4 days of pickleball this weekend with the doubles on Friday and mixed on Saturday for an APP tier 1. To see how we capped this field going into the weekend, head to our fantasy draft preview.
As always, live-ish thoughts for you throughout the tournament on the action.
Sunday, April 3rd – Championship Sunday
7:30 pm EST (Slim) – Vivienne David got her second gold of the weekend, as she and Dekel Bar took gold in mixed over JW Johnson and Lee Whitwell, 11-3. 2-11, 11-4. When Dekel and Vivienne are healthy they seem to be the team to beat in the APP.
6:45 pm EST (Slim) – Vivienne David and Andrea Koop won gold in the women’s doubles, quite easily, 11-4, 11-7. They were clearly the dominant team in the women’s division this weekend, as they were never challenged.
5:04 pm EST (Gritty) – Devidze definitely benefitted from the days off as she looks to get tired as the day goes on in singles. Playing one match is optimal for her and she has Jorja’s number a bit at this point.
JW and Frazier get the best of Dekel and Adam once again. It wasn’t even close in the gold as they get it 11-5, 11-2. Adam Stone has not had a great year so far and it’s starting to feel like eons ago that he was right there in those PPAs with Dekel.
3:04 pm EST (Gritty) – Zane gets a big surprise gold. JW has not looked invincible very recently and Zane played very well. It’s been a lot of pickle for JW in the past month and a half so you do wonder how he’s doing physically.
Saturday, April 2nd – Mixed
8:18 pm EST (Gritty) – David/Bar easily into Sunday. One of the mistakes I didn’t make this week was having them as my #1 mixed team. I think Lee vs. Vivienne is too far of a discrepancy for JW to make up. There’s still a gold match though as Lee/JW barely get by Barr/Navratil. 13-11 in the 2nd after losing game 1. It’s a good day for both teams but those type of losses are always heartbreaking.
6:21 pm EST (Gritty) – It’s been a busy day so let’s get caught up on a bunch of stuff going on. Lee/JW are playing Vivienne/Dekl in the winners bracket final. Neither has dropped a game but Lee/JW did play a very tight 2-game match against Koop/Frazier. I liked Vivienne and Dekel more than Lee/JW going into the tournament and I still feel that way, but we’ll see how much being the best player on the court makes a difference for JW against Vivienne/Dekel.
The day has gone pretty much as expected overall except as we go into the bronze. Barr/Navratil were able to take down Ansboury/Hewett and Koop/Frazier were able to beat Jorja/Cincola to be able to play each other. Not shockingly, Barr/Navratil were able to win over Koop/Frazier, 15-11, and it’s another podium for Barr. Her game is really suited for mixed and Zane has been steady when he has better mixed partners.
Otherwise, there really hasn’t been anything too notable from the day in terms of upsets or interesting wins. The one note I’ll make is Yu-Chieh Hsieh played a very tough first round match losing 13-11 with her partner Zachary Grabovic against Shiv Krishnasmy and Rachel Rettger. I’d love to see Hsieh play a bit more doubles as that could be interesting with the amount of talent she has overall.
Friday, April 1st – Doubles
10:10 am EST (Saturday – Gritty) – Dekel and Adam do advance to Championship Sunday but not before Kyle and DJ gave them a run for their money. This continues to be an example where we have a good performance when Yates is paired with a strong left sided player. We are a broken record on DJ but it has to help when he has a steady guy like Kyle on that right who is playing at a very high level the past 6 months.
8:07 pm EST (Gritty) – Koop and David win easily over Barr/Ansboury not surprisingly while Jorja/Lee have worked their way back to the bronze after beating Gehrke/Uhl.
JW/Dylan are also off to Sunday as they looked to have rolled Dekel/Adam after losing game 1. This team seems to have it figured out against those two.
6:20 pm EST (Gritty) – Barr/Ansboury over Whitwell/Johnson. I think a problem that these teams with lefties run into is lack of flexibility. When that lefty only ever plays on the forehand side, you are really at the mercy of your opponents and how they want to align against you. It seemed to me in this matchup Jorja/Lee should have had Jorja in front of Sarah because Susannah is so tough to attack. Let Jorja go to work after Ansboury, but that’s much harder to do cross-court. Whitwell doesn’t have the ability to punish Ansboury as she is limited in her ability to counter-punch and create offence. Barr/Ansboury mostly kept Sarah in front of Lee and Jorja/Lee couldn’t do much about it because Lee stays on the right side.
Kyle and DJ are into the bronze after beating Gridley/Cassidy 15-5. I thought I might regret not taking Kyle and DJ ahead of them, and I definitely do now. Need to go with the talent when it’s really a bronze up for grab with potential upside for more.
4:09 pm EST (Gritty) – We are pretty much where we expected to be on the winners side of the men’s division. JW/Frazier will play Bar/Stone as both teams have advanced with ease to the winners bracket final. The fight for the bronze appears to be what is most up for grabs. One notable team in the backdraw is Rafa Hewett and Josh Nellesen (Nellyville on PB tournaments), making a run. They have won four matches in a row, including knocking off Gabrielsen/Cincola. Rafa Hewett sure makes some random runs in these draws and you never really know when he’s going to do it. Yates/Young will likely prove to be a bit tougher.
On the women’s side, I may have to be completely done with Christine McGrath as she lost to Uhl/Gehrke with Gayten-Leach. Her day isn’t completely over and who knows what is in store on the backdraw, but she is a legacy player who basically gets zero results anymore. It was interesting to see Jorja/Whitwell have two tight games with Joy Leising and Melinda Wilkins. They should have an interesting match against Barr/Ansboury in their semi.
1:20 pm EST (Gritty) – So there’s still pickleball to be played even though the topic du jour is Ben Johns and his switch to JOOLA, which by the way we reported back on February 11th. The women are just getting started and the men have been going for a couple of hours. Not too much to discuss here. The one weird result is Todd Fought and Chuck Taylor getting absolutely creamed by Gabrielsen/Cincola 1 and 2. I picked Fought/Taylor maybe ambitiously in the #5 spot for men in the draft, but we both had that team on our big boards going into the tournament. Dekel and Adam look like they are going to cruise through Barrientos/Newell right now on the stream.
Thursday, March 31st – Singles
11:34 pm EST (Gritty) – Gabe sure played JW tight. Good day for Gabe who did show he still can be right there. Without the regular reps, it’s just tough.
Jorja found her way past Hsieh and, while Devidze has had her number a bit, you’d have to expect Jorja will pull out a gold.
7:05 pm EST (Gritty) – Big day for a couple of guys out here. Zane Navratil gets the monkey off his back with a win over JW Johnson in 2022. It looked like the 11-0 win in game 2 could have simply been a JW lack of focus but Navratil was able to sustain the pressure in game 3 en route to victory. On the losers side, Gabe Joseph is into the bronze after impressive wins over John Cincola and Dylan Frazier. Joseph is clearly still right up there but the question still remains if he can hang at that elite level without the lifestyle that the elite players have. We’ll see how things go against JW.
Jorja Johnson is currently playing for bronze against Hsieh after working through the backdraw (she barely beat Amanda Hendry 15-13). Lots of comments on Youtube from the winners bracket final with Salome Devidze and Hsieh. Devidze is in Championship Sunday but it appears the day can be described as questionable at best for her. A lot of questionable line calls Devidze made that did not look all that questionable on the video. This small bracket, Championship Sunday works very well for Devidze who will now have rest time for her match with Jorja or Hsieh.
4:41 pm EST (Gritty) – Salome Devidze has had a lot of success early in tournaments in her short time hitting pro singles stops. She took down Jorja at the PPA Riverland Open in the first round a few weeks ago and now has gotten Jorja Johnson again in Jorja’s first match. Devidze seems to fatigue as a tournament goes along but in a 6-team field with a Championship Sunday it may not be as much of a concern. Slim let me know that Devidze was flirting with a two-handed backhand drop serve as I didn’t get to watch the match, which is interesting as basically no pros use a drop serve. She’s currently playing Hsieh in the winners bracket final, which looks like it will be an interesting match as Hsieh is determined to get to the net as a newbie to the scene.
Gabe Joseph does seem to be falling behind the eight-ball. He got rolled by Zane Navratil in the semi-finals. We’ll see how it goes in the backdraw for him but his recent results have not been good in spite of his talent. It seems like a combination of lack of tournament reps and likely higher end practice. JW Johnson is into the winners bracket final, of course, after a relatively straightforward match against Dylan Frazier.
2:03 pm EST (Gritty) – No major upsets so far today but we did have a barn burner of a match with Cincola and Frazier battling it out. Frazier ultimately took it 12-10 in the third after Cincola had a number of match points and they were stuck at 10-10 for a while. Frazier is a different type of singles player than most with how much cat and mouse he plays, which Cincola does such a good job with considering his age. I actually think Frazier can be more patient in that cat and mouse, and wait longer for opportunities to speed up. Way easier said than done when you’re not grinding it out in the 3rd game of a long singles match that he should be more patient but I think it would serve him well to do that.
JW and Frazier will play one semi-final while Zane and Gabe Joseph will play in the other semi after Zane got through Hayden Patriquin and Joseph got through Foster, both in 2 games.
On the women’s side, Devidze is through her first match easily while Hsieh had two relatively tight games over Christa Gecheva. Hsieh and Hendry get the benefit of a fortunate draw, and one of them will find a podium as a result.
11:25 pm EST (Gritty) – The day is just getting going so where else to start a live blog than with a seeding comment. We talk about it a lot with PPAs, but the reality is that seeding is going to be flawed in pickleball for a while probably. As new players keep coming in the sport, it impacts what actual seeding should be versus the proper seeding. The women’s singles bracket is small today and Amanda Hendry is the one with a bye because she has a bunch of tourneys under her belt. This means more World Pickleball Ranking points, which is what the APP uses (correct me if I’m wrong). More tourneys = more points. Salome Devidze gets the feed in to Jorja despite having good results in recent tourneys. She’s a newcomer though. All of this is to say is that there is going to be problematic seeding inevitably in pickleball, especially when it is a points based system.