The pro pickleball world gets back at it this weekend with two somewhat competing events. We’ve got our fantasy drat preview for the APP New Jersey Open while the PPA is doing another exhibition with the Skechers Invitational. It’s legitimately a bigger deal for the PPA Tour this weekend as they will have their invitational on the big CBS on Saturday. While the PPA has been on ESPN2, it doesn’t really count when you have your event on ESPN2 during the Super Bowl. Also, it seems they will put just about anything on ESPN2 these days as they had some Microsoft Excel competition earlier this week. Having pickleball on a real network channel is something to write home about. It’s unclear whether this means anything long term but it does speak to there being growth of pickleball notoriety despite the very small viewership numbers the sport currently garners. We’ll definitely be tuning in to see what the broadcast looks like on CBS.
Back to more important business. Slim is 5 up on the year for fantasy drafts and we’ll see if Gritty can finally make another move at the New Jersey Open to close the gap a little bit. We’re already into August so there isn’t a whole lot of time left. Slim won the toss and elected to pick first
(1) Simone Jardim / JW Johnson (Slim)
(2) Dekel Bar / JW Johnson (Gritty)
(3) JW Johnson (Gritty)
(4) Anna Bright / Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(5) Anna Bright (Slim)
Slim – JW and Simone have been pretty much unbeatable in APPs this year and I like their chances of keeping that going this weekend, so they were a pretty easy pick first overall. Gritty is definitely trying to takeover “my never bet against JW Johnson” corner by taking JW in men’s singles and doubles the next two picks. You know what they say “it’s a copycat league”. So with JW all off the board, I go back to back with Anna Bright in women’s doubles and singles. After some late changes to the women’s doubles draw with withdrawals, Anna and Jorja should be pretty dominant. It was a tight call to take Anna over Salome Devidze in singles.
Gritty – Dekel/JW are the best men’s team out there and they are starting to get more tournaments under their belt. It’s tough for two dominant players to share the court but these two may be figuring out. JW Johnson has not been the lock at the #1 spot for singles that I would like him to be and he’s still been playing a ton of pickleball. At a certain point, the fatigue thing can’t be the only excuse for his performance in singles and it may be that players are finding ways to exploit holes in his game. Let’s see how he does this weekend.
(6) Salome Devidze (Gritty)
(7) Zane Navratil (Gritty)
(8) Anna Bright / Dylan Frazier (Slim)
(9) Lauren Stratman / Vivienne David (Slim)
(10) Kyle Yates / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
(11) Maggie Remynse / Susannah Barr (Gritty)
Slim – If a team is going to beat JW and Simone in mixed this weekend, I think it will be Dylan Frazier and Anna Bright. I have not liked a lot of Vivienne David’s partnerships in women’s doubles from a fit perspective this year, but I really like the fit with Lauren Stratman and think they should do well this week. I hadn’t seen they had this one together but we were waiting for this pairing as it is a natural fit.
Gritty – Salome has been sneaky consistent this year. In a weak women’s singles field, she is the clear #2 player with a real shot to win gold. In contrast, it is another strong and big APP men’s singles field, but Zane is also the clear #2 with a real shot to win gold. Kyle and Dylan are a first-time partnership with a ton of potential as Yates should in his element with Dylan covering a lot of court. It’s not a small draw for women’s doubles but there’s only a few strong teams, especially with Andrea not playing with Simone anymore. Susannah/Maggie should be in for a podium.
(12) Andrei Daescu / Eden Lica (Slim)
(13) Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(14) Simone Jardim / Corrine Carr (Gritty)
(15) Federico Staksrud (Gritty)
(16) Hayden Patriquin / Julian Arnold (Slim)
(17) Susannah Barr / Zane Navratil (Slim)
Slim – Eden Lica and Andrei Daescu had, by their standards, a disappointing Beer City Open, missing the podium, a rarity for them. I like them to bounce back this week. It is a relatively shallow women’s singles draw this week, so I think Jorja Johnson is pretty much a lock for the podium. Hayden Patriquin and Julian Arnold showed they are real contenders on the SoCal swing of the tour, and I am hoping they can keep it going here. Susannah Barr and Zane Navatril have shown before that they can get results together as Zane’s mixed results have been strong as of late.
Gritty – Simone had said there were no more tournaments with Corrine but the band is back again due to Andrea dropping out! A podium for what appears to be a rejuvenated Simone, who was covering all of the court at MLP, is not completely out of the question. Federico has been so consistent and without Ignatowich in the field anything less than a bronze would have to be thoroughly disappointing.
(18) Alix Truong (Gritty)
(19) DJ Young / Adam Stone (Gritty)
(20) Sarah Ansboury / Regina Franco (Slim)
(21) Amanda Hendry (Slim)
(22) Maggie Remynse / Andrei Daescu (Gritty)
(23) Lauren Stratman / Julian Arnold (Gritty)
Slim – Sarah Ansboury and Regina Franco are a veteran team who could make some noise in women’s doubles field that isn’t as top heavy as some of the other tournaments lately. Amanda Hendry has a lot more singles experience then the other women left of the board.
Gritty – This appears to be a 3-horse race in women’s singles but Truong is improving in that area. At this spot, I had to take DJ/Adam despite the fact Adam hasn’t played competitive pickleball since New York and even when healthy this partnership had a bad performance in Punta Gorda. Too much talent not to take though. Getting Maggie/Andrei this late is good value considering their recent performances while Lauren/Julian have podium potential every time they step on an APP court.
(24) Dylan Frazier (Slim)
(25) Julian Arnold (Slim)
(26) Jorja Johnson / Gabriel Tardio (Gritty)
(27) Olivia McMillan / Lee Whitwell (Gritty)
(28) Gabriel Tardio (Slim)
(29) Rob Cassidy / Brendan Long (Slim)
(30) Heather Nobler (Gritty)
Slim – I like all three of men’s singles picks here. Dylan Frazier has really upped his singles game recently, Julian Arnold has proven to be a podium threat and Gabe Tardio is improving by the day. I could have gone a number of different ways with my last men’s doubles pick, but I decided to take a shot on Rob Cassidy and Brendon Long, as like the right side/left side player fit and they will be aggressive, so if they get hot, who knows? If I was looking for upside, you could argue that Gabe Tardio and James Ignatowich offered the greatest upside.
Gritty – With the last mixed pick, I went with a more volatile team in Jorja/Gabe. Jorja’s mixed results have been strong at the APPs. Gabe has not been there yet but with the strength at the top but we keep banging his drum surrounding MLP so I’ll put my money where my mouth is. I’d rather take the unknown than Lee/Dekel or Sarah/Rafa in these strong but not elite mixed fields. My final pick is a shot in the dark with Heather Nobler who is 39 and has high level tennis experience.
Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too!