It’s the APP Tour’s turn for another tournament this weekend and we’re in South Carolina. It’ll be interesting to see how many more of these lower tier APP events that we see Anna Bright play. She has more APP’s lined up but, by all accounts, it looks like she has some more Jessie Irvine partnerships lined up for the PPA. She must be getting offers from everywhere to play. As with all these players, Bright will have to find a way to manage her tournament schedule as it can be very easy to simply play all of the tournaments. Bright signed with Top Notch Management earlier this week so she’ll have some more direction rather than figuring out this whole world on her own. It was also interesting to see Bright on Tuesday night in the DUPR exhibition playing with a JOOLA Ben Johns paddle. In addition to partnerships, you know she must be getting offers from a lot of companies out there but it’s clear JOOLA has money to burn. Their timing into the pickleball world may be perfect to secure the most coveted free agent in pickleball.
Slim is now only 5 up on the year again after a loss last weekend. He won the toss though and elected to pick first.
(1) Simone Jardim / JW Johnson
(2) Anna Bright (Gritty)
(3) Zane Navratil / JW Johnson (Gritty)
(4) JW Johnson (Slim)
(5) Anna Bright / Bobbi Oshiro (Slim)
Slim – Simone and JW are the class of this mixed field and it would be quite an upset if they lose this weekend. Gritty opting to take Anna Bright, and leave JW Johnson available, is an interesting choice. I know Zane did take the crown the last time they played, but I like JW to bounce back this weekend. Anna Bright and Bobbi Oshiro might be a surprising pick here but I like them to take the women’s doubles gold this weekend. Anna is continuing to emerge as a dominant force in the women’s game and Bobbi Oshiro is a very smooth, under the radar player who should pair well with her.
Gritty – Bright lost a tight match to Parris Todd last weekend in the first round, but she found her way to a podium over Callie Smith. She is just going to keep getting better. The only thing I’m concerned about is how much pickleball she is playing in such a short period of time. I should have gone off board with my next pick and gone with JW Johnson who has been mostly invincible this year. I was a little worried by his last two tournaments in singles so I stuck with my board and take Zane/JW. It’s a very good fit for Zane as he has become quite a steady player that should pair well with JW.
(6) Zane Navratil (Gritty)
(7) Eden Lica / Andrei Daescu (Gritty)
(8) Simone Jardim / Lee Whitwell (Slim)
(9) Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(10) Anna Bright / Gabriel Tardio (Gritty)
(11) Lee Whitwell / Andrei Daescu (Gritty)
Slim – Simone and Lee are probably the safest pick in women’s doubles, and I have a hard time picturing them ending up lower than second this weekend. Jorja Johnson has been a consistent podium presence in women’s singles this year and has gold medal potential.
Gritty – Zane finally broke through against JW at the Legacy Open so I’m hoping he has sorted things out with his serve and can keep it going this weekend. I always like Eden/Andrei and in this field, they are quite clearly the #2 team in my eyes. Bright and Tardio practice a ton together in Florida and I really like how Tardio’s game is looking. This mixed field isn’t as strong as a lot of others we have seen so this could be a big weekend for the pair. I went back-to-back mixed choices with Whitwell/Daescu. Andrei is actually playing more mixed this year, and he is proving to be a force not surprisingly.
(12) Austin Gridley / Adam Stone (Slim)
(13) Salome Devidze (Slim)
(14) Michelle Esquivel / Regina Franco (Gritty)
(15) Michelle Esquivel (Gritty)
(16) Michelle Esquivel / Rob Cassidy (Slim)
(17) Federico Staksrud (Slim)
Slim – Austin Gridley and Adam Stone are an intriguing first time partnership, I will be curious to see how they choose to play from a style perspective. Salome Devidze is coming off her gold medal performance in the Legacy Open, so she certainly has gold medal potential, but I do think she benefited from championship Sunday there as she often seems to tire as the day goes, so we’ll have to see how she performs at the end of the day here. Michelle Esquivel and Rob Cassidy are one of the more veteran teams in the field, and I am hoping they can use their experience to get on the podium. Federico is coming off a breakout silver medal performance, at Delray. He had a good Florida run of tournaments and I’m hoping he can carry that momentum into this weekend.
Gritty – I’m not in love with the Esquivel/Franco partnership, but there’s not a ton of competition behind them in this draw, which is why I take them where I do. Michelle Esquivel in a singles field? Where ya been Michelle! She’s not playing much singles but her ground strokes are still really good. I’m hoping she can sneak onto a podium this weekend.
(18) Gabriel Tardio (Gritty)
(19) Corrine Carr / Sarah Ansboury (Gritty)
(20) Corrine Carr / Zane Navratil (Slim)
(21) Jorja Johnson / Milan Rae (Slim)
(22) Shiv Krishnaswamy / Gabriel Tardio (Gritty)
(23) Jack Foster (Gritty)
Slim – At this point in the draft Zane Navratil and Corrine Carr, seem like great value. Zane seemed to be getting a lot more on his serve at Legacy, if he can keep that going, it’s a big edge in mixed. Jorja Johnson is easily the best player left in women’s doubles at this point in the draft so she and Milan Rane are an easy pick here.
Gritty – I have all the Gabe Tardio this week and I actually had him 1 spot ahead of Federico on my big board. Neither of them have a long proven track record so we’ll see how that consistency goes. Corrine/Sarah is definitely a legacy partnership and there is an argument to be made that they should be behind Jorja/Milan, but I go with them here. Again, all the Gabe Tardio this week. Shiv is probably in the same breathe as Caden Nemoff as a player, but I wanted to see what Gabe could do with him in terms of an upside play. Finally, Jack Foster hasn’t hit a podium in a while, but he is still getting wins. This could be a favorable field for him.
(24) Milan Rane (Slim)
(25) Rob Cassidy / Caden Nemoff (Slim)
(26) Jorja Johnson / Brandon Nsekpong (Gritty)
(27) Arielle Butler / Kasandra Gehrke (Gritty)
(28) Jake Kusmider (Slim)
(29) Brandon Nsekpong / Johnny Goldberg (Slim)
(30) Amanda Hendry (Gritty)
Slim – Milan Rane’s singles results are inconsistent but she can get wins against this field. Rob Cassidy is one of the better men’s doubles players in the field so at this point in the draft he and Caden Nemoff are an easy pick. Jake Kusminder got a bronze in a Delray and I decided to take a chance on him here as I am not sure that FAD is still fully healthy yet. Brandon Neskpong and Johnny Goldberg are a first time partnership, but in a field not deep in pro experience, I think they offer the best upside of the teams remaining.
Gritty – The bottom of this draft gets a bit dark. I’m happy to get Jorja in mixed this late in the draft because of how well she is playing and Nsekpong has weapons on the other side of her. The last women’s team of Butler/Gehrke was a legacy pick for other teams to get Gehrke’d. Amanda Hendry has the most experience for the final women’s singles slot.
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