Preview by Slim
This senior men’s pro event is an interesting one for me, as it has some old teams pairing back up and many new teams we haven’t seen before. In particular I am curious to see who can come out on top between Weinbach and Gingrich. They have been teaming up most of the year, and in the events they have played together they have been simply dominant, winning their brackets with relative ease (though I suspect if ever actually pushed there could be some disagreements in this pairing over the middle balls). And now we get to see them pitted against each to see who can claim the title as the top senior men’s pro doubles player. However, this bracket also offers a number of other strong teams that I would not be surprised to see play the role of spoiler in preventing the Gingrich vs Weinbach showdown.
The Podium and Podium Chasers
- Dayne Gingrich / Tao Thongvanh – I feel like Dayne is right there with Dave as the dominant senior male doubles player this year, and Tao, a new 50 plus player this year, is up there as well. I think this team clearly has the best attacks of any team in this draw. The only reason I hesitate at all with this selection is it is a new partnership, and I do wonder if the slower ball this week will allow some teams to hang with them in hand battles where they otherwise be unable to hang.
- Dave Weinbach / Mills Miller – two legends of the game, this teams resume speaks for themselves. On deeper reflection, I almost put this team in the top spot, I feel like the game is passing Mills, and his old school style by a bit. However, I feel like the super soft Franklin in this hot humid weather will really play to Mills style and his years of practice with an indoor ball in the Pacific Northwest.
- Steve Kennedy / Jaime Oncins – this team is the wildcard in the draw, as they just don’t play nearly the number of tournaments that most of the other players in this event. However, they won the last event they played together in Delray, over a very competitive field. For those of you not familiar with Jaime, he probably has the most impressive tennis background of any of the men in pickleball, having reached a ranking of #34 in the world in singles at one point, and #22 in doubles.
- Jose Derisi / Scott Crandall – Crandall has made himself a consistent presence on the senior men’s pro doubles podium this year, more often then not reaching the podium. I think Scott’s first year at senior pro in 2020 he was a little slept on (probably because he mainly played 4.5 his 49 year old year), but this year he has really made his presence known. Jose is a brand new senior pro player, and has only played one pro event this year where did reach the podium, but his very solid results at open pro last year gives me a lot of confidence for a deep run this year.
- John Sperling / Paul Olin – this is a very solid team who played together last year and was a pretty consistent presence on the podium, which is not surprising given that they are both consistent players. I do have questions about the partnership though, as it looks like they have moved on from each other as partners and Olin hasn’t been playing a lot of events.
Gritty’s brief thoughts –> I don’t have much to quibble with in the analysis by Slim. I do think Scott Moore and Rick Witsken deserve an honorable mention. There is a lot of alpha energy coming from this partnership (maybe too much?) as Witsken is probably the stronger player because of his youth compared to Moore. My thought is that these guys can make a podium on the right day, especially with the slower ball.
8:53 pm EST (Gritty) – Final thought of the day. Slim and I were texting during the Dayne/Tao loss and it really looked in the 2nd game like Tao was feeling the heat of Dayne’s expectations. There was one missed serve in the 2nd game by Tao where Dayne looked like he turned his head in disgust rather than try to pick up his partner. It’s not easy being the odds on favorite and I don’t think it was handled that well today by either Dayne or Tao unfortunately.
Side note: Gingrich looks like a Dad ironically wearing his hat backwards to make a point to his son about how silly it looks. Maybe that’s what he is doing?
7:13 pm EST (Gritty) – Play is suspended for the day unfortunately. A lot of good matches and a lot of good pickleball left. We’ll get an update soon.
6:45 pm EST (Slim) – Despite Gritty’s best attempt to jinx them, Oncins and Kennedy pulled out a 3 game victory over Kennedy and White, after hiccup in the second game when they were up 3. Oncins is the real deal, which Gritty would’ve known if he had of watched him in Delray.
And we have upsets! Scott Crandall and Jose Derisi beat Dayne and Tao in 3 hard fought sets, making comebacks in all 3 sets! Their defence seemed to hold them in all 3 games. I thought Tao played very tight in this and was not nearly as aggressive as he usually is. I would have liked to see Dayne, the mental coach, be a bit more supportive as a partner. But all credit to Scott and Jose, who played very in a tightly contest match.
And Mirceau Moreau and Dan Granot knock Weinbach and Mills to the consolation, beating them in 3. A lot of people say not mentioning Mirceau and Dan in my preview was a big oversight.
Final thought all these close 3 set matches, make me really wish, that the US Open had a backdoor draw to the Gold Medal Match.
5:52 pm EST (Gritty) – Jaime Oncins is butter. I have never seen him play before. As highlighted by Slim in the preview, Oncins has the best tennis background of anyone out there. Until Delray 2021, he had not played a tournament since the 2018 US Open. He has quite a bit of tournament history dating back to 2016 and he’s only 51 now. It seems unfair with his tennis background, but that’s the game that is played. He and Kennedy are about to roll their second match of the day. Watch out.
4:41 pm EST (Gritty) – All chalk so far. Another matchup I’d like to see streamed is Witsken/Moore vs. Olin/Sperling. I don’t have any reason to believe an upset will occur but any matchups between the 6 teams that were highlighted in the preview is what we are here for.
3:46 pm EST (Gritty) – Derisi/Crandall won their first round matchup easily on centre court. I’ll be curious if they can give Gingrich/Tao any trouble assuming they win their first round match. I would love to see this one streamed as I think it is the most intriguing of the early round matchups to come.
3:35 pm EST (Slim) – play has resumed and the Pickleball Channel stream is live!
12:20 pm EST (Slim) – they are hoping to return to play between 1:30 and 2:30 pm, however there is still a chance another weather pattern of rain could hit, so there could be further delays. Who else’s pickleball obsession, has also made them an amateur meteorologist? I know since, I took up pickleball, I follow the weather way more closely, trying to figure out the best times to play, and nervously checking the forecast for tournament weekends.
10:10 am EST (Slim) – We have another rain delay, with currently no estimated return time, let’s hope things improve.
Early thought on the bracket is that the bottom half is stacked, with three of the top 4 teams in my rankings in the bottom half, including my top two teams in Dayne/Tao and Dave/Mills. I see us getting semi-finals of Kennedy/Oncins vs Sperling/Olin on the top half of the bracket and Dayne/Tao vs Dave/Mills on the bottom half. Gritty is right that Witsken/Moore probably deserved a mention, and I would expect them to play Sperling/Olin tough in the quarterfinals. I think Moore has lost half a step, and Witsken doubles results haven’t been quite as good I expected this year, but I think the slower ball may just be what this team needs, and they certainly do not lack confidence.