It likely won’t be a full live blog for the weekend but we’ll keep up with the action in some capacity. Check back in here for thoughts throughout the weekend.
Saturday, July 22nd – Doubles
11:45 am EST – The big news looming today is that Jessie Irvine did not pass concussion protocol this morning after taking a ball to the head from Dylan Frazier. Hope this isn’t anything that lingers as that is scary to think a concussion is possible.
Andre Mick and Jason McNulty continue to impress. They beat Long and Farias in two straight games this morning.
8:00 pm EST – Some interesting results today. the Jessie Irvine/Andrea Koop withdrawal throws off the whole bracket and you wonder why they can’t reseed last minute as that semi-final with the Kawamoto’s winning in 3 over Stratman/Jorja Johnson should have been a gold medal match. They are playing the gender doubles bronze tomorrow as well and we’ll get to see Castillo/Radzikowska play as they have had a helluva good day as they almost beat the Kawamoto’s earlier and then got through Rane/Rohrabacher 17-15. They play the winner of Stratman/Johnson and Tereschenko/Valdes.
JW and Dylan eeked out a close win over Mick and McNulty then cruised. They will play Garnett/Hewett, who had a close match against Weinbach/Gridley before getting past both Zane/Jay and Pablo/Fed in straight games. Impressive stuff from the new Bay Area boys. Maybe Ritchie does know what he’s doing! It’ll be Pablo/Fed playing Andrei/Rob for bronze as both teams are probably disappointed not to be in a gold match, but particularly Pablo/Fed. Should be a fun Sunday.
Friday, July 21st – Mixed
10:40 am EST – No double elimination at Beer City so these draws are crucial. JW Johnson/Jorja should cruise to a semis appearance and it looks like the only notable team in their half is Andrea Koop/Andrei Daescu. Irina/Fed are there as well and could be a good test for the non-PPA Daescu and Koop. The other half of the draw has Jade Kawamoto/DJ Young, Jackie Kawamoto/Rafa Hewett, Jessie Irvine/Zane Navratil, Lauren Stratman/Dylan Frazier and Ewa Radzikowska/Pablo Tellez. A deeper half but not as top heavy.
12:35 pm EST – Some early results to get into. The Ignatowich siblings take down Lacy Schneemann/Brendon Long 4 and 9. It seems like every week we are talking about a Brendon Long loss not being a good loss. That’s a match that we would have had going he and Lacy’s way, but that’s not even all that close. It speaks to the dominant guy theory but the Long red flags continue to be there. DJ Young/Jade Kawamoto get a good win over Black/Nunnery as Black/Nunnery have not had a good time in their 3 partnerships together. Jade Kawamoto is the steadiest player on that court in mixed so it’s not a shocking result, but you have to know Black/Nunnery want it to be closer than 3 and 8, especially when they were down big in game 2 before making a run.
Other results of note: Stratman/Frazier over Harris/Mick (1 and 9). Irvine/Navratil over Castillo/Martinez Vich (10 and 2). Koop/Daescu over Valdes/Dawson (6 and 5). Irina/Fed over Garnett/Rane (5 and 9). Nothing in there that is surprising and there were some close games, but all the expected teams coming out ahead.
2:08 pm EST – Koop/Daescu over Fed/Irina. It sure looked like Staksrud was imposing his will on the match better than Daescu, but down 8-2 in the third and Daescu decided it was time for him to impose his will. A very impressive comeback from Koop/Daescu. Ewa Radzikowska/Pablo Tellez took down Jackie Kawamoto/Rafa Hewett in straight games. That’s not a great result for Rafa and Jackie as Rafa’s results have not been on the up in recent months. Palbo/Ewa are down a game right now to Stratman/Frazier, but that one is tougher on paper than the Hewett/Kawamoto one.
2:53 pm EST – The semi-finals are set. We have Jorja/JW playing Koop/Daescu. It sure looks like JW/Jorja should roll this field but we’ll see what kind of energy and consistency they bring. Then it’s Stratman/Frazier versus Irvine/Navratil. Stratman/Frazier got through Tellez/Radzikowska in 2, 5 and 10 while Irvine/Navratil took 3 games to get past Jade Kawamoto/DJ Young. These should be fun matches and it still is fun to get different matchups with some of the 2nd and 3rd tier players on tour. Notable backdraw results are Rane/Garnett over Valdes/Dawson and Martinez Vich/Castillo over Nunnery/Black. Unclear on the chicken/egg situation with Nunnery and Black together, but their results have not been good in this short run together. That’s not a good loss with a Premier player and a guy who goes #1 overall in Challenger.
4:53 pm EST – There is a Championship Sunday for Beer City and it will be the Johnson siblings against Stratman/Frazier. The Johnson siblings have to be a heavy favorite for this event, but Stratman/Frazier have been borderline dominant all day. They have played a couple of close games but haven’t dropped one throughout the day. JW/Jorja have been dominant so we’ll see how this one goes. Some interesting things in the backdraw with Schneemann/Long beating Pablo/Ewa before losing to Jade Kawamoto/DJ Young. Kawamoto/Young are currently locked in a tight one against Koop/Daescu on Center Court, 10-10 at the time of this writing. Backdraw demon Rafa Hewett and Jackie Kawamoto have made a bit of a run for themselves back there as they have beaten Pablo/Ewa, Irina/Fed and then get the withdrawal from Navratil/Irvine. You have to wonder what Irvine’s physical level is at today after such a long day of singles yesterday. That is grueling for anyone, but especially for someone who hasn’t been playing singles and has issues with their body.
6:35 pm EST – We are in a rain delay. Koop/Daescu took a really close one over DJ Young/Jade Kawamoto, 16-14. They are currently up a game (12-10) and down 7-6 in the second to Jackie Kawamoto/Rafa. Some long, grindy rallies in this bronze match. Nice that they are going 2 out of 3 in the bronze for doubles matches. The backdraw with a comeback to bronze is enough to keep the players motivated and the fans care about these matches too. At least some fans do.
It looks like Jessie Irvine defaulted as a result of being hit near the eye by Dylan Frazier on an overhead. Hoping she is okay as someone commented that it was closer to the eye than it originally appeared. We know people don’t want to hear it but there’s going to come a time when eye protection in some form is going to be worn by 100% of players. As athletic as the top players are, there are certain things you cannot protect yourself against, particularly when the ball comes off the net. It won’t be more prevalent until we see a pro lose an eye or have an eye seriously injured, but it is pretty much inevitable that it will happen at some point. Obviously it’s not the best look for the sport for everyone to be wearing eye protection, but that will be the long-term reality.
7:30 pm EST – Koop/Daescu take it 10 and 11 over Hewett and Kawamoto. Good day for the TD and the APP All-Star. Bronze matches are fun to watch!
Thursday, July 20th – Singles
11:18 am EST – Biggest news of the day is Jessie Irvine back in the singles draw and she has a win to start the day over an unknown. Terrible pick by Gritty choosing Sydney Sonday, who loses to Tatiana Ruhl, bad loss.
The men’s draw has played quite a bit. Zane is currently playing Jay. Not a deep field and there aren’t any upsets so far.
12:57 pm EST – What in the actual f…? Jessie Irvine beat Judit Castillo in 3 games, 11-5, 3-11 and 11-2. We were half-joking about Irvine being in a singles draw but it is a very notable result. That was on the 2nd stream and you wonder if Castillo got a bit in her head on this one playing Irvine, who she is definitely supposed to beat. Has Jessie been working on her singles game? Is Jessie better than we gave her credit in singles? None of this makes sense. Another interesting result in women’s was Rianna Valdes taking down Milan Rane in 3 games. Valdes was definitely the steal of the Challenger draft in terms of how far she dropped. We haven’t seen Valdes play singles but this is a good sign that she has a baseline level of competency, which should not be surprising given her tennis background.
Jay Devilliers took down Zane Navratil in 3 pretty close ones, 12-10, 10-12 and 11-5. Zane was up 5-4 in the third game too, but he doesn’t have that grind for singles like Jay still does. He’ll play Jaume Martinez Vich while Connor Garnett is awaiting the winner of Frazier and FAD. Frazier barely got through to this match as he won 14-12 in the third over Bruno Faletto.
1:35 pm EST – It is a rain delay right now.
2:40 pm EST – We have to question if something is physically going on with Judit Castillo physically today. She lost to Jessie Irvine and then got smoked by Taylor Garcia, 15-2 in the backdraw. Garcia also beat Milan Rane 16-14 in the match prior to that so it might not be a complete fluke. It shows how hard it is to be consistent in a professional sport. Jessie Irvine also appears to be moving pretty well after looking to be physically not moving all that well throughout 2023. We don’t see her play much singles but clearly she is wanting to get some reps in. Tyra Black is up a game and it is 6-6 in the second game.
Dylan Frazier smoked FAD 2 and 0 so he’ll play Connor Garnett in the semi-finals. Zane Navratil pulled out of the backdraw and it’s still unclear to us whether there is a comeback to gold in this format for Beer City.
5:00 pm EST – Jorja Johnson has guaranteed herself a medal with a quality win over Irina Tereschenko in 3 games , crushing Irina in the third 11-1. Jorja sure misses a lot of opportunities but she’s also able to create a lot of opportunities with her unique shot making. She’ll play Hurricane Tyra Black as Black barely got through Jessie Irvine in 3 games, which has to be the most Jessie Irvine we have ever seen in the history of her pickleball career. She may be working on her singles game. We have seen with Susannah Barr that it is possible to substantially improve that singles game with work and that may be happening to Jessie purely based on the results from this tournament. Taylor Garcia is having a day as she beat Rane and Judit in the backdraw then took down Ava Ignatowich.
Jaume Martinez Vich took down Jay Devilliers in 3 games, including an 11-0 bagel in the third. Martinez Vich is one of those singles guys who is continuing to get better and he is proving it each week at the tournament. Backdraw stallion Jay Devilliers loses to Jack Foster, 15-12, which is a bit surprising to see that let down from Jay. Unknown entity, Bruno Faletto, also having a day after almost beating Dylan Frazier, he is past Ross Whittaker in the backdraw and will face the winner of Garnett and Frazier.
7:15 pm EST – Jorja Johnson with a comeback singles weekend. She gets a gold over Tyra Black in 3 tight games. Jorja hasn’t had a good singles result in a long time and the results were already trending down before 2023. It also appears that Black’s singles game still isn’t there. She almost lost to Jessie Irvine and then loses to Jorja Johnson. In case it wasn’t clear, there is no double elimination come back to gold at Beer City. It is strictly single elimination with the semi-final losers having to win a game before going to the bronze medal match. The bronze medal match is only one game to 15 as well, which seems insane for a pro tournament. In any event, Irina Tereschenko pulls out the bronze, beating Jessie Irvine 15-6. The aluminum medal goes to Irvine but what a 4th place for her today. She also beat Rianna Valdes in the backdraw, 15-10, and there clearly is some motivation to prove that she is not the Sarah Ansboury of the Premier division Dreambreakers for MLP.
Jaume Martinez Vich is playing Connor Garnett for gold right now after Garnett beat Frazier in a barn burner 3 game match earlier. Dylan Frazier is playing Jack Foster for bronze. We haven’t seen Jack Foster in a relevant pro pickleball singles match for some time either so that has to feel good for Foster.
8:15 pm EST – Garnett over Martinez Vich in the final in 3. Some high level shot making and Garnett pulled through in the end. Dylan Frazier takes bronze, 15-10, over Jack Foster.