It’s another fantasy draft preview at NML as we are in a fun stretch of March with a consecutive weekend with a PPA event and then MLP next week. This should be a good appetizer with some deep draws. Gritty is 2 up on the year in the fantasy land and he won the toss, electing to pick first.
(1) Anna Leigh Waters / Anna Bright (Gritty)
(2) Anna Leigh Waters / Ben Johns (Slim)
(3) Anna Leigh Waters (Slim)
(4) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Gritty)
(5) Ben Johns (Gritty)
Gritty – I am a little bit worried about Catherine Parenteau in this draw as she and Jorja could be due for a big run. However, outside of that, it would seem that Bright and Waters are head and shoulders above the rest. I was glad Slim let the Johns brothers fall to me as we haven’t seen them get challenged that much this year. The concern with Ben this weekend comes in the form of a possible let down following a triple crown and MLP next week. Hunter Johnson looming in his quarter of the draw feels dangerous.
Slim – I probably should have taken the Johns brothers with one of these two picks, but AL has only lost twice in the last eighteen months, and then with the mixed doubles teams seemingly still figuring out their partnerships, Ben and AL feel safe.
(6) Catherine Parenteau (Slim)
(7) Matt Wright / Riley Newman (Slim)
(8) Federico Staksrud (Gritty)
(9) JW Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
(10) Lea Jansen / Allyce Jones (Slim)
(11) Callie Smith / Lucy Kovalova (Slim)
Gritty – Federico has had a little bit of a down stretch, but one of those losses came in a super tight one to JW in Minnesota. It’s a grind to go out there every weekend to play singles and Federico seems to handle that grind as well as anyone. JW and Dylan vs. Riley/Matt is about a toss-up and they have a real shot to get to Championship Sunday as well as being as good a bet as anyone to find a bronze medal.
Slim – Catherine Parenteau is playing the best pickleball of her life, so this is a momentum pick taking her at 6. We’ll see if she still has the juice, so to speak, after last weekend. I am starting to worry that Matt and Riley have plateaued as a partnership but that plateau usually still finds them playing for gold, even if they lost to JW/Dylan in Minnesota. Lea and Allyce have been the most consistent team in women’s doubles, but I was worried that a rested Lucy and Callie, carrying some confidence from their Minnesota Gold, could cause them some problems, so took them next. Their half of the draw is there for the taking.
(12) Lindsey Newman / Riley Newman (Gritty)
(13) Jorja Johnson / JW Johnson (Gritty)
(14) Salome Devidze (Slim)
(15) Catherine Parenteau / Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(16) Julian Arnold (Gritty)
(17) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Gritty)
Gritty – Slim took the two women’s doubles teams so I took the next two mixed teams with the best shot at a Sunday. The sibling duos should face off in the quarter-finals and the winner of that match presumably will get to Sunday. These mixed draws have been so unpredictable, though. Speaking of down runs in singles, Julian Arnold is off his heater officially after being ousted by Colin Shick last week. I’m betting he finds his stride here. The non AL/Ben half of the draw is always up for grabs and Lucy/Matt avoid the sibling teams in their quarter, so they could be right in the mix even if they are more vulnerable to a bad loss.
Slim – If a women’s team is going to beat Anna Leigh and Anna Bright this weekend, it is probably going to be Jorja and Catherine. With her new found power, Catherine and Jorja suddenly have the fire power to hang in there with AL and Anna. Salome Devidze is the clear 3rd best player in singles this weekend with no Lea Jansen in the draw and it will be surprising if she does any worse than bronze.
(18) AJ Koller / Dekel Bar (Slim)
(19) Tyler Loong / Callan Dawson (Slim)
(20) Irina Tereschenko / Etta Wright (Gritty)
(21) Julian Arnold / Thomas Wilson (Gritty)
(22) Hunter Johnson (Slim)
(23) Vivienne David / Thomas Wilson (Slim)
Gritty – Irina/Etta are a sneaky Sunday pick. They sit in that non-AL/Bright half of the draw and have played well together in the past. One thing possibly holding them back is if Irina won’t concede the left side to Etta. It will be interesting to see how Thomas Wilson does without his fully delaminated CRBN paddle this weekend after the PPA announced they would be doing further testing on anyone playing with a CRBN, and only the CRBN. Julian/Thomas have been a scary team but Wilson might not be quite as scary without the beefed up weapon.
Slim – My men’s doubles picks here are polar opposite teams. AJ and Dekel are the high ceiling, low floor team, while Tyler and Callan lack the ceiling but have one of the highest floors of any team in the tournament – they played each other to a very tight 3 game match in Mesa and could face again on Saturday. It will be very interesting to see how Hunter Johnson does making his PPA debut for the season does in men’s singles. If Hunter can get through Ben, he’ll be set for a big run. I took Thomas and Vivienne but didn’t factor in that they both will be subject to extra paddle inspection this weekend. I probably should have taken Tyson and Catherine instead.
(24) Irina Tereschenko (Gritty)
(25) Lindsey Newman / Jessie Irvine (Gritty)
(26) Tyson McGuffin (Slim)
(27) Colin Shick (Slim)
(28) Callie Smith (Gritty)
(29) Carolina Mayorga Perry (Gritty)
(30) Anna Bright / James Ignatowich (Slim)
Gritty – Sad bottom three picks here as I get all of the women’s singles players no one wants. Irina is Irina. Callie Smith is back in a singles draw but is in Anna Leigh’s quarter of the draw. Carolina Mayorga Perry has been getting some results but doesn’t appear to have the ceiling to make noise right now.
Slim – I took a couple of gambles with my late men’s singles picks, hoping Tyson who did not play singles last weekend will have some extra energy. I also had to keep riding the hot hand with Collin Shick. It will not be easy for Shick to repeat last weekend. His first round match this weekend is Christian Alshon but, if he can get through that, the draw does not look too bad.
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