It’s a dueling weekend with a “Grand Slam” PPA Event and a Tier 1, USA Pickleball Golden Ticket APP event. The PPA Baird Wealth Management Open is being held at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in beautiful Cincinnati, Ohio. The PPA has classified this as one of their Grand Slam events so it carries the most points and prize money compared to other tournaments. It is also the PPA’s first event at a big tennis facility like this following in the footsteps of the APP’s Flushing Meadows event at the end of May. We will get into all of the yada yada comparison stuff with the APP if we feel necessary later. The final thing of note is that the second half of each day will be shown on the Tennis Channel while Championship Sunday will be entirely on the Tennis Channel. Surely the tennis fans will be very happy to see lots of pickleball on the Tennis Channel for the second week of the US Open.
Slim is up 3 going into the weekend in fantasy for the year now. Slim also got the toss and elected to pick first.
(1) Anna Leigh Waters / Ben Johns (Slim)
(2) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Gritty)
(3) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(4) Ben Johns (Slim)
(5) Anna Leigh Waters / Leigh Waters (Slim)
Slim – With no Riley Newman in the field, Ben/AL should have little trouble taking the mixed hold this weekend. Ben is still a dominant force in singles and in a field featuring less depth than most, he is a heavy favorite. I’ll be curious though if he matches up against James Ignatowich in singles. The Waters have proven themselves to be the dominant women’s doubles team and I should have picked them first the last PPA event.
Gritty – It’s a very top heavy PPA event so these top picks will be crucial to hit. Without Riley Newman in the field, Ben/Collin have to be a lock. Keep in mind the pair almost lost to Austin Gridley/Todd Fought at TOC. Anna Leigh Waters has also been pretty much a lock without Parris Todd around.
(6) Callie Smith / Lucy Kovalova (Gritty)
(7) Matt Wright / Spencer Smith (Gritty)
(8) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Slim)
(9) Catherine Parenteau (Slim)
(10) James Ignatowich (Gritty)
(11) Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
Slim – Matt and Lucy are always a threat in mixed doubles and without Riley in the field, I like them as the number two team, particularly with their PPA seeding advantage. I tried not to overreact to Catherine losing to Salome last time, and kept her as my number two women’s team.
Gritty – The Callie/Lucy pick was easy because they still have gold upside despite the Waters having sorted out how to play them for the time being. The next few picks were tough though. No clue where Riley Newman is but Spencer Smith was partner-less with Steve Deakin having to delay his comeback further. Not a bad deal for Spencer as he pairs with another guy in his 40s who will go back to a left side, alpha role and this should be a good first-time partnership fit. Tyson McGuffin still gets the benefit of the #2 seed in a much thinner than TOC singles field, but I still like Ignatowich slightly ahead of him, which is why I go back-to-back here.
(12) Jessie Irvine / Jay Devilliers (Slim)
(13) Lea Jansen (Slim)
(14) Catherine Parenteau / Lea Jansen (Gritty)
(15) Callan Dawson / Tyler Loong (Gritty)
(16) Salome Devidze (Slim)
(17) Anna Bright / Jessie Irvine (Slim)
Slim – Jessie/Jay have been very consistent this year in terms of being a podium presence. Lea is coming off of her first championship Sunday in a while in singles, so I am hoping she can keep that momentum going. You have to wonder will all of Salome’s matches have line judges this week? She loses an advantage without tight line calls. Anna/Jessie seem to be due to break through and make a podium at some point.
Gritty – Catherine/Lea haven’t done much for a while so this could be the time for them to make some noise. Callan/Tyler was a dicier pick here but anything outside of gold is up for grabs without Riley Newman in the field. Callan/Tyler’s steadiness wins me over ahead of Jay/Tyson and Thomas/AJ following their bronze at TOC.
(18) Jackie Kawamoto / Jade Kawamoto (Gritty)
(19) Jay Devilliers (Gritty)
(20) Jay Devilliers / Tyson McGuffin (Slim)
(21) AJ Koller / Thomas Wilson (Slim)
(22) Callie Smith / AJ Koller (Gritty)
(23) Callie Smith (Gritty)
Slim – In a men’s doubles field that is lacking some depth I think the Tyson/Jay or AJ/Thomas partnerships could see some results that they have not been getting this year.
Gritty – The Kawamotos are good value for the #5 female team in this field. They don’t have the firepower together but they are going to be interesting to watch against these top PPA teams, something we don’t see very often with their limited tournament schedule. You know the bronze stallion, Jay Devilliers, will grind through a backdraw and when we’re talking about the 4th men’s spot, I want someone who will be my bronze stallion. Callie/AJ got a silver last time out and that is as good as we could expect again. I can’t quit Callie Smith in singles but the upside doesn’t go past bronze for her really.
(24) Ryan Sherry (Slim)
(25) Hunter Johnson (Slim)
(26) Catherine Parenteau / Collin Johns (Gritty)
(27) Anna Bright (Gritty)
(28) Irina Tereschenko / Yana Grechkina (Slim)
(29) Patrick Smith / Travis Rettenmaier (Slim)
(30) Lea Jansen / Tyler Loong (Gritty)
Slim – Sherry’s increased fitness has me high on his potential in this field. Hunter Johnson seems to be improving every week too and he had the big win against Tyson last time out. Irina/Yana always seem to be able to get a couple wins, but not much more beyond that. Will this finay be their week? Patrick/Travis are an intriguing partnership as Rettenmaier has become more right-side oriented for MLP purposes, but he should be okay on the left side.
Gritty – I get to go with some oppo-stacks here at the end with Catherine/Collin and Lea/Tyler. The Lea/Tyler first-time partnership is particularly intriguing as Lea Jansen tried to do the opposite stack thing with Collin Johns earlier in the year with no success. The difference here is that Jansen now has an experienced, right-sided mixed player in Loong. Loong’s results with Anna Bright have been limited so let’s see how he does with Lea. Anna Bright in singles is more upside than I see with Irina, who basically can never beat Callie Smith at this point.
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