The PPA and MLP kicked off the Dallas two week pickle-palooza with an announcement of a jointly released 2024 schedule. There will be a combination of PPA only, MLP only and joint PPA and MLP events. With things around the merger in flux, you have to treat this as a good sign for things moving forward. There will be 34 separate events during the year, which is a lot of pickleball when you consider that there will be APP events on the side. As expected, there won’t be a Premier/Challenger distinction in MLP.
There will be 24 teams split into 6 divisions of 4 teams each and teams will play 40 matches over the course of the regular season, facing every team at least once. Division opponents will play each other 3 or 4 times and in their “rival division 2 or 3 times, which really seems like it could create some easier and more difficult paths for teams depending on how it shakes out. There will two weeks of MLP playoffs following the conclusion of the regular season along with a mid-season championship.
It remains weird that the PPA and MLP are going to be operating under two distinct brands despite being under one roof for 2024. Hopefully this is a sign of stability to come. In the meantime, we have some MLP action this weekend and we’ll do our best to keep up with the action as much as we can.
Sunday, November 5th – Premier Semis and Final
2:00 pm EST – DC def. Brooklyn (3-0) – A couple of lackluster semi final matches. Some good points within them but DC was just better than Brooklyn. Jackie and Christian forming a kind of number 1 mixed team is so huge for DC. Brooklyn had a good event but not enough juice for the DV squad.
Orlando def. Chicago (3-0) – Without backdraws we don’t see it much anymore, but we got to see the return of mopey Ben, who moped his way through men’s and mixed. He lost the men’s going 1-4 on the weekend there and then he and Jessie lost mixed in a lackluster effort. Maybe the only downside to Ben Johns. Orlando rematch against DC. Big credit to Orlando for repeating. You have to see it as basically a coin flip.
3:35 pm EST – DC def. Orlando (3-0) – All 3-0 matches today but this was a really fun 3-0. The gender doubles was controlled by DC with a lot of good points. Riley stepped up big and, despite his lack of finishing power, secured the mixed match against Orlando’s number 1 squad. That mixed match could have gone either way and there could have been big questions about DC’s strategy to match number 1 mixed teams after winning 2-0 in the gender doubles yet again. DC showing they are probably the best MLP team out there this year in Premier. We had Jackie Kawamoto as MVP with Riley Newman 2nd, but all 4 players were fantastic this weekend. Alshon was in consideration.
Saturday, November 4th – Premier Group/Quarters and Challenger Finals
12:48 pm EST – Orlando def. Arizona (4-0) – Orlando is a wagon. All aboard. Their men smoked what has been the best men’s team in MLP and it was curtains from there losing both gender matches. AZ looks like they will be out in this somewhat muted group of death. Three 1-2 teams with Arnold/David losing to Lange/Schneemann looming large.
Texas def. Chicago (3-1) – You know, if Ben could just win a men’s match this Chicago team might have a chance at some point. Ben hasn’t won a men’s match this event and this team is just a bad Dreambreaker team. Ben barely pulled out his mixed match as well. Texas wins another meaningless match essentially for another disappointing event.
DC def. Bay Area (3-2) – Dreambreaker madness. Tough to lose this one for Bay Area when Susannah Barr won both her games and she split even in the Dreambreaker that went 21-19. Bay Area still would have needed help from Atlanta, but it still hurts. DC has not looked like the best team through group play. That billing goes to the defending champs, Orlando.
2:17 pm EST – Miami def. ALW (4-0) – Miami is through but not without some choice words from Federico Staksrud to ALW after winning a hand battle up 10 points in the match deciding game. He got the first orange card, Miami lost the point and won the match. ALW is out of the playoffs yet again as Utah’s men have not gotten it done.
Brooklyn def. Dallas (3-1) – Huge playoff run for Brooklyn. Tyler and Catherine have looked great as the Aces won both mixed matches. Dallas with another disappointing event. They lost both mixed matches and it is definitely less of a surprise at this point.
Columbus def. Atlanta (3-1) – Columbus is in the playoffs with Megan Fudge in the softest group of Premier to date. They just got the women’s match and then rolled from there. Atlanta continues its winless streak. Tough times.
3:52 pm EST – SoCal def. Frisco (3-2) – They needed another Dreambreaker to go back to back, but the Hard Eights got it done. The MVP was going to come down to this match for us and CJ Klinger was the one who got it done getting both his games in this matchup. Frisco had an awesome event and Oshiro would have been our MVP had the Breaker gone the other way with Andre as a 1(b). Todd Fought was our 1(b) for the Hard Eights MVP.
6:53 pm EST – Brooklyn def. Columbus (3–2) – Brooklyn has really showed out this tournament. Loong and Parenteau are undefeated and both stepped up in the tight as all hell Dreambreaker (24-22). Weird stuff with Dizon getting hit in the head late in the deciding mixed match, finishing the match, then maybe being subbed out and then not subbed out. Hopefully she didn’t play through a concussion, especially with all the concussion stuff she has dealt with this year. Megan Fudge stepped up big time as well. She and Collin actually won a mixed match and she held her own against Loong in the Dreambreaker.
9:40 pm EST – Chicago def. Miami (3-0) – After a sleepy first little bit of the men’s match, Ben finally showed up this weekend in full force and took over that match. Following a women’s win where Irvine veteran’d Tyra to death cross court, Ben finally gets a men’s win and handily beat Miami’s #1 mixed team with Irvine. The Slice have to be underdogs against the Squeeze, but they finally put it together for a full match this weekend.
Friday, November 3rd – Premier Group and Challenger Playoffs
1:15 pm EST – Bay Area def. Atlanta (3-1) – Some of the most wholesome moments come from MLP. Susannah Bar replaced Etta Wright and she was able to clinch the game to win the match with Rafa Hewett in an epic mixed match against Parris/Hunter. They won 29-27, Rafa picked up Susannah and then started his round ‘em up all around the court. It’s so cool to see and obviously gut wrenching for Atlanta on the other side of things. This group is a mess with Maggie Brascia out for Columbus and this win should make Bay Area the frontrunner for the 2nd playoff position.
Chicago def. Arizona (3-1) – A 3-1 win but not in the way you would have expected it. The law of averages had everything going for Chicago as their women won, men lost and Erik/Lacy clinched the game to win the match against Arnold/David. Who would have thought? It’s very funny seeing how much more emotional Erik Lange is than Ben Johns
Orlando def. Texas (3-1) – Orlando went up 3-0 and lost the last one with each team’s #2 mixed teams. Travis/Dylan had a couple of opportunities at match point but couldn’t seal the deal. Orlando continues to the train rolling and we’ll have to see if Texas can put it all together at any point.
DC def. Columbus (3-1) – Another last minute substitution this morning with Maggie Brascia out and Megan Fudge in. Big loss for Columbus, but they had chances in this one with their men losing a close one to Newman/Alshon. They were down 3-0 with Dizon/JW getting the somewhat meaningless final win against Newman/Jade Kawamoto. DC also continues their good run.
3:00 pm EST – Miami def. Brooklyn (4-0) – Not a good start for Brooklyn. The insertion of Mary Brascia was a difference maker in this first game as Miami took it to Brooklyn. 21-14 in both gender matchups and 21-17 for Tyson/Mary against Andrea/Hayden. The women dominating is the most notable result and pretty good stuff to see from Miami.
Utah def. Dallas (3-2) – First Dreambreaker of the Premier division. Brutal loss for Dallas. They had a match point in the final mixed match of Jay/Callie vs. AJ/ALW, and Callie crossed the plain when she showed an Erne attempt but didn’t touch the ball. Who knows if Dallas wins that point, but losing the opportunity when you’re established at the kitchen has to suck. Utah dominates the Dreambreaker and Dallas loses, with ALW winning both of her matches. The margins are so thin.
LA def. California (3-1) – We wrote in this space yesterday wondering if the Mad Drops weren’t the #2 team in MLP and they get a huge win against BLQK. Gabe Tardio wins both his matches and Andreas Siljestrom is so weird to play against in mixed. He and Gaytan-Leach ended up being BLQK’s number 1 mixed team of Pisnik/Scarpa to clinch the match. The Mad Drops versus the Hard Eights could end up being the de facto championship match.
Frisco def. NYC (3-2) – Just the 2nd Challenger Dreambreaker at this event goes the way of Frisco. From zero wins to a semi-final appearance for Frisco. NYC’s women losing to Frisco’s women was the big turning point as Oshiro/Mick have gotten it done together as a pair and that allowed them to get it to a Dreambreaker where anything goes. Frisco will play St. Louis to go to the final.
4:15 pm EST – Arizona def. Texas (3-1) – The struggles continue for Texas. Their women were up 18-14 and ended up losing yet again while their men handed Dekel/Julian their first MLP loss (21-12). Texas couldn’t get a mixed win and it was not even close. The vibes can’t be good over there for Texas.
Columbus def. Bay Area (4-0) – This group stays messy. Columbus pulls it out over Bay Area and that 4-0 win could be a factor in game differential. Two close gender wins and one not close match with the #1 mixed teams puts both these teams at 1-1 heading into tomorrow. Bay Area is in a very tough spot having to play DC.
DC def. Atlanta (3-1) – Atlanta’s men get one win but they just aren’t getting enough from their entire team. The mixed pairings for DC are so strong they can overcome a gender loss. DC will be in line for a shot at a bye tomorrow.
Orlando def. Chicago (3-2) – It is a topsy turvy world where Chicago is still playing Dreambreakers but they are the result of Ben Johns losing men’s matches and Erik Lange winning mixed matches. Chicago is one of the weaker Dreambreaker teams we have seen put out there and it showed itself against Orlando once again. Orlando is 2-0 and the Slice will be playing for their life tomorrow against Texas.
6:25 pm EST – SoCal def. Los Angeles (3-1) – We officially have a wagon. Two straight finals for SoCal. The big difference is that their men were able to beat Tardio/Siljestrom. Gaytan-Leach has filled in adequately but she is the weak point for this Mad Drops team. The loss allowed the Hard Eights to get their #1 mixed team matched up against the Mad Drops #2, and they closed the door. Hard Eights will definitely be the favorites going into the final against Frisco tomorrow.
Frisco def. St. Louis (3-1) – We didn’t see this one coming, but we also thought Frisco looked better than their 0-3 performance in Atlanta. Castillo/Erokhina remain undefeated but DeHeart/Frantova getting a win against the Shock’s 1(a) mixed team of Erokhina/Emmrich proved to be the difference maker. Oshiro/Mick are undefeated in Dallas so far. Frisco wins the rematch and are off to the finals where they should feel like they have nothing to lose.
8:35 pm EST – Dallas def. Miami (4-0) – This group is fully up for grabs with all teams at 1-1. Dallas poured it on and their women getting one changed the whole dynamic of this matchup. Dallas had the best day in the group with a 3 game differential lead, but it will simply come down to whether they can beat Brooklyn tomorrow.
Brooklyn def. Utah (3-2) – This has to be considered a surprise. Brooklyn’s men finally got it going and Loong/Parenteau handled ALW/Thomas with ease as Utah switched their mixed pairings from earlier in the day. ALW took 6 of 9 from Loong in the Dreambreaker, but Loong won the deciding point and they needed more from everyone to overcome Wilson losing 11 of 12 to Patriquin as the lead off hitter in the Dreambreaker. Utah vs. Miami for a win and they are in tomorrow.
Thursday, November 2nd – Challenger
12:30 pm EST – Frisco def. Florida (3-1) – First win for Frisco! They got the first 3 matchups over Florida, who appear to be the worst team in Challenger after the Mad Drops have revamped. Both gender matches were close, but they ended up going the way of Frisco. The Pandas were then able to put their #1 mixed team of Oshiro/Mick out against the Florida #2 mixed team of Schick/Humberg, and controlled the match from start to finish. An historic day to be a Frisco Pandas fan.
St. Louis def. New Jersey (4-0) – St. Louis was really close to a much better event in Atlanta and maybe their luck is turning around. A close men’s match goes their way and their women continued their run after a close match of their own. Emmrich/Erokhina being able to take another close one over the clear #1 mixed team of the 5’s sealed the deal as they Shock get off to a good start. Those shadows are brutal on center court. Rob Nunnery gets the mixed win with Castillo in the final game too!
2:15 pm EST – NYC def. Las Vegas (4-0) – Huge win to start off the day for NYC. Their women Grambeau/Braverman tuned up Barr/Ackerman and the rest of the matches were all close, but went the way of NYC. The Grambeau switch pays dividends for the first match and it felt like this could be a Championship team if Grambeau can just bring a solid level.
LA def. Milwaukee (3-1) – The revamped Mad drops not surprisingly take the W over Milwaukee. Cierra Gayten-Leach got a big win in women’s and should at least be able to hold up after a big chunk of time off. Tardio/Harris pulled off the deciding mixed match against Young/Valdes and you just can’t go into that matchup against the Mad Drops down 2-0. Tardio/Harris might be the best mixed team in Challenger. Tardio/Siljestrom beating the legacy DJ/Callan team was notable too.
ATX def. Seattle (3-1) – What do we have here? An ATX win over Seattle. The men winning 27-25 over Querrey/Burrows had to be the difference, but they went into mixed 1-1 and neither team for Seattle could get a win. Tammy Emmrich has been playing better of late and that could be a difference maker for them in a very tough group.
SoCal def. California (3-1) – Tight matches all around here. Erik Pailet looked very strong for BLQK as he and Scarpa won their men’s match over Fought/Klinger. The difficulty with the Hard Eights is that if you split the gender, they are so strong in both mixed spots. Radzikowska/Klinger were down 11-8 to Scarpa/Pisnik and in no time at all it was 19-13 the other way. Scarpa was extra trigger happy in both games he played. Clearly an emphasis on being more aggressive for BLQK but it wasn’t enough.
4:00 pm EST – Florida def. New Jersey (4-0) – Maybe Florida isn’t the worst team in Challenger? They win 4-0 over New Jersey, who may not technically be out of it but two 4-0 losses makes it very hard to get the 1-2 pass to the playoffs even if they win their next matchup. New Jersey just hasn’t brought the level today.
St. Louis def. Frisco (3-1) – With the Florida win, St. Louis is in a very good spot. Win and they are in against Florida in their next match. Nunnery/Castillo lost their final mixed match when they were already up 3-0. Castillo/Erokhina continue their hot ways in women even if it seems a bit unsustainable. This team is dangerous if their men are going to win matches.
LA def. NYC (3-1) – If the Mad Drops are going to get wins from their women, they are super scary. Gaytan-Leach/Harris pulled it off after being down 10-2 to Braverman/Grambeau. Tardio is probably as close to a 2-0 guarantee as it has been at Challenger all year long with SIljestrom and Harris by his side. NYC will need to get their next one against Milwaukee. Also, is there a pro doubles pairing in the world that moves more awkwardly than Andreas Siljestrom and Cierra Gaytan-Leach?
Milwaukee def. Las Vegas (3-1) – Major trouble for Las Vegas. Milwaukee got their men’s match and secured both mixed matches to take the win. The one thing that we may not have taken into account of enough for this Las Vegas team is the volatility with Spencer Smith and Yates Johnson. Smith is what he is and Yates has so many peaks and valleys over the course of a match. When Riley Bohnert/Callan Dawson get mixed wins, Milwaukee is also dangerous.
5:20 pm EST – SoCal def. Seattle (3-1) – Another matchup of these teams, another Hard Eights victory. It was another one that could have been a different story. Seattle took the women’s match and their men were up 18-13, before dropping it 21-19. It was curtains from there. The Hard Eights mixed partnerships might be the best in Challenger and they took both matchups for a 3-1 victory. The Fought/Newell matchup looked closer than it was as they were up 20-11 and Seattle got 8 side outs to get to 20-19. SoCal has a matchup with Austin for a chance at another guaranteed semis appearance. Seattle will be playing for the lives against BLQK. The Seattle mixed partnerships are 0-4 so far.
California def. Austin (3-1) – Win a gender matchup and take the mixed matches. That’s the formula here as well. The BLQK women were gender victorious as Pailet/Scarpa continue to work through things. They have a win and potentially in matchup against Seattle. A loss could put them in a 3-way tie at 1-2.
Frisco def. New Jersey (3-1) – Frisco is into the playoffs. What a time to be alive. New Jersey looked defeated in this meaningless match for pride as none of the games were very close. We said Frisco should have won at least one match in Atlanta, and they do even better this time around with a surprise playoff appearance. 0-3 for New Jersey. Life comes at you fast in MLP.
St. Louis def. Florida (3-1) – Kind of crazy to think we haven’t seen a Dreambreaker in 14 matches so far today. The Shock women haven’t lost a game in two events and Erokhina/Emmrich made a late charge to secure the 3-0 win after they took both gender matches. It didn’t seem right that Rob Nunnery and Martin Emmrich would struggle to get wins in two straight events and they have yet to lose a game so far as well. Florida is out. With the way things have gone for them, they may really be hoping San Clemente is cancelled.
7:10 pm EST – Las Vegas def. Los Angeles (3-1) – None of the results mattered but it shows how tough this group is when Vegas is defeating the Mad Drops and they are out with a 1-2 record and -4 game differential. Barr/Smith beat Tardio/Harris for Tardio’s first loss. The loss for the Mad Drops mean they fall to 2nd place in the group on game differential behind the NYC Hustlers and do not get a bye to the semi-finals. The Mad Drops still might be the 2nd best team out there. 100% the group of death in Challenger.
NYC def. Milwaukee (3-2) – First and only Dreambreaker of the day goes to NYC. DJ Young won both of his matches but it was only good enough to get the 2-2 split. Milwaukee is not built at all for a Dreambreaker. NYC has looked fine but they have some flaws. It will be interesting to see how they do in the playoffs tomorrow.
California def. Seattle (4-0) – The Sam Querrey experiment fails. He goes 0-6 this event, albeit with some very close matches. The Erik Pailet add looks to be a mixed upgrade for BLQK so far, but they’ll need to get out of the quarter-finals to make it feel like it was worth their while.
SoCal def. Austin (3-1) – The Hard Eights haven’t been completely dominant as their women are 1-2 together. However, they are undefeated in mixed as Newell/Fought look stronger than last time around. ATX looked better at this event, but it wasn’t enough to get to the playoffs. SoCal will have a bye and are still the team to beat.