We’re back to the usual Friday through Sunday tournament format for this non-tier 1 tour stop. Keep it locked here for thoughts throughout the weekend.
Sunday, May 15th – Singles
6:55 pm EST – The expected went as it did today with Parris and Zane getting golds. Tough for Cincola to have the energy for the gold match. He needed to win the first one in two. Devidze almost lost to Padegimaite but gets a solid silver. CJ Klinger is a big winner this weekend with his first APP bronze.
1:53 pm EST – Quite a day for the youngsters here as each of them will get some kind of pay day getting to the 4th place position at worst. CJ Klinger gets the win over Marrio Barrientos while Hayden Patriquin gets the win over Jack Foster. It’s more of a crap shoot when the big dogs aren’t here to eat and the kids are the ones who are taken advantage of that on this day. They’ll play each other to play John Cincola in the bronze. Cincola had a rough gold match as he was up 10-6 with multiple match points on Zane in game 2 before eventually losing it 13-11. He then proceeded to get smoked 11-1 in game 3 finishing the match with a missed return a smacking the ball into the fence. That’s tough.
On the women’s side, Parriss Todd is in the gold after a 2-game win against Salome Devidze in what some are calling the battle of the line calls. Devidze will actually play LIna Padegimaite in the bronze. Big weekend for Lina. Triple podium for her with a surprise win over Rachael James after losing to her in round 1 of this tournament. Curious how much Devidze has left in the tank.
12:14 pm EST – A lot of key withdrawals to both of these singles fields this weekend. The women’s field was looking very strong for a small APP tournament but suddenly you take out Anna Bright and Lauren Stratman, it’s not nearly as deep. It opens the door for podiums for players that were less likely to podium, including Salome Devidze who is in the winners bracket final after an easy draw allows her to get through. Parris Todd had a tougher draw and had to get through newcomer Rachael James, but she was able to do it 11-7, 11-9. I am expecting that we have James in that final as Devidze does tend to run out of a gas towards the end of the day.
On the men’s side. the young CJ Kilinger gets a big win over Ryan Sherry in 3 games. Sherry is still fighting in the back draw. Zane Navratil then beat Klinger and will play John Cincola in the winners bracket final after Cincola got through Jack Foster very easily. No Julian Arnold in this draw is a game changer as well. He would have been a very good bet for a silver medal but it looks like he and Lauren Stratman did not stick around with Stratman not playing women’s doubles and also not being a singles lover.
Saturday, May 14th – Doubles
10:25 pm EST – So about 45 mins ago it was announced that due to severe weather, the teams decided to end play and not play the gold medal match. This means Zane/Andrei get gold with Barrientos/Young with silver and Merchant/Cincola for bronze. Not too much outside what was expected but Merchant/Cincola barely got through to the match to go to bronze. Weird finish to the day.
3:52 pm EST – Esquivel/Kawamoto take gold over Barr/Padegimaite. The games were close part way through but Esquivel/Kawamoto were simply the better team. Padegimaite has good hands and those are going to serve her well going forward. Kawamoto and Esquivel have too much juice along with Jade’s steadiness on court.
2:15 pm EST – Merchant/Cincola barely got by Long/Goldberg after being up 8-1 in game 2, but now they are in a battle against Zane/Andrei, although Zane/Andrei appear to be pulling away in game 3. Altaf Merchant always impresses with how good his hands are and I have to imagine he will supplant the current guard as the best senior pro player next year. The fact that he still competes this well at the pro level is something to note. A lot of close matches in the men’s matches all around as Barrientos/Young had to go to 3 against McKenzie/Petterson while Arnold/Patriquin went 12-10 in the third to beat Klinger/Cassidy.
Super weird to have a women’s bracket in a pro division be round robin but here we are. According to the Youtube comments, Koop/Stratman were supposed to partner together but then when they found out it was less than 8 teams and payout would be reduced they pulled out along with another team. There were originally 8 teams in this draw. I’d be curious to know how much the payout was reduced. Generally, I do agree with lower payouts when draws are really small. The other side of the coin is that the APP needs to do a better job of keeping their top players happy and not playing this everyone is equal game. That’s not how the world works. Anna Bright had a low key upset Instagram post about not being top 10 but being used for the APP’s advertising, and now you’re not keeping another top pro defector from the PPA happy in Stratman potentially. I don’t get it.
Anywhoooo, Padegimaite/Barr steamrolled Franco/Todd. I would have thought that would be closer and I think continues to speak to Padegimaite’s underrated-ness. They’ll play Esquivel/Kawamoto next on center court for what is ultimately the gold medal match. This will be a good test for Lina and Barr.
12:25 pm EST – We are off and running with the men’s doubles bracket. Daescu/Navratil are easily into the semi-finals while other quarters are playing. The one thing to take away from the early matches is Brandon Nsekpong’s ongoing struggles after a couple of good results with Auvergne and Shelton that now is a while back. His name is more prominent in the sport but he’s really not getting results. The west coast duo of Kyle McKenzie/Nick Petterson were able to win against Nsekpong/Cabieses in 3 games, which is a solid, but not completely unexpected, win for McKenzie/Petterson but has to feel disappointing for Nsekpong/Cabieses.
Friday, May 13th – Mixed
7:57 pm EST – Zane and Jade Kawamoto take gold in another very close 3 game match against DJ Young and Koop. Zane/Jade win 12-10 in the third, which makes for 3 games they won 12-10 today. It’s clear this day could have gone either way. Stratman/Arnold were right there with Young/Koop and they could not get by Padegimaite/Auvergne to get to bronze. The difference in this day may have been Zane’s serve. It was very effective against Andrea, particularly in getting short returns leading to the self Shake and Bake. He has that serve dialed in and it creates big problems in mixed. He’s playing steadier with some improvement of his ability to create offence. Those things combined with the always rock solid Kawamoto made for just enough to find gold today.
A few words about Padegimaite/Auvergne. They were undrafted on our board and I don’t see anything wrong with that. This is two players who both probably don’t get enough credit, especially Padegimaite who gets another APP bronze. If you look at the results of some of Stefan’s other partners, it’s clear he is the constant in getting some good results for people who he plays with. Earlier this year, he had a nice day with Corrine Carr in mixed when he was already less experienced.
3:30 pm EST (Gritty) – Another example of how close the margins are in these tournaments. After after getting a 12-10 win over Stratman/Arnold in game 3, Koop/Young lose to Kawamoto/Navratil after dropping both games 2 and 3, 12-10. Stratman/Arnold had match points at 10-7 only to lose 12-10. It’s a really strong day again for Navratil in mixed as his serve has truly become a weapon again and in mixed it is playing very well.
I’ll expect Stratman/Arnold to get back to bronze as they face Padegimaite/Auvergne who have had a nice day. Padegimaite had a good day with Adam Stone last week in mixed and continues to show she can hang at a higher level. Auvergne is someone who continues to get better and he’s one that you need to buy stock of, you know, if you could do that thing.
12:50 pm EST (Gritty) – That top half of the draw truly is a lot tougher after Esquivel/Cassidy withdrew. I wonder if Michelle is not healthy. Kawamoto/Zane roll and, I mean, roll to the winners bracket final. 11-1, 11-0 over Franco/Daescu. On the top half, both Koop/Young and Stratman/Arnold had to win close ones in 3 to face off against one another. This one should be pretty interesting.
11:12 am EST (Gritty) – Rough top half of the draw in this mixed day. You have the top two teams from our view in Koop/DJ Young and Lauren Stratman/Julian Arnold on the same side. Barr/Petterson are a team that could make noise but they’ll have to face Stratman/Arnold in their second round match. It gives Kawamoto/Navratil a much easier path to a medal with the use of WPRs and I think seeding continues to be a problem across pickleball for different reasons. Too much emphasis on prior results.