We had a request from someone involved in the tournament to do a fantasy draft preview for the Gamma Classic so we obliged and are now providing some extremely niche pickleball analysis. This is as small as we have gone for a fantasy draft preview. Nevertheless, it is a relatively deep pro draw for an event that is being played in a convention center in Pittsburgh during the summer. Frankly, it’s impressive they have been able to draw this type of field for this tournament and clearly this event has been grown over the last few years into something more than just a local event, despite all the options available to pros or aspiring pros currently. Boxcar Productions is apparently working the event so the quality of the stream should be very good.
Slim won the toss again and elected to pick first in this draft. He is 1 up on the year as we have a rare double dip fantasy draft weekend for all of you.
(1) Megan Fudge (Slim)
(2) Milan Rane / Shelby Bates (Gritty)
(3) Milan Rane / Brendon Long (Gritty)
(4) Brendon Long / Jason McNulty (Slim)
(5) Megan Fudge / Ryler DeHeart (Slim)
Slim – Megan Fudge in this women’s singles field feels like the surest thing in this tournament. Brendon Long and Jason McNulty should fit together pretty well as a left side, right side combination. I think there is a decent chance that Megan and Ryler can beat Brendon and Milan, but this pick likely was very costly from a strategy perspective. So to have any hope, I really need them to win now.
Gritty – What a weird draft. I double up on Milan Rane as she is one of the best women in this field. The women’s doubles field, in particular, is so thin that I needed to get as many early picks there as I could. Brendon Long not finding a result with Milan Rane here would not be a good sign. I could be in trouble if they don’t get at least a silver.
(6) Megan Fudge / Arielle Butler (Gritty)
(7) Riley Bohnert / Amanda Hendry (Gritty)
(8) William Sobek (Slim)
(9) Milan Rane (Slim)
(10) Ryler DeHeart / Casey Cullen (Gritty)
(11) Amanda Hendry (Gritty)
Slim – Gritty smartly picked the other two women’s doubles team that are likely to make the podium, which is a problem for me. It did leave me with William Sobek in men’s singles, who we haven’t seen in a minute. Sobek not entering the MLP player pool, is still one of the more perplexing decisions out there, and I would love to hear the explanation for why he is sitting it out. What is happening at the Sobek Academy? I had Milan Rane slightly ahead of Amanda Hendry so I took her here as I think there are a limited number of players that can podium in women’s singles.
Gritty – Slim screwed up strategy wise and left me the 2nd and 3rd women’s doubles teams. There are 3 teams clearly better than the rest in women’s doubles and I end up with all 3 after taking Fudge/Butler and Bohnert/Hendry. I liked DeHeart/Cullen as the #1 men’s team by a hair so to get them at #10 after getting all 3 women was a complete steal for me. I had Amanda Hendry as my #2 singles player in this draw so it feels like the value keeps coming for me in this draft.
(12) Austin Tchikatilov / Eden Lica (Slim)
(13) Jack Foster (Slim)
(14) Anderson Scarpa / Ivan Jakovljevic (Gritty)
(15) Ryler DeHeart (Gritty)
(16) Monica Paolicelli / Andre Mick (Slim)
(17) Shelby Bates / Austin Tchikatilov (Slim)
Slim – I am curious how Austin Tchikatilov will do with the always steady Eden Lica. Jack Foster seems to have regained his form of late, and should also be riding the confidence of men’s doubles bronze medal performance in St. Louis. The Andre Mick / Monica Paolicelli choice is entirely trying to ride the hot hand of Andre Mick. Shelby Bates is one of the better women in this field so she and the namaste Amazon Man should be right in the mix for a medal in mixed doubles.
Gritty – More value? Scarpa/Jakovljevic were my #3 team. Ivan Jakovljevic is full-time pickleball and won a PPA bonus loser’s draw with Scarpa recently. Ryler DeHeart is a master of getting wins in pro singles but falling short of a medal. If there’s any time for a medal, it is here in the Steel City for Ryler.
(18) Shelby Bates (Gritty)
(19) Anderson Scarpa (Gritty)
(20) Jayden Broderick / Richard Livornese Jr. (Slim)
(21) Jayden Broderick (Slim)
(22) Shannon Pretorius (Gritty)
(23) Amanda Hendry / Jack Foster (Gritty)
Slim – Jayden Broderick and Richard Livornese Jr. are a couple young guys with a ton of talent, who are just starting to put things together. It would not be shocking to see them make a podium this weekend.
Gritty – Shelby Bates should be right in the mix for a medal in this draw in singles as well as Anderson Scarpa. I was very happy to get Shannon Pretorius at this last spot for my women’s singles team. Pretorius is the last woman in the singles field that I recognized because she is regularly in pro draws. Having pro wins is a big deal in this field. I have zero knowledge of Pretoriuss beyond that. I think Slim made another error leaving Hendry/Foster for me. They are playing well together and getting good wins or making strong teams work against them. If I don’t win this Gamma Classic draft, it will be a travesty.
(24) Ava Kalist / Bella Nelson (Slim)
(25) Elly Smith / Jordan Melamed (Slim)
(26) Frank Anthony Davis (Gritty)
(27) Arielle Butler / Anderson Scarpa (Gritty)
(28) Nicole Pitts (Slim)
(29) Shannon Pretorius / Morgan Brown (Slim)
(30) Zach McDivitt / David Seckel (Gritty)
Slim – I was actually very surprised that Gritty passed on Riley Bohnert and Richard Livornese, two players that are definitely on the rise. I honestly had a tough time figuring out what to do with my women’s doubles picks after Gritty took my top three teams, so I do not have a ton of confidence that I have the right teams in here.
Gritty – Frank Anthony Davis is a veteran who could make some noise in this field even if his recent results have been spotty at best. I had Bohnert/Livornese at this spot on my board, but I chucked that to the side to take Butler/Scarpa. If Bohnert/Livornese get a medal, that’s definitely on me for going off board.
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