Does pickleball hold events at places other than Daytona or Bell Bank Park in Arizona? The APP is back this weekend with its next tournament in Mesa, which will make a total 6 pro pickleball events that have either taken place at 2 venues in Arizona and Florida so far this year. It looks like the venues in those locations are pretty solid, both having a covered, stadium court to showcase the pros. It’s a little bit too much déjà vu to have so many different events at the same location.
One weird trend to monitor is that we have another pro playing with their MLP team owner situation as AZ Drive player, Wes Burrows, is teaming up with AZ Drive part-owner, Larry Fitzgerald, who has one of the best sets of hands the NFL has ever seen. The Dink (we think unintentionally) hilariously wrote in their Wednesday newsletter that it would be “an unbelievable moment to have [Fitzgerald] medal in Mesa.” We could be missing the sarcasm from the Dink so who knows, but give us things that will never happen in a million years, Alex! Hey, it is a soft men’s field in Arizona and Fitzgerald seems to love his pickleball, even if recent short clips we have seen are not encouraging for his prospects as a pro player. Over/under 0.5 wins for Burrows/Fitzgerald at Bell Bank Park this weekend?
Slim is back to within 1 of Gritty and has a chance to tie it up this weekend with a back and forth start to the year. Gritty won the toss again and elected to pick first.
(1) Parris Todd / Simone Jardim (Gritty)
(2) Hunter Johnson (Slim)
(3) Parris Todd (Slim)
(4) Parris Todd / Hunter Johnson (Gritty)
(5) Stefan Auvergne / Brendon Long (Gritty)
Gritty – Parris Todd and Simone Jardim should be a dominant pair in this field as there is no one that should be able to match their firepower together. However, I am concerned about the amount of work, or lack thereof, that Parris Todd is putting into her game. Social media is not everything, but the fact there is no drilling in all of her content is cause for concern. Nevertheless, Hunter Johnson is coming off a weekend where he proved he is Premier level player. It is a weirdly soft men’s field in Mesa and Auvergne/Long should match up well as a pair together.
Slim – Yates Johnson has gotten the better of Hunter the last two times the Johnson brothers have met, but I decided to stick with Hunter here. I continue to have concerns about Parris not playing enough these days, but until she loses an APP singles draw you have to take her.
(6) Susannah Barr / Andrei Daescu (Slim)
(7) Salome Devidze (Slim)
(8) Yates Johnson (Gritty)
(9) Megan Fudge (Gritty)
(10) Susannah Barr / Megan Fudge (Slim)
(11) Andrei Daescu / Pesa Teoni (Slim)
Gritty – Yates Johnson has proven he has gold medal ability to beat his brother in a singles field that is wide open past the twins. Another oddly soft men’s singles field, even for an APP. Megan Fudge is still a grinder of a singles player and, while she could fall out of the medals in a strong APP women’s field, she could move her way up on the podium too.
Slim – I kind of like Andrei and Susannah to win mixed this week. Andrei is the best male doubles player in this field. If someone is going to beat Parris in singles this week, it will be Salome. Susannah Barr and Megan Fudge are, on paper, the second best women’s team in this field, but it will be interesting to see if they can end with a top two finish. Fudge’s doubles game still has not caught up to her singles game. Andrei and Pesa, will be a fascinating team to watch. Pesa is extremely talented, but how will he handle the pressure of playing with the best player in the tournament. Is Teoni’s consistency there?
(12) Hunter Johnson / Yates Johnson (Gritty)
(13) Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez (Gritty)
(14) Bobbi Oshiro / Stefan Auvergne (Slim)
(15) Milan Rane / Brendon Long (Slim)
(16) Milan Rane / Alix Truong (Gritty)
(17) Ryler DeHeart / Rob Nunnery (Gritty)
Gritty – I still liked Hunter/Yates ahead of Daescu/Teoni because we don’t know what you’re getting in Teoni so to get the Johnson’s at this spot I am happy with. The Johnson’s have been progressing as a pair. This may be too high for Medina Alvarez but I’m always going to like a grinder. Milan Rane and Alix Truong should be right in the mix for a bronze medal together. Ryler DeHeart started finding his doubles game at the end of the MLP event, so we’ll see how this men’s pairing goes with Rob Nunnery that is very gettable from a podium perspective.
Slim – I had Bobbi/Stefan and Milan/Brendon very close on my board so decided to take them back to back at 14 and 15 because I am confident one of these teams will be on the podium this weekend.
(18) Bobbi Oshiro / Heather Nobler (Slim)
(19) Andrei Daescu (Slim)
(20) Bobbi Oshiro (Gritty)
(21) Shelby Bates / Rachel Rettger (Gritty)
(22) Judit Castillo Gargallo (Slim)
(23) Jack Foster (Slim)
Gritty – Bobbi Oshiro does not play much singles on tour but inch for inch she has more ability than most of the women out there. Shelby Bates and Rachel Rettger have some inconsistencies, but they have also showed they are good enough to beat Lea Jansen/Allyce Jones on the right day.
Slim – Andrei has actually shown good singles ability, but is yet to make a podium, in a field lacking a ton of depth at the top. I like his chances this week. Bobbi’s stock has been on the rise recently and it will be interesting to see how she does with the recent Challenger pick up Nobler.
(24) Megan Fudge / Rob Nunnery (Gritty)
(25) Ryler DeHeart (Gritty)
(26) Judit Castillo Gargallo / Christa Gecheva (Slim)
(27) Casey Cullen / Jason Bock (Slim)
(28) Alix Truong / Yates Johnson (Gritty)
(29) Carolina Mayorga Perry (Gritty)
(30) Brandon Nsekpong / Etienne Blaszkewycz (Slim)
Gritty – Megan Fudge/Rob Nunnery showed up fine in their first partnership together in Daytona so a podium is not out of the question. Alix Truong and Yates Johnson have some sneaky upside at this last selection as well as Carolina Mayorga Perry who has some solid results against good competition in singles.
Slim – Judit Castillo Gargallo has been getting some wins in women’s pro doubles. I could have opted for the brand new Hurricane Black/Rianna Valdes pairing, but I went safer to see how Castillo Gargallo does with Christa Gecheva. The men’s was tough at the bottom. The Amazon was around with Moo Venkatesan but I went with Brandon Nsekpong and the Canadian, Etienne Blaszkewycz.
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