PPA Tour Arizona Grand Slam – Fantasy Draft Preview

The PPA is doing some different things for pickleball this year and one of them is putting up their brackets multiple days in advance of their pro draws. It seems that this has been borne out of necessity with the need for qualifiers, but it also makes sense from a professionalism standpoint that draws for pro players are publicly available before the silly midnight Pickleball Tournaments release. It is good for pros to have some idea of what their day might look like and it is good for fans to facilitate discussion about how a bracket will shake out. It also changes things up for us with our fantasy draft previews as our picks were generally based on who we had ranked where. However, along with the format change of semi-finalists automatically playing for bronze, the draws are a crucial factor to rank players for a meaningless, blog fantasy draft. 

Gritty is up 2 to start the year in the fantasy draft game. There was a brief run in 2022 that was quickly halted by Slim when Gritty got within 2. Will things change again? Gritty won the toss and elected to pick first. 

(1) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty) 

(2) Anna Leigh Waters / Ben Johns (Slim) 

(3) Ben Johns (Slim) 

(4) Anna Bright / Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty) 

(5) Collin Johns / Ben Johns (Gritty) 

Gritty – I took the first pick because I still think Anna Leigh is just the surest gold medal out there and I still ended up getting Bright/Waters, who I would have picked ahead of Ben Johns in singles. Collin/Ben continue to dominate and it is a real question to ask whether Newman/Wright are out of answers right now. 

Slim – Anna Leigh and Ben have been dominant in mixed, so they were an easy pick to go second. Ben seems to have found a way to reassert dominance in singles, but taking him ahead of a couple of doubles teams may have been more of a gamble than I should have taken.

(6) Riley Newman / Matt Wright (Slim) 

(7) Anna Bright / Riley Newman (Slim)

(8) Lea Jansen (Gritty) 

(9) Catherine Parenteau / Jorja Johnson (Gritty) 

(10) Federico Staksrud (Slim) 

(11) Dylan Frazier / JW Johnson (Slim) 

Gritty – Lea Jansen and Parenteau are on the same side of the draw this week, and it’s clear Lea is the #2 player in the world right now in women’s singles. That does not mean she is going to get to Championship Sunday but she is the best bet to join AL in my eyes. Jorja Johnson’s play has been a little bit worrying recently but Parenteau is a good partner from a pickleball standpoint.

Slim – It is starting to look like the Johns brothers may have just found a way to neutralize the attacking style of Matt and Riley, but I still am taking them here and hoping that the ball is flying this weekend. At some point, the talent of Riley and Anna Bright, should break through, hopefully it is this weekend for me. I like Federico’s consistency in singles, and I thought he avoided Ben’s side of the draw this weekend, but he did not so a mistake on my end. Dylan and JW avoided the Johns brothers this weekend. Are Matt and Riley a better match up for them? They almost took them down last year in one of their opportunities but they also almost took down the Johns’ at the Masters this year.

(12) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty) 

(13) Lucy Kovalova / Callie Smith (Gritty) 

(14) Julian Arnold (Slim) 

(15) AJ Koller / Dekel Bar (Slim) 

(16) Catherine Parenteau / Julian Arnold (Gritty) 

(17) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Gritty) 

Gritty – Catherine’s singles game seems to be back in full form and, with the draw the way it is, it’ll be surprising to see her with anything less than a bronze. The Lucy/Callie pick is a draw based selection. I’m banking they can pull it together despite the signs saying otherwise. My next two mixed selections were also draw based as Parenteau/Arnold and Lucy/Matt avoid Ben/AL’s half of the draw. Either of them should be capable of knocking off Bright/Newman, as Lucy/Matt already did it last time out. We’ll see how that Mad Drops partnership looks in a tournament.

Slim – Few players are hotter than Julian Arnold right now, so I took him in singles here. I will be curious if the AJ/Dekel partnership actually works out, but the talent was too much for me to pass up this weekend. First time partnership but they are two guys that play together a lot in Austin.

(18) Vivienne David / Thomas Wilson (Slim) 

(19) Lea Jansen / Allyce Jones (Slim) 

(20) James Ignatowich (Gritty) 

(21) Jay Devilliers (Gritty) 

(22) Salome Devidze (Slim) 

(23) Jessie Irvine / Jackie Kawamoto (Slim) 

Gritty – More draw based picks. Ignatowich and Devilliers have a much easier half of the draw without Ben Johns, Julian Arnold and Federico Staksrud. There is lots of talent out there, but it seems like a decent bet that at least one of them gets to Sunday in a slightly less deep singles field. 

Slim – Thomas and Vivienne are proving themselves to be an elite mixed team. I don’t think anybody can do more with their forehand than what Thomas is currently do with that new CRBN paddle and his forehand. Gritty apparently didn’t take much stock in Lea Jansen and Allyce Jones silver medal performance, which I am happy about as I think they will be back on the podium this weekend. Jessie/Jackie will be an interesting partnership to watch this weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made championship Sunday, but I do worry if there is enough power between them. Is anyone taking bets on how many line judges we get for a Salome vs Anna Leigh match up? Over/under is set at 7.5.

(24) Tyler Loong / Callan Dawson (Gritty) 

(25) Jay Devilliers / DJ Young (Gritty) 

(26) Irina Tereschenko (Slim) 

(27) Lina Padegimaite (Slim) 

(28) Jessie Irvine / AJ Koller (Gritty)

(29) Connor Garnett (Gritty) 

(30) Etta Wright / Brooke Buckner (Slim) 

Gritty – Tyler/Callan are rock solid and continue to win the matches they are supposed to. It’s the matches they aren’t supposed to win that are more elusive for them. Devilliers/Young are still a new partnership but I like this dynamic to breakthrough every once in a while this year. Connor Garnett is another draw based selection as he avoids that tougher half of the draw, but I would definitely have selected Alshon if he wasn’t set to face Ben Johns early on. 

Slim – Irina and Lina are not very exciting singles picks. I could have gone with Schneemann but choose Padegimaite instead. If they keep playing together, I think the Etta Wright and Brooke Buckner partnership is going to get results. They both keep improving every week and have extremely high ceilings.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at nmlpickleball@gmail.com. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter that will feature additional, not on the blog content and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

2 thoughts on “PPA Tour Arizona Grand Slam – Fantasy Draft Preview

  • February 15, 2023 at 7:02 pm

    Wright/Buckner over David/Fudge? Slim is putting heavy stock in Wright. I haven’t seen Buckner since I think Newport Beach where she underwhelmed.

    No Johnsons in MXD? Strong field for sure and the brackets would favor Irvine/Koller going for 3rd instead of the Johnsons. But if Johnsons study their last match against AL and Ben, they can find their mistakes and come out with a strong plan.

    I’d say Slim has MXD and a good portion of MS even with Staksrud’s place in the brackets. But those gold for MD/WD/WS for Gritty sure will keep him in the running.

    • February 16, 2023 at 7:39 am

      They are at different places but both Etta and Buckner are on the rise. David and Fudge don’t have as much offence creation but it was close.

      Johnson’s being in the same quarter as AL and Ben makes their success difficult in this new format. They have given some trouble to AL/Ben to a degree


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *