We’re going to just have one running live blog for this tournament. You can check out our fantasy draft/preview here.
9:04 pm EST (Gritty) – After a tightly contested two sets, Newman/McGuffin were able to take down Devilliers/Smith in 3 games. It’s a big weekend for both teams and Newman/McGuffin are really finding their stride as the year is going along.
The mixed final went exactly as expected. No surprises. Same old, same old. Not much to say about this one.
3:03 pm EST (Gritty) – An almost very controversial match with the refs actually getting the score wrong out of a timeout and giving the Waters an extra point in game 5. There was another call later that appeared to be in on the video that Jardim/Kovalova called out and the line judges overruled it. This would have given the Waters the point. Even Steven? We’ll get into this more in our takeaways but having line judges the way the PPA chose to do it was basically useless as could have been predicted.
In terms of the actual match, it was incredible pickleball. There was some fun strategic stuff going on in the 4th and 5th games, and I think it was clear the Waters were out-strategized by Jardim/Kovalova. In game 4 the Waters went up 6-1 with Lucy on the left side and Leigh on the right side. They isolated Lucy to success so Jardim and her switched sides. While the Waters still won game 4, the game got all tied up at 6-6 with the Waters keeping the same alignment but choosing to isolate the steadiest player in the world. The Waters switched up their alignment in game 3 to put Leigh on the left side but then continued to go at Simone. They proceeded to switch Leigh back to the right side and still went after Simone. Did I mention Simone is the steadiest player in the world? It was wild to me that they willingly chose to go after Simone, particularly with Leigh straight on with her. Leigh saw most of the balls and I think they will watch that back knowing they should have won that match not due to execution but strategic decisions.
1:12 pm EST (Gritty) – It’s another singles win for Ben Johns. He does it in 3 games over Tyson McGuffin, which was the most expected result of the day.
Dave Weinbach and Tao Thongvanh took down Scott Moore and Scott Crandall in 4 games. This was a very good run for Weinbach. It’s definitely been a toss up as to who the top senior pro is between him and Dayne Gingrich. However, getting the gold in a strong Atlanta field without a loss when Gingrich and Tao did not even medal is the difference at this point in top senior dog status in my view.
Saturday – Men’s and Women’s Doubles
8:23 pm EST (Gritty) – Finals are all set and it’ll be interesting to see the Waters duel it out with the #1 team. Stratman/Jansen were up in both games against Jardim and Kovalova, but they couldn’t quite get it done in either game. It’ll be nice to see a men’s final without the Johns, who themselves had some close calls to get the bronze at the end of the day. Nunnery getting some much needed reps against this level of competition and he showed today he can be in that elite category. The reps simply come with time.
4:58 pm EST (Gritty) – Nunnery/Bar played a very tight first game but then Smith/Devilliers took over as you would have expected in game two. They are the better team with Nunnery as the least experienced player out there even though Bar is arguably the best player of the four on the court. Big day for Smith/Devilliers who both continue to rise as a team.
Stratman/Jansen and Kovalova/Wright have only played one match today and have been sitting for what seems like forever. Will that affect the quality of the match?
3:56 pm EST (Slim) – the first men’s and women’s semi finals are in the books. After dropping their first game in fairly rough fashion Newman/McGuffin battled back to take the next two games and beat Wright/Stone. They did a pretty good job of not letting Wright get too involved in the match.
In the first women’s final, the Waters took out Esquivel/Ansboury in two, but really had to work in the second game. Something I would really like to see Anna Leigh work on adding to her game, is some slow rollers, in particular with her forehand. We know she has the hard attacks, and she has added the dinking game to her game, but I’d like to see her add some softer attacks to her game that her opponents know they have to hit. I think this would allow her to initiate some more hands battles, where her superiors hands and power can take over.
1:43 pm EST (Gritty) – Surprising result on the women’s side with Esquivel/Ansboury taking down Irvine/Tereschenko in two games. That’s almost going to certainly set up a first round loser’s bracket match for Parenteau/Smith versus Irvine/Tereschenko. What a world that Parenteau/Smith get the Waters then Irvine/Tereschenko after losing. Also, a nice weekend for Esquivel so far.
The men’s semi finals are set to play at 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm EST. I am assuming for TV purposes. It’s a long layoff during the day for the players between games.
12:50 pm EST (Slim) – The PPA’s streaming situation continues to be frustrating. We do not get to watch a match like Smith/Parenteau vs Waters, featuring two of the top three women’s team, but then we are getting a women’s first round consolation match, on the stream. If you are actually trying to grow the game, I think you need to do better than this.
In the men’s losers bracket, two guys who have been playing really well lately in Rob Cassidy and AJ Koller, just pulled off an impressive and very close 16-14 win over Callan Dawson and DJ Young.
12:15 pm EST (Slim) – the men’s semi-finals are set with Nunnery/Bar defeating Warnick/Farias 11-6, 11-6. Nunnery/Bar will face Smith/Devilliers in what should be an interesting semi-final match up.
I do have to wonder where Warnick sits today, in the ever improving pro game. I just feel like he is too inconsistent, for today’s pro game. He definitely misses more third shots than any other top pro, and today and yesterday we have seen him missing multiple return of serves in matches. It is hard to win when you are repeatedly missing returns, thirds and dinks. What is tough for Warnick is I think his unusual grip. It gives him such an advantage with his attacks but it makes it very tough to bring up his consistency on his dinks and thirds etc. We also know Jeff can still get it done on the right day, as we saw with him getting silver at a cold Red Rock tournament with Matt Wright.
Joey Farias is another guy with elite weapons, who just misses too much for today’s pro game, which is why I really don’t love the Farias/Warnick partnership. You are just going to get too many freebies from them over the course of a match. Farias, unlike Warnick, does seem to have an obvious cause for his inconsistencies and I wonder if he could bring up his overall level with more drilling and practice with other elite players, which I don’t think he is getting enough of these days.
11:55 am EST (Slim) – as Gritty highlighted earlier the format and seeding issues lead to a ridiculous first round match up in the women’s bracket of the Waters versus the US Open champions Smith/Parenteau. In what has to be an upset based on this years results, the Waters won in two. You have to wonder if the Waters are finding their tournament stride again after taking last year off.
I will remain not a fan of this single elimination format, especially when we get first round match ups like this.
11:30 am EST (Slim) – Wow! Patrick Smith and Jay Devilliers defeat the Johns Brothers in three games! This can’t be viewed as a total surprise in that Patrick and Jay having been playing Johns brothers very close all year, but it is still shocking to not see Ben Johns pull one of these matches out. We have just become so accustomed to seeing Ben find a way to win these matches. He will often start slow but then find a way to insert himself and takeover, but today the unforced errors were there through all 3 games, I guess everyone is human.
Those remaining in the winner’s side have to like the format of no backdoor to the gold medal now, as it means that they won’t have to see Ben Johns, and as we know he is pretty good at coming through that backdoor to win gold.
Tyson and Riley easily beat Callan and DJ in two games, and after dropping the first game 11-9 Matt Wright and Adam Stone took the next two easily 11-3, 11-2 to beat Tyler Loong and Spencer Smith. Newman/McGuffin and Wright/Stone will see each other in the semi-finals. It will be interesting to see how that one goes as Wright/Stone are a new team.
10:37 am EST (Slim) – the Men’s quarterfinals are set and it is chalk so far. It is the Johns Brothers versus Pat/Jay, Farias/Warnick versus Nunnery/Bar, McGuffin/Newman versus Dawson/Young and Smith/Loong versus Wright/Stone.
I am probably most curious to see Farias/Warnick verus Nunnery/Bar and like Nunnery/Bar to advance despite being the lower seed on paper, I just feel like they are the more consistent team. If Farias and Warnick get hot though watch out, that team has weapons and can be scary, I just feel like they have a hard time keeping the consistency through three games.
I am also curious to watch Dawson/Young versus McGuffin/Newman, on the right day when DJ is on, DJ and Callan can be scary. Pat and Jay have lost a couple heart breakers to the Johns brothers this year, can they finally pull one out?
12:37 am EST (Gritty) – The problem with this single elimination format is the seeding, especially in these smaller women’s draws. We have been saying it all weekend. The Waters playing Parenteau/Smith in the first round is egregious. These are the US Open gold and bronze medalists, and one of them is guaranteed a bronze at best. I do not like this.
Friday – Mixed Doubles
4:55 pm EST (Slim) – Anna Leigh and Tyson take bronze, defeating Parenteau and Newman in 3, winning going away 11-2 in the third. I had talked about how I liked Tyson and Anna Leigh’s flexibility before the match and I thought it made a big difference in this match, after playing the first game with Anna Leigh mainly on the left which left her cross court dinking with Riley a lot which I didn’t love, they switched her to the right side mainly in the second game and I thought that changed things.
I know Tyson says he likes the format but, I have to think he wishes he had a shot at Matt and Lucy with Anna Leigh.
Here’s a fun hypothetical for you guys, should Ben dump Simone for Anna Leigh now? I think he could win with her now and probably wouldn’t have to worry about finding a new partner for the rest of his prime
3:32 pm EST (Slim) – We are getting Parenteau/Newman versus Waters/MucGuffin in the bronze in a match. I will be very curious to watch. You have to favor Parenteau/Newman, but I like what I have been seeing from Waters/McGuffin. I like how they can give teams different looks, something a lot teams are not able to do in mix
1:58 pm EST (Gritty) – It wasn’t a cake walk on the other half of the draw but we do get the Ben/Simone vs. Lucy/Matt championship Sunday match (yawn). Devilliers and Esquivel looked very good today, especially with Esquivel laboring on that calf a little bit. I like Anna Leigh and McGuffin to beat them. However, that’s more of a pre-tournament analysis pick than anything else. I have to expect Parenteau/Newman will end up getting to the bronze match.
A side note question I texted to Slim a little while ago was why have a pro tour with senior pros only to not show any of their matches? I get why you want to showcase the younger pros and I generally agree with that notion. Still, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to me to have this pro tour where seniors are supposed to be a real part of it then never show any of their matches.
1:00 pm EST (Slim) – Ben and Simone are just too good. A team like Newman and Parenteau, two of the top players in the game, seems like they should be able to challenge Ben and Simone but the. They get out on the court and it’s just not that close.
On the losers side, Tyson and Anna Leigh, squeaked by Leigh and Kyle Yates, 15-13.
12:25 pm EST (Slim) – Jay Devilliers and Michelle Esquivel take down Jeff Warnick and Jesse Irvine in three. I thought Jay did a great job of making himself ‘large’ in this match and inserting himself into the points. Michelle seemed to be moving pretty well with her injured calf and Jay was making things easy on her covering a lot of the court. We will have to see what they can do in the loser’s bracket but the disappointing season continues for Warnick and Irvine, they were beating teams like Jay and Michelle pretty consistently last year.
On the loser’s side, Rob Nunnery and Olivia McMillan knocked out Dekel Bar and Corrine Carr, before losing to Stratman and Smith. I am still curious as to why Dekel’s mixed results are not stronger, I still have to think at some point he will figure it out.
An earlier result that surprised me that Gritty didn’t mention is Tereschenko and Dawson beating Callie Smith and Adam Stone in three earlier this morning, that is a match I really would have expected Smith and Stone to win.
10:57 am EST (Gritty) – Brutal loss for Stratman/Smith. There were a bad net cord away from tying it 10-10 in the 3rd game. This team is right there with the top teams. They barely lost to the Newman’s at the US Open and now this.
I’m also really happy to see Jardim out there playing and healthy. I was very worried after yesterday’s withdrawal that she suffered a serious injury and would not be able to play the rest of the tournament. Shockingly, she looks healthy and dangerous today.
9:56 am EST (Gritty) – Raw deal for Anna Leigh and Tyson McGuffin getting Simone and Ben in the third round. Tyson was fully on board with the single elimination on his podcast that came out yesterday but was taped before the tournament started. Anna Leigh’s mixed rating can’t be that high at this point so they get a relatively low seed. I can’t imagine Tyson can be super happy about where they sit in this bracket. If the players are cool with it then I guess why should we worry about it but it’s problematic to me to have single elimination when seeding is quite inaccurate still.
Keep an eye out for Kovlova/Wright taking on Smith/Stratman. These are the types of breakout matches that can be won by teams like Smith/Stratman.
Thursday – Singles
4:20 pm EST (Slim) – Wow! Jay Devilliers comes back from down 10-2 in the second game of the bronze medal match, to take it 12-10 over Zane Navatril and win the match in straight games. This match is a good reminder that you need to use your timeouts wisely, Zane let Jay run off 7 straight points from 2-10 to 9-10 without calling a timeout, I know it can be easy to forget especially if you are up big but if I was Zane, I would have called timeout after Jay ran off 3 straight points to get it to 10-5 and in my mind he should have waited no longer than 6-10 to call the timeout. He never called his second timeout either, and as the saying goings you can’t take them home with you.
This might be reading into things too far, but I also wondered about where Zane was mentally today. He seemed to waffle on a few lines calls in his matches today, and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe he was bothered by some of the comments made in the Pickleball Forum after his controversial match with Jack Foster last weekend. Or if those comments were at least on his mind. He did not seem to be his normal fired up self most of the day.
In the women’s bronze medal match, Callie Smith looked pretty dominant in her win over Irina winning 11-7, 11-7. Callie is really establishing herself as a threat in singles when she is able to play. The progress in her singles game this year, has been huge.
2:50 pm EST (Slim) – The gold and bronze medal matches are set. In men’s singles we have Ben vs Tyson for gold and Zane vs Jay for bronze. The Zane vs Jay for bronze today should be an interesting match.
In the women’s bracket we have Lea vs Catherine for gold and Callie vs Irina for bronze. I will be curious to watch Callie vs Irina, it will be a good test of where Callie’s singles game is at.
Just a reminder all the gold medal matches will be taking place on Sunday.
2:10 pm EST (Slim) – Simone Jardim retires against Catherine Parenteau, after being down 2-0 in the second game and having dropped the first game. She did not look much like herself for most of the match, and said was tired when she withdrew. I wonder if we will see Simone in many singles fields going forward, now that these draws do not seem to be automatic golds for her anymore. She said on her livestream after the US Open, that she was going to have to make some decisions about playing singles going forward given concerns about her age and body.
I continue to be of the mind, that if you aren’t actually injured, you owe it to the fans, sponsors etc. to play out the match, even if you do not have your best that day.
1:51 pm EST (Slim) – Tyson McGuffin battles back to take down Zane Navatril 11-9 in the third game. One thing you can always count on with Tyson is that he will compete to the very end. Zane, seemed to have Tyson on the ropes a bit up a game and up in the second game, but Tyson kept competing and seemed to catch fire a bit with his forehand drive which he can do. I still think that Tyson needs to add a backhand passing shot and should also be looking to innovate with his serve, if he wants to keep his spot in near the top of the singles world, especially since he is not getting any younger. Still all credit to Tyson for a great effort.
1:20 pm EST (Slim) – Lea Jansen takes down Anna Leigh in two very close games 15-13 and 12-10. I have to wonder if these two aren’t the current future of the pro women’s singles field. I think Gritty is right that Anna Leigh needs to work on getting up the net more. And perhaps Gritty will give start to give Lea some credit, as she heads to yet another gold medal final.
Side note, it is crazy that Lea’s first match of the day was the semi-final match after Michelle Esquivel had to withdraw against her in the first round. I would love to see these women’s pro divisions continue to grow in size, and think it is critical for the sport that they do.
12:34 pm EST (Gritty) – Anna Leigh handled Irina Tereschenko easily 11-4, 11-2 to set the stage for a matchup with Lea Jansen. The tough thing for Jansen will be that she has not played today after a first round withdrawal from Michelle Esquivel. It won’t happen today but I have to think Anna Leigh can get to the net more than she currently does. That’s Jansen’s big advantage at this point.
12:24 pm EST (Gritty) – Some interesting early round results but at the end of the day it is all chalk with Johns, Navaratil, McGuffin and Devilliers in semi-finals. The most intriguing match of the day has to be McGuffin/Navratil and we’ll see how that Dura treats Tyson. It is also noteworthy that McGuffin is not doing anything different with his serve but Johns has adapted a version of the Zane spin serve.
After a beating in the first set, Parenteau was able to take down Callie Smith in 3 sets. Very tough first round matchup for both players but that’s what you get in these small women’s brackets.
11:25 am EST (Slim) – Gritty talked about Spencer Smith and Tyler Loong but somehow forgot to mention that they were both beaten by Anderson Scarpa who is having a breakout performance. It will be interesting to see if he can challenge Zane Navatril in the quarters at all. Beating Tyler Loong and Spencer Smith is the maindraw is impressive for a relatively unknown player.
11:20 am EST (Gritty) – Lots of stuff happening already today. Kyle Yates a nice win over John Cincola after being down 9-5 in the first to come back 14-12. Navratil handled Jack Foster quite easily after his near loss to him last week. I cannot comprehend how much Navratil stays at the baseline on the return of serve. AJ Koller losing to the Utah boys, Tyler Loong and Spencer Smith, for a 1-2 day is not good for the AJ Koller fan club here at NML, but both of those guys are talented players. Spencer Smith was top 10 in PPA singles rankings last year but his results haven’t been as good this year – he is still dangerous despite his propensity to avoid the net.