Fantasy Pickleball / Preview – Atlanta Georgia Open PPA

We’re getting two birds with one stone in this post – pickleball fantasy draft and Atlanta PPA preview. Prior to starting the blog, we had been doing fantasy drafts between the two of us where we take the five main brackets and we pick three teams each in a snake draft. The winner of the week is whoever has the most combined points from their team – 3 points for a gold, 2 points for a silver and 1 point for a bronze. We have a small sum of money on each week and Slim is currently one up this year after his win in our US Open fantasy draft. This fantasy draft and our comments about the picks will serve as our preview for the Atlanta Georgia Open PPA.

Gritty had the first pick and the chart above shows our respective teams. The post itself details the order in which we picked the teams and we give some of our thought process behind the picks (our comments were written separately so there may be some overlap). Keep in mind this PPA event has a new format of US Open style double elimination – no back door to gold. The gold medal matches will all be played on Sunday in a 3 out of 5 game format. As we discussed with the US Open, this makes the draw so important because a tough early matchup means no shot at gold. It’s also a terrible format for Callie Smith who does not play on Sundays for religious reasons (assuming they make no accommodations).

Slim – I think these teams were the obvious top five picks, order can be debated. They are all, in my estimation, pretty heavy gold medal favorites in their respective divisions. I think it is interesting that Simone was the last of the 5 top picks and I wonder if we are putting too much stock in her losing her first singles tournament in a couple of years. I would not be surprised to see her come out more focused and determined in singles this week. A possible downside to picking Simone here is with no back draw, she is unlikely to battle through to bronze and pick up a point, likely why she did slip to 5.

Gritty – The big question for #1 is what team is the safest bet? I think we both agree that Simone/Ben is the safest of the Ben and Simone combinations. Simone in singles is the most volatile, particularly when she has the propensity to withdraw if she loses and there is no back draw to the gold.  The only team I see taking down Simone/Lucy is Parenteau/Smith but if they make it to the gold without the PPA accommodating that Sunday match for Smith then that’s basically a guaranteed gold for Simone/Lucy.

Slim – Callie and Catherine seemed like a pretty obvious pick for me, as they have been playing great pickleball, and seem like the surest number 2 team on the board. The question is have arrangements been made for Callie so the Gold Medal Match isn’t played Sunday if she is in it? If she can play for gold, I think she and Catherine have a real shot at it, and I love this pick. Without Lindsey Newman, playing with Riley, I felt like Matt and Lucy were pretty safe as the number two mixed team, and the reason I picked them was I really feel like their floor is bronze, while a lot of potential silver medalists in the other brackets have a floor that takes them off the podium.

I think Gritty is more confident in Catherine’s singles game, then I am. I know he sees her as the clear number. In my mind she still misses too many podiums to be the clear cut number two.

Gritty – Despite Parenteau’s performance at the US Open, I’m going with what I have seen from her in 2021 rather than just the US Open. Without the Newman’s in mixed, I thought Slim made the right pick with Lucy/Matt in mixed, but I think the draft could have gone a number of different ways here. I’m curious to see how Zane does in singles after a near loss to Jack Foster in Cincinnati.

Slim – I am pretty happy to be able to pick up the US Open Gold medalist and the men’s silver medalist at this point in the draft. McGuffin bounced back in a big way at the US Open, but I am curious if that was aided a bit by playing with a very soft Franklin ball. With the ball playing faster this weekend, can he keep his form from the US Open? Irina is a potential gold medal winner if her day breaks right, so getting her with the fifteenth pick, seems like found money.

Gritty, getting Tyson and Anna Leigh in mixed hurts my feelings. I have been hyping this partnership for a while now. I am looking forward to seeing Anna Leigh play mixed with an elite partner, and Tyson is that. It will be a team I will be following closely this weekend.

Gritty – Matt Wright and Adam Stone are a new pairing and I rolled the dice with them ahead of Tyson and Irina in singles because I like their upside, especially more than Irina (I am aware Irina is coming off a gold at the US Open). Anna Leigh is going to start getting results in mixed and I’m betting this tournament is her breakout in mixed with McGuffin.

Slim: Smith and Devillier’s best is right there with any of the men’s teams ahead of them, but I still feel that they lack the consistency that those very top teams and players have. It could still be a matter of just getting more repetitions in for them.

Gritty is usually pretty hard on Jansen, which in my opinion is due to expectations others have placed on her. I think much like Smith and Devilliers, she likely just needs more repetitions. Her work ethic and determination, coupled with her raw talent makes me a believer that she will reach that elite status in singles eventually, and she is already knocking on the door, as a consistent threat.

I know I am higher on the Bar and Nunnery partnership then Gritty is. I just can’t get the dominant version of Bar we saw at the US Open out of my head, and I think Nunnery is more than solid enough that if we get that Dekel again, they will be on the podium.

Gritty – The only real surprise from Slim’s picks here was the Bar/Nunnery pairing. I had them one spot lower in my own rankings for the tournament and quite a bit lower on my big board. It’s a new pairing and, while Bar has shown he can get it done, Nunnery hasn’t had the results or the pressure of a playing with a top end guy like Bar. Nunnery has the talent but it’s a different experience when you’re one of the favourites at this level. I also really like Anna Leigh’s upside in singles.

Slim: The Stratman/Smith pick here is probably a little controversial. I just like the chemistry they are developing as a team and their results have been promising. Notable about this pick, is that it means that Jeff Warnick and Jessie Irvine don’t get in our top 30. I probably should have picked them here, as their silver medal at Red Rock showed they do still have a high ceiling, but they also have a very low and floor, and this year they have been down on that floor a lot more than up at the ceiling. Have other teams figured them out or has their inconsistent style just been off more than it has been on this year?

Getting Callie Smith with the last pick is great for me. She doesn’t get to play a lot of singles, but her results have been improving and I think her potential is as high as anyone’s in the women’s game.

Gritty – I have Lica/Daescu higher than Slim and this is a bet on talent as well as a bit of been there done that. Slim got his men’s singles picks done pretty early so that left me with whoever I wanted that was leftover. Dekel Bar could screw me over with another withdrawal but I think Slim and I agree that Devilliers, Bar and Koller are #4, #5 and #6 in this field.

Other Teams and Players to Watch

Outside of the 30 teams/players we drafted, there are some other interesting names out there that almost certainly won’t be reaching the podium.

  • Rob Cassidy is playing with AJ Koller in a first time partnership and we want to see how Koller does as he continues to get better partners in doubles.  
  • Jack Foster was highlighted in our Cincinnati 5 Takeaways. It’s a deep singles field in Atlanta. How does Foster’s game stack up in a field like this?
  • DJ Young is playing with Callan Dawson in men’s this weekend and they are always a dangerous duo. However, Young does not get many higher level mixed partners despite his high end talent so his Vivienne David partnership is notable to watch.
  • Jackie Urbinati is another former D1 tennis player. She hasn’t had much in the way of results and it’s a strong women’s singles field for her to show what she can do.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts! Reply in the comments section below or email us at

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