The last day is here. It’s been a fun ride her at NML Pickleball for our inaugural event. We have been overwhelmed with the engagement over the first week and a half, it’s far more than we ever could have ever expected. So let’s hope the weather holds and we get some competitive matchups as well as some upsets (even if it means we look dumb for being wrong!). Check out our mixed preview for our initial thoughts on the bracket last week.
9:08 pm EST (Gritty) – Huge win for Callie and Catherine. This one has been in the making and they finally broke through on the biggest stage. Live, prime time on CBS Sports Network. Well deserved.
8:23 pm EST (Gritty) – Ben and Colin win in a tight first, not so tight second. Ben is so far and away the best player in the game. You have to think at some point with all this talent coming in to the game someone will be able to compete with him. It won’t be for a while though because there’s no one in site currently, at least not that I see.
To wrap up the mixed, close first game, not close second game for Wright/Kovalova taking bronze. It was a bit of a dicey road there for them but they ended up with the gold. There is more depth at the top of the mixed field outside of the #1 seed as more good players come into the fold. They are no longer the clear cut #2 team in these bigger fields and I’m wondering if they need to be more malleable than sticking with that one standard alignment they use every point no matter what.
6:00 pm EST (Gritty) – Ben and Simone are gold. Yawn. They are too good. Outside Dawson/MacGregor’s gold, this was the surest thing of the weekend. 11-0, 11-3. I didn’t watch and it looks like I didn’t need to.
A far more exciting match was the match to get to bronze between Kovalova/Wright and Franco/Devilliers. I felt in the 2nd half of the match Kovalova got more conservative than I have ever seen. She was not going after everything and was trying not to miss it seemed. Life isn’t as easy for Kovalova/Wright and it looked like they were feeling that pressure. She has to be more aggressive. Matt Wright is so much more emotional these days. The past year has been a different Matt Wright and it reminds of when Roger Federer started to get older. It’s not easy anymore and there’s a great deal more emotion. On the other hand, I didn’t highlight Franco/Devilliers in my mixed preview and they had a great run in the back draw. Franco’s game is slowly but steadily improving, and she clearly belongs at that level when paired with a higher end partner. She doesn’t have anything overwhelming in terms of weapons but she isn’t weak anywhere either.
4:53 pm EST (Gritty) – Dekel/Catherine almost came back from 14-10 down but ended up losing 16-14. Dekel’s mixed game has really come along and there’s no reason it shouldn’t with all that talent he has. Tyson is so solid at this point. I think in mixed he could use a little more oomph on his backhand but that is some serious nitpicking with his doubles game that has come so far over the last 3 years.
4:11 pm EST (Gritty) – I missed the result that the Newmans took down Kovalova/Wright. Slim disagreed with my take on keeping Kovalova/Wright as the 2 seed in our fantasy draft. I kept them in there as the 2 seed but this is now three in a row for Kovalova/Wright not making it to the gold medal match. I would expect Kovalova/Wright to take that bronze still. The Newman’s are back and they are scary. Lindsey needs more weapons for them to take down Simone/Ben, but they appear to be the #2 team at this point in time.
4:02 pm EST (Gritty) – Leigh/Tyson are going to face Parenteau/Bar to see who goes to bronze. Seems like they are finding their stride after an in the drivers seat win over Stratman/Smith. Franco/Devilliers are working their way through the back draw with an amazing comeback win against Callie Smith/Adam Stone. I was very surprised when they got smoked by Anna Leigh/Yates early in the day and, while I am surprised, I am less surprised with this run through the back draw. It felt like Jay/Regina were down 11-13 for 20 minutes.
2:28 pm EST (Gritty) – Scott Golden giving us the streams and John Cincola/Kochli with another big win of Jessie/Jeff. The side is vital in these games to 15 and it appears that being on the side with the wind today is beneficial because of how windy it is. Martina Kochli’s results vary with some big wins and not so good losses, but she appears to work hard at her game. John Cincola is a guy to watch. He hasn’t been playing that long and he looks far younger than his age out there.
2:16 pm EST (Gritty) – I wish we could have seen the entire Yates/Waters vs. Wright/Kovalova match, but the last few points is better than nothing. It looks like they had Anna Leigh stacked on the left the whole time, which I think is great strategy for two reasons – she has that backhand roll and it keeps the guy out of the picture. Anna Leigh is scary and if she gets any of those top, top guys for more partnerships maybe the mixed world can be a little more diverse in podiums. Yates played so well yesterday and must have been playing well today, but two bad plays to finish this game. He sped a ball up to Lucy on his backhand and, far more egregiously, went for a Bert with Lucy/Matt serving at 10-10. It’s a hero play that makes even less sense with the wind at their backs and that crazy wind keeping those dinks from sailing. Is that a lot to consider in a matter of split seconds? Sure it is, but that is what pickleball players have to do.
Jardim/Johns move on in two not surprisingly as well.
2:00 pm EST (Gritty) – Big grind for the Newman’s. Fantastic match to watch. In my opinion, the wind makes defence tougher but the Newman’s are still so difficult to get anything by. Pat Smith may have the best forehand in pickleball and Stratman continues to improve, but it just wasn’t enough. The defence is too good and Lindsey is so tough straight up – you can’t speed her up, she resets mistakes, she is always an Erne threat and Riley is looming for any opportunity. I still think they should have put Lauren on the left side earlier in that third game at some point. There were a few points on defence throughout the match where they did this to avoid the long switch in the wind I think. In those points Stratman did a fair amount of dinking around her backhand so I’m curious if she is not comfortable on that side.
Also, Kochli and Cincola win on the loser’s side over Farias/Jansen after Farias/Jansen almost took down the Newman’s in 3. I would not have predicted that win. Cincola’s game continues to rise.
1:38 pm EST (Gritty) – It’s Simone/Ben vs. Bar/Parenteau in the semis. Stratman/Smith vs. Newmans is just starting game 3 and it has been a battle. Two very hotly contested games. Teams are playing well and I can’t quibble too much with Smith/Stratman since they could have won this match by now, but I do wonder if they may want to stack Lauren cross court with Lindsey. It doesn’t appear they are going to do it but straight on with Lindsey is a tough game. No results from Waters/Yates vs. Kovalova/Wright yet. Thank goodness for the Lauren Stratman stream.
11:58 am EST (Slim) – I am a bit surprised to see how easily Kyle Yates and Anna Leigh Waters handled Jay Devilliers and Regina Franco 11-4, 11-3. I’ll be curious if they can give Matt and Lucy a competitive match in the next round. I have been of the mindset that if I was a top male player and looking to challenge Ben And Simone’s supremacy in the sport, I would probably gamble on Anna Leigh’s potential and upside and try to partner with her. I know she has a couple partnerships with Tyson McGuffin later this year and I will be curious to see how they go as she has not had a lot of top flight mixed partnerships. Callie and Catherine would be my either two choices for the female half to go after Ben and Simone (obviously Matt and Lucy are already tied to the hip).
Speaking of Callie and Catherine, I am very curious to see who comes out of their quarterfinal match-up here today. Callie and Adam Stone have had some success playing mixed together before and I like them to advance based on that chemistry, but I think Catherine and Dekel have a little higher upside if Dekel plays with the confidence in mixed that he was in men’s doubles yesterday.
11:33 am EST (Slim) – Callan and Irina take down Tyson and Leigh in 3 games, which is a bit surprising, however I do wonder if Callan who has been more of a men’s doubles specialist the last couple of years might be improving his mixed game. On his podcast Tyson actually mentioned that he thought Callan had some new and improved attacks at the World Pickleball Championship, playing with Simone. In mixed those attacks are critical for the male partner. Catherine and Dekel pull out a tight 3 gamer over Collin and Corinne. I am curious how Dekel and Catherine do today, Catherine is definitely one of the top female players today, and watching Dekel cover so much court yesterday in men’s it seems like it should be only a matter of time before his mixed results start improving.
11:03 am EST (Gritty) – Complete beatdown of Warnick/Irvine by Pat Smith/Lauren Stratman. Warnick/Irvine are always going to be the most volatile in terms of results of the top mixed teams as that’s the nature of Warnick’s game and mental state being unknown on any given day. It’s not as if I expected them to lose quickly in two games but as I said in my preview they have the highest ceiling and lowest floor of any team in the bracket.
10:35 am EST (Gritty) – Another day at the US Open, another morning without live streams. How much can we complain about this? We are out here relying on players to worry about streaming their own matches or Scott Golden to get to the court. It’s like if Wimbledon decided they weren’t going to show Djokovic vs. Bernard Sam Querrey (pickleballer!). Yes, it’s early round stuff but we still want to see it.