It’s a tier 2 event so we are starting on a Friday and no Championship Sunday. Mixed Friday, Doubles Saturday and Singles Sunday. Old faithful schedule for this Easter long weekend!
Sunday, April 17th – Singles
6:59 pm EST (Gritty) – Another gold for JW as he triple crowns in SC. Fed gave him some fight but JW proved to be too much today.
6:30 pm EST (Gritty) – One match left in the day with the men’s gold. Hard fought gold for Rachael James who ultimately falls short to Anna Bright. James beat Jorja in the bronze, who must have been totally gassed at that point. First pro tourney be damned, James does what most women do not do early in their singles career, which is get to the net. James is not the smoothest former tennis player out there but she has really good strokes nonetheless because, of course she does. James also is very mobile and can cover that ground at the net when she’s up there. Another one to watch.
Staksrud just started the gold against JW. He got the win over Foster to get to bronze and was able to find his way over Ignatowich. Funny to say that Federico was the more experienced player coming out on top, but that’s the reality of it here. He keeps getting results.
4:08 pm EST (Gritty) – Big fight for Anna Bright to get by Jorja in 3. Grueling day for Jorja who will go back to face the newcomer Rachael James in the bronze as she got by Milan. So we have one player in their 3rd tourney and James in her 2nd tourney getting bronze at least.
Staksrud has found another podium as he gets by Foster 15-11. That should be a fun match with Ignatowich. One somewhat newcomer and another basically brand new newcomer!
2:19 pm EST (Gritty) – Rough ride for Devidze today as she goes down to Rane in the backside while Rachel James will get a chance to play Rane to go to bronze.
Ignatowich showing out today as he gave JW a real run for his money. As we and others have stated many times already, this is going to keep happening. There are not too many sports in the world where you can literally be hanging with the best in the world in your 3rd ever official competition in the sport.
1:01 pm EST (Gritty) – Mr. Ignatowich in the winners bracket final getting the 11-4, 12-10 win over Jake Kusmider. He’ll face JW Johnson who beat Federico Staksrud in fairly elementary fashion. This is not a joke of a field for Ignatowich who opened up the draw in a big way by beating Zane early. He’s not getting up to the net every team and he is pretty much all ground strokes. But the ground game is strong in this one. Zane is still going in the backdraw as he got through Gabe Tardio 15-7 – Tardio with a bit of a down weekend by his more recent standards.
No podium for Zane today as Jack Foster gets his first big win in some time, 15-11 over Zane. Must be super disappointing for Zane.
On the women’s side, Jorja Johnson is having a tougher time the past couple of tournaments. She had a long 3-game match against Rachael James, who looks to be a former UNC tennis player. Johnson then battled against yesterday partner, Milan Rane, to 3 games as well. Jorja pulls it out, 12-10 in the third, despite being down 9-4 in the final game. The one difficult thing for Johnson is that her mobility and flat groundstrokes make it a bit more difficult to keep the consistency in singles, in my opinion.
Also, Salome Devidze gets upset by Arielle Butler in 3 long games. That has to feel good for Butler who gets the prize of facing Anna Bright as a result.
10:57 am EST (Gritty) – We already have an upset as Zane goes down to the losers bracket to a relative newcomer for the 2nd time in his last 3 tournaments. James Ignatowich, who is playing in only his 3rd tournament, takes down Zane in 3. Ignatowich played (still plays?) tennis at Vanderbilt. He beat Thomas Wilson and AJ Koller at the PPA Riverland. Now Zane Navratil. He’s playing Anderson Scarpa, who continues to roll this weekend after beating Gabe Tardio.
Jake Kusmider also beat FAD in 3 as he follows up on hos momentum from the bronze in Delray. FAD won game 1 and he is still coming off what pretty much sounds like a bout with Covid, although he simply referred to it as an illness. Who knows what FAD’s current health status is.
Saturday, April 16th – Doubles
9:55 pm EST (Gritty) – Same story as their first match in the day as game one could have gone either way and game 2 was also close with JW/Navratil pulling away at the end. I think Daescu makes a few too many unforced errors at this very highest level and that could be a product of him not getting the amount of reps the touring pros get. It’s gotta feel good for Zane to get this with JW as well. Ho hum another gold with another partner for JW though. Also, Eden, maybe put away the backhand drive at big moments for the time being.
8:55 pm EST (Gritty) – Bright and Oshiro figured it out and executed really well in the gold. They just pounded Franco the entire match and I can’t imagine that could have been much fun for her over the 2 games to 11 and the game to 15. Michelle wasn’t seeing many attacks and wasn’t able to find a rhythm. Players are learning if you don’t counter back with gusto or only try to reset, they can keep attacking all day long. That’s Franco’s problem at that higher level despite how well she resets the ball. They should have known already but, if they didn’t, this should put the more upper end pros on notice Oshiro is one to partner with.
7:22 pm EST (Gritty) – Milan Rane and Jorja Johnson with a really nice bronze at minimum after beating Whitwell/Jardim. Not enough pop in that Whitwell/Jardim partnership evidently as Jorja was going after both of them any opportunity she got. It should be an interesting one against Bright and Oshiro.
Lica and Daescu quite easily over Dow and Scarpa. First pro podium for Dow/Scarpa I believe.
5:55 pm EST (Gritty) – Oshiro and Bright get the win over Whitwell/Johnson, but then lose to Esquivel/Franco in 3 after it looked like they might steamroll them after game 1. I thought Bright and Oshiro didn’t make the needed adjustments, which could either have been to switch their alignment or simply for Anna to stop speeding up Michelle so much. Oshiro was having good success speeding up Regina but Esquivel loves that hard game – she was seeing Anna’s stuff really well and Anna doesn’t have a plan B really at this point so allowing her to speed up Regina seems to me like an option at least. Probably a bit more patience overall for both Oshiro/Bright would have been warranted. Very solid comeback for Franco/Esquivel.
Milan Rane and Jorja got the win over Carr/Ansboury. Slim said I overvalued the legacy partnership too much and he was right. The Carr/Ansbour partnership has not enough weapons without hands power to back it up.
Scarpa/Dow are going to play in the bronze after losing easily to JW/Navratil. I will expect Lica/Daescu to be there and get back to gold, but you never know. Austin and Adam must be disappointed with their day.
3:55 pm EST (Gritty) – Zane and JW are in the winners bracket final after a tough draw for Lica/Daescu. Tight game 1, somewhat tight game 2. Navratil has become so much steadier as a doubles player and JW is the difference with all of this. He was the best player on the court. I expect we’ll see these teams in the gold match too.
On the other side, Scarpa/Dow big win 11-3, 11-7 over Gridley and Stone. Scarpa/Dow are almost the poor man’s version of Gridley/Stone, which may not be fair to say after they tuned them up. Stone’s down year continues, especially outside the Dekel partnerships.
Then on the women’s side, Franco/Esquivel in 3 over Carr/Ansboury, which is about what you would have expected going into the tournament. This one looks like it could have gone either way.
2:06 pm EST (Gritty) – Rain delay is over and one surprise semi-final with Scarpa/Dow over Nemoff/Cassidy. While Cassidy is the best player in that group, there really isn’t much that differentiates Nemoff from Dow or Scarpa, and that team made Nemoff grind. Not a ton of weapons for Dow/Scarpa, but the grind and hands are there. They were up all 3 games and it will be another grindy match against two grinders in Gridley/Stone. I would be curious to see Scarpa and, in particular, Dow with a more offensive, higher level partner. Good win for them:
11:05 am EST (Gritty) – We are in a rain delay but some early results are in without any surprises other than a couple of 3 game matches. The women’s bracket is now just getting started and, again, we see the seeding come into play for Anna Bright. Bright/Oshiro have the #5 seed and are stuck on the same side of the draw as Jardim/Whitwell. We both think that Bright/Oshiro have the slightest of edges over Jardim/Whitwell with the main concern really being Oshiro’s lack of big game experience and Oshiro/Bright never having played a tournament together. Oshiro/Bright have one match in the books and we are really hoping we see that matchup in the semis.
A random little aside is that Chris Patrick/Kaden Seward are playing together in men’s as they lost 11-8, 13-11 to Tardio/Krishnaswamy. The reason why I mention this is that Chris Patrick is the newly appointed Deputy Commissioner for the PPA. He is obviously good at pickleball and wants to play tournaments. Patrick represented a bunch of players who ended up signing with the PPA before becoming Deputy Commissioner, which feels like it could be kind of conflict of interest-y depending on what he told his clients and what his relationship was with the PPA before becoming Deputy Commissioner. Anyway, no matter where these people are at, it’s a common thing that everyone simply wants to play all the pickleball.
Friday, April 15th – Mixed 3
5:40 pm EST (Gritty) – So it’s a golden day for Simone/JW. They steamrolled through the field taking down everyone in 2 games. They are just too good in this field. Esquivel/Cassidy get a solid silver and Carr/Navratil get a solid bronze. Clearly Gabe Tardio and Anna Bright are not quite ready as a pair as they went down 15-1 to Carr and Navratil. That match I didn’t see but you wonder how much that serve comes into play and then Bright not being straight ahead of Carr. And Whitwell/Daescu could have easily been in that bronze but gotta feel good for Carr to hit a podium in a tougher mixed field.
2:30 pm EST (Gritty) – Not surprisingly JW and Simone have breezed to the winners bracket final. They are by far the superior team this weekend. On the other side, after barely beating Paolicelli/Gridley 12-10 in the third, the not often girlfriend-boyfriend pairing of Esquivel/Cassidy took down Carr/Navratil in two. This was an interesting team going into the weekend and Esquivel always has weapons, unlike Corrine Carr. That’s the team both of us would have picked to win and we’ll see if they can give JW and Simone any trouble.
11:56 am EST (Gritty) – I really don’t understand Bright/Tardio trying to play Simone/JW straight up, traditional mixed with Anna on the left. At this point in her development, the biggest advantage she has is her 2-handed backhand and superior hand speed to these women, including this injury sapped version of Simone. Stick JW Johnson straight ahead of Bright and it completely neutralizes both of her best skills right now. They end up losing 11-3, 11-1. I’m not saying I think they would win the other way, but they would at least had a better chance. Crummy draw for Bright/Tardio too.
10:48 am EST (Gritty) – When you haven’t played a ton of pro tourneys these draws are not kind. Anna Bright and Gabe Tardio are the 8 seed with APP Tour using World Pickleball Ranking points. No result for them yet as they must be in a battle against Gehrke/Seward, but if they win they’ll probably have to play Simone/JW. It’s a long road back to the medals after that.
First interesting result was Amanda Hendry/Jack Foster getting a win in 2 over Jorja Johnson/Brandon Nsekpong. Brandon has a weird style and I honestly need to watch more of him. You wonder how nervous he is too as they should be winning that match and losing with Jorja has got to be tough when she has been winning with so many others. Also, Whitwel/Daescu had to fight hard in 3 against Oshiro/Krishnaswamy. That match was not streamed but we both believe in Oshiro, and to fight that hard against Lee/Andrei demonstrates that.