No rest for the weary, except for the PPA players who did not play at MLP. They have had plenty of rest. Similar to last year, the weekend following MLP feels like a bit of a let down. Orange County is a big tournament with some good storylines, especially with Ben John out of the picture. A regular tournament can’t match the pure, organic energy that MLP brought to the table once again. The PPA has made no further announcements to their seemingly reactionary Team Event announcement all the way back when this battle between the tours and MLP began.
In terms of storylines for this weekend, we’re seeing the return of Jay Devilliers and Lindsey Newman to the PPA Tour – Jay for his Visa/Immigration issues and Lindsey from her pregnancy. We get some different partnerships that should be fun to watch like Anna Leigh/JW, Parenteau/Collin Johns, and AJ Koller/Collin Johns. There’s going to be California pickleball action all June long so you weirdos who can’t get enough can keep it locked here at NML.
Slim is now 5 up on the year after Gritty had his first consecutive 2-week fantasy win streak of the year prior to MLP. Can 3 in a row happen? Slim may be feeling the pressure after such a hot run between the end of 2021 and the start of 2022. Slim keeps intentionally losing the toss so Gritty chose to go 2nd.
(1) Anna Leigh Waters (Slim)
(2) Anna Leigh Waters / JW Johnson (Gritty)
(3) JW Johnson (Gritty)
(4) Matt Wright / Riley Newman (Slim)
(5) Lucy Kovalova / Callie Smith (Slim)
Slim – Anna Leigh has won nine straight singles titles and is showing no signs of slowing down, she was an easy pick first overall. Gritty is trying to steal my JW corner and takes him back to back with picks 2 and 3. Matt and Riley though were an easy pick at 4 as they seem to only be getting better together and, with no Ben, are heavy favorites in men’s doubles. Women’s doubles is definitely the hardest field to cap the favorite in these days, but I am hoping that Lucy and Callie can keep the momentum from their gold medal performance in Atlanta here.
Gritty – I wanted the 2nd pick because I thought one of those JW picks is going to be gold. I thought there were two teams that could challenge Matt/Riley in men’s and the women’s doubles is so up in the air right now for gold. Anna Leigh and JW should be fun to watch as they haven’t played together since JW has become such a force of nature. JW is back in a PPA singles draw too. We’ll have to see how stacked his half of the draw is compared to Tyson’s. I feel like there’s about a 1% chance those two find themselves on the same half of the bracket on Thursday.
(6) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)
(7) Anna Leigh Waters / Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(8) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Slim)
(9) JW Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Slim)
(10) Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
(11) Lea Jansen / Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)
Slim – Lucy and Matt had a slow start to the year in mixed but seem to be rounding into form and in a field with no Ben Johns in mixed, I like their chances. I couldn’t let Gritty completely steal my JW Johnson corner so I had to take him here. Jw and Dylan Frazier have been very solid together this year in men’s doubles.
Gritty – Catherine Parenteau has been a silver lock all year. I had the Waters as my number 1 team despite their loss to Lucy/Callie in Atlanta so I’m quite happy to get them at this slot. Even though I have Staksrud ahead of McGuffin as a player right now, the Tyson pick is one based on the favorable draws he has been seeing all year. There’s a number of spots I could have gone at #11 but the upside for Lea/Catherine is gold, which is hard to find once you get past the first 10 spots.
(12) Lea Jansen (Slim)
(13) Federico Staksrud (Slim)
(14) Jessie Irvine / Jay Devilliers (Gritty)
(15) Collin Johns / AJ Koller (Gritty)
(16) Lindsey Newman / Riley Newman (Slim)
(17) Parris Todd (Slim)
Slim – Lea Jansen has been solidly, the number three female singles player this year, can she crack through and make a championship Sunday? Nobody is on a bigger heater than Federico these days, if he can avoid JW, I like him to make it to Championship Sunday. Getting the Newmans at 16 feels like a steal. Riley has been playing at a different level the last few stops, and he always has great chemistry with Lindsey. Parris Todd just keeps getting better every week, can she find her way into that top 3 in a PPA this weekend? The confidence must be sky high.
Gritty – I went with Jay/Jessie ahead of Riley/Lindsey but it was very close. I could have gone either way here. I was happy to be able to get Collin/AJ so late in the draft. It seems we both had them ranked pretty similarly, but you could make an argument for Collin/AJ as the #2 team here. They should both be pretty motivated to show out together.
(18) Callie Smith / AJ Koller (Gritty)
(19) Anna Bright / Jorja Johnson (Gritty)
(20) Jay Devilliers (Slim)
(21) Patrick Smith / DJ Young (Slim)
(22) Gabriel Joseph (Gritty)
(23) Callie Smith (Gritty)
Slim – I worry about Jay being out of practice as he has missed some time with his VISA issues, but I know he is going to compete even if he gets knocked to the backdraw so getting him at 20 is good value. DJ Young and Patrick Smith are an extremely intriguing team. I feel like on the right day they could win this thing. They both have some heavy hands.
Gritty – I went with Callie/AJ because their upside is too tantalizing. I played around with Lauren/Tyson in this spot instead because of their consistency, but ended up not going that route – the mixed field is still the deepest so I’d rather have the upside than the consistency at the #5 mixed slot. In hindsight, I could have gotten Anna/Jorja later and then taken DJ/Pat in this spot. I liked both of those teams about equally for where we are in the draft from an upside standpoint. I took Gabe Joseph despite his lack of recent tournaments. This is the beginning of the Cali swing but he is too good even though Ignatowich has been playing a lot more. I still think Slim is too high on Parris’ singles for the time being. Long-term I think she’s better than Callie but she isn’t there right now in my opinion.
(24) Irina Tereschenko / Lauren Stratman (Slim)
(25) Lauren Stratman / Tyson McGuffin (Slim)
(26) Jay Devilliers / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
(27) Anna Bright (Gritty)
(28) James Ignatowich (Slim)
(29) Jessie Irvine / Lindsey Newman (Slim)
(30) Tyler Loong / Callan Dawson (Gritty)
Slim – I go back to back with Lauren Stratman in women doubles and mixed and feel like I am getting great value again with both picks. In particular, I like Lauren and Tyson in mixed, especially at a stop where a couple of the top teams are mixed up. Ignatowich is an extremely talented player who is playing a lot more these days, so I like the upside at this spot in the draft. Jessie Irvine and Lindsey Newman are a solid team. I just always worry about Lindsey’s lack of weapons in women’s doubles.
Gritty – The bronze stallion, Jay Devilliers, is back in action. Here’s hoping he is ready for the grind and willing to fight through a backdraw to get a bronze with Tyson. Anna Bright’s singles results have not been improving much as of late. The talent is still there ahead of Irina and Lauren who don’t get enough singles results to justify picking them over Anna. The last men’s pick was pretty straightforward. Chuck/Mario or Hayden/Julian were outside options, but Tyler/Callan are too consistent as a pair to leave undrafted with those being the options available.
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