PPA Tour Arizona Grand Slam – Live Random Thoughts

It is the 2nd PPA event of the month from Arizona and it sure feels like tournaments are fully back into the swing of things. Tyson McGuffin is out for the second consecutive tournament with an injury and we don’t have JW Johnson or Dylan Frazier in the singles draw this go around. Sometime we have mentioned we will be monitoring this year is whether injuries become a more prevalent part of the sport. We’ll see how he heals but the timing of Tyson’s injury may have been very fortunate as it didn’t stop him from playing MLP, and he likely will be ready to go by the time the 2nd event rolls around at the end of March. Frazier and Johnson have played a ton of pickleball in the last 12 months so managing their bodies by avoiding singles from time to time seems like a prudent move. 

Standard schedule from the PPA this week. We’ll see if we can get some different results this go around.

Sunday, February 19th – Championship Sunday

11:00 pm EST – Chalk day but a better Sunday than recent ones because of the different matchups. You wonder if they continue to diminish singles further given the fan interest, grind on players and quality of matches. Not sure how they could do that but it’s so grueling for players. Fans will be officially relishing the AB/Newman vs. Waters/Ben matchup after today. It’s not something people probably want as a Johns vs Newman/Wright situation, but the first couple will be fascinating at the very least.

6:30 pm EST (Waggish) – WS: AL (5,5) goes 3 for 3 in 2023 against Lea, CP, Lea.

5:50 pm EST (Waggish) – MXD: What a match! Best MXD on Sunday in a long, long time. J&JW were aggressive in game 1. They lost some of that aggression when Bright and Newman changed the pace and dictated dinking in game 2. It was hard for JW to get involved. In game 3, JW took more dink balls off the inside (left) foot of his sister. And they got enough of their aggression back to pull ahead and eventually take game 3. Riley pulled his side ahead by taking advantage with a vengeance of every high ball to take it to a game 5. Riley was completely dialed in and put the ball where he wanted – frequently at Jorja’s body. Gold for Riley and Anna. 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4. 1 hour 40 minutes.

The maturity shown by Jorja in the pressure cooker of her first PPA match against the formidable team of Bright and Newman impressed this viewer. A match that deserves a second viewing. And JW may need to think about giving up singles and if he can play like this in MXD the following day.

3:53 pm EST (Waggish) – WD Gold: Game 2 7-5 line call controversy fired up Kawamoto/Irvine and they win game 2 after trailing 6-0 at beginning. AL/AB never scored another point in that game. AL came after them hard in game 3 and won it almost single-handedly. AB didn’t know where to be on the court with AL zoned into every ball. There were some opportunities but I’m not sure Jessie saw anything except AL. Game 4 had more side-outs and rallies than the score shows. AL continues her Gold winning streak in WD. 11-7, 7-11, 11-1, 11-3.

2:15 pm EST (Waggish) – MD Gold: Time for a new paddle for Riley. With the other 3 players on the court all using carbon fiber paddles, it was obvious how fast the ball was coming off Riley’s paddle. Many of his balls that went long or wide I thought would have been in with a newer paddle technology — when comparing with other like strokes of the players with carbon fiber. I’d really love to see what damage Riley could do with the CRBN X series. Also, Ben and Collin could predict the plays from Matt and Riley. They placed themselves well with the counter-attack. Unless Matt and Riley can come up with something new, Ben and Collin will continue to win. 11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 14-12.

12:40 pm EST (Waggish) – Devilliers may retire from singles after the whipping he just got from Staksrud (2,0). Staksrud was funny when he said the pro tour was just like highschool with the popular kids and the “others”.

Saturday, February 18th – Doubles

1:42 am EST – Jansen/Jones and JW/Dylan pick up bronzes. A story from 2023 has to be Smith/Kovalova and how Callie has suddenly been passed by her peers in the last 9 or 10 months. Lucy has been around a few years longer than Callie but Callie is supposed to be that left sider. Without a backhand in today’s game is detrimental at the top. They were lucky to get 4th. How about Jessie Irvine and Jackie Kawamoto though? That has to feel good for Irvine after some subpar partnerships to start the year and she has done some work on that one-handed backhand it would appear.

Some other really close matches. Chalk 1-2-3 for the men. Ben Johns has looked off all weekend but the Johns brothers are in another gold medal match. Dekel/AJ had a pretty successful first tourney together but they were very close to being ousted by Loong/Dawson in the quarters, so those margins can be so thin between good and bad. Look at Lea/Allyce who get a bronze but really should have been done in by Rettger/Bates.

11:18 pm EST (Waggish) – Irvine/Kawamoto go to Sunday! 11-1, 11-9 over Callie and Lucy. They targeted Callie’s backhand. After putting Lucy on the left in game 2, it helped them get a more even game. But Jesse and Jackie kept their teamwork going. Well done by them.

10:35 pm EST (Waggish) – Johns/Johns vs Koller/Bar. We find out that the shushing motion by Collin at the end of the QF was directed to his opponent Julian Arnold. I guess there was some trash talking in that match. Ben got frustrated with the early lead by Koller/Bar and hit the ball into the net. That must have released his frustration because they caught and passed Koller/Bar after that – until tied again at 7-7. Stayed close but Koller/Bar take game 1 12-10. Game 2: You think it is all but over at 9-5 for Johns. But on Koller/Bar’s server 2, they get to 9. Time-out from Johns and when they come back they clearly are determined. 11-9 for them. Game 3 for them also 11-4. Koller/Bar score still not corrected from the QF.

Bronze will be Koller/Bar vs Frazier/Johnson which should be a good match. Unlikely to be streamed. We still have the other women’s semi.

WD 5th place match: Tereschenko-Sheehan-Dizon are defeated by Parenteau-Johnson (6).

9:24 pm EST (Waggish) – Waters/Bright vs Jansen/Jones. In 5 games, AL/AB opponents got only 18 points off them. Then we get game 2 that had the hot action, the firefights and highlight rallies. Lots of energy on the court by all players. Their first loss 9-11. Jansen/Jones kept up the pressure with their aggressiveness but AL/AB were better prepared for it after game 2. And AL seemed to be on a personal mission to get to every ball if her partner could not. 11-3,9-11,11-4. Fantastic play by all players.

MD backdraw: Navratil/Hewett make a fantastic run in the backdraw taking down everyone to get to 5th place match. They win over Smith/Patriquin (6) and Staksrud/Tellez (10) to name the last 2. Arnold/Wilson get by Lange/Burrows (8) and Ignatowich/Auvergne (9). Ignatowich/Auvergne had a good win over Loong/Dawson (4). 5th place goes to Arnold/Wilson (12).

8:15 pm EST (Waggish) – MD Semi #1: Wright/Newman vs Frazier/Johnson. Both Dylan and JW have tremendous respect for Riley’s hands. This match shows why. Dylan was the target of numerous speed-up attacks by Riley that he couldn’t return or returned weakly. JW did better with Riley’s speed-ups but wasn’t targeted as much either. JW got caught by Wright a few times in the chest. He returned but it was a set-up play for Riley. 11-3, 11-6. Dylan and JW will improve by studying this match so next time between these teams will be the one to get excited about. They also need to realize that Riley and Matt will always try to sell the ball is in. Call it the way you see it.

7:30 pm EST (Waggish) – GS1 WD QF: Smith/Kovalova defeat David/Fudge: Another one that goes down to the wire with a tense game 3. 11-8, 9-11, 13-11. Instead of the normal fire-fights in WD, you saw patience with dinking at the NVZ.

WD QF: Irvine/Kawamoto (Jackie) defeat Parenteau/Johnson 7-11, 11-7, 11-8. Jorja wasn’t using any of her awesome power. She seemed to not want to attack or speed things up. Granted Irvine/Kawamoto didn’t give away many attackable balls. They face Smith/Kovalova in semi.

6:40 pm EST (Waggish) – Loong/Dawson vs Koller/Bar. Game 2 7-6 line call challenge by Koller/Bar. Ball was in. That gets Loong/Dawson to 8. Don Stanley was closely watching Dekel’s serve – I assume for a waist infraction or sideways serve. It took many tries at game point but eventually Loong/Dawson reach 11. Game 3: Tense rally at 5-5. Tense game 3 with teams tied many times. Lots of patience and picking your moment. Tied at 5, 8, 10 then from 10 until finally Koller/Bar get to 16 with that 2 point lead. 11-8, 8-11, 16-14. 90 minutes for 3 games – as long as some 5 game matches on Sunday! They face Johns in the semis. NOTE: Currently PT is showing the score at 14-12. Hopefully someone official notices and gets that corrected.

Devilliers/Young vs Frazier/Johnson. Frazier/Johnson get a sloppy win in game 1. They had trouble with their defense and counter-attacks. Game 2 they took an early lead and win. 12-10, 11-5. The face Wright/Newman in semis.

5:05 pm EST (Waggish) – Bates/Rettger vs Jansen/Jones. Bates/Rettger take game 1 11-2. It’s reversed on them in game 2 with Lea/Allyce 11-0. Just when you think game 1 win was an aberration, Bates/Rettger prove it was not in game 3. At 8-5-2 with Bates/Rettger ahead, Lea does an amazing ATP. But not so fast. Bates/Rettger claims her paddle hit the post. Unclear but seems like the call stood and they get to 9-5-2. At 10-10, both Bates and Rettger make service errors. Lea/Allyce win game and match 12-10.

4:40 pm EST (Waggish) – On GS1: Arnold/Wilson gave the Johns team a very respectable match. In game 2, after Johns reached 10, they staged a run and made it to 10 themselves. Johns 11-7, 12-10. At end of match, Collin made some kind of gesture which turns out was a shushing gesture – finger to lips. I guess the crowd was not a fan of Johns team and may have done some heckling.

3:50 pm EST (Waggish) – MD QF: Johns team vs Arnold/Wilson
QF: Loong/Dawson vs Koller/Bar. Loong/Dawson defeated Staksrud/Tellez 9-11,11-6,11-9.
Koller/Bar defeated Smith (Spencer)/Alshon 11-4,3-11,11-2.
QF: Wright/Newman def Smith (Patrick)/Patriquin in 2 (5,4)
QF: Devilliers/Young to play Frazier/Johnson. Frazier/Johnson game went to 3 against Ignatowich/Auvergne: 1-11, 11-6, 11-0.

9:05 am EST (Waggish) – We have 20 WD teams. Some teams to watch: Catherine Parenteau partners with Jorja Johnson. I believe that is a first time partnership. AB and AL are back together. Jessie Irvine pairs with Jackie Kawamoto. Vivienne David partners with Megan Fudge. The latter two teams will have to ramp up the fire power to get through any QF. And of course Lucy and Callie who haven’t yet found their footing in 2023.

Along with the stalwarts in MD, there are a few new pairings to watch. We get to see how Dekel Bar and AJ Koller perform. With their Texas practice and friendship, you’d expect them to have good court chemistry. It’ll be interesting to see if they stack or play it straight. Both prefer the left but Dekel got used to right with JW. They should easily make QF. No big threat stands in the way of Newman/Wright to semis.

Friday, February 17th – Mixed

10:40 pm EST (Waggish) – Backdraw: Jansen/Rettenmaier win 5th place after wins over Smith/Devilliers and Kawamoto/Navratil and finally Parenteau/Arnold. I assume Parenteau would have been playing with Tyson today if he wasn’t out injured.

David/Wilson moved from 5th place last tournament to 3rd place today with their Bronze win over Fudge-Bar 12-10,5-11,11-8.

9:34 pm EST – An interesting tidbit that was pointed out to us. 7 of the 8 semi-finalists today were not PPA contracted players in 2022. It speaks to the growth of the talent and how much more fun it is that we have best on best for the most part. Jorja looked so good head to head against Ben and she played very clean pickleball in the 2 games they won. Jorja is used to playing against a guy with better hands than Ben, who sadly did not give us Benny Backdraw today. Jorja can handle the heat and did so against Thomas Wilson as well, staying aggressive in both matches.

Anna/Riley steamrolled through their matches today. Sunday could be one of the more fun mixed matches for the PPA in a LONG time. The two guys out there with the best hands in pickleball.

Jansen/Rettenmaier had a very strong day and are playing for that 5th spot against Julian and Catherine- commendable no quit from those two. Big day from Fudge and Bar as well. Dekel can be so monstrous in mixed but we just don’t see it consistently enough. He’s such a tease.

9:12 pm EST (Waggish) – Semi #2: The Johnsons know how to benefit from their time-outs. There were down 1-7 and call a time-out. They staged a comeback for a respectable 9-11 game against David/Wilson. Johnsons were well warmed-up for game 2 and take it 11-5. By game 3, they are hot and tuned in. 11-3. Be fun to have new teams on Sunday. “Someone” questioned no Johnsons in the NML fantasy draft. No more streaming — no Bronze.

8:10 pm EST (Waggish) – David/Wilson win their QF to get to the semi against Johnsons. It was by no means easy as Travis and Lea put up a terrific fight. 6-11,11-8,11-7. I love Thomas’s attitude. When asked about the match against the Johnson’s, he said “it’ll be fun”. And he sincerely meant it as having fun with friends. He said they were good friends.

Semi #1: Bright/Newman vs Fudge-Bar: Newman playing out of his mind game 1. Bright stayed right in tune with him. Riley recognizing the ceiling on Bright was fortunate for both of them. Both games (2,2) but there were great rallies despite the score.

Backdraw: Stratman/Frazier pull out a close win against Irvine/Koller 16-15. Irvine/Koller made a good run in the back with wins against Dizon/Smith and Jones/Loong.

6:20 pm EST (Waggish) – Backdraw action: Kovalova has never seemed too interested in the back-draw. So maybe they were only going through the motions. But Kovalova sure looked slow in her match against Navratil/Kawamoto. I thought she might be in pain. 15-1. Navratil/Kawamoto win over AL/Ben also — because they withdrew. Smith/Devilliers eek out a win against Buckner/Deakin 16-14. Kawamoto (Jackie)/Ignatowich vs Parenteau/Arnold. After trailing the entire match, Parenteau/Arnold catch up to Kawamoto/Ignatowich after they flubbed their game point! And win 16-14.

QF: Fudge/Bar win over Wright/Hewett to face Bright/Newman in semi. 6-11, 11-2, 11-7.

5:30 pm EST (Waggish) – QF *HOT* action: Easy win for Bright/Newman over Stratman/Frazier 11-3, 11-5. Easy win for AL/Ben over Johnsons 11-4 in game 1. Game 2 went to Johnsons! 11-8. Jorja not afraid of getting into some hand battles with Ben. Game 3: Johnsons mixed it up a lot. They kept their cool and focus throughout. They didn’t get into any predictable pattern (that I saw). Jorja again went after Ben a few times. Johnsons focused on making the right shot/decision each time. And Johnsons UPSET win! Game 3 11-9. No triple crown for either Ben or AL this time. Remaining QF: Jansen/Rettenmaier vs David/Wilson. Fudge/Bar vs Wright/Hewett. It’ll be interesting if AL/Ben decide to go through the back-draw for at best 5th place. Bright/Newman must be breathing easy – don’t have to get through Kovalova/Wright today or AL/Ben on Sunday (if they win their semi).

4:15 pm EST (Waggish) -Koller/Irvine vs Rettenmaier/Jansen. I don’t think the Koller/Irvine partnership can last. They don’t seem to respect each other’s style of play. Though there were several times AJ tried to congratulate Jessie with a paddle tap and she wouldn’t even look at him. They had a solid lead in game 1 but let Travis and Lea creep in. In game 2, Travis got aggressive and targeted Koller as much as Jessie. In game 3, Koller/Irvine kept it close but too many high balls gave Travis the put-away. Dinking might have helped favor Koller/Irvine but Irvine seemed to be disinclined to get into a dinking war with Lea cross-court. Travis and Lea win 8-11, 11-2, 13-11. AJ has a great sense of humor so maybe some off-court time relaxed and joking will get them on the same page (assuming they are so inclined). AL/Ben ran into some trouble with Jackie and James in game 2. I missed most of it while watching GS1.

4:02 pm EST – As we know, these mixed draws are super deep and competitive. What this means is that other than the top teams, which could mean only AL/Ben right now but likely will include Bright/Newman, we could start to see more “upsets”. Look at the day so far. Parenteau/Arnold were beat by Jade Kawamoto/Zane Navratil – we wonder if Julian’s results are levelling off and he’s back to his old inconsistent self after MLP. Hewett/Wright then beat Kawamoto/Navratil in 3. Jansen/Rettenmaier beat Irvine/Koller, 13-11 in the third. Fudge/Bar took down Kovalova/Wright, 11-8 in the third – Dekel in mixed always a sure thing. We also had Stratman/Frazier beating Devilliers/Callie Smith, 12-10 in the third. It’s just a bunch of close matches that could go either way, that ended up going the way of the lower seeded team.

2:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Parenteau/Arnold vs Navratil/Kawamoto (Jade). Navratil/Kawamoto got run over by a fire truck named Andiamo in Game 2. Game 1 was close with game point opportunity by both teams. Navratil/Kawamoto won it first. Navratil’s court coverage and lateral movement was awesome. Kawamoto seemed to have trouble returning some of the power blasts from Julian. Game 2 they were deer in the headlights with the drives and speed-ups coming from Julian. Arnold may have been pressing a little too hard in game 3 and made some errors on NVZ shots. Navratil team got to 6 first for the side change. Arnold’s unforced errors kept coming at NVZ with the pace forced on him by Navratil/Kawamoto. It was hard to believe this was the same player we saw in game 2. Navratil/Kawamoto take it 12-10, 1-11, 11-5.

And for the love of pickleball, can we stop with that stupid split screen which means you can’t really see either game. So not 2 but 0 games to watch. Ugh!!

11:25 am EST (Waggish) – Mixed Day has the most contested matches. Always hard to know who will be extra strong for mixed. With all the withdrawals in singles yesterday, the men should be feeling fine. JW and Dylan will be extra rested. Margins are thin so a few little errors can add up quickly. And amazing shifts in momentum can take away a strong lead in minutes.

In the Waters/Johns half of the bracket, too close to call. You can’t expect the Johnsons to get past them in the QF but JW was impressive last time. I would predict David/Wilson in semi but they have to get past Jansen/Rettenmaier or Irvine/Koller first.

Bright/Newman looks like they could have an easier QF than AL/Ben. Of most interest is the kind of run Kovalova/Wright will make today. They won against Bright/Newman last time in 3 close games in the semi. But you can’t be surprised if Parenteau/Arnold make it to the semi’s instead.

Thursday, February 16th – Singles

1:30 am EST – A full day of singles with not many fans in the seats. It is cold in Arizona and apparently people aren’t wanting to freeze their butts off to watch some singles action. There were 2 big upsets today. The first was Ben Johns finally getting beaten in 2023 after Federico Staksrud got him 12-10 in the third game. This was Staksrud’s third shot against Ben this year and you know what they say. While we didn’t get Benny Backdraw today, it appeared we got Bored Benny. Johns gave up the first game in 3 of his 4 matches today, and the one match he didn’t give up game 1 he won 11-9 against Pablo Tellez. That is not the sign of someone who was focused and into it, and it finally caught up to him against Staksrud. The thing you wonder about Staksrud is whether, in his first full year of pro pickleball, the mental and physical fatigue caught up to him at the end of 2022. He is back to his consistent ways, not dropping matches to guys he’s supposed to beat and now finally getting an elusive win over Ben Johns. 

The other upset we saw was Mary Brascia taking down Catherine Parenteau in 3 games. Brascia has had what can only be described as bad run in singles in recent months. This was really out of nowhere for heras she ran through Lacy Scheneemann, took down Parenteau and went 3 games with Lea Jansen before losing a respectable 11-6, 13-11 bronze match to Salome Devidze. The consistency of Anna Leigh and Lea Jansen has been commendable this year, but Brascia’s 4th place is still the story of the day. 

Elsewhere in the draw, we had Jay Devilliers getting to a singles Championship Sunday as his consistent grind pays off. Devilliers got the benefit of a soft draw on Thursday and took full advantage. To his credit, he smoked up and comer, Connor Garnett (0 and 3), and then took down Ignatowich in 3, 11-4 in the third. Ignatowich has not been playing as much singles recently and the results have definitely plateaued from his hot start in 2022 to the pro scene. Ignatowich got a free bronze medal with the Bored Benny/Benny Backdraw retirement in the bronze match.

10:40 pm EST (Waggish) – Good match between James and Jay. James was amazing in game 2. But Jay re-grouped and pulled off the win. 11-5, 2-11, 11-4. It’ll be a different Sunday with Staksrud vs Jay. No streaming of the bronze — Ben withdrew so nothing to stream. James gets bronze. Surprisingly, Gritty did better in the fantasy draft for MS than you would have expected. He foresaw how the brackets could affect the outcome. UPDATE: WS Bronze: Salome Devidze over Mary Brascia 11-6, 13-11.

9:45 pm EST (Waggish) – We’ll get Lea and AL on Sunday. After what looked like it’d be a rout in game 1 with Lea’s score of 11-2, Mary dug deep and won game 2. Game 3 had 2 line call challenges of out balls called by Lea. One was overruled and one stood. (11-2, 7-11, 11-7).

After a 4+ hour wait, we finally get Jay and James semi. It’ll be interesting to see if they stream either bronze match. With star power Ben in the MS bronze, they might. Meanwhile, Christian Ashlon again defeats Jaume Martinez Vich 15-4.

8:48 pm EST (Waggish) – We get a line challenge! Third game of Ben vs Staksrud. Ben’s serve is called long at 10-10. Somehow it is Staksrud that challenges his out call. The ball is out! Maybe Staksrud’s sportsmanship is enough to drive him to win. 12-10, 4-11, 12-10. That third game was close all the way. Ben did have match point at 10-9 so could have gone either way. For 5th place, we get a rematch between Alshon and Jaume (not streamed). WS semi next with Mary Brascia and Lea.

8:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Hmmm. Jay and James have been waiting to play their semi’s for 2.5 hours. Ben, though, gets to be first in line with his semi. And the schedule is showing a WS up next on CC.

Salome gave AL a scare in game 1. But with coaching at the time-outs, AL pulled off the win (9,6). Announcer said instant replay for line-calls was available but neither took advantage. For the rest of the tournament, the announcers said the instant replay would be available starting in the QF. In WS back-draw, Parenteau and Tereschenko withdrew.

7:01 pm EST (Waggish) – No fun for Alshon to get run over by Ben. He can feel good about game 1 at least. 9-11, 11-3, 11-1. We get what is frequently a gold match-up in the semi with Ben facing Staksrud. In the back-draw, Jaume Martinez Vich continues his great day after his 2 close games with Alshon that knocked him into back-draw. Jaume has made it to the 5th place match. It could end up being a rematch with Alshon.

A surprise in WS. Mary Brascia defeats Parenteau in 3: 3-11, 11-8, 11-5. She plays Lea in the semi. Salome plays AL in semi. Salome’s game against Brooke Buckner went 3: 11-5, 9-11,11-3.

5:40 pm EST (Waggish) – In game 1 at 3-5, James made an impressive ATP attempt from the baseline. It almost made it into the court. Score got stuck on 3-5 for several side-outs. Then it was only James that was stuck with Gabriel running to 8 before James made it to 4. We get 3 games. Clearly, Gabriel got frustrated and that tightened him up to make more errors. James wins 7-11, 11-6, 11-4 to face Jay in Semi. Travis withdrew in the back-draw.

All chalk on the women’s side with #1 – #7 still in the winner’s bracket.

4:40 pm EST (Waggish) – QF: Ben will face Christian Alshon. Alshon did not have an easy win over Jaume Martinez Vich (9,11) so we may not see a good match here.

QF: Federico Staksrud def. Travis Rettenmaier in 2 (8,5). Travis had good lateral moves and impressive awareness of where he needed to position for his returns. I was surprised when Travis got stuck in game 2 and couldn’t close the widening gap. Staksrud faces the winner of Ben vs Alshon.

QF: Jay Devilliers easy win over Connor Garnett (0,3). QF: Gabriel Joseph vs James Ignatowich. Streaming on GS1. Winner will face Jay in semi.

Lots of withdrawals in the back draw. Whoever gets to the 5th place match may not have had to work very hard to get there. Looks like we get to see a back draw match shortly on CC.

3:25 pm EST (Waggish) – Looks like we have what could be considered an upset. #5 Julian Arnold loses to #21 Travis Rettenmaier 11-8, 11-0. That 11-0 sounds like a retirement score but it’s not marked as such. Travis will face Staksrud, scheduled for CC next. Connor Garnett beats Rafa Hewett in 3.

10:47 am EST – It looks like it could be a more extended work day for Mr. Johns in singles. He could end up seeing Pablo Tellez, Christian Alshon and either Julian Arnold/Federico Staksrud. That has to be one of the harder roads in recent memory for Ben in what is 100% the tougher half of the draw, even without the injured Tyson McGuffin. The singles draws are just deeper these days but the omissions of Frazier and JW mean that this one is wide open on the other half for anyone like Jay Devilliers, James Ignatowich, Gabriel Joseph, Connor Garnett or even a Ryan Sherry or Rafa Hewett to sneak their way into a Sunday.

On the women’s side, we likely won’t have much to talk about as Anna Leigh has Salome in her half of the draw while Lea Jansen and Catherine Parenteau are looming to face each other in the other half.

17 thoughts on “PPA Tour Arizona Grand Slam – Live Random Thoughts

  • February 16, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    11-0 wasnt a retirement julian just fell apart.

    • February 16, 2023 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks. I see he withdrew in the back-draw — like most of them. Julian will be fresher for tomorrow’s play.

  • February 16, 2023 at 7:59 pm

    It’s understandable why so many of the pros withdraw instead of grinding through the backdraw when theres no chance to play for gold but I wish something would be done to curtail it. Today alone saw the following players withdraw as soon as they lost their first match: DJ, Patriquin, Rafa, Sherry, French, Rettenmaier, Cincola, Arnold, Padegimaite, Parenteau, Stratman, Irina, and Ben couldn’t even be bothered to play his bronze medal match.

    • February 16, 2023 at 10:38 pm

      Very understandable and this was completely expected after they have further diminished the value of the backdraw. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and we’re not exactly sure where we sit with it. At a certain point, it seems like it will be gone as there isn’t much point in having it for these players in singles who won’t play it. Ben probably didn’t want to play in front of the big crowds!

  • February 17, 2023 at 7:01 am

    It did not look fun for the players later in the day. Even on the stream I could feel the cold and emptiness of the court. Energy was very low. I’m really looking forward to spring and summer.

    • February 17, 2023 at 8:30 am

      I don’t understand the cold comments. When I looked it up during the mid-afternoon, google told me it was 56 with wind below 10. That doesn’t sound cold to me – certainly not enough to be bundled up to the ears. But sitting on metal can make it feel colder. They should have let people in *free* to fill up the bleachers and add some warmth.

  • February 17, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    Jorja Johnson is like “I’m 16. Where is my free car, Carvana?” Jokes aside she continues to impress this year. What resolve from the Johnsons to close the door in that match.

  • February 17, 2023 at 4:15 pm

    ​BJ & ALW pull out of the back draw after a loss. BJ & ALW are paid appearance fees from the PPA, not disappearance fees . The PPA expects spectators to pay $25 to watch pros play. BJ & ALW sponsors expect brand visibility so that sucks for brands who pay BJ & ALW to play. And it sucks for us fans when pballers use NBA “load management” strategies and choose not to play after a loss.

    • February 19, 2023 at 5:12 am

      I’m pretty sure that if their contract required them to play the back draw (but for injuries, etc.), they’d be playing the back draw.

      I do agree it can cause problems for the PPA in the long run if the enticement for the amateurs is to see the pros play, and the pros are choosing not to play for 5th, but that’s an issue for the PPA to worry about, not individual athletes doing the best they can to make a living.

    • February 19, 2023 at 11:46 am

      why on earth would they go out and try to get 5th place?

      risk injury or contribute to your fatigue for 5th place? not a chance.

  • February 18, 2023 at 10:08 am

    I think Dekel’s mixed woes come down to his ernes. He should only be taking the top 10% of his ernes, his female partners can’t be expected to cover the entire court while he’s hanging out in the sideline every third shot. If he cleaned that up he could be a very high end mixed player I think.

  • February 19, 2023 at 8:02 am

    Saturday was a great day of pickleball. Almost every match in the afternoon and evening went to three games, or even into extra points. By the time the second women’s semifinal got played it was quite late and most of the fans had left. There were several matches in which one team dominated the first game, but then it switched and the other team came storming back.

  • February 19, 2023 at 9:06 am

    Interesting that they’re making Bright play two matches in a row. Do they no longer adjust the lineup order based on who is in what matches? I understand it’s tough in an era when both BJ and ALW were in all three, but why not move MS between MXD and WD to give Anna a break? Then no one would be playing 2 in a row.

  • February 19, 2023 at 12:00 pm

    jw and dylan have already played riley and matt multiple times, and lost every one. I can remember one match that was close. not sure this is about “learning”. it’s about not being good enough. Much of the blame falls on the jw, who as the left side player, must set the tone for his team.

    jwdf continue to look intimidated, beaten before the match even starts, and overwhelmed. they let matt and riley bully them, strut around, and trash talk. Once again riley sold a line call as in, that probably was out. but dylan passively accepted. jw and dylan clearly are the third best team in pickleball. but miles behind the other two at the moment.

    • February 19, 2023 at 2:57 pm

      pbtruth: No idea how you prevent someone strutting if they want to do it. Being enthusiastic about your shot and “selling” it is done by all the players. Altaf was notorious even when his balls were clearly out. Dylan always gives the benefit of the doubt to his opponents. But luckily players are challenging their own in calls so maybe that will be something he does in the future.

  • February 19, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    How did you feel about these matches going to 9pm at night? I realize the Women’s draw started at 1pm on Saturday, but those are long, long days. It feels like the PPA is chewing up these players. I realize many of the players are playing fewer games this year due to the change in backdraw format, but even so, it’s a lot of work.

    This will sound odd as well, but having lived in Wisconsin and now in Arizona, 56 degrees in the desert at night in February feels colder than 56 degrees feels in Wisconsin. Maybe that is a function of learning to adapt to 112 degrees in June.

    • February 19, 2023 at 6:25 pm

      PPA Pro players will have to speak out if they don’t like the long days. Certainly the bronze teams are hurt by it – no streaming and few on-site spectators, if any, outside of family and friends. Most seemed to love the late start of 10:00 a.m. for pros when they began that start time. But now with the feeder bracket needing to finish first, that can get pushed. PPA would probably try to do something about the feeder – possibly day before – if they decided the day needed to shorten. Now applies to 3 of the 5 brackets. Waits for some of the semis are 4+ hours and I was wondering yesterday how the pros don’t go bonkers with boredom. Probably a lot leave and come back when texted.


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