This is now 5 consecutive weeks with a pro tournament, and it will be 6 in a row once we get to San Clemente the following week. It is a lot of pro pickleball consumption, which includes MLP at the end of this long stretch. There hasn’t been as much discussion about the saturation of pro pickleball content this year likely due to the distinct A and B level tours, but it continues to be a real question as to how much pickleball can everyone handle. There very much appears to be a wide discrepancy in the live stream numbers between the PPA and MLP, and the APP, but the tours can become intermingled in a sense when you consider that it is all pro pickleball. There is a pretty decent chance none of this ends up mattering, but it is something to keep in mind when we’re on this bender of professional pickle.
Something to note, Travis Rettenmaier speaks out about the PPA’s paddle testing issues and two tournaments in a row he gets lined up with Ben Johns in the second round of a singles draw. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t mess with the PPA.
Gritty is back to 1 up on the year after his improbable win from the APP NYC Open. Slim won the toss and elected to pick first.
(1) Anna Leigh Waters / Ben Johns (Slim)
(2) Anna Leigh Waters / Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)
(3) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(4) Ben Johns (Slim)
(5) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Slim)
Slim – I really could have gone with Anna Leigh in singles or maybe the move is Anna Leigh in women’s doubles where she has not lost this year, but decided to go with Ben and Anna Leigh, as taking the best two players in the game, just always feels like a safe option. I am hoping that Ben will be looking to bounce back in singles this week after losing to Christian Alshon, last time out. Ben and Collin are a very weird first round loss to Phil Locklear and Ben Newell away from being perfect this year, and no men’s team really seems that close to closing the gap on them.
Gritty – Anna Leigh Waters has lost a total of 2 matches on the PPA Tour in 2023 so it’s no wonder why she is gone after the first 3 picks. Anna Leigh has not lost a women’s match this year. Can she keep that streak alive?
(6) Lea Jansen (Gritty)
(7) Matt Wright / Riley Newman (Gritty)
(8) Federico Staksrud (Slim)
(9) Meghan Dizon / Etta Wright (Slim)
(10) Anna Bright / Lacy Schneemann (Gritty)
(11) JW Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)
Slim – I may not have factored in Etta Wright’s health enough with the Meghan Dizon and Etta pick here, but if Etta is healthy I love this team’s upside. They have shown us that they can get it done, as they did in Red Rock taking gold. I’m also hoping for a Federico Staksrud bounce back this week.
Gritty – Lea Jansen has a nice draw and she avoids Anna Leigh’s half, which is why I make a point to scoop her up in singles as the first pick of this second set of selections. Matt Wright and Riley Newman have bounced back to be the #2 men’s team in pickleball, and it will be very interesting if we finally get to see a semi-finals match with JW and Dylan. Bright/Schneemann have been the best women team by point differential at MLP, but it’s a different world in tournament play when the top teams are better. I had them as my #2 team on the board because of their draw and it really isn’t a first-time partnership for them so let’s see how they do. I wanted to get JW/Dylan so that I can hopefully secure myself two podiums in men’s doubles. .
(12) Lindsey Newman / Riley Newman (Slim)
(13) Jorja Johnson / JW Johnson (Slim)
(14) Christian Alshon (Gritty)
(15) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)
(16) JW Johnson (Slim)
(17) Callie Smith / Lucy Kovalova (Slim)
Slim – It will be interesting to see how the Newman siblings fair this weekend, now that it seems like Riley has found his mojo again. You know that they will be in the mix and Lindsey’s defence remains absolutely elite, but I do wonder if a team can win at the highest level in mixed these days without a female having some weapons to keep the guy honest. The Johnson sibling have shown that they can beat absolutely anyone on the right day, which is not surprising given that I think they have the best combined hands of any mixed team. The question for them is if they can start to bring that level every week out. JW is coming off a gold medal singles performance in Atlanta, and you know I never bet against JW so I take him here at 16.
Gritty – Christian Alshon beat Ben Johns and tried to convince Jake Kusmider to forfeit the bronze medal match in Atlanta. He should be right in the mix along with about 11 or 12 other players in the draw. Catherine Parenteau is in AL’s half of the draw for singles, but she should be in a good spot to at least pick up a bronze medal.
(18) Lea Jansen / Jessie Irvine (Gritty)
(19) Jay Devilliers / Travis Rettenmaier (Gritty)
(20) Federico Staksrud / Pablo Tellez (Slim)
(21) Julian Arnold / DJ Young (Slim)
(22) Catherine Parenteau / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
(23) Anna Bright / James Ignatowich (Gritty)
Slim – I do not love Federico and Pablo’s draw this weekend, but they are quietly one of the more consistent men’s doubles teams and I just trust them a lot more then a lot of other men’s teams this weekend. If Julian and DJ get hot, they could be scary for any team.
Gritty – Lea/Jessie are the #2 team based on talent, but they get stuck in AL/Catherine’s side of the draw, which is why they slip to this spot in the draft. Lea couldn’t have been in a good head space for women’s doubles in Atlanta after losing singles in the morning to Mary Brascia and that’s why I’m expecting a better event from these two. Jay/Travis as a pairing provides a better version of the old Jay/Pat situation on paper. I’m not sure how Rettenmaier will handle Jay taking as much court as he does, but that finishing pop is very needed for Devilliers. Catherine/Tyson are in the half of the draw where it is anyone’s game for mixed and I think they can be right there to knock off either sibling duo. The honeymoon appears to be over for Anna/James so the question is whether they can adjust to the adjustments teams have been made against them.
(24) Judit Castillo (Slim)
(25) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)
(26) Connor Garnett (Gritty)
(27) Meghan Dizon / Federico Staksrud (Gritty)
(28) Lauren Stratman / Lindsey Newman (Slim)
(29) Jorja Johnson (Slim)
(30) Jay Devilliers (Gritty)
Slim – It seems like Judit is due to breakthrough in one of these PPA women’s singles draws at some point so maybe this will be the weekend. In Stratman and Newman, we get a preview of a new MLP partnership, it will be interesting to see if Lauren can keep her hot play going. It has been a long time since we have seen Jorja Johnson in a singles draw. I am hoping the long break has served her well, as it did with her brother in Atlanta.
Gritty – Garnett has a bad draw, but I’m just going with talent at this spot in the anything can happen singles world of 2023. A bunch of good mixed teams are left undrafted, but I’m excited to see Staksrud pair up with closer to a higher end partner in Dizon. Staksrud is underrated in mixed. Contrary to my previous singles pick, I am going with the former bronze stallion, Jay Devilliers, because I know he’s going to fight. It might not be the best pick, but I like max effort.
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