PPA Tour Masters – Fantasy Draft Preview

It was an entire slate of fantasy drafts in 2022 and we are back for more in 2023. For those of you that are new to the blog, the two of us complete a fantasy draft for each tournament. We each draft 3 teams from each of the 5 pro draws and get points based on how our teams do (1 for bronze, 2 for silver, 3 for gold). We total the scores at the end of each tournament and the winner of the week gets 1 point. People get confused when they see the chart and sometimes think these are podium picks. These are not podium picks. The chart represents our respective fantasy teams for the tournament. 

Without mincing words, Slim has been dominant in fantasy drafts over Gritty. Has Gritty learned anything in a year and a half of doing fantasy draft previews? We’ll have to wait and see. You can see our 2023 partnership breakdown for some of our more in-depth thoughts on the new partnerships we’re going to see at the PPA Masters. We would be remiss not to mention that the men’s doubles and singles as well as the mixed draw have separated out a main draw and qualifiers with the large number of entrants. We have to expect this will happen more often at PPA events in 2023 than in 2022.

It’s a fresh slate for 2023 with the scores at 0-0. Gritty won the toss and elected to pick second in this draft.

(1) Anna Leigh Waters (Slim) 

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

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

(4) Collin Johns / Ben Johns (Slim) 

(5) Ben Johns (Slim) 

Slim – Anna Leigh, who lost one singles match all of last year, was an easy first pick. There is ever increasing competition on the men’s side, but I still had to go with Ben Johns in both singles and men’s doubles. I have to think he will be motivated to start the year.

Gritty – I took the 2nd pick because I felt there were 3 strong gold medal teams, even if Anna Leigh in singles is the safest bet. Getting AL/Ben and AL/Bright should secure 2 gold medal performances and I’ll be surprised if something different happens. Collin/Ben and Ben in singles have multiple opponents that I could reasonably foresee upending their title run.  

(6) Matt Wright / Riley Newman (Gritty) 

(7) Jessie Irvine / Riley Newman (Gritty) 

(8) JW Johnson (Slim) 

(9) Jorja Johnson / Vivienne David (Slim) 

(10) Lea Jansen (Gritty) 

(11) JW Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Gritty) 

Slim – I have a rule not to bet against JW so I take him in singles with the 8th pick. It will be interesting to see how JW does with the Carbon Fibre Franklin paddle. It seems that paddle has not been popular among pros. If a women’s team is going to beat Anna Leigh and Anna this weekend, I think it will be Jorja and Vivienne. They have had success playing together and their games fit together extremely well.

Gritty – Matt/Riley and JW/Dylan are both teams that could conceivably win a gold medal. They are not favorites but they are the clear top 3 of contenders in men’s doubles. Jessie/Riley do not have the history together that Catherine/Riley have but, on paper, it is a better mixed team. Jessie can almost play like a souped up Lindsey Newman, even if she won’t be as comfortable if they decide to put her on the left side. Lea Jansen is a  safe singles pick and is the favorite for that silver medal spot. 

(12) Jorja Johnson / JW Johnson (Slim) 

(13) Lucy Kovalova / Callie Smith (Slim) 

(14) Salome Devidze (Gritty) 

(15) Julian Arnold (Gritty) 

(16) Vivienne David / Thomas Wilson (Slim) 

(17) Tyson McGuffin (Slim) 

Slim – It will be interesting to see how the Johnson siblings fair against the top PPA teams playing together. They have as much firepower as any team in this field. Lucy and Callie are a proven commodity, but it will be interesting to see if they have added any wrinkles to their game, over the brief offseason. Callie wanted Lucy on her MLP team so clearly they still like playing together: Thomas Wilson and Vivienne David had a lot of success at the end of last year on the APP tour, it will be interesting to see if they can translate throat success against PPA teams. It is going to be a lot harder for Tyson to be a consistent podium presence this year in singles, the draws are just a lot deeper, but he does have a knack for grinding his way through singles days.

Gritty – Salome Devidze is only getting better at singles and has had some very good matches with Lea Jansen in recent tournaments. Julian Arnold can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of all the singles talent, but his run at the end of the year puts him right near the top. Arnold has a legitimate case to contend for a gold medal. 

(18) Jessie Irvine / Irina Tereschenko (Gritty) 

(19) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty) 

(20) Thomas Wilson / Zane Navratil (Slim) 

(21) James Ignatowich /Tyson McGuffin (Slim) 

(22) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Gritty) 

(23) Allyce Jones / Lea Jansen (Gritty) 

Slim – I like the fit of the Thomas Wilson and Zane Navratil partnership. The Tyson McGuffin and James Ignatowich partnership is also a good fit and it makes sense for both players.

Gritty – Jessie/Irina have history as a pair together. They are not going to be an easy out for anyone and I could see them sneaking their way onto a podium. Catherine Parenteau’s singles stock has fallen, but there is still a world where she could find herself playing for gold on Sunday. I debated taking Bright/Frazier over Matt/Lucy but I ended up going with the legacy partnership, who have shown they can win PPA medals. These mixed fields are so deep now though so it’s going to be tough for anyone to make a podium. Allyce/Lea should be an interesting pair to watch and I’ll be curious if they can hang with the big dogs in these women’s doubles fields. 

(24) Anna Bright / Dylan Frazier (Slim)

(25) Etta Wright / Lacy Schneemann (Slim) 

(26) Federico Staksrud (Gritty) 

(27) Dylan Frazier (Gritty) 

(28) Mary Brascia (Slim) 

(29) Lina Padegimaite (Slim) 

(30) Jay Devilliers / DJ Young (Gritty) 

Slim – At the PPA Takeya Showcase, Anna Bright and Dylan Frazier showed they are a team that can make the podium, in these tough PPA mixed fields. Etta Wright and Lacy Schneeman are a high upside team. If Lacy can bring consistency throughout the day, they could go for a real run. Mary Brascia is a little inconsistent in singles, but she can beat almost anyone on the right day. I chose Lina over Irina. Hopefully I don’t get burned.

Gritty – Federico’s singles game was not as consistent towards the end of 2022. I still like him in this very deep field. I may regret going Dylan Frazier over James Ignatowich here. Frazier’s singles game also fell off a little bit at the very end of 2022 following an absolute heater run for him prior to that. At this spot and in this deep field, it may have made more sense to go upside with Ignatowich as I expect James will have more incentive to grind a singles backdraw. I end off with Devilliers/Young, who should not be a fun team for opponents to face in a single matchup. I worry about this team’s ability to fight through backdraws as they don’t have the firepower to get to Sunday most likely. We know Devilliers doesn’t have the word ‘quit’ in his vocabulary, but the same cannot be said for DJ.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at nmlpickleball@gmail.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well!

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