Minto US Open Live Blog – Men’s and Women’s Split Age – April 19, 2021

The split age is a brand new event at the US Open and we’re both here for it. It adds a new wrinkle during the week and, probably more importantly, it brings up the popular Pickleball Forum topic of old vs. young. You can see our previews for the split age in our men’s and women’s previews. We’ll be live blogging all week and if you want to see a summary of our thoughts on the singles day you can find it here. Whether you agree with us, we would love your interaction on Facebook, in the comments below or you can even message us on the ol’ Facebook.

11:17 pm EST (Slim) – I am just catching up on the later streams of the day, as work and other duties (i.e. my own pickleball) took me away for a while. Apparently I was way off on split pro predictions, though I did nail the gold medal predictions (but I am not sure one can take credit for that in any event Ben Johns is playing in). Otherwise my men’s pick were off, I was shocked to see Deakin and Weinbach miss the podium completely, and am not feeling good at all that I used one of my selections on them in the fantasy draft. I also didn’t even have Witsken and Altaf in my predictions and they ended up taking bronze (retrospectively, I think I underrated their chemistry, but still would not have had them taking a podium spot). I also though that Tyson McGuffin did an admirable job of battling all day after a long singles day yesterday, and being knocked down to the consolation side today, earlier than expected.

In the womens field I know Gritty disagreed but I saw Cammy and Irina as the favorites and was not surprised to see them prevail, I think Jen and Leigh’s banging was problematic for many teams in the field, but Cammy and Irina were very comfortable with it.

I am looking forward to seeing the bracket for the mixed split age event here in a bit, as I think that event has more variables than most.

8:24 pm EST (Gritty) – The day has gotten a bit away from us here. We’ll have to watch some stuff back but big week for Tereschenko so far. MacGregor is the best senior pro and it shows. I’ll watch the 2nd game later but bangers gon’ bang, particularly Dawson who just goes at whoever is in front of her. You can’t do that against Cammy and you definitely can’t do it against Irina.

Witsken/Merchant with a big bronze. I didn’t expect them there at the start of the day and not even when they were only 2 matches away from a bronze. The saddest thing with the lack of streams is not getting to see Altaf get jacked up with all those close matches they had. This team also throws away my possibly theory for two older guys not being suitable for this split age category. I do think the slower ball probably helped Witsken as I have seen him be more effective in tournaments with slower balls in the past.

Kudos to Lauren Stratman on a good bronze. She was definitely in the mix coming into the tournament. Frankly, I have no idea who either Bernard or Levin are, but they worked all the way through the back draw after losing their first match to Alex Hamner and Simone “Withdrawal” Jardim.

6:41 pm EST (Gritty) – Not much to say. Ben and Dayne win. Heavy favorites coming in and they get it. Ben is too good already then you pair him with either the best or 2nd best senior pro out there in Dayne Gingrich. Easy money.

5:36 pm EST (Gritty) – I guess Tyson isn’t tired. Playing for bronze with a convincing win over Deakin/Weinbach. I don’t have much explanation for the latter pairing. Maybe two older guys in that format doesn’t work as well when you don’t have a younger guy being able to insert themselves the same way. Once again, may have underestimated previous chemistry as Witsken/Merchant have lots of that from previous days. Also, Callie Smith is a beast despite the loss with a very good showing by Tanner on Centre Court.

5:03 pm EST (Gritty) – Waters/Dawson are through but it was super tight. 12-10 in the third and I clearly did not give enough credit in my preview to Yvonne Ting. She has some good results with Scott Moore in senior pro. Tereschenko/MacGregor and Smith/Tanner are on the live stream now in game 1. Tanner looks smooth. She does not look out of place but it’s clear they have not played a ton together.

4:42 pm EST (Gritty) – Surprising result with Miller/Bar winning in a tight 3 game match. Way too many balls to Dekel over the course of the match. Deakin with his classic speed up miss when trying to save match point (seriously: go back and see how many times he’s done this. He needs to stop). Bar/Miller won 12-10 against Derisi/Nunnery in the 3rd and now 11-9 in the 3rd to go to gold. Big credit to them. I think bronze could go any of three ways (Olin/Loong, Sperling/McGuffin, Weinbach/Deakin) at this point. Not a promising outlook for Deakin/Weinbach for the men’s pro day.

4:14 pm EST (Gritty) – Who doesn’t love an I told you so? Simone with another withdrawal. Pathetic. Poor Alex Hamner. Caveat on this one continues to be if there is an injury. My understanding is no injury yesterday so I’m assuming none for today.

4:05 pm EST (Gritty) – It appears Pickleball Channel is saying the decision is the tournaments as to who plays on centre court. The comments still stand regardless of whose decision it is. Big surprise Callie Smith and her partner smoked Jardim/Hamner 2 and 0. Do we see another Simone withdrawal? Gingrich/Johns are through easily but Weinbach/Deakin are down a game to Mills/Bar. Early on, way too many balls to Bar in my opinion and that Franklin ball appears to be helping him with his old school speed-up style. He wants to bang and it allows him to hang. Finally, is Steve Deakin hurt? He has tape on his right forearm and that is not normal for him.

3:20 pm EST (Slim) – the decisions of the Pickleball Channel continuing to be mystifying. Why are they showing an early round match in the women’s draw, when they have the men’s semi finals being played with some of the biggest names in the game in action?

2:49 pm EST (Slim) – the men’s semi finals are now set with Weinbach/Deakin vs Mills/Bar and Gingrich/Johns vs Loong/Olin. I am still expecting to see a Weinbach/Deakin vs Gingrich/Johns final. Unfortunately for the competition, Ben Johns seems to be in pretty good form and is covering the court well, after a long singles day yesterday, where you wondered if he might be a little tired today.

1:58 pm EST (Slim) – Paul Olin and Tyler Loong are going for a run through the bracket, beating a tough team in Adam Stone and Dave Fleming, 2-11,11-9,11-1. So there were definitely some big momentum swings in that match up. The question now will be, can they offer some resistance to the buzzsaw that is Dayne Gingrich and Ben Johns, in the semi-finals?

1:39 pm EST (Gritty) – The toll that the men’s singles bracket takes on these players cannot be underestimated. I also think Jose Derisi is one of those underrated, unknown guys that just gets results but Tyson looked completely tanked at the end of that gold vs. Ben Johns. I don’t care how much you lie in bed in those recovery boots for. Also, an 0-2 for DJ Young and Steve Dawson. Neither of us could watch but I am going to guess we had a very unengaged DJ Young for that to happen. He’s so talented but the mental part is always going to be his biggest obstacle.

1:15 pm EST (Slim) – the quarterfinals of the men’s split age division is shaping up to have some great competitive matches. Stone/Fleming vs Loong/Olin, Merchant/Witsken vs Weinbach/Deakin, and Nunnery/Derisi vs. Bar/Miller. All of those match ups, I would expect to be fun and competitive games. I’ll take Stone/Fleming, Weinbach/Deakin and Bar/Miller to advance though.

12:25 pm EST (Gritty) – We either overlooked it or Loong/Olin were put into the bracket late. If they were in the bracket when we did our preview, I have no idea how we missed them. Olin has been a staple of senior men’s podiums since he turned 50 and Loong’s court coverage is arguably second to none. This is an uber athletic team that has rolled their two matches today. Watch out for them.

11:52 am EST (Slim) – DJ Young and Steve Dawson a team we thought could do very well, did lose in the first round to Baby K and Scott Crandall, in an all California match up. Perhaps, we underestimated the advantage that Baby K and Crandall have of having played a number of tournaments together. As a believer in chemistry, I think this is a big advantage. They will be in tough in the second round though against Ben and Dayne.

11:50 am EST (Slim) – the first round of the men’s split age is going pretty chalk so far, but it does appear to be a fun new event. It was cool the see Gucci Zane pull out a win with his father Denis against a tough team in AJ Koller and Mark Swanson. Scott Golden has already gotten in trouble for streaming once, under the auspice of player safety, luckily he is continuing to bring us the streams, along with many others. You still have to wonder what is the Pickleball Channel’s motive for trying to prevent streaming from matches they aren’t even recording?

10:45 am EST (Slim) – the weather looks potentially problematic as there is a risk of thunderstorms the rest of the day in Naples, and tomorrow has 2-3 inches of rain predicted, yikes! Early streams also indicate it is very windy! You never know with the weather in Florida, so let’s hope the predictions don’t come true.

10:21 am EST (Gritty) – The men’s draw has changed since last night and the two teams – Deakin/Weinbach and Gingrich/Johns – are rightfully on opposite sides of the bracket. I still expect these two teams to play for gold. Two matchups to watch for are Gingrich/Johns vs. Steve Dawson/DJ Young in round 2 as well as Sperling/McGuffin vs. Deakin/Weinbach in the semis. Steve Dawson is smooth as butter and he has that Bobby Riggs connection with DJ.

2:19 am EST (Gritty) – I simply want to reiterate the issues with seeding. There are already enough problems with UTPR and if you want to ensure a fair matchup the players are known enough to work around the seeding. This most likely won’t be fair to Deakin/Weinbach who are the team I would expect to give Gingrich/Johns the toughest matchup in the day. Unless, we go all deep state on this and they wanted to keep Tyson on the side of the draw away from Ben. In all seriousness, I expect this is simply what PB Tournaments puts together using the UTPR.

12:15 AM EST (Slim) – the women’s split draw seems to make a lot more sense then the men’s, in terms of seeding. I would expect Leigh Waters and Jen Dawson to power their way to the Gold Medal Match on the top side of the bracket, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Lauren Stratman and Eva Welsher played them tough in the second round. On the bottom half of the draw I am very curious to see what happens in a potential Irina Tereschenko and Cammy MacGregor versus Simone Jardim and Alex Hamner match up to go to the gold medal match.

I think in both of these events tomorrow, being new and novel, we could see some very unexpected results.

12:10 AM EST (Slim) – who else stays up late at night to check out the brackets when they first come out? First thought looking at the men’s draw is that this is INSANE with the seeding! And points to a big issue that I have with the US Open format of no backdoor to the Gold Medal match. As I said in my preview of this event, I think there are two clear top teams in Ben Johns and Dayne Gingrich and Steve Deakin and Dave Weinbach, and they will be playing each other in the second round, insanity! (Also someone please stream this match!). Overall I think the bottom half of the men’s draw is absolutely stacked as John Sperling and Tyson McGuffin my third ranked team is also on that side of the draw, as is Dekel Bar and Mills Miller! Given that this is a new event, I would have appreciated perhaps some working around on the seeding!

I think in general the no backdoor to gold is problematic in pickleball as I don’t feel like our ratings system are efficient enough yet, but this event takes it to a whole new level!

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