APP Tour Punta Gorda Open – Fantasy Draft Preview
We are choosing to do a double fantasy draft preview week with the APP Punta Gorda happening this weekend as well. We are not sure how many APP fantasy drafts we will do this year as a lot will depend on how deep their draws are from a legitimate pro standpoint. This Punta Gorda tournament has enough quality pros to make it worth our while to complete a fantasy draft.
Notable entrants in the Punta Gorda tournament are Noah Rubin, Allie Kiick, Martin Emmrich and Tammy Emmrich. All 4 of these players have professional tennis in their backgrounds and appear to be taking the sport of pickleball quite seriously . These are players to keep an eye out for this weekend and how they fare against a real level of professional pickleball.
Slim won the toss for this draft and elected to pick first.
(1) Simone Jardim / Parris Todd (Slim) –
(2) Hunter Johnson (Gritty)
(3) Simone Jardim / Andrei Daescu (Gritty)
(4) Parris Todd (Slim)
(5) Andrei Daescu / Kyle Yates (Slim)
Slim – Simone and Parris have shown they are a very good women’s doubles team, and in a women’s field lacking some depth, it is hard to see them losing. Parris was not playing a ton of singles the second half of last year as she dealt with some injuries, however I presume she will be playing and playing to win, since she seems to be betting on herself, not signing any tour deals. Andrei Daescu and Kyle Yates have proven themselves to be a formidable mens doubles team, winning the $100K APP St. Louis Open last year.
Gritty – Hunter Johnson is the clear #1 favorite in this new world for the APP singles draws. Simone/Andrei should be a formidable partnership but, with their lack of history and Daescu’s mixed still a work in progress, it may not be a walkover gold medal performance.
(6) Yates Johnson (Gritty)
(7) Susannah Barr / Bobbi Oshiro (Gritty)
(8) Ewa Radzikowska (Slim)
(9) Parris Todd / Hunter Johnson (Slim)
(10) Megan Fudge (Gritty)
(11) Rob Nunnery / Austin Gridley (Gritty)
Slim – Ewa Radzikowska has only played two pro singles events but she has medaled in both of them, including taking gold in Alabama last year. The upside of Hunter Johnson and Parris Todd was too much for me to pass up here, but I do have concerns, particularly that Hunter Johnson, stopped playing mixed the last part of last year.
Gritty – Here we are, Yates Johnson as the clear #2 best player in this singles field. There’s a steep drop-off after Yates, but he has had consistency issues so it’s easier said than done to bank on him for a silver medal. In a women’s field that features 2 teams above the rest, I had to go with Barr/Oshiro at this spot. They may not be in line for an upset gold, but I would be very shocked if they came away with anything less than silver. I’m surprised Slim let Megan Fudge slip to me as I had Fudge ahead of Radzikowska even though Ewa beat Megan last time they faced off. In a men’s doubles draw with 2 teams above the rest, I took the first-time intriguing pair of Nunnery/Gridley.
(12) Susannah Barr / Rob Nunnery (Slim)
(13) Megan Fudge / Alix Truong (Slim)
(14) Corrine Carr / Lee Whitwell (Gritty)
(15) Greg Dow / Anderson Scarpa (Gritty)
(16) Jack Foster (Slim)
(17) Ryler DeHeart (Slim)
Slim – Susannah Barr and Rob Nunnery could win the tournament in this mixed field, however I do still have some concerns about where Rob’s game may be at as he works his way back after missing most of last year with injuries. I think Megan Fudge and Alix Truong find the podium this weekend, so they were an easy pick at 13. Jack Foster has shown he can make podiums and with this field lacking the depth of last year APP single draws I like his chances this weekend. Ryler DeHeart has shown he can beat elite players in singles, he beat JW at nationals for instance but he has had a tough time stringing together full days, I think the lack of depth in this field should help him with that.
Gritty – Doing these drafts is a lot tougher when there aren’t top teams that you know will go out there and perform. It leads to more volatility in the results. So picking a pregnant Corrine Carr with Lee Whitwell is far from a sure bet. Nevertheless, I liked them as my #3 team ahead of Truong/Fudge. The men’s field is going to be a crapshoot, which is why I went with a team where I know exactly what I’m getting. Dow/Scarpa can suffer some tough losses when the grindy nature of their games are not up to par, but they are going to make teams work to earn every single point against them.
(18) Allie Kiick (Gritty)
(19) Brendon Long / Ben Randlett (Gritty)
(20) Milan Rane (Slim)
(21) Megan Fudge / Ryler DeHeart (Slim)
(22) Shelby Bates / Milan Rane (Gritty)
(23) Anderson Scarpa (Gritty)
Slim – Milan Rane has shown she can make podiums in singles field like this, so it seemed like good value at the 20th pick. I am not sure I love when Megan Fudge and Tyler DeHeart play mixed together but their talent and competitiveness were too much to pass at this point in the draft.
Gritty – I was happy to get Allie Kiick as the 4th woman here in singles. With a clear top 3, I thought it was worth a swing to take the former professional tennis player with immense upside theoretically. Perennially underrated, Brendon Long is paired with the talented Ben Randlett, and should have as good a shot as anyone outside the top 2 mens’ teams to find a podium.
(24) Ryler DeHeart / Eden Lica (Slim)
(25) Joey Farias / Andreas Siljestrom (Slim)
(26) Lee Whitwell / Eden Lica (Gritty)
(27) Alix Truong / Yates Johnson (Gritty)
(28) Dominique Lemperle / Rachel Summers (Slim)
(29) Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez (Slim)
(30) Alix Truong (Gritty)
Slim – I don’t love the fit of Eden Lica and Ryler DeHeart, two right side players, but at this point in the draft, I thought the talent was too much to pass up. I still don’t understand how Lica didn’t get drafted in the Challenger draft. Andreas Siljestrom was a doubles specialists in tennis once ranked 57 in doubles in the world, he and Joey have played a few tournaments together, if he has continued to improve this could be the weekend that he breaks out. Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez has only played 4 pickleball tournaments, but his results to date have been promising, so I took a chance on him with my last men’s singles pick.
Gritty – Two right side players, it will be interesting to see how Whitwell/Lica fare together. It is still wild to me that Lica went undrafted in Challenger. It says a lot when Nunnery is choosing to partner with Lica for a number of APP tournaments. I was not sure where to go with my last mixed selection so I went with Alix Truong/ Yates Johnson – honestly thought she was with Kyle Yates… Alix Truong has reached the podium in singles and there is an outside shot of that happening this weekend.
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