PPA Tour Tournament of Champions (TOC) – Fantasy Draft Preview

This is one of the most intriguing PPA events of the year because Ben Johns, Anna Leigh Waters, JW Johnson and Matt Wright are missing. It means that there is close to zero certainty even at the top of the medal stand and there are a whole bunch of teams in the mix for a podium. We conducted this fantasy draft on the latest episode of our podcast and you can listen there for a deeper dive into all of our selections. We went deeper on the podcast than we normally do in terms of analysis for each selection when we do the drafts off air, but we thought it might be fun to show the people what goes into all of our drafts. Let us know what you think! Remember, TOC is a Wednesday start with a Championship Saturday finish.

Slim is now 1 up on the year. He won the toss and elected to pick first. 

(1) Catherine Parenteau (Slim) 

(2) Anna Bright / James Ignatowich (Gritty) 

(3) Federico Staksrud (Gritty) 

(4) Jessie Irvine / Riley Newman (Slim) 

(5) AJ Koller / Riley Newman (Slim) 

Slim – Catherine Parenteau coming off of a break scares me a bit, but she has to be a clear favorite in the singles field with no Anna Leigh and no Lea. Did I think it was 2022 with my two Riley Newman doubles picks, perhaps? It really won’t be a good sign for Riley, Jessie or AJ if these partnerships don’t have success this weekend..

Gritty – I truly didn’t know what to do with these picks. I went with Bright/Ignatowich because they have been so reliable recently in just getting medals. Federico Staksrud has also been generally reliable, making a ton of Championship Sundays. 

(6) Anna Bright / Hurricane Tyra Black (Gritty) 

(7) Hurricane Tyra Black (Gritty) 

(8) Catherine Parenteau / Parris Todd (Slim) 

(9) Dylan Frazier / Andrei Daescu (Slim) 

(10) Connor Garnett (Gritty) 

(11) Pablo Tellez / Federico Staksrud (Gritty) 

Slim – The last minute substitution of Parris into this field will be a great barometer of where she is at right now. Todd is filling in for Etta Wright but she’s not playing mixed. Dylan Frazier and Andrei Daescu could win the men’s doubles and it would not be at all surprising, but as a partnership I do wonder if they lack elite power. Out of the medals altogether seems equally as likely.

Gritty – I thought I was going reliable and then I didn’t go reliable at all my next two picks with Hurricane and Anna. Anna’s results have not been great outside of ALW so this is a pretty big leap to take in a wide open field. I am honestly regretting the choice. I didn’t realize the draw was up before I did my board so I had Tyra too high as she’s on Parenteau’s half of the draw. Here’s hoping lady luck is in my favor this week with Tyra’s talent. I go back to my reliability theme with my next picks. Connor Garnett has been showing out well and I like him with that ProXR paddle that he’s working. Pablo/Fed have been very consistent and feel like a good bet to me in this field filled with unknowns. 

(12) Tyson McGuffin (Slim) 

(13) Jackie Kawamoto / Jade Kawamoto (Slim) 

(14) Catherine Parenteau / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty) 

(15) Jessie Irvine / Lea Jansen (Gritty) 

(16) Judit Castillo (Slim) 

(17) Salome Devidze (Slim) 

Slim – I went with proven commodities here in Tyson McGuffin and the Kawamoto sisters. More often than not, Tyson finds a way to grind through draws like these and I think this weekend presents a huge opportunity for the Kawamoto sisters as there are a lot of unproven women’s doubles teams this weekend.

Gritty – Catherine/Tyson offers me more reliability. Two players that will bring a consistent level pretty much no matter what. On the opposite end of reliability, Jansen/Irvine are going to see if the 4th times the charm. They need to figure out who is playing the right and the left. It seems odd to me that Irvine isn’t just sticking on the right and they live and die by that alignment. Let’s see how they stack up, literally and figuratively, at TOC. One thing to note, Producer Allissa asked me after we recorded podcast how did we talk about the altitude so many times in Utah and not mention Lea Jansen’s self-proclaimed issues with altitude. Big miss from both of us and now I’m feeling even worse about this pick. 

(18) Tyson McGuffin / James Ignatowich (Gritty) 

(19) Callie Smith / Allyce Jones (Gritty) 

(20) Gabe Tardio / Dekel Bar (Slim) 

(21) Christian Alshon (Slim) 

(22) Vivienne David / Thomas Wilson (Gritty) 

(23) Julian Arnold / Thomas Wilson (Gritty) 

Slim – Gabe Tardio has been playing some great pickleball of late, especially in men’s doubles. I imagine Gabe and Dekel are a team that nobody wants to face in this field. Christian Alshon had match points on Tyson in California.

Gritty – Slim made a good point on the podcast that he’s trying to avoid dying partnerships, which James/Tyson fall into. I still think they are two people that can work past that and may be able to make a run in this field. I’m not sure why I’m so partial to Smith/Jones. I like the home cooking in Utah. I like the role definition of a first-time partnership. This is a big bet on Allyce. Vivienne/Thomas are a consistent pair that may be able to make it work together. Julian/Thomas might not benefit from the altitude making it harder to keep balls in play, but they showed they can beat high end teams recently with their Koller/Newman and Wright/Garnett wins at Takeya. 

(24) Federico Staksrud / Lea Jansen (Slim) 

(25) Callie Smith / Jay Devilliers (Slim) 

(26) Yana Newell (Gritty) 

(27) Mary Brascia (Gritty) 

(28) Gabriel Joseph (Slim) 

(29) Yana Newell / Lauren Stratman (Slim) 

(30) Collin Shick (Gritty) 

Slim – Federico Staksrud and Lea Jansen beat Matt and Lucy in two games in Los Angeles, and lost a very tight three game match to the Newman siblings in the quarter-finals. This could be the weekend they finally break through. I am hoping Gabe Joseph can ride his hot hand from Los Angeles into Utah this week. Yana Newell and Lauren Stratman have been the most underestimated team out there this year so I’m hoping they prove people wrong again. I think a big reason for Yana and Lauren’s success this year is they are still the rare women’s team where both players has finishing power.

Gritty – Yana Newell and Mary Brascia selections in singles mean I have 3 players on the same half of the draw as Catherine Parenteau. I decided to stick with them in the hopes Parenteau’s break has left her unready and that at least one of them can make her life difficult. There were a bunch of singles guys I could have gone with here. If it wasn’t for Quang Duong’s poor draw, I would have gone with him. Instead, I roll with Collin Shick, who seems due for a big result somewhere along the line.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at nmlpickleball@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Threads and Facebook. Also, listen and subscribe to our podcast on Apple, Spotify and YouTube!

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