m banking that things will turn around for Zane in a slightly thinner singles field.
(18) Vivienne David / Lacy Schneemann (Gritty)
(19) Rafa Hewett / Julian Arnold (Gritty)
(20) Dylan Frazier (Slim)
(21) Pablo Tellez (Slim)
(22) Lauren Stratman (Gritty)
(23) Lauren Stratman / Julian Arnold (Gritty)
Slim – Dylan Frazier has been playing really well in singles lately. His trajectory is on the up and this is a spot where he should be able to podium. I like the upside of Pablo Tellez in singles despite some consistency issues there. Pablo has shown podium capability.
Gritty – Vivienne and Lacy are going to be a fun pair to watch. Heading into the Columbus MLP Shuffle Draft, I had concerns about Schneemann’s performance in Newport being flash in the pan type stuff. This weekend should give us a decent idea if that is true. Another super fun team will be Rafa/Julian. Two super level-headed, calm dudes who will stay even keeled throughout the day. Let’s see if Lauren Stratman withdraws from singles. It is more likely she plays with it being on a Thursday, but she doesn’t tend to want to grind out the loser’s side, which is not good for fantasy. There were a lot of mixed teams out there to choose from but I still can’t quit Stratman/Arnold’s upside even if the upside may be more theoretical by the week. I might be done for a while if they can’t show some more results together this weekend.
(24) Mary Brascia / Bobbi Oshiro (Slim)
(25) Lauren Stratman / Regina Franco (Slim)
(26) Mary Brascia / Federico Staksrud (Gritty)
(27) Jenna Hessert (Gritty)
(28) Julian Arnold (Slim)
(29) Stefan Auvergne / Brendon Long (Slim)
(30) Emily Ackerman (Gritty)
Slim – Even though Oshiro’s recent results have not been great, Mary Brascia and Bobbi Oshiro should fit well together as a partnership, and I’m buying the talent of Bobbi. Lauren Stratman and Regina Franco also fit well together and Lauren has been getting great results, but I worry about Regina in that partnership. I have them below Bobbi/Megan as I’m out on Regina right now. Julian Arnold is inconsistent in singles but offers high upside. Stefan/Brendon partnership could surprise some people this weekend. Christian Alshon would have been a consideration on hype alone but he wasn’t in the draw when we did the draft.
Gritty – A ton of mixed teams out there I could have gone with. Corrine/DJ, Lee/Andrei, Vivienne/Long stand out as some of the ones I passed up. After Brascia’s run with Ignatowich last week, let’s see how she does with another singles not so specialist in Federico. The last two women’s singles pick leave something to be desired but Jenna Hessert had a good run at her last singles event while I really do like the way Ackerman plays. If there is a field for either of these to surprise some folks, this could be it.
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