APP SoCal Classic – Live Random Thoughts
We’ll have some thoughts all weekend long on the happenings at the APP Tour. Storylines to watch for – can JW Triple Crown? Will any teams find their way into the top 4 of the women’s brackets? Which of the 2 through 6 men’s teams will find the podium? Only one way to find out.
Sunday, June 19th – Singles ￼
8:22 pm EST – On a day with completely wonky results, Fed shines through it all with another gold medal. The newly sponsored JOOLA player had a minor hiccup last week but he’s back to his winning ways.
7:12 pm EST – Mary Brascia too good over Anna Bright. She has to be someone to watch after a couple of notable performances in two weeks. She trains with Daniel Roditi and now has all the time for pickleball. When you think you have figured it out, you definitely have not.
4:30 pm EST – Mary Brascia big win over Anna Bright. She won 12-10 in first after giving up a lead and holding off a game point then pulled away 11-4 in game 2. Brascia looked better than Anna. Bright is trying to get to net but she’s either unable to cover enough ground when up there or not able to do enough with her volleys. In contrast, Mary is covering a lot of court despite being pretty average in wingspan and she’s doing a lot with her volleys making it tough on Anna to get any traction.
Ignatowich beats Gabe Joseph and will play Hunter Johnson just to go to bronze. If you told James before the weekend that he would beat JW and Gabe, but wouldn’t be guaranteed a medal, it would have been a confused look you would get. Such an odd day.
2:53 pm EST – What a weird singles day. Gabe Joseph goes down easily to Kyle Lewis, 11-5, 11,5, who will get what may end up being the most surprising podium of 2022. JW Johnson is done after losing 15-2 to Ignatowich in the back draw. So the one losers bracket half right now has Ignatowich, Alex Neumann and Gabe Joseph. Staksrud and Lewis will play the winners bracket final.
Mary Brascia will play Anna Bright in the other winners bracket final. Brascia took a game off AL last weekend so we’ll be curious to see if there’s a match to be had here.
2:00 pm EST – Gabe Joseph is in the semi-finals after a weirdly tight match against Sherry. Lost 11-1, won 11-3 and then won 14-12. Point of the match was when Joseph was down 10-8 in the third and he came up with a huge backhand pass on his heels to save match point. Sher Bear is looking #fit relatively speaking but he couldn’t come up with a second tight 3rd game win.
Federico Staksrud is going to play Dylan Frazier right now after a fairly routine win in 2 over James Ignatowich. Ignatowich is apprently up 8-0 on JW right now on the backside. I wonder for JW what’s going on. Gotta be fatigue?
Not a good day for the Johnson family. Jorja loses in round 1 to Genie Erokhina, 11-8 and 11-6, as well. Also, Lauren Stratman with the withdrawal along with bae Julian Arnold. Not sure who is doing the withdrawing but it’s an odd pattern for both to be withdrawing, especially where they can both podium.
12:27 pm EST – The early story of the day undoubtedly is JW Johnson losing his first match of the day against Hunter Johnson, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6. The obvious question to ask is how tired JW Johnson might be. There was some disagreement in our comments section of the PPA live blog last weekend as to how tired JW Johnson was looking but losing this match after taking game 1 is not indicative of someone feeling 100% of his calibre. He has not withdrawn from the backside so it would not appear to be injury related but that’s going to be a long road back if he wants to find a medal today.
An interesting early match going on right now is Ignatowich vs. Staksrud. I think an underrated part of this day is that both these guys are playing doubles events in the tournament leading up to this and are winning matches. That makes for bodies that aren’t as fresh and could have an impact on either of their games. Elsewhere in the draw, Gabe Tardio took down Rafa Hewett in 3 games and results like this make it appear as if the Rafa Hewett story will continue to be the same story.
Saturday, June 18th – Doubles
9:33 pm EST – The women’s bronze ended up being a closer match but Stratman/Whitwell prevailed. They gave a better fight to Bright/Johnson for gold but fall short in two games.
Same for the men with the rematch as DJ Young and Mario won then gave a bit of a fight. The two fairly heavily favored teams end up prevailing.
5:57 pm EST – Soooo, Esquivel/Franco couldn’t give them a match. 15-0. Too much power from Todd and Barr. The freight train was full steam ahead.
5:28 pm EST – No real surprises today for the top 4 and Patriquin/Arnold get by Tardio/Cassidy, 15-10 after being up 13-3. We like Tardio a lot but maybe his game is a little too inconsistent right now. The bronze match should be another tight one.
Barr/Todd will play Franco/Esquivel to go to bronze. Can Franco/Esquivel give them any trouble? Games to 15 do go quick.
4:10 pm EST – For Lee Whitwell, it comes down to her inability to punish ill-advised speed ups. She does a lot of things very well but her ceiling is limited because of her lack of counter ability. Johnson and Bright win 11-6, 11-0 as Stratman/Whitwell are guaranteed a medal today.
Gayten-Leach and Erokhina with a nice backdraw win over the Brascia’s. Cierra Gayten-Leach for the supplemental draft.
3:12 pm EST – Mario/DJ win an ultra close match against Cassidy/Tardio, 11-9 in the third. Based on what has happened early, you have to expect this will be the bronze match later today but we’ll have to see. They’ll play Stone and Staksrud on the losers side as Fed’s doubles results are not too shabby recently. Frazier/Johnson have Hewett and Taylor next.
On the women’s side, Gayten-Leach/Erokhina almost had a nice upset against Franco/Esquivel. They won game 1 and lost 14-12 in game 2 before going down 11-4 in game 3. I have watched little bits of Erokhina and let’s say that seems like an impressive loss from Gayten-Leach. Todd/Barr went 3 games in their win against Schneemann/McGrath, which does not bode well for their match going on with Whitwell/Stratman. But who knows from match to match. That one will likely end up being the bronze on top of the semi-final.
1:12 pm EST – The men have gotten going this morning. The lesson of the weekend is not to pick players in fantasy who haven’t played pro pickleball for 6 plus months. Goebel/Warnick lost in 2 to Staksrud and Stone then they have won a couple on the losers side, but only 16-14 over Zbinden/Heddings. Talk about a legacy matchup with Goebel and Randy Zbinden! Big win for Cassidy and Tardio over Patriquin and Arnold in 2 games, 11-9, 11-3. Tardio still is underrated and this is his best men’s partner to date if memory serves. Otherwise, pretty chalky start so far.
Friday, June 17th – Mixed
7:22 pm EST – We do get the expected final without necessarily the expected result in our view. It seems possible that Lee/JW’s win in St. Louis was a bit of fool’s gold. Yes, they ended up with a silver here but Frazier/Jorja Johnson were clearly the best team out there in two matches today. It’s a testament to the fact that there is only so much JW Johnson can do when you have a clearly superior female on the other side of the court with another very capable male in Dylan Frazier. This one has to feel good for Jorja to get as JW gets so much love it does distract from her ongoing improvement.
Some lower end teams had good days like Lacy Schneemann/Zack Taylor and Christa Gecheva/Craig Johnson, including a quality loss for Gecheva/Johnson against Whitwell/JW. However, the disappointment of the day has to go to Stratman/Arnold, who finished in the 5th/6th spot after a 16-14 loss to Bright/Ignatowich. I still think Arnold is very talented and the doubles game simply takes time to get results consistently. Nevertheless, it has to be discouraging to lose to a team like Bright/Ignatowich with two relatively new players on the other side, as talented as they may be.
5:56 pm EST – Parris Todd’s wild ride continues with another podium, this time in mixed doubles with Alex Neumann, as they take down Bright/Ignatowich, 15-11. Playing with a JOOLA but still wearing her Crbn gear, is it possible Todd’s forehand counter is the hardest of the women out there? We would need to see it in-person compared to others to really judge. The two most prominent rising female stars gave us quite a match to go to bronze. Neither Neumann nor James “don’t call me Iggy” Ignatowich are seasoned as doubles players, but Neumann was better than Ignatowich on this day. There’s definitely an added pressure that comes from playing with a Parris Todd or Anna Bright at this stage, and you could see it at times in this match – – need to give both guys credit for holding up well all day.
1:02 pm EST – The quarter-finals are all set and not without some surprises in there, which is more expected when you have fewer top players in the field. It seems like we were sleeping on Gayten-Leach and Chuck Taylor. Cierra may be somewhat awkward but she is good, and so is Chuck. They took down Mary Brascia and Rob Cassidy in two. Pesa Teoni and Etta Wright get a good win against Esquivel/Hewett in two. Teoni is very talented and Etta Wright is a name all fans should know very soon once her partners start improving with time.
Parris Todd continues her nice run as she and Neumann get a win over Susannah Barr and Matt Goebel in 3 games. Not a shocking result but it is an underdog victory. It’s tough for guys like Matt Goebel who don’t play this level regularly anymore to expect to come in cold and get results. Bright/Ignatowich win a super tight one over Franco/Tardio too. It just seems like there are 3 mixed teams in this field and all the rest were truly wildcards. We’ll see though.
Unfortunately for Maggie Brascia, this tournament could be the nail in her MLP coffin. A loss to Schneemann and Taylor in 3 games is a tough one to swallow. Both of us had Brascia/Young as a draftable team but instead it is a first match loss for them. I can’t imagine DJ will be too keen to go forward with Maggie as part of the MLP team – pure educated speculation of course.
10:58 am EST – Susannah Barr and Matt Goebel have a tough draw as they will likely have to go cold into a Todd/Neumann match with a win giving them Esquivel/Rafa. Another early fun one could be Ignatowich/Bright against JW/Lee, but getting through Franco/Tardio first is by no means a walkthrough. Last one to watch out for is Cierra Gayten-Leach and Chuck Taylor against Mary Brascia and Rob Cassidy. Cierra is underrated. We meant to discuss her as a notable undrafted at MLP and somehow missed that despite her being on our boards.
27 thoughts on “APP SoCal Classic – Live Random Thoughts”
Goebel was a strange selection for fantasy. You guys usually recognize legacy players getting passed by all the new talent. With Goebel’s weapons comes even more unforced errors. It ain’t 2018.
Slim agreed with you. It was clearly a bad choice!
When watching Anna/James vs Parris/Alex, I thought Anna/James would give a better match against JW/Lee. Too bad they didn’t win.
I also wondered what if JW/Parris teamed up in a PPA and took on Ben/ALW. That could be interesting!
Even more respect for Jorja. She had no fear taking on her brother directly. It looked like the unwinding of the stack harmed JW/Lee. Jorja and Dylan took advantage of how long it took Lee to get into position.
Several new MXD partnerships made some entertaining matches.
Parris is a possible Jw future partnership. She’s not ready yet but it is arguable she has the highest upside, even more so than Anna Bright
She’s really good but she needs to figure out how to stop playing two feet off the kitchen line in doubles. She’s unable to capitalize on a bunch of floaters and reduces her to just a counterpuncher
Has there been any official comment on why Paris Todd is now not only playing singles with the Ben John’s paddle but now is also playing doubles with the Joola? She still appears to be sponsored by CRBN as she is still wearing their gear and holding the paddle for post match interviews. If I were CRBN I would not be too happy with this development as she is their top “sponsored” player.
Maybe Todd is trying to get fired from CRBN. Or maybe the contract only specified that she needs to show Crbn gear during interviews. It’s a little odd. Everyone on the YT chat always brings it up.
My guess is that she doesn’t love the new CRBN paddle, not enough grit.
“trying to get fired” But if you are looking to sponsor a player, would you be drawn to someone who doesn’t use the product in public?
Though it seems like many people are fooled by the podium picture based on posts in different forums.
She used it initially but when it got banned she switched to the Joola paddle and never switched back.
IDK… it’s very confusing.
This seems like the most likely scenario
Looking backward: Regarding the Paddlegate II controvery after the ALW/Todd match last weekend:
* How many paddles did the PPA (would the PPA) test? Tennis players often change racquets during a match. Todd could have changed paddles over 5 games. What if she did — would they test all the paddles she used (or all the paddles in her bag), or only the paddle she dropped after the last point? If they tested more than one, what happens if at least one (but not all) tests too high? Would she be disqualified? Or would they average the grit? Would there be a burden of proving that she used the offensive paddle, if it wasn’t the one she was using at the end?
* What were the results? Todd’s paddle reportedly passed. What was the grit coefficient? What was the grit of ALW’s paddle? Maybe the PPA does not report those results.
* ALW spoke to the ref after Todd got to 9 (or 10). Wonder if that was when she ordered the grit test. If so, odd timing. What did ALW win for silver, minus the $250 test fee? What would she have won if Todd’s paddle was illegal?
* If a player thinks a paddle is illegal, should the rules encourage an early complaint, not wait until after the match? I guess post-match testing is the PPA protocol, but it encourages gamesmanship, not competition.
* What was the grit of the CRBN paddle Todd held in the photo, for comparative purposes.
As Fitzgerald wrote: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Why would you challenge a paddle unless you lose the match? If the paddle doesn’t pass, you win the entire match.
Players frequently change out paddles during a match. They have to present all of them to the ref before the match. I’ve seen JW pick up a different CRBN between single games (before their ban). Other players switch even during a game. So you have a good point about which one gets tested but I’d have to think all of them.
I think it’s a really crappy policy to give the win away if a paddle fails the grit test. It’s not like the players have access to the equipment to test the grit themselves, they are just buying paddles from manufacturers that are approved by the tournament and have to trust them to be compliant. None of these players are adding anything to the paddle face themselves, it seems pretty ridiculous to punish them after the fact.
They are saying it’s on the players. I don’t know if it’s great but they can test their paddles before they play
Anyone disappointed with the talent this time around? I feel like there wasn’t any doubt about either Women or Men’s double champions.
In both finals, the other teams seemed to acknowledge it as well and both finals were boring.
I felt bad for Barrientos in the Gold. He looked miserable. Though there weren’t many firefights, I enjoyed the match because I love to see JW and Dylan mental game of mapping out their play.
The WD gold came close to a 3rd game so no complaints there.
Barrientos isn’t quite there. Good, solid player but that’s above his level right now
Yeah, I like the Tier 2 idea, but it doesn’t seem optimally structured to allow “new talent” to emerge.
It was not the most exciting doubles fields for sure
Putting more of them in as we remember
Jorga/Frazier the story of the weekend. This pair could be a dominant powerhouse for years to come. Also, it’s Gaytan-Leach.
Sorry, I meant to say, Cierra’s last name is spelled “Gaytan.” Just FYI.
Oh thanks! I have been getting that wrong over and over
Johnson and Frazier played well. They are very good but Jorja and JW would be a better team already
It was completely wonky Singles. And even wild swings between games within a match. I can’t believe I never once saw JW or Ignatowich on CC. Even if JW isn’t physically tired, he might be brain-fatigued. Whatever he did last night, I bet he doesn’t do that again. And let’s not forget, he did play one extra event than most in the field — the MLP PNIA.
Despite the small field, I bet you guys can come up with 5 takeaways.
There won’t be 5 this week. Will be 3. The other stuff went too expected for anything more that we could do