There’s so much going on you might have forgotten there was a PPA tournament in Denver this week. Fear not as we have our fantasy draft preview complete because who isn’t happy with another draft in their life after the real MLP drafts earlier today. As a reminder, we have draft grades up for Premier and Challenger will go up on Thursday. For now, we kick off the second half of the season with another fantasy preview.
Gritty is up two on the year going into the second half. Can he hold the lead or has this entire first half of the year been a fluke? The real storyline that should be monitored in pro pickleball. Slim won the toss and elected to pick first.
(1) Anna Leigh Waters / Ben Johns (Slim)
(2) Anna Bright / Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(3) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(4) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Slim)
(5) Ben Johns (Slim)
Slim – Ben and Anna Leigh have been the dominant team this year, though there was an argument to go with Anna Leigh and Anna. I am all in on Ben Johns this week, as long as he is focused in this field, that should be a good thing.
Gritty – ALW has been too dominant not to go with her in both slots here. Don’t screw it up, Anna.
(6) Lea Jansen (Gritty)
(7) Lucy Kovalova / Lea Jansen (Gritty)
(8) Dylan Frazier / Matt Wright (Slim)
(9) Federico Staksrud (Slim)
(10) Jessie Irvine / Etta Wright (Gritty)
(11) Anna Bright / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
Slim – I may start calling Gritty, Jimmy Miller, with all Lea picks as if he is also sucking up to her. Dylan Frazier and Matt Wright are probably the most intriguing new team we will see this weekend. I will be very curious to see how they do this weekend.
Gritty – Lea Jansen in this singles draw is basically a silver lock. We’ll see where her head for singles is at with all the MLP distractions going on and coming off a break. Lucy and Lea should be excited for this partnership, and they are the strongest of this slightly thinner women’s field. I wanted to snag the best women’s team because it is a thinner field and I felt there were 3 top teams. Etta/Jessie should be good together. Anna Bright/Dylan Frazier played once together at the Masters. I worry that neither of them are truly elite mixed players but I think they are the 2nd best team out there.
(12) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Slim)
(13) Meghan Dizon / Federico Staksrud (Slim)
(14) Federico Staksrud / Pablo Tellez (Gritty)
(15) Christian Alshon (Gritty)
(16) AJ Koller / Erik Lange (Slim)
(17) Judit Castillo (Slim)
Slim – If Matt and Lucy are going to make another Championship Sunday, this weekend with no Riley Newman, Johnson siblings or James Ignatowitch, may be their best opportunity. If AJ Koller continues to play with more focus and discipline as he has of late, I think he and Erik Lange could do some damage this week.
Gritty – Fed/Pablo are the most consistent men’s doubles team outside of Ben/Collin in this draw so I go with them here. Christian Alshon has major upside and he has a draw that could put him through to Championship Sunday. Nothing comes free in the singles draws anymore, though.
(18) Connor Garnett (Gritty)
(19) Mary Brascia (Gritty)
(20) Irina Tereschenko / Meghan Dizon (Slim)
(21) Collin Shick (Slim)
(22) Julian Arnold / Thomas Wilson (Gritty)
(23) Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
Slim – I think Collin Shick is going to break out this summer, as he spends more time playing pickleball, with what seems to be a break in his studies. Travis Rettenmaier obviously must agree.
Gritty – Connor Garnett also has a friendlier draw to get to Sunday and he’s dangerous every week. Mary Brascia could crash and burn in singles with a tough quarter of her draw featuring Tyra and Braverman, but her upside is the best left. Julian/Thomas are MLP Super Finals champions so they should have a real shot at a podium in this thinner men’s field. Dylan Frazier has a semi-finals type draw in his quarter that could put him into the bronze match. I’m happy to get him with my last pick.
(24) Vivienne David / Lacy Schneemann (Slim)
(25) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)
(26) Vivienne David / Thomas Wilson (Gritty)
(27) Steve Deakin / Travis Rettenmaier (Gritty)
(28) Lacy Schneemann (Slim)
(29) Jillian Braverman / Tyra Black (Slim)
(30) Lauren Stratman / Julian Arnold (Gritty)
Slim – Lacy Schneemann and Vivienne David should pair pretty well together. I decided to take a shot on Jillian Braverman and Tyra Black, instead of some more proven teams, with the last women’s doubles pick.
Gritty – Vivienne and Thomas are always dangerous together, especially in this more crap shoot than ever mixed field. They don’t call him Podium Deakin for nothing as he’ll get another shot with Rettenmaier at a podium. This is the time to do it for Deakin and Rettenmaier. Finally, there were 3 teams I considered at the last mixed spot but I went with matching color team, Stratman/Arnold. I could have gone Jansen/Rettenmaier or Koller/Irvine, and I was tempted by Jansen/Rettenmaier, who might be due. This is the mixed field for a surprise.
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