PPA Orange County Cup – Fantasy Draft Preview

After 3 straight APP events, it’s time for consecutive week #4 with a tourney but PPA style. The PPA’s are generally deeper fields and, while this one in Orange County is not the deepest, there are still a lot of good teams. As Slim mentioned in our 5 takeaways from the APP So Cal Classic, it will be interesting to see if the guys who were playing those APP tourneys in recent weeks have any leg up on higher echelon players who are generally only playing PPA events. It’s a month long layoff for a lot of the players we have hitting the podium and whether that makes a difference at all should be interesting to see. There is also the fatigue factor for players like Jay Devilliers so we’ll see what, if anything, comes from that flip side of the storyline.

It’s a tie for us going into the end of June in our weird, made up fantasy 2-person race. Slim won the toss and decided to take the 2nd pick in this draft.

(1) Simone Jardim / Ben Johns (Gritty)

(2) Ben Johns (Slim)

(3) Lucy Kovalova / Simone Jardim (Slim)

(4) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Gritty)

(5) Tyson McGuffin / Riley Newman (Gritty)

Gritty – Slim decided to pick 2nd in this draft and I think that was the right choice. There are two almost guaranteed gold medals and then I think the #3 and #4 picks are a tier of their own. I expect Ben and Collin to take gold after a disappointing bronze at the PPA Atlanta but they are not a sure thing by any means. I decided to double up with McGuffin/Newman because I didn’t like any of the women’s singles teams enough and they have gold upside.

Slim – I decided to take the second pick here because Simone not playing singles meant, in mind at least, that there are only 4 gold medal favorites, and I had three as pretty clear favorites, so I wanted two of 3 bigger favorites. I think the men’s doubles fields are just a little deep these days, especially with no backdoor, even for Ben Johns. With a backdoor to gold, I think I have Ben and Collin ranked evenly with Simone and Lucy. I have to think based on comments she has made and recent tournaments, that we won’t be seeing Simone in a lot of singles fields in the future, so of the 5 divisions, women’s singles is currently the most wide open.

(6) Tyson McGuffin (Slim)

(7) Lindsey Newman / Riley Newman (Slim)

(8) Anna Leigh Waters / Leigh Waters (Gritty)

(9) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Gritty)

(10) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)

(11) Lea Jansen (Slim)

Gritty – My pick here would have been Smith/Parenteau instead of the Waters if not for the max upside of a bronze for Smith/Parenteau due to the Sunday finals day that Callie cannot play. I wasn’t sold on any of the women’s teams at this stage and so I went with Kovalova/Wright who do have silver upside. I agreed with Slim’s picks at #6 and #7 as both those are expected to be silver medals.

Slim – After a slow start to the year Tyson has rounded into form, reestablishing himself as the second best singles players in the world, and without Zane in the field this week, I comfortably have Tyson second so was happy to pick him up here. I have Lindsey and Riley when they play together as the second best mixed doubles team, so I think it was a solid pick here, but one thing I did not consider until after I had picked them, is it will be their first tournament playing with the Gamma paddles, so will this effect them at all? I tend to think it will not make a big difference, but it will be something to watch for this weekend with both of them. Then with picks 9 and 10 I had to go with a couple of women’s singles players, as the value was just too great not to, but I had Irina, Lea and Catherine tightly ranked and had kind of being hoping Gritty would take one of them to make my life a lot easier.

(12) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)

(13) Callie Smith / Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)

(14) Adam Stone / Dekel Bar (Slim)

(15) Jay Devilliers (Slim)

(16) Callie Smith / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)

(17) Matt Wright / DJ Young (Gritty)

Gritty – I had Parenteau as my #1 singles player ahead of Tereschenko and Jansen. She held off Jansen in Atlanta…barely. Nevertheless, I still think she’s the most reliable singles player in the women’s field. I like Stone/Bar slightly ahead of Wright and DJ Young, but after I made the pick Slim talked me into agreeing that they could take gold on the right day together. Young is a fill in for Steve Deakin but neither of us have any idea what is going on with the Dawson/Young partnership. DJ is no longer ProKennex so we’re assuming there is some kind of fall out here but that’s all speculation. I also like Callie and Tyson’s upside a lot – McGuffin sure has been smart with his AL Waters and Smith partnerships too.

*A side note is that apppears that mixed gold is being played Saturday and this info came out after we drafted. Is this some Tyson McGuffin /Selkirk leverage with the PPA in his partnerships with Callie?

Slim – To get Stone/Bar at 14, who I have solidly as my men’s bronze medalists, but also a team with a fair amount of consistency and upside here made me pretty happy. I also had Jay as my number 3 singles player so was happy to pick him up here, especially with the singles being on the first day, I am not too worried about him being tired, as I think he was last Sunday at SoCal. The Wright/Young partnership could be scary if they are both ‘on’ as there really isn’t a safe place to go if they are. But I also see them clashing a bit on the court and with no backdoor to gold that would concern me. As we saw with DJ last week, it took him and Jay some time to figure things out.

(18) Callie Smith (Slim)

(19) Jessie Irvine / Irina Tereschenko (Slim)

(20) Lindsey Newman / Corrine Carr (Gritty)

(21) Gabriel Joseph (Gritty)

(22) Patrick Smith / Jay Devilliers (Slim)

(23) Corrine Carr / Jay Devilliers (Slim)

Gritty – I was quite happy to get Gabriel Joseph where I did. I would have taken him earlier if not for Slim filling up his singles team. Joseph beat Devilliers last week and Devilliers has played 3 long tournaments in a row. Slim is not down with my Carr/Newman selection and, while I realize this team lacks weapons, they are so steady. I do not trust Esquivel/Startman or Jansen/David enough. Strong disagreement between the two of us here.

Slim – I think Callie has a pretty good shot to get bronze in women’s singles, as her singles game seems to be improving every time she plays and it seems to be something she is actively working on and drilling. I’ve loaded up on Jay Devilliers this week, so I guess I better hope that all this tournament pickleball that he has been playing lately is going to be beneficial. I would have had Jay and Pat higher in my rankings if not for concerns about Pat’s knee, so I think there is good value to getting them at 22, and Jay’s mixed game continues to improve and the always steady Corrine Carr should compliment his game nicely. As Gritty mentioned I am much lower than he is on the Corrine Carr and Lindsey Newman partnership, I think they are both great defensive players but I just don’t see enough offense between the two of them to get it done.

(24) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)

(25) Vivienne David (Gritty)

(26) Lauren Stratman / Michelle Esquivel (Slim)

(27) Tyler Loong / Spencer Smith (Slim)

(28) Dekel Bar (Gritty)

(29) Frank Anthony Davis (Gritty)

(30) Catherine Parenteau / Morgan Evans (Slim)

Gritty – Anna Leigh Waters is always interesting as she plays more singles. I always like Dekel Bar in singles but he doesn’t want to play so the withdrawal is definitely a possibility. I am regretting my FAD pick even though I can’t quit him. I think it is close but I probably should have gone with Ryan Sherry. We’ll see how this goes in a bigger draw for Sherry and I shouldn’t discount the fact that FAD is getting healthier off that back injury. I like the Parenteau/Evans pick at the end here. That Evans serve makes a team so dangerous and Parenteau is one of the best females out there.

Slim – Lauren and Michelle are coming off their gold medal at SoCal last week, so I am very happy to get them with the 26th pick. What is interesting though is if Gritty had of taken them where he took Carr/Newman, I would have actually taken the every improving Lea Jansen and Vivienne David here leaving Carr and Newman off the board, which I actually think speaks well of the depth of this women’s field and is great to see. Tyler Loong and Spencer Smith are just very solid as I have mentioned before, but the other team I looked long and hard at taking here was JW Johnson and Callan Dawson. I think Callan’s game compliments the sky rocketing JW’s game almost perfectly, however concerns about Callan’s health prevented me from making that pick. I think watching Morgan and his serve, pair up with one of the top women in the game in Catherine Parenteau, will be fascinating. Catherine was originally supposed to be playing with Steve Deakin, but he is still out with his wrist injury, we hope Steve is at home resting and rehabbing well, as we miss watching him in action.

Teams to Watch: It’s a deeper field at this event, especially on the women’s side. There are some other teams we want to touch on.

  • Emily Ackerman/Wes Burrows are not likely hitting any podiums but are undoubtedly notable. Ackerman has barely played tournaments but she has D1 tennis background (SURPRISE!), and she partnered with Burrows last year at the PPA Showcase in California with 4 wins, including this one against Jansen/Goebel.
  • Ackerman is also playing with someone I have never heard of, Savannah Avina, who played D1 tennis at BYU (SURPRISE!). Avina has not played any pro events according to PB tournaments.
  • Yana Grechkina/Colin Johns is another mixed team that was a surprise pairing to see. I have watched more of Grechkina recently because of Matt Mayfield pointing me to her and Dylan Frazier. She looks good. Strong counters and she’s dinking better than she did in initial footage I saw of her. Collin plays barely any mixed so it’s a little odd to see him with an up and comer like Grechkina.
  • Shellton Jean-Baptiste / Austin Gridley had a breakthrough of sorts last weekend. We were less surprised than others by their podium. They have played quite a bit together with Gridley being someone Shellton took under his wing initially. We’ll see how they do in a bigger event after their success last week.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at nmlpickleball@gmail.com.

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