This is going to be the norm for us going forward as we use the fantasy pickleball as our preview for the tournament. Slim is 2 up on Gritty for the year. As a reminder, we get points for the teams we pick with 3 points for a gold, 2 points for a silver and 1 point for a bronze – highest total points for the tournament gets the W for the week. Slim had the first pick for this weekend in our snake draft. Without further ado:
(1) Adam Stone / Corrine Carr (Slim)
(2) Lea Jansen (Gritty)
(3) Jay Devilliers / Patrick Smith (Gritty)
(4) Zane Navratil (Slim)
(5) Andrea Koop / Corrine Carr (Slim)
Slim – Stone and Carr have gotten gold every time they’ve teamed up together on the APP Tour, and I like them to keep that streak going this weekend. I feel like Gritty shouldn’t get to pick Jason since he is always so hard on her, but I guess he is coming around on her and her game. I feel like Navratil and Devilliers are very close in singles, but I still give the edge to Zane so he is my top men’s singles pick. I know Koop and Carr had a rough weekend in Cincinnati a few weeks ago, where they failed to medal, losing to the Kawamoto sisters twice, but I like them to bounce back this weekend in a big way. Speaking of the Kawamoto sisters, one of my biggest disappointments this weekend is that they will not be playing in the women’s field. I really wanted to see how they could follow up on their breakthrough Cincinnati performance.
Gritty – All the shade I’m getting privately from Slim about how hard I have been on Lea Jansen is getting to me apparently. I had her first on my big board for the entire field. While her showing in Atlanta was impressive, even if she only had to win one match to guarantee silver, this choice is primarily due to a very weak singles field. Esquivel is the only threat to Jansen and who knows how healthy she is. I had Devilliers/Smith ahead of Stone/Carr on my big board so I was happy Slim picked Stone/Carr first. Their game is more and more consistent each tournament and they are the clear #1 men’s team for me. Stone/Carr had some very tight matches in Cincinnati to win gold so I don’t think they are quite as solid as Slim believes.
(6) Jay Devilliers (Gritty)
(7) Lauren Stratman / Lea Jansen (Gritty)
(8) Adam Stone / Rob Nunnery (Slim)
(9) Zane Navratil / Andrea Koop (Slim)
Slim – I don’t think any of these picks are too controversial. On my board Adam Stone and Rob Nunnery were the clear number 2 team in men’s and Navratil/Koop were the clear number 2 team in mixed. I feel like both of these teams on their best day could get gold. Navratil and Koop did take Carr and Stone to a game to 15 in the gold medal match in Cincinnati, so they have shown they are close. Rob Nunnery has started getting some late day, medal match tests the last few weeks and I expect him to get another good test in the gold medal here versus Pat and Jay.
Gritty – Devilliers is the no doubt #2 in the men’s singles field with the upside of a gold. I actually had Jansen/Stratman one spot ahead of Koop/Carr on my big board but that may have been a result of Cincinnati recency bias. It made my life easier that Slim took Koop/Carr first. I don’t see Jansen/Stratman losing out on bronze to Remynse Chou/Esquivel in this small women’s doubles field.
(10) Michelle Esquivel (Gritty)
(11) Lauren Stratman (Gritty)
(12) Altaf Merchant / Zane Navratil (Slim)
(13) Michelle Esquivel / Maggie Remynse (Slim)
(14) Patrick Smith / Lauren Stratman (Gritty)
(15) Jay Devilliers / Regina Franco (Gritty)
Slim – Merchant/Navratil and Remynse Chou/Esquivel were each clearly my number 3 in men’s and women’s doubles so I am happy to pick them up here. I feel quite confident in Michelle and Maggie and feel like they have shown that on the right day, they could finish even higher. On paper, Zane and Altaf are the third best team, but their performance together this year makes me worried that maybe the partnership has plateaued and that they could be susceptible to being upset.
Gritty – If I am being completely honest, my preparation for my big board was not completely sound as I missed that Yana Grechkina was in this field. I made the two picks of Esquivel and Stratman thinking that I was guaranteeing all the medals for that category. Considering Grechkina’s tennis background, it would not shock me if she found her way on the medal stand and I definitely would not have taken Stratman this early knowing that. This is where the draft starts getting thin in a smaller Indianapolis field and I decided to go with two mixed teams with the thinking that one of them could realistically get on the podium. Smith/Stratman are due for a breakthrough aren’t they?
(16) Ryan Sherry (Slim)
(17) John Cincola (Slim)
(18) JW Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
(19) Rob Cassidy / Maggie Remynse Chou (Gritty)
(20) Rob Cassidy / Ernesto Fajardo (Slim)
(21) Yana Grechkina (Slim)
Slim – Ryan Sherry and John Cincola were third and fourth on my men’s singles ranking so I am happy to pick them up, and feel like a slightly less deep singles field than some recently could favor both of them. I am a little worried that Sherry may not be getting enough mental training in these days though. I really like the upside of Gritty’s JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier pick. They are two of pickleball’s more promising young players and I am excited to see how they perform together this weekend. Yana Grechkina is a name to watch in pickleball as she seems to be improving and has very good potential.
Gritty – The men’s singles picks after Navratil and Devilliers was a crapshoot in my eyes. I can’t quibble with Slim taking Sherry and Cincola, but there are about 5 people he could have taken there. I like JW and Frazier as two very steady players that are very difficult to speed up. The Cassidy/Remynse Chou pick would have been Nunnery/Esquivel but for Nunnery calling out Esquivel on his blog for not giving it her all in their last match in Cincinnati. It’s kind of wild to me that Nunnery would be so honest when he has a future tournament scheduled with Esquivel but this is not the first hint we have heard of Esquivel being somewhat of a difficult partner at times – McGuffin has alluded to this in his podcast previously. As an aside, this was what I texted to Slim right after watching Nunnery/Esquivel get knocked out of the tourney in Cincinnati – “Interesting Michelle didn’t even acknowledge Rob after they lost. Just got her water and walked away.”
(22) Frank Anthony Davis (Gritty)
(23) Jack Foster (Gritty)
(24) Martina Kochli / Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(25) Jorja Johnson (Slim)
Slim – I will be very curious to see how Jorja Johnson does playing with an experienced pro like Martina Kochli this weekend. If the bracket breaks right for them, they could surprise some people. I also like Jorja’s upside in singles as well in a small field. I think it’s interesting that Gritty didn’t take Rob Nunnery here with one of his men’s singles pick. I think that is due to his concerns of Rob likely withdrawing from the loser’s side.
Gritty – I went with FAD and Foster in singles. I had Nunnery in my big board but decided against taking him when we did our draft with him basically saying he would withdraw if he goes to the loser’s side of the draw. This is a draw where we could see Nunnery in a semi-final and deciding not to withdraw with the chance at money, but I decided to go with FAD on the decline and Foster’s inconsistent ascent.
(26) Jonny Pickleball / John Cincola (Gritty)
(27) Katie Dyer / Kasandra Gehrke (Gritty)
(28) JW Johnson / Lea Johnson (Slim)
(29) Sydney Sonday (Slim)
(30) Sarah Ansboury / Megan Charity (Gritty)
Slim – Full disclosure, I had Rob Nunnery and Michelle Esquivel ahead of JW and Lea on my board and would have picked them here but had inadvertently crossed them off my board, so I ended up with JW and Lea and I am not upset about it as I do feel like that is a team with a very high ceiling. I thought Gritty’s Jonny Pickleball and John Cincola pick was interesting, I had Rafa Hewett and Johnny Goldberg ahead of them.
Gritty – I haven’t seen much from Jonny Pickleball other than his US Open run with Dylan Frazier, which is quite possibly more Frazier than Jonny’s improvement. However, I am high on Cincola’s upside and think there is more there than a Hewett/Goldberg combo.
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