It is another MLP weekend, which means it is time for everyone to work as a team regardless of whether you are team PPA or team MLP. We had a number of articles leading up to the event to get you all set, including Premier and Challenger previews as well as 6 things you need to know about season 2. You can check out the rosters for all the teams at this table here. Challenger starts on Thursday, Premier starts on Friday and the semis and finals will be on Sunday. We’ll do our best to keep you up to date on the results and provide commentary on those results as we know it is nearly impossible to keep track of 24 teams over the span of 4 days.
Final Sunday, September 24rth
10:20 am EST (Waggish) – SF #1: Orlando Squeeze def. AZ Drive (3-2) – AZ David/Glozman v Orlando Bright/Rohrabacher. A quick game with the Orlando team putting a heavy foot on that accelerator. AB/Rachel made short work of David/Glozman. 21-13.
AZ Arnold/Bar v Orlando Navratil/Daescu. Drive get a very sloppy win 23-21. Post-match, Dekel’s serve is being challenged but it was ruled legal.
AZ David/Arnold v Orlando Bright/Daescu. Nice rally at 14-9. Ironically, Bright won Orlando the game with her drives. 21-15.
AZ Glozman/Bar v Orlando Rohrabacher/Navratil. Surprisingly, the weaker AZ team get a good lead 7-1. Bright must have infused Zane with some of her energy as he came to play after the end-change. In a twist, Dekel had trouble returning Zane’s serve. Then Zane does an in-your-face celebration of his ATP which was hilarious. Now tied at 11. Rohrabacher now needs to step up and do her part with Glozman playing so well. Tie at 17. AZ win 23-21. Rohrabacher couldn’t hold up to the power from Dekel’s overheads. Zane played lights out after the end-change.
Dreambreaker order: Julian v Andrei, Dekel v Zane, AB vs Glozman, Rachel vs David. End round 1: 9-7 Orlando. End round 2: 21-10 Orlando wins! Andrei’s reach helped him against Julian’s quickness. Zane looked the most comfortable out there in singles.
11:45 am EST (Waggish) – SF #2: DC def. Miami (3-0) – DC Kawamotos v Miami Black/Harris. See rally at 4-7. Kawamotos win 21-15.
DC Newman/Alshon v Miami McGuffin/Staksrud. Alshon on left! See rally at 7-7 for some awesome gets by Miami. Alshon and Riley are mixing it up a lot. Alshon not afraid to step in front of Riley to give the opponents something different. Odd to see Kyle coaching DC when he assists Tyson on McGuffin camps and co-hosts on his podcast. Tight game with tie at 17. At 19-18, Riley does a Bert and Miami challenges it as a foot fault. Looks clean on replay – which also shows an impressive balanced athletic landing from Riley. DC wins 21-19.
DC Jackie K/Alshon v Miami Harris/McGuffin. Alshon played the best mixed game of his life. Jackie stepped up to his level too. 21-12!
Side note: All of the paddles of the DC team were collected. I wonder how soon they get them back for practice/warm-up before Final.
3:20 pm EST (Waggish) – Final Orlando def DC (3-2) – DC Kawamotos def Bright/Rohrabacher 21-16. That’s a good win for them against aggressive players.
DC Newman/Alshon def Navratil/Daescu 21-12. Newman left, Daescu left. Wow, Alshon and Newman really showing up and covering that court. They are well in sync in how they see the court play. Zane switched to left which helped their aggression. See rally at 17-10.
Orlando Bright/Daescu def Jackie K/Alshon 24-22. Tied at 16. Squeeze doing a good job with speed-ups getting them a lead. They focused some plays on Christian and neutralized him with body shots. Some long balls from Christian get Orlando the win. Jackie’s play was impressive with how she covered when Alshon was unable to get to the ball.
Orlando Rohrabacher/Navratil def Jade/Newman 22-20. Jade can’t respond to the direct attacks. DC settle in and manage tie at 20. Jade looked tight most of the game and had some high balls that Orlando was ready to whack into the court’s foundation.
Dreambreaker: Daescu (2) v Alshon, Zane (4) v Riley, Anna (3) v Jackie, Rachel (2) v Jade. 11-5 end of round 1. Daescu (1) v Alshon, Zane (2) v Riley, Anna (4) v Jackie, Rachel (3) v Jade. 21-10 Orlando wins! Well played by them.
5:11 pm EST – What a damn final of MLP. Orlando looked left for dead down two gender doubles matches and the prospect of their #2 mixed team playing Riley/Jade. Riley no clutch gene? It’s another instance of one of best players in pickleball not coming through. That’s said somewhat in jest, but it’s fascinating that he couldn’t get it done. DC put together a really good team and we might have them as the favorites for the next event. They just couldn’t close the deal today. On the other hand, Orlando may only get better. Rachel Rohrabacher is going to improve and it’s scary how good she is already. Zane and Andrei were underrated as men’s players and have done enough to warrant those spots they were selected at. Anna Bright was our MVP pick and anchored this team. Not to mention getting the Squeeze to trade down from #3 to #5 and taking the risk on Rohrabacher with the 4th round selection. Really fun weekend.
Saturday, September 23rd – Premier RR and QF, Challenger Finals
12:30 pm EST – Orlando def. Bay Area (3-1) – In a battle for first place, Orlando comes out of top and goes 3-0. The biggest winners from this have to be Anna Bright and Zane Navratil. Bright for picking Rachel Rohrabacher and Navratil for proving a few ridiculous people that he’s not a Challenger player. Rafa Hewett and Lea Jansen are 0-3 in mixed and that has to be rectified if they want to make any noise in the playoffs.
Texas def. Atlanta (3-1) – Parris Todd was essentially bragging on the Inside MLP podcast that the GM listened to her to take Simone versus the other people in the room wanting to draft other players. It does not work out in event 1 as Atlanta goes 3-0, proving all the haters right. They get the women’s match but nothing more. Rettenmaier/Johnson close the deal (25-23) to get the meaningless win as Travis is 5-1 on the tournament. Something to monitor is that Jorja Johnson loses in women’s doubles once again.
Miami def. Columbus (3-1) – Miami is off to the playoffs as Columbus needed a replacement for another illness as Tina Pisnik slotted in for Dizon. Allison Harris got her first win in women’s doubles. Collin Johns loses in men’s with JW to Tyson/Federico and that’s a 1-2 weekend for those two. It’s hard to say when you don’t have your top female pick, but Miami has to be feeling good with a playoff appearance after picking up Allison Harris.
2:00 pm EST – Dallas def. Utah (3-1) – There’s the Dallas we thought could be in the mix. Jay Devilliers making the small sample size over the hill remark possibly look a little silly as he wins both his games. Ignatowich/Jones lose the only game for Dallas to Wilson and Irina. Kyle Yates loses both his matches, including an ALW partnership, but ultimately this match doesn’t matter as the teams had no shot on game differential. That means both Utah and Dallas are out.
Chicago def. DC (3-2) – Dreambreakers are volatile. We’ll say it a million times. Ben is 6-0 on the day, steps up in the Dreambreaker and the Kawamoto’s Dreambreaker luck runs out. This is the danger of playing for a Dreambreaker. You can talk about flawed roster construction all you want but Ben has two players he can win with. He has only gotten help in one other match but this bad Dreambreaker team on paper is 1-1. Slice should take first place in the group on head to head, but we can’t remember how this works. It should be head to head.
Brooklyn def. Arizona (3-2) – This match didn’t have any consequence for playoff implications other than seeding. Arizona should still be the top seed in its group due to head to head over Miami. Brooklyn gets a win despite having Tardio fill in for Patriquin again. It’s cool to see how emotional Brooklyn was in its win despite the result not mattering for anything. Dekel Bar and Vivian Glozman has not been a successful partnership so far. Keep an eye out for that in the playoffs.
4:15 pm EST – SoCal def. Las Vegas (3-2) – A really fun Challenger final with the Hard Eights coming out on top in a Dreambreaker. The women of SoCal haven’t been quite as dominant as expected but the men have been significantly better than anticipated. CJ/Ewa lost their mixed to Barr/Smith, but Fought/Yana barely scraped out their match to go to a Dreambreaker. Man, does Yates Johnson make a lot of errors. The Hard Eighths are a strong Dreambreaker team with their women and they got it done. CJ Klinger got our MVP vote and he wins MVP.
6:30 pm EST (Waggish) – QF #1 Arizona def Bay Area (3-2) – MD AZ Arnold/Bar vs Bay Area Garnett/Hewett. Neither of the men teams dominated so it was a close match with frequent ties. Arnold played left. Near the end, Garnett lost some speed-up battles and AZ win 21-18.
WD AZ David/Glozman vs BA Jansen/Wright. Lots of shadows on the court. The middle has been a problem for Jansen/Wright in first half allowing David/Glozman to lead 11-7 at the end-change. The other side seems to help Jansen/Wright along with some UE from Glozman and they tie at 13. Once the score got to 20-20, it was Glozman’s errors that gave the win to Jansen/Wright 24-22. So 1-1 going into mixed.
MXD AZ Glozman/Bar vs BA Jansen/Hewett. Neither of these teams have good mixed results, both are 0-3! Jansen/Hewett had a good lead but Glozman/Bar chipped away at it until a tie at 16. Bar had to step up his aggression because Hewett was killing him. Glozman never ready for how fast the ball comes back. Jansen/Hewett win 21-18.
MXD AZ David/Arnold vs BA Wright/Garnett. Both teams went 2-1 yesterday but based on their wins, you’d expect David/Arnold to be the stronger team. Wright/Garnett held up very well and showed they were a strong contender at the tie at 20. Watch Garnett at 21-20 to tie it. He almost had to knock Wright’s BH out of the way to win the point. The other partner shouldn’t be interfering when the partner is working the point. AZ wins 25-23 to make it 2-2.
Dreambreaker: Julian v Connor, Dekel v Rafa, Glozman v Wright, David v Lea. At end of round 1, it is 9-7 AZ. At end of round 2, AZ have taken a substantial lead at 19-13. Dekel played his points well. Lea way under-performed. AZ win 21-14. They’ll play their SF at either 8 or 10 EST – TBD.
3:05 am EST – Ben Johns does not get it done. Lange/Schneemann had a match point that Lacy dumped into the net off a drive. They aren’t a Dreambreaker team at all and there’s only so many times you can overcome the roster they have for a Dreambreaker. It will be Miami moving on and an impressive semifinal for a team that needed a fill in player. Anything more is 100% gravy.
Arizona is a team we were wrong about. Dekel and Glozman have been terrible in mixed together but, outside of that, the team has been tough. Their men have been really strong and Julian is playing like a worthy first round selection. Bay Area has to be disappointed but they had a solid run overall.
Friday, September 22nd – Premier Round Robin and Challenger Playoffs
12:10 pm EST – Miami def. Brooklyn (3-2) – The drama is damn real at MLP! Tyler vs. Tyson after all their podcast beef (which is so 2023) and a lot of emotion after Loong/Parenteau finally got the best of Harris/McGuffin (26-24) to push it to a Dreambreaker. Loong gave the crowd the McGuffin “can you hear me?” sign after winning. Of course, they get matched up in the Dreambreaker with Tyson going 4 straight against Tyler to start and it was off to the races from there. Tyson took 7 of 8 from Tyler overall. Allison Harris, despite 2 losses, looked very strong as an undrafted Premier player. High stakes and was oh so close to 2 wins, and she came up big in the Dreambreaker. This first match was not the best look from this Brooklyn team as they barely clawed their way to a Dreambreaker.
Orlando def. Texas (3-1) – The Squeeze starting off the day right. 2 wins from Rachel Rohrabacher in her first go at MLP and 2 losses for Lauren Stratman following her almost holdout. Jorja Johnson continues to struggle in women’s and play well in mixed, getting another W with Travis Rettenmaier after being down 20-15. Travis Rettenmaier also continues to struggle in men’s to get wins. Squeeze are solid all around and will be a tough out.
Arizona def. Columbus (3-2) – Tough loss for Columbus. They lose 21-18 in the first Premier Dreambreaker of the day (6th total so far). Collin Johns still can’t get wins in men’s doubles and Dekel Bar still struggles in mixed. Julian Arnold 2 wins and a strong Dreambreaker leading his team to victory. Not a good start for the all energy Columbus team.
Bay Area def. Atlanta (3-1) – One of, if not the, worst team on paper starts off with a loss. Atlanta got one win with Hunter/Parris over Lea/Rafa in mixed, and almost took the men’s match, but it ends with a 3-1 loss. Simone/Pablo losing 21-14 to Connor/Etta has to be tough as that is their #1 mixed team. We’ll see how Atlanta does the rest of the way here.
1:55 pm EST – New Jersey def. California (3-1) –This was not a complete surprise but the way it happened was. The 5’s men lost, but Tina Pisnik was unsuccessful in both of her matches. The women of the 5’s stepping up big here after getting through on the slightest of point differentials. Alix Truong tweeting out the 21-5 scoreline from yesterday with no commentary might not have been a good omen. California will have questions going forward and whether either of their men are to be replaced. The Alix Truong pick was the biggest miss of the draft considering Yana Newell was there for the taking. S
Seattle def. NYC (3-1) – The biggest issue for NYC appeared to be Sarah Ansboury. No delaminated paddle and her movement looks to be worse again. We may have overestimated her experience with how much a lot of these players are getting better. Ansboury lost both of her matches and NYC was only able to get the mixed match with Jaume/Braverman. Seattle is going to be a tough match-up again for the Hard Eights, who they lost to in group play. Seattle has two strong women and Pat Smith is a steady force.
2:10 pm EST – DC def. Utah (3-1) Group B (Waggish) – Kawamotos took on AL and Irina and won WD! AL playing with her new signature paddle and she may not be fully adjusted to it. Kawamotos even won some hand battles against AL. MD start was delayed because Koller and Newman forgot to get their paddle tested. We see cousins AJ and Thomas back together against first time partners Riley and Christian. Koller on fire and slipping some balls past Riley. A tie at 9 shows how close this game is! Christian’s Erne at 13-11 was sorta a quick flick shot. He is playing the right side well. Coach Kyle very active at time-outs sharing what he is seeing on the court. Koller started stacking and he’s on the left which has won them some points. But DC win their 2nd match. Jackie and Christian vs AL and AJ tight game with tie at 14. Nail biter finish goes to Utah 23-21. Irina and Thomas vs Jade and Riley. Jade is impressively stepping up to this high pressure match! Riley celebrates hitting Thomas when he’s down (tripped). Irina doing a great job returning the bullets being fired at her from Riley. Thomas and Irina could have won this with a lesser MXD male than Riley. But Riley’s MXD skills really stood out.
3:25 pm EST – Arizona def. Miami (3-1) Group C (Waggish) – Staksrud/McGuffin looked weak against Bar/Arnold. Staksrud played left which he got comfortable playing with left-hander Tellez. McGuffin hasn’t played right in a while with his ex-partner Ignatowich (Cincinnati was their last time together). WD AZ Glozman/David vs Miami Black/Harris. David is the veteran player and you can expect her to help coach Glozman along. Black can’t do the same for Harris it looks like. AZ women take a decisive victory 21-12. Staksrud/Black vs Glozman/Bar. Finally, Miami gets a win with the solid play by Staksrud/Black 21-12. David/Arnold vs Harris/McGuffin. McGuffin covers the middle and Vivienne says okay I’ll just go down the line. 21-10 for AZ. McGuffin was so dominant that Harris never got into any kind of rhythm.
Chicago def. Dallas (3-1) Group B (Waggish) – Jay and Callie won their mixed against Erik and Lacy 23-21. The WD was close at 24-22.
3:40 pm EST Bay Area def. Texas (3-2) Group A (Waggish) – Lea/Etta win their match against Jorja/Lauren in a close 21-18 finish. Garnett/Hewett vs Dylan/Travis. Dylan in his right side role. Travis has been promoting himself to play right with Riley. He is okay on the left but I’ve seen more power from Dylan. But they win in a close 21-19 finish. So 1-1 going into mixed. Dylan/Lauren vs Connor/Etta. I expected Dylan would pair with Jorja as he should be very comfortable with her style of play. But Travis played with her on the Smash so they must want to stay partners. Dylan/Lauren came up short on their weapons. I’m not even sure they had a speed-up. Bar Area easily take this one 21-12. Lea/Rafa vs Jorja/Travis goes to Texas 21-16. Dreambreaker! Dylan v Connor and Travis v Rafa. Jorja v Etta and Lauren v Lea. Bay Area had the winning formula 21-12.
4:00 pm EST Orlando def. Atlanta (4-0) Group A (Waggish) – Jardim/Tellez vs Rohrabacher/Navratil was a fierce battle with constant ties including 20-20. Eventually, Orlando make it a clean sweep 26-24.
6:07 pm EST – Las Vegas def. New Jersey (3-2) Two Challenger semis, two Dreambreakers. This one was oh so close to going the other way. Susannah Barr/Spencer Smith barley pulled it out over Stefan/Shelby (27-25) and that gave their team room to breath as they lost the next mixed match en route to a Dreambreaker. Someimtes maybe there is only so much luck that can go your way if you are the 5’s. You get to the playoffs on point differential of less than 0.5% and it’s a heartbreaking 21-19 in the Dreambreaker.
SoCal def. Seattle (3-2) – Talk about a roller coaster. The women of the Hard Eights dropped another one and it wasn’t that close to Fudge/Padegimaite. The Hard Eights men have been better than expected, getting another win in very convincing fashion over Smith/Burrows. The turning point could have been the first mixed match where Newell/Fought had opportunities to close a big comeback down 20-16 against Lina/Pat Smith. However, Klinger/Ewa smoked Fudge/Burrows and the Dreambreaker was a ride. Fudge was thrown out there first for a second day in a row and gave CJ Klinger all he could handle. Pat Smith had an overhead late in the Dreambreaker that he sprayed long and that was really the difference. Fought had one match point and made it count as he needed to because Burrows was up against Yana next. Crazy match.
7:20 pm EST (Waggish) – DC def. Dallas (4-0) Group B – DC Kawamotos defeat Dallas Jones/Smith 21-13 with the steadiness for which they are known. DC Riley/Christian battle against James I. and Jay D. James started on the right but they switched it up to him on the left across from Alshon. Jay and James had good strategy to push Riley and Christian off the line and keep them back. Alshon did a beautiful ATP at 20-16. And they win it on their next serve 21-16. First mixed is DC Jackie and Alshon vs Dallas Jay and Callie. We see fast-paced action that is close at end-change 11-10. DC collects another win 21-16. Jade and Riley defeat Allyce and James I 21-14 for another sweep.
8:00 pm EST (Waggish) Utah def. Chicago (3-2) Group B Utah AL/Irina defeat Chicago Lacy/Jessie with their domination at the net 22-20. It got close after the freeze at 20 due to some errors by Irina. AL looked like she wanted to just push her off the court at one point. Chicago Johns/Lange vs Utah Koller/Wilson is close with frequent ties. Neither side is pulling away until 14-14. Then Johns/Lange clearly show they have the edge with attacks on Koller. It’s 1-1 with the Chicago MD win 21-17. First mixed is Jessie and Ben vs AL and Thomas. Thomas seemed to struggle. I didn’t detect any kind of game plan on his returns. Al tried to make something happen but Thomas couldn’t read her mind and wasn’t prepared. 21-8. Second mixed Koller/Irina vs Erik/Lacy. Lacy takes a BH OH at 10-7. I totally don’t understand why Erik wouldn’t have taken a step over and take that OH with his FH. Koller played well and they win 21-14 to tie it. Dreambreaker line-up: Ben v Thomas, Lacy v AL, Erik v AJ, Jessie v Irina. It is Utah 12-4 when 2nd round begins. At 3rd round, 20-12. Thomas just has to get one point off Ben on his serve. Now it’s up to AL. She does it 21-16. Kyle Yates will step in for Koller on Saturday.
11:30 pm EST – MLP is really like no other. Lots of fire. Tyson vs. Tyler. Ben vs. Anna Leigh. Big thing from today is that it appears Ben’s flawed roster construction may be real. This is an average women’s team and a below average second mixed team. Ben went 4-0 but they had to go to a Dreambreaker against Utah where it was lights out. Jessie Irvine is unplayable in Dreambreakers. Anna Leigh was not dominant again today. 2-2 and she was big mad after losing to Ben in mixed.
DC looks like the best team out there through 2 games. They might have the best women’s team and they have plus men’s and mixed pairings all around. Rachel Rohrabacher and Tyra Black showed out extremely well on day 1. Risk it for the biscuit and those risks are currently paying dividends. Last thing to mention on the positives are the AZ Drive who looked very strong today. Julian Arnold showing as a first round pick and no issues with the drama of whether he would show up.
4 teams at 0-2. Atlanta is who we thought they would be. Dallas stuck in the group of death so who knows but they haven’t looked like a top team. Jay Devilliers could just be over the hill. Brooklyn a surprise 0-2, but it hurts not having a healthy Patriquin, who sat out the 2nd match due to illness. Texas looked like a middling team at best and going 0-2 is not shocking.
Thursday, September 21st – Challenger Round Robin
11:05 am EST – New York def. Milwaukee (3-1) – All the matches were close, as to be expected most of the time with this no freeze rally scoring, but our expected team prevails here. Jillian Braverman wins both of her matches and NYC was able to steal a men’s match, 26-24, that they probably shouldn’t have won. We’re going to see some funky high scores this weekend as teams trade side outs on match points kind of like a tiebreaker can be in tennis. Honestly, Jaume Martinez Vich’s doubles game doesn’t really look ready for primetime but it is going to be masked to a degree by playing with two veterans, Braverman and Yates. The DJ Young experience in Challenger is 0-2 so far and he looked a bit defeated during some of his mixed match.
New Jersey def. Frisco (3-2) – Our first Dreambreaker of the weekend! Frisco was actually able to get both the gender matches here, but the strength of this 5’s team is its mixed because of the strong men. Cincola plays a sneaky strong mixed and Auvergne is a Challenger beast. Neither of these teams are really built for a Dreambreaker so this one could have gone either way. New Jersey is 1-0 and the poor Pandas without a win.
1:18 am EST – Las Vegas def. Florida (3-1) – This one really should have been 4-0. Susannah Barr and Spencer Smith were up huge on Long/Esquivel, and the rally scoring format allowed them to come back to win 24-22. The only team that won a match were the two veteran players for Florida, but their inexperience is a problem with Schick and Schaefer. One match down but they were not close for the most part. Las Vegas is going to be a tough team in this Challenger division.
California def. Austin (3-1) – It was a 3-0 for BLQK before the 4th match was played and their only loss was Truong/Brown being beat by De La Rosa/Tammy Emmrich. BLQK’s men made a comeback in game 1 against Newell/De La Rosa and that was huge for them. Their men are the biggest question. Pisnik/Truong rolled as did Scarpa/Pisnik. It seems like Pisnik is just a different level than most of these women. Austin, on the other hand, is in trouble if their men don’t win. All of these comments are based on such a small sample size but, so far, things are playing out true to form.
So Cal def. Seattle (3-1) – The men of SoCal remain a question mark as that was their only loss in this matchup. However, their women are elite and that was the difference here. Lina Padegimaite and Megan Fudge being taken ahead of Yana Newell was a big mistake for Seattle and it comes back to bite them directly in this matchup. Fought being able to play with Newell creates a 1(a) and 1(b) mixed type of situation so if SoCal can get any production from their men, it could be a scary team. This is the 3rd MLP event in a row that SoCal has won their first match of the day, but the last two times they have failed to get out of pool play. Will today be different?
St. Louis def. Los Angeles (3-2) – Our 2nd dreambreaker out of 6 matches so far today. St. Louis’ women were the difference in the Dreambreaker. However, Jordan Kinney out here proving Lauren Stratman right and that he belongs. It really shows the depth of men in pickleball overall. Kinney lost in men’s but pulled out the win in mixed to get to a Dreambreaker. The big thing with Kinney is he seems to have strong hands. Still, it’s a got to be concerning for the Shock their #1 mixed team of Nunnery/Erokhina lose to Kinney/McMillan. St. Louis pulls it out and it’s going to be tough for LA to win with their singles situation not being great, which is why the Kinney pick remains baffling. Brooke Buckner did not look to be moving well in the Dreambreaker.
1:31 pm EST – Milwaukee def. New Jersey (3-1) – DJ Young coming in clutch in the last mixed match as the Mashers get a huge win over the 5’s. He came up with what had to be the most DJ Young experience shot that DJ Young could come up with for a winner. Go and watch it back if you missed it. The Mashers lost their first men’s match but were able to pull out the next 3 for the win. The Teoni/Gecheva spanking (21-14) of Bates/Auvergne was most surprising, and it does seem clear that Shelby Bates continues to be too inconsistent as a player. Both of these teams are now 1-1 and will have big matches to conclude pool play.
New York def. Frisco (3-1) – Poor Frisco. They just can’t get a win. Jillian Braverman goes 4-0 to start the day as she and Martinez Vich got the game clinching mixed W to finish off the match. Braverman has come close to losing with Ansboury in women’s both times, but she shouldn’t have fallen so far in Challenger. Oshiro/Mick got the lone win for Frisco in mixed after they decided to flip flop mixed partners. It is not over for Frisco necessarily but they have a huge uphill battle to climb along with needing some help to get 3 teams finishing at 1-2.
4:00 pm EST – Las Vegas def. Austin (3-1) – Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas is 2-0 to start the day and they will be heading off to the playoffs. But we had some fireworks with a little physical action off the court between Daniel De La Rosa. Watched it back and it appears some chirping was going on (there may have been a play that couldn’t be a challenge), and De La Rosa didn’t like the chirping from Smith. After the match was over between De La Rosa/Emmrich and Barr/Smith, De La Rosa went over to Smith, got in his face and appeared to give him a slight shove to knock him off balance (update: it looks like this was actually Smith’s girlfriend who gets in the mix and her arm to keep Spencer away put him off balance). Then Tammy Emmrich started having words with someone who appears to be Spencer Smith’s girlfriend. They eventually break up and you can hear on the stream someone saying “get your trash girlfriend out of here”, but it is unclear who says that. If someone can provide us the full context, that would be appreciated. Anyway, the only match LV lost was their men with De La Rosa/Newell taking down Yates Johnson/Spencer Smith. The weakest part of this LV team is their men so that’s okay for them. Austin is just not strong enough with their women. Milan Rane and Tammy Emmrich does not stack up all that well. Las Vegas will play California for first place later.
California def. Florida (3-1) – This group is going as expected. California had a bit of a scare after taking the first two gender doubles game but then having Pisnik/Scarpa losing to Michelle Esquivel/Brendon Long with Esquivel taking a page out of the Altaf Merchant school of dinking. However, Schaefer/Schick couldn’t get it done and we’ll have to expect Florida will be making a move for one of those two after this event. Their women got spanked by Truong/Pisnik.
Seattle def. Los Angeles (3-1) – Yes, Jordan Kinney has shown he’s not out of place but that doesn’t make the pick right. Mad Drops fall to 0-2 and will play for their life in their third match of the day. Kinney loses in men’s and mixed, Tardio wins his mixed match. Imagine this Mad Drops team with Pat Smith on it or even Callan Dawson.
SoCal def. St. Louis (3-1) – SoCal pulls this one out despite their women losing the first match. Klinger/Fought were barely able to get the win against Nunnery/Emmrich and Radzikowska/Klinger played a tight one against Nunnery/Erokhina as well. This team’s strength is still it’s women and if Klinger/Fought can pull out the odd win, this team is scary at Challenger. Fought and Klinger are both playing a strong mixed right now. The Hard Eights are now 2-0 and will have a matchup with the 0-2 Mad Drops to lock-in a bye.
5:49 pm EST – Milwaukee def. Frisco (3-2) – Poor, poor Frisco. Frisco and Milwaukee. Heartbreak in the third Dreambreaker we have seen today. They were down 2-0 after the gender doubles matches, won their mixed matches to tie it up, were tied 16 all in the Dreambreaker with Ryler returning DJ’s serve, but they couldn’t close the door. Not a completely unexpected 0-3 for Frisco, but it was close to being a better day. Milwaukee goes 2-1 on the day after losing to NYC in their first match. DJ Young has not been a dominant Challenger player so far, but they have done just enough to win a couple of matches. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, they are not going to make it through on a tiny point differential percentage difference of less than 0.5%. 3 teams at 2-1 in Group A and they were tied with the 5’s in game differential, which means it comes down to points won percentage. Brutal.
New Jersey def. New York (3-1) – Big turnaround from the 5’s after an early loss. They win their women’s match handily, lose the men’s, and then win both mixed matches. Alli Phillips and Shelby Bates both stepped up in a big way, and they had to win this without heading to a Dreambreaker to make it through. They end up 2nd in the group with NYC in 1st. The pool play of only 3 games is such a small sample size and really doesn’t give enough margin for these teams to show what they can do. At the same time, the drama is what we love about MLP and literally every point matters in these rally scoring games. Heartbreaking for Milwaukee. Elation for the 5’s.
Las Vegas def. California (3-2) – Tina Pisnik/Alix Truong tuning up Barr/Truong (21-10) is very notable, but it wasn’t enough for California. Las Vegas goes 3-0 as they win in Dreambreaker #4 on the day.. Pisnik/Truong have been a dominant women’s team so far, but Las Vegas overall has such a solid team. Having two women that can be really solid in mixed makes such a difference in these matches. It has been all chalk from what we expected with who is advancing from the groups so far.
Austin def. Florida (3-1) – In a battle of teams fighting to not be 0-3, Austin gets the win. Florida actually won a women’s match, which is not a great sign for the Rane/Emmrich pairing, but they go on to lose the next 3 matches. Schaefer and Schick aren’t ready. These two teams both are not making the playoffs.
6:50 pm EST – SoCal def. Los Angeles (4-0) – Big day for the Hard Eights as their men go 2-1, which makes beating them a scary proposition. Fought has proved up to the task in both men’s and mixed. For Los Angeles, they are in a terrible spot. They have a pregnant Brooke Buckner who is going to miss the 2nd event and they have a 2nd male in Jordan Kinney who shouldn’t be in Challenger, even if he is a very capable pickleball player. Gabe Tardio wasn’t enough to overcome what this team built.
Seattle def. St. Louis (3-2) – Dreambreaker #5 to wrap up the day goes to ***. Seattle throwing out Megan Fudge out there first against Nunnery. She went 6-2 overall, Pat Smith went 6-2 against Martin Emmrich and that was all she wrote for St. Louis. It may be dangerous to trust the YouTube comments but Rob Nunnery apparently has a 1-12 mixed record at MLP in 2023 as he couldn’t get it done with Judit Castillo in this match either. Nunnery’s APP mixed results have not been good overall in 2023 and he went 1-5 today as the #1 overall pick in Challenger. This is a partner game but St. Louis has to be looking for more from its #1 overall pick.
That’s it for the day. It was a fun day but rather predictable for an MLP event from day 1. No one appears to be extremely dominant in Challenger like we had last season with the Breakers. We’ll see with the playoffs tomorrow. The Hard Eights and Night Owls both have byes. Premier starts tomorrow!