It’s a new world on the APP Tour where there is only streaming on the weekends. For this weekend, you have to be subscribed to ESPN+ to get access. The fans are not happy about this based on any of the comments we see. For those people who are interested in the other side of pickleball, it is a definite loss but we’ll see how this shakes out with the broadcast deal for the APP. We’ll still do some live blogging even if there is no stream as the results have bigger picture implications.
Sunday, February 12th – Championship Sunday
4:15 pm EST – 3 more finals all in the books. Fudge/Barr gave Simone/Todd a run but were unable to close the deal in game 3. That’s a good effort from Fudge/Barr against a strong team. The Johnson’s got double dipped by Daescu/Yates, going down in 2 and then a closer 15-11. It’s still a quality run for the Johnson’s and they are proving that they could be one of those top APP teams out there after the weekend. The surprise of this weekend has to be Oshiro/Long taking gold from Johnson/Todd. They lost the 2 out of 3 and then went 15-6 in game 3. It’s a real question for Todd what she is with these APP’s. It is hard to tell with the competition and, if she does come back to MLP, where she slots in for Premier in season 2. Oshiro getting some mixed results is noteworthy for her and then two podiums for Brendon Long will put him more on the radar as a real option for anyone looking to drop a guy for event 2 of Challenger.
11:25 am EST – One good singles match and one rout. Parris Todd rolled the line call maestro herself, Salome Devidze, 11-1 and 11-4. Then Hunter Johnson double dips his brother winning in 3 and the game to 15. It will be interesting once we get to see all three of these players in a PPA field and where they stand. They are clearly the class of singles APP right now.
Saturday, February 11th – Doubles
7:55 pm EST – Daescu/Yates work their way back to the gold. They get a couple of easy backdraw wins then go 11-9 and 11-5 against Auvergne/Long in the bronze. Auvergne/Long went down in straight games against the Johnson twins too so a solid day finishes with a couple of somewhat disappointing losses. It is still a strong weekend for the pair but it is an even stronger one for the Johnson’s who backed up their win against Daescu/Yates. We’ll see if they can win the rematch tomrrow.
5:40 pm EST – The biggest surprise from the day is Yates/Daescu losing to the Johnson twins in 3, 11-6 in the third. The Johnson twins are confusing. They have some good wins and bad losses, and this is their best win so far as a pair. Yates/Daescu are working their way through the back draw now and have to get by Klinger/Tchikatilov, who actually had a strong win over Farias/Siljestrom (17-15).
The women’s stayed chalky today. Oshiro/Whitwell get the bronze and Fudge/Barr are going to Championship Sunday. Big weekend for Oshiro again as she double podiums and has a shot at a gold medal tomorrow in mixed with Brendon Long.
3:46 pm EST – We have one top half of a men’s draw that is all jumbled up and one more normal looking bottom half. We’ll see Daescu/Yates in the winners semi-final playing the Johnson twins. The Johnson’s beat Farias/Siljestrom quite easily, 6 and 4 in the quarters. That’s a bit surprising to see but it’s hard to know what to expect from Farias/Siljestrom at this point. Scarpa/Dow are playing in the semis right now after a super tight win over Livornese Jr./Broderick (never seen either of them play) 11-8 in the third. Scarpa/Dow lose to Auvergne/Long, 11-7 and 11-9. Another podium for Brendon Long this weekend and it will be interesting to see how he fares with Auvergne against what is likely to be Daescu/Yates. In other backdraw news, Nunner/Luca are done after blowing a 14-11 lead against Mick/Cincola. Just not a good day for those two at all as they team they lost to in round 1 got creamed by Livornese Jr./Broderick.
It Parris/Simone playing on Sunday after winning 12-10, 11-2 over Fudge/Barr, which is completely expected. Nothing too close in either of the semis, although Rane/Bates made Simone/Parris work for some of it, going 7 and 6. It’s nice that they are having the camera on court 2 and there are over 800 live stream viewers on a 2nd court stream with no commentators. That’s not an insignificant number. We got to see Oshiro/Whitwell play Truong/Paolicelli. We’ll be curious if DC tries to move on from Paolicelli in this Challenger Shuffle Draft as she was targeted heavily. Whitwell’s game does not look confidence inspiring either as they squeak it out 18-16. They’ll play Bates/Rane to go to bronze.
1:37 pm EST – What should likely have been the consensus top 4 women’s teams are all in the semi-finals. Rane/Bates are playing Todd/Jardim while Oshiro/Whitwell are playing Fudge/Barr. Riley Bohnert continues to show quality results as she and Arielle Butler only lost to Whitwell/Oshiro 10 and 8. We are really wondering these days if the legacy players with limited room to grow are being passed by quicker, such as Lee Whitwell, but it’s still a quality loss on paper for Bohnert/Butler. Tough day for Charity/Radzikowska as they go 1-2, losing to Pisnik/Emmrich (15-12) who pushed Rane/Bates to 3 games in their first match, 11-7 in the third.
The men’s started later than the women for a change. The early upset was Etienne Blaskewycz/Kaden Seward taking down Eden Lica/Rob Nunnery. It’s been a rocky start to the year after essentially taking 2022 off for Nunnery and another legacy partnership does not seem to be getting it done. First time for Lica/Nunnery partnering in a long time but very bad loss there. Outside of that, nothing to really write home about. Siljestrom/Farias won their 2nd match fairly easily following a tough 1st match of the day.
Oddly, the APP is streaming their Court 2 on YouTube today with simply a camera and no commentator. Why couldn’t they have done this all weekend? Is it that much to ask or are they suddenly trying to give the people what they want?
11:05 am EST – It seems like a bit of a slow start to the day considering the women’s pro stuff was supposed to kick off at 9:30 am EST. We’re just getting the first batch of results in more than an hour and a half later so it could possibly be a weather issue as the weather is not supposed to be great over the next couple of days. The center court is covered. Megan Charity may be the best female player out there at finding good partners but it’s quite evident at this point her level is not there as a pro. She loses this morning 9 and 9 with Ewa Radzikowska to Ava Ignatowich/Sharienne Ricardo. Charity gets a lot of good partners and Radzikowska has been good this weekend so that’s a tough start to the day there. We also have a withdrawal from former tennis pros Lisa Raymond/Allie Kiick. Keep an eye out for Tammy Emmrich/Tina Pisnik in this draw. Pisnik was #29 in the world in singles at one point on the WTA.
Friday, February 10th – Mixed
7:30 pm EST – Parris and Hunter into the gold, 5 and 7 over Simone and Andrei. Quite a day.
6:36 pm EST – One thing that was noted in our takeaways after Bobbi Oshiro’s big women’s doubles performance at the PPA Desert Ridge was seeing some mixed results from her. Well, Oshiro is delivering this weekend as she and Brendon Long are onto Championship Sunday after getting through Parris Todd/Hunter Johnson in 3 games and then beating Simone Jardim/Andrei Daescu in two tight ones, 11-9 and 12-10. This is as broken record as we have ever been but, jees, we wish we could have seen these matches. Oshiro’s recent results are very encouraging for her and the fact that Brendon Long is in a Championship Sunday furthers the how could he have gone undrafted in MLP narrative.
Jardim/Daescu will play Todd/Johnson in the bronze for the right to go to Championship Sunday. Todd/Johnson battled through the backdraw with wins over Nunnery/Barr (15-12) and Radzikowska/Brown (15-10). Disappointing day for Nunnery/Barr, good day for Radzikoska/Brown with a 4th and a strong day for Bohnert/Sobek as well. In a draw that looked pretty chalky with the top 2 teams to start the day will end with one of those teams being left out of Championship Sunday.
3:27 pm EST – Parris Todd and Hunter Johnson barely scraping by to the semi-finals after a 13-11 in the third game victory over Riley Bohnert and William Sobek. Bohnert is a NextGen player that we may have to watch a little bit closer as she has had some quality results as of late. Sobek has been around a while but he is somewhat in the mix in terms of often being competitive at the pro level. That was a near giant upset right there. There is definitely something to these younger players having a lot more room to grow compared to someone in their 20s or 30s. If they don’t look great in their teenage years, it is not a death knell to their future potential in the way it more often seems to be for older player. Dylan Frazier is a prime example of a guy we underrated less than a couple of years ago and his ascension has been massive. Bohnert/Sobek went on to beat Shelby Bates/Kyle Yates, 15-12 in the back draw.
2:20 pm EST – This is the real shame with no stream. Ewa Radzikowska and Marshall Brown are having another really great run together, rolling through Lica/Whitwell and then taking down Barr/Nunnery in 3 games. We noted in the Fantasy Draft Preview that Radzikowska is arguably the 2nd best mixed female in this field and she is showing it right now – she is probably 3 or 4 after Todd and Jardim, but she is more explosive than Jardim at this point. Brown can play too. They are currently up against Jardim/Daescu right now.
Riley Bohnert and William Sobek had a good win over Stefan Auvergne/Alix Truong in 3 games as they get the pleasure of facing Todd/Hunter Johnson in the quarters. Oshiro/Long having a good day so far as well, getting by Bates/Yates and then Fudge/DeHeart. There might just not be enough weapons combined between Fudge and DeHeart to give teams enough trouble in mixed right now. Not a good day for Whitwell/Lica either and that’s not a plus for Lica’s mixed prowess going 1-2 with Lee Whitwell. Notably, Allie Kiick/Noah Rubin went 0-2 in mixed yet again. Mixed draws are the deepest even at the APP and there is clearly more seasoning needed on both their ends to be competitive at this level.
1:50 am EST – We posed this theory for Sam Querrey and we think it equally applies for Noah Rubin and Allie Kiick, who have both received free passes to the main draw today. The theory is that it would be better for these tennis players to get some reps in the Challenger divisions. Certainly it would seem the tours are happy to give them free passes to the main draw given their tennis background. However, have these players thought it may be better for them to get as many tournament reps under their belt as possible? If they aren’t able to get through a qualifier to the main draw, then they need to get better. The only thing for the APP is that they are doing the qualifiers rally scoring to 21, which isn’t as conducive to getting as many reps as possible and means more variance for such short games.
Thursday, February 9th – Singles
12:23 am EST – We needed to add this as Salome Devidze is back to her old terrible line calling tricks. With no stream in sight, Salome Devidze thought she could get away with making a horrendous call against Megan Fudge in their semi-final singles match at the APP Daytona Beach Open. Unfortunately for Devidze, 4th place finisher, Alix Truong, was taking video and captured Devidze hooking Fudge for the match point victory as per the above screenshot. Salome has cleaned up some of her line calling recently but she clearly has no shame when she thinks she can get away with it. It is such a shame. It looks like there were line judges for their bronze rematch, which Devidze also won.
8:21 pm EST – Salome is into another final. 3 and 6 over Megan Fudge. Two rematches on Sunday.
7:37 pm EST – The Cinderella run for Max Manthou, formerly self-nicknamed Purple Jesus (for his ties to Washington University). He is a guy who has high end tennis background and has been around pickleball for a while in the PNW, but has never really put himself all-in to playing. Quite the run for him as Hunter Johnson finishes his day, 5 and 1 in the bronze. We’ll get the twin brother rematch in the gold on Sunday.
Devidze is currently playing Fudge to go to Sunday right now after losing to Parris Todd, 8 and 9. These singles days are becoming a grind for the women too. Long match in the semis for Devidze and Fudge followed up the tough winners bracket final for Salome and two matches to get to bronze for Fudge, beating Bates and Alix Truong (15-13).
6:18 pm EST – Yates Johnson into Championship Sunday after a ridiculously close 3-game win over his brother, Hunter. That’s Yates’ second win against his brother in the last two tournaments and we wonder if this has something to do with Yates knowing Hunter so well. Either way, big day for Yates. A surprise podium as Max Manthou is into the bronze to play Hunter. Manthou had to go through a rally scoring qualifier this morning to get to the main draw where he lost in round 1 to Ryler DeHeart but has plowed through the backdraw getting 7 wins, including over Eden Lica, Ryler DeHeart and Andrei Daescu to get to bronze. What a day for him.
Salome Devidze squeaked by Megan Fudge, 11-9 in the third, for the opportunity to play Todd. Fudge beat Bates to play Alix Truong, who got a 15-13 win over Jenna Hessert to get to that 4th place match. Truong has some inconsistent results in singles but she is a player that has potential for these deeper runs.
4:20 pm EST – The women’s side is going as expected. Parris Todd is into the winners bracket final after beating Alix Truong, 2 and 8. Megan Fudge is currently playing Salome Devidze. Fudge was put to the test by Jenna Hessert, having to go 9 and 10 against Hessert. Devidze handled Castillo Gargallo with ease. We’ll note that Allie Kiick also went 0-2 today as she lost in her first backdraw match to Heather Nobler, 15-10. Kiick and Rubin likely need more reps against pickleball players, but we have no idea how many of those they are getting right now.
With the men, the Johnson brothers are facing off against each other in the winners bracket final. Yates took down Medina Alvarez in two games, 5 and 10. We’ll see how it goes if they face off again, but sometimes there is not enough credit given to the more experienced players when they get multiple opportunities against newer players. Think about Parris Todd beating AL last year in the summer. AL had never seen Parris. Once these more experienced players get to see new guys, they can pick up on patterns, tendencies and weaknesses to exploit, and now that’s two wins in a row for Yates Johnson over Medina Alvarez.
1:56 pm EST – Lots of interesting results so far today. On the men’s side, Medina Alvarez went the distance with Eden Lica, winning 11-5 in the third. It’s not surprising Lica may have faded towards the end of a match as his fitness has never been top notch. Andrei Daescu made Hunter Johnson work in an early match, losing in straights but 14-12 in the second. Rob Nunnery had a couple of good wins early on, beating Kusmider in his first round, but hopefully he is not injured as he withdrew against Ryler DeHeart in the quarters. Notably, an 0-2 day for Noah Robin, who lost 15-13 to Kusmider in his first loser’s match. Lica did go on to beat Kusmider 15-5 in the back draw, and you have to wonder for a lot of these guys they are playing singles draws to prove they can do it for MLP. Yates Johnson is into the semi-finals with not the easiest road so far today where he’ll get another match against Medina Alvarez.
Speaking of tennis players, not the best early sign for Allie Kiick as she loses her first round to Ava Ignatowich in 3 games, including 11-4 and 11-1 in the third, especially after Ignatowich got rolled by Castillo Gargallo in the next match. Arielle Butler rolled through Kamryn Blackwood 2 and 1 in their first round match.
11:15 am EST – What a weird qualifier the APP put together. They had the players go to 21, which we would have to assume is due to time constraints. It’s just a weird score to go to unless it is rally scoring. We have some early men’s results, with the most notable being John Cincola losing to Frank Solana in 3 after winning game 1, 11-0. That’s not a good sign for Cincola to be losing to an essential nobody in round 1. One other notable result is John Cangelosi beating Noah Rubin, 11-4 and 11-6, as we continue to see that it is not easy to be a tennis pro transition right away to pickleball.
The women’s draw does not start until later, but one thing we’ll have to monitor about these APP’s is their draws. It’s not entirely clear how seeding gets put together but Parris Todd as the #2 seed has a really easy half of the draw compared to Salome Devidze as the #1 seed. Salome cannot be happy as she has multiple strong players in her half, including Jenna Hessert, Judit Castillo Gargallo, and Megan Fudge.