We are back with your regularly scheduled programming after MLP. We have a fairly sizeable event with the PPA’s Desert Ridge Open, but you know it won’t be the same fun as MLP. There are new partnerships to keep an eye on, including Anna Bright/Riley Newman teaming up for the first time. Tyson McGuffin is also out as he injured himself at MLP.
The number 1 thing fans should be aware of is that the PPA has a new format for its draws. The players that lose in the semi-finals will now automatically play the bronze medal match and the players losing before the semis can finish no better than 5th place. It is a further reduction in the importance of the back draw for the PPA and offers additional benefit to the players at the top of the game. In a world where seeding is crucial, the PPA points structure is very top heavy and there are not many points available to players who do not reach the semi-finals. It means that there is limited ability for players outside of the top handful of players to gain ground. A player finishing in 5th will receive one-quarter of the points compared to a player finishing in 4th, and it makes the luck of the draw even more important each tournament for all players. With the only thing on the line for these players being a miniscule number of points (and a little extra money for 5th), we could see more withdrawals going forward, especially in that men’s singles bracket.*this post has been edited to reflect *
Another tournament means another fantasy draft. With only two tournaments played so far, we are tied for the year. Will Gritty be able to take his first lead? Gritty won the toss and elected to pick first.
(2) Anna Leigh Waters / Ben Johns (Slim)
(3) Ben Johns (Slim)
(4) Catherine Parenteau / Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(5) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Gritty)
Gritty – Anna Leigh continues to be the easiest pick at #1 overall in these drafts. Anna Leigh has Catherine for this event in women’s. They are the obvious #1 women’s doubles team, but this is a strong women’s field with multiple teams who have the ability to take them down. The Johns brothers are the #1 team in men’s until further notice.
Slim – Riley Newman and Anna Brightmay end up challenging Anna Leigh and Ben this year, but with Riley just freshly returning from Australia, I like Ben and Anna Leigh to stay on top, for this week at least. We keep thinking Ben’s singles dominance might slip, with the ever increasing depth in singles, however he keeps getting it done.
(6) Matt Wright / Riley Newman (Slim)
(7) Anna Bright / Vivienne David (Slim)
(8) Anna Bright / Riley Newman (Gritty)
(9) Jorja Johnson / Andrea Koop (Gritty)
(10) Lea Jansen (Slim)
(11) Federico Staksrud (Slim)
Gritty – Anna Bright and Riley Newman may take some time to gel with one another so I am not expecting them to take down AL/Ben right away, but they have a better chance than anyone else to do it. The PPA is putting up their draws in advance on their website so I was happy to get Jorja/Andrea as they avoid Parenteau/Anna Leigh in their half of the draw. It should be a fun match between Jorja/Andrea and Lucy/Callie, assuming they get there.
Slim – Matt and Riley are probably hoping for some more colder temps in Arizona this weekend, which would favor their aggressive style. Anna Bright and Vivienne David are a first time partnership, that is extremely intriguing, as it is a natural fit of an alpha left side player in Anna, and the steady Eddy in Vivienne David on the right. Can they gel quickly enough to take gold? I had Lea and Federico as the number two singles players in the men’s and women’s draws.
(12) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)
(13) JW Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
(14) Vivienne David / Thomas Wilson (Slim)
(15) Callie Smith / Lucy Kovalova (Slim)
(16) Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
(17) Julian Arnold (Gritty)
Gritty – Catherine Parenteau avoids Anna Leigh in singles on her half of the draw, which makes her a strong bet for a Sunday appearance. JW/Dylan were inches away from taking down the Johns brothers last time and they have gold medal potential together. If Dylan can get past Federico in the quarters, he could find himself in Championship Sunday. Julian Arnold will have Ben in the semis, but we have seen him win that one before.
Slim – Thomas and Vivienne have proven that they can reach the podium in these deep PPA mixed draws, but this one may be the deepest draw yet so they will have their work cut out for them. I am still confident they keep their momentum going. Lucy and Callie are one of four women’s teams that I can realistically see making a podium this weekend. I am really starting to wonder why Callie hasn’t been able to add more to her backhand as teams have figured out it is a safe place to go. She just can’t punish them with it.
(18) AJ Koller / Erik Lange (Slim)
(19) Jorja Johnson / JW Johnson (Slim)
(20) Thomas Wilson / Julian Arnold (Gritty)
(21) Lea Jansen / Allyce Jones (Gritty)
(22) Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(23) JW Johnson (Slim)
Gritty – Is this a momentum weekend for Julian Arnold or a let down weekend? Traditional logic would indicate this is a let down tournament as it is hard coming off the high of a big weekend like Arnold had in Mesa at MLP. I made a mistake on Jansen/Allyce as I accidentally crossed out JW in singles when doing the draft so that should have been my pick here. Anyway, Jansen/Jones may be overmatched as a pair in this strong women’s field, but Allyce looked very good at MLP last weekend so we’ll see if they can make any noise.
Slim – AJ Koller and Erik Lange are a team I am very interested to watch. Their hands will allow them to compete with any team in the draw. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen Erik play with a partner of AJ’s calibre in a tournament. You know my rule is don’t bet against JW Johnson, so I take him and Jorja in mixed and then I take both of them in singles as well. I am starting to worry that the new carbon Franklin paddle could be a real problem for the Johnsons. Other players have stayed far away from the paddle and JW’s singles results in particular have really fallen off since making the switch.
(24) Irina Tereschenko (Gritty)
(25) Jessie Irvine / AJ Koller (Gritty)
(26) James Ignatowich / Zane Navratil (Slim)
(27) Jessie Irvine / Regina Goldberg (Slim)
(28) Andrea Koop / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
(29) Jay Devilliers (Gritty)
(30) Mary Brascia (Slim)
Gritty – Irina is not playing MLP so any podium will be tougher to come by. The mixed field is so damn strong that Koller/Irvine are the #5 team. The last time AJ had a non-Callie Smith higher end partnership, he won gold with Andrea Koop. Speaking of Koop, I went with Koop/Frazier for the last mixed slot but there were a bunch of viable teams that went undrafted – Matt/Lucy, Jay/Callie, Etta/Rafa, Lindsey Newman/James Ignatowich. My final pick goes to the bronze stallion himself, Jay Devilliers, who has himself a relatively friendly singles draw that can hopefully take him to at least the quarter-finals.
Slim – I am intrigued by the James Ignatowich and Zane partnership. Zane seems to do a good job of maximizing the potential of many of his partners so it will be interesting to see how he and James play together. The safer pick here likely would have been to take Jay Devilliers and DJ Young. Also, it speaks to the depth of these draws, that Tyler Loong and Callan Dawson didn’t even get picked despite picking up a number of bronze medals last year.
*this post has been edited to reflect that 5th place receives additional prize money.
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