The tournaments don’t stop in the month of February. Assuming this Minnesota one does not get cancelled due to the snowstorm currently hitting that area of the country, this will be another consecutive weekend with a tournament. It’s a smaller field this weekend. Surprisingly, players are not overly keen about getting over to Minnesota in the dead of winter. One theory that we believe we floated last year for Mr. Collin’s brother is whether he is anti-playing indoor, at least in singles, since his Tournament of Champions struggles in 2021 – the singles portion of that tournament was moved indoors due to bad weather. There have not been many opportunities but we have not seen Ben Johns play singles at an indoor tournament since that time when he lost to JW Johnson and Spencer Smith at TOC. We know those faster conditions do not favor his game and he has to know that. Now, there have only been two smaller, indoor PPA events since TOC 2021, but Johns has now avoided playing the smaller North Carolina PPA last May and now this smaller Minnesota PPA. He played in Minnesota last year, but not in singles. We’ll keep monitoring this but some food for thought.
Gritty is still 2 up on the year after a tie ball game last weekend. Slim won the toss and elected to pick first.
(1) Matt Wright / Riley Newman (Slim)
(2) Anna Bright / Riley Newman (Gritty)
(3) Federico Staksrud (Gritty)
(4) Anna Bright / Andrea Koop (Slim)
(5) Lea Jansen (Slim)
Slim – With Ben and Anna Leigh both sitting this one out, Matt and Riley are the most proven commodity in the field, though I don’t love that they have Dylan And JW on the same side of the draw as them. With no AL in the draw, you could say this weekend is a golden opportunity for Lea Jansen.
Gritty – Anna/Riley proved to be formidable last weekend and were only pushed by the Johnsons all weekend where they went 5 games. In a field with Anna Leigh/Ben, I have to bet on them. Federico Staksrud has been so consistent and, despite a pretty deep singles field, I like him to take gold once again.
(6) Jessie Irvine / Jackie Kawamoto (Gritty)
(7) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)
(8) Dylan Frazier / JW Johnson (Slim)
(9) Dekel Bar / AJ Koller (Slim)
(10) Julian Arnold (Gritty)
(11) Vivienne David / Thomas Wilson (Gritty)
Slim – Dylan and JW have proven themselves to be podium staples this year so I like the virtual guarantee of Championship Sunday with them, and I intend to sweep the men’s doubles with a draw that sets up very nicely for AJ and Dekel to make championship Sunday this week. Notably, AJ/Dekel were inches from losing to Loong/Dawson.
Gritty – I actually had Irvine/Kawamoto as the #1 team due to their more favorable draw. This is a draw that sets up well for Catherine Parenteau, who avoids Lea Jansen and only has Irina Tereschenko looming in that semi-final. Julian Arnold got beat by Travis Rettenmaier last weekend, but his singles results have been the most consistent of anyone over the past few months. There are a lot of teams on David/Wilson’s side of the draw, but I like what those potentially illegal Crbn paddles are doing for their games right now. It’s always nice to have a guy with a rocket launcher for a paddle.
(12) Catherine Parenteau / Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(13) Jorja Johnson / JW Johnson (Slim)
(14) Salome Devidze (Gritty)
(15) Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
(16) Allyce Jones / Lea Jansen (Slim)
(17) Andrea Koop / AJ Koller (Slim)
Slim – Catherine Parenteau and Jorja Johnson had a disappointing showing last weekend playing together but I like them to bounce back this week. New partnerships need time. I will point out that Parenteau may be worse off in these indoor, faster conditions with a Dura ball. The Johnson siblings have a tough draw in mixed this week, but the upside is too much to pass up. Allyce Jones and Lea Jansen keep scrapping their way to podium finishes, can they do it again this weekend? AJ Koller and Andrea Koop have shown that they can win it all. I’ll be curious to see how they do this weekend as AJ’s results with Jessie Irvine have been disappointing this year, but I think that may be a chemistry issue. At the same time, Koller’s play has seemed a little more erractic than usual this year in mixed. He showed he can play a very focused game with Dekel in men’s last weekend though too.
Gritty – Salome Devidze is poised for a podium in an Anna Leigh-less field this weekend. Dylan Frazier is on the half of the draw where anything goes. I’m not sure the faster conditions help a guy who wants to play some cat and mouse, but he’s still my selection in this #3 slot.
(18) Jessie Irvine / Jay Devilliers (Gritty)
(19) Mary Brascia (Gritty)
(20) JW Johnson (Slim)
(21) Jay Devilliers (Slim)
(22) James Ignatowich / Collin Johns (Gritty)
(23) Callie Smith / Lucy Kovalova (Gritty)
Slim – I can’t quit JW in singles, and perhaps after taking last week off singles he will be a little refreshed. The bronze stallion, Jay Devilliers, is looking to build off of his silver medal performance last week, and has another favourable draw.
Gritty – Jessie/Jay are back together in the favorable half of the draw with their carry over of PPA points. Jessie may be happy to have a more steady mixed partner as she showed some visible frustration playing with Koller last weekend. Mary Brascia had a huge performance last weekend that was very much needed for a player who has struggled mightily in 2023 to find her previous form. Ignatowich/Johns are a first time pairing that are a great theoretical fit. I wonder if Ignatowich’s game is more hype than real at this point given some of his 2023 results, but we should get a pretty good idea this weekend. They get a favorable #2 seed. This Smith/Kovalova partnership is reeling as they performed better with Lucy on the left in their semi-final matchup, but teams have figured out how to play this pair. They need to figure out something to counter what teams are doing.
(24) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Slim)
(25) Christian Alshon (Slim)
(26) Vivienne David / Megan Fudge (Gritty)
(27) Jay Devilliers / DJ Young (Gritty)
(28) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)
(29) Brooke Buckner (Slim)
(30) Federico Staksrud / Pablo Tellez (Gritty)
Slim – Between it being indoors, which should favor his passing shot style and a pretty good draw, this weekend is a huge opportunity for Christian Alshon to breakout, and prove he is more than just hype and flash. I really like getting Alshon as it gives me a very good chance to get a guy going to Championship Sunday in the weaker half of the draw. Lucy/Matt are also in the weaker half of the mixed draw and should have a real shot at Sunday. As will always be the case at this point, there were a number of good mixed teams left undrafted. The singles on the women’s side is not as exciting with Tereschenko and Buckner.
Gritty – Vivienne David and Megan Fudge proved to be formidable. Is Fudge just a Premier level player at this point? Her performance in mixed and women’s last weekend is a strong indication of that. The men’s 5th and 6th slots do not leave a lot to be desired. The no counter team of Devilliers/DJ Young team has some theoretical potential but they have not showed to have upset ability so far in 2023. Staksrud/Tellez have fought hard with some close results against better teams. Maybe this is a weekend they breakthrough?
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