PPA Tour Atlanta Open – Live Random Thoughts
We have the Atlanta Open this week. It’ll be streamed on Amazon Prime (exclusively according to press release). The PPA Tour posted that they thought everyone had Prime and didn’t show much sympathy for those few who don’t. Last year, Newman/Wright went on a winning streak with wins at NC Open, Atlanta Open, San Clemente, and TOC. Staksrud will be defending his MS title. Smith/Kovalova will be defending their WD title (against Waters last year). Parris Todd is back in action with partners Parenteau and Riley Newman. We may see something out of Shick in MS or Castillo in WS. We finally get to see Jorja and Vivienne back together after their APP Gold at the Houston Open last October as this will also be an MLP Preview.
Championship Sunday, May 21st
10:02 am EST (Waggish) – Finally, the WD bronze is posted. Parenteau/Todd over the Brascias (10,2). Today order of matches is scheduled to be MXD, MS, WD, MD, WS.
11:35 am EST (Waggish) – MXD: Waters/Johns vs Todd/Newman. Not a clean game 1 for either teams. Riley found some holes to place the ball and makes it a close game. Todd able to defend just enough against Ben to give Newman his opportunities. Game 2, 3-0 AL gets a great winner off Riley. At 5-1, Riley’s paddle flies out of his hand on his hit! Goes into the stands. Shows how loosely he holds his paddle or his automatic wrist snap? Ball is going one way and paddle the other. No fans were harmed in the enjoyment of this strange event. AL challenges the out call of her ball by Riley. Looked very out even on the less than ideal replay. Riley almost goes for the OH and at the very last moment lets it go out. Quick reflexes to pull that paddle down. Game 3. 2-5 great court coverage when players thought they had a winner. AL all ready for that poach at 6-5. Good rally at 7-5 with 2 good plays from Parris including the winner. Riley is missing a lot of sideline passes. His read seems off. Game 4. After the time-out at 6-0, Riley must have decided he needs to go at full power and attacks everything. They get their first point but only 1. They get their 2nd point at 1-9. Parris gets into a firefight with Ben and lets out a huge yell when she won. Ben didn’t like that and attacks her relentlessly on the next point. AL/Ben win (8-,1,6,3).
12:35 pm EST (Waggish) – MS: JW Johnson vs Connor Garnett. Game 1. JW takes the early lead and maintains it. He has good support on his bench – Mirceau and Tardio. Tardio was playing MD with Connor yesterday but is JW’s “amigo”. Connor’s energy level picks up late in the game which led to a good start in game 2 with a 4-0 lead forcing JW to call time-out. From 1-9, JW makes a run to 6 with 1 side-out in the run. I spy Rafa talking to Connor before game 3 starts. JW takes a time-out at 1-2 and changes paddle. The different paddle has a lot more lead tape. It gets him to 5. He can’t make the call at 5-2 and asks ref to make the call – which will be in – and then challenges the ref’s call. JW now out of time-outs. A series of mishits from Connor gives JW a comfortable lead 9-4 at Connor’s time-out. JW gets stuck at 10 and Connor closes the gap to 9! JW has gotta be wishing for a time-out. JW gets gold at “one of the few tournaments I really like”. (4,7-,9). He also got gold in Atlanta last September at the PPA Peachtree Classic. Connor and JW both did a terrific job on those angle shots and overall shot selection.
1:30 pm EST (Waggish) – WD: Waters/Bright vs Johnson/David. Game 1. Too much fire from AL/AB for Johnson/David. They settled in to their game with great resets from David and power from Johnson but not enough to overcome the lead by AL/AB in game 1. Game 2. Wow, the aggressiveness from Bright is relentless. She’s making great decisions right now. Jorja and Vivienne going to AB and probably should mix it up more when AB is so dialed in. Vivienne tries a speed-up at AB. Wrong! Game 3. Jorja/Vivienne make an adjustment and move the ball around more, not specifically trying to ice out AL. But AL/AB continue to play clean and not give them much opportunity. AL/AB (4,3,5)
2:45 pm (EST) Waggish – MD: Johns vs Newman/Wright. Nothing new to see between these teams even if it’s been 3 tournaments since they last met-up in Austin. The last 2 tournaments were against JW and Dylan and Red Rock had neither Matt nor Ben. The conditions favor the Johns. Heat and humidity to slow the ball down. The Johns will play the dinking game to minimize the speed-up opportunities from Newman/Wright. Per Fleming, each team is very predictable. He is almost predicting the shot before it’s made. Matt looks like he is more selective with his speed-ups in game 2. Nice speed-up from Newman at 1-1 in game 3. Riley is trying to get the crowd fired up but they are half-asleep from all the dinking. Collin claiming the ball hit Riley before it went long and challenges at 4-2. No touch. Riley and Matt are getting points but no momentum runs to really fire them or the crowd up. Riley and Matt could really use the energy from the crowd. Good fire-fight at 6-5. But again only one point before the side-out. We get some livelier action at the net before Johns win again. (7,7,7).
3:20 pm (EST) Waggish – WS: Waters vs Brascia. It doesn’t take long for AL to earn the triple. (5,4)
8:45 pm EST – Lots of action this weekend. Pretty boring Sunday. We’ll have takeaways on Monday.
Saturday, May 20th – Doubles
7:15 am EST (Waggish) – The Doubles day will start with the WS SF #2: Jansen vs Mary Brascia. MS SF: Kusmider vs Garnett. You should treat yourself to game 2 barn burner this morning (on YT). Everything is going Kusmider’s way. See a great rally at 8-3. Afterwards, Kusmider gets 3 unforced errors in a row. He’d been playing so clean that it seemed to have gotten into his head. His posture at the time-out is not good. He gets another point but a few serve returns go long and it gets tied at 9. Garnett takes an offensive time-out at game point. But Connor doesn’t yet win after the time-out. Kusmider ties it up on his 3rd try at 10. Immediately, Connor gets 2 points to win. (2,10). If Garnett brings his phenomenal energy on Sunday, he could easily win gold. But if JW is the same JW as in his SF game 3 against Alshon, it’ll be a great gold match!
MD: We have a large field of MD teams with some APP players jumping in (capped at 60 with a qualifier bracket). Loong is playing with Koller. Jay D. is playing with Andrea D. Zane is playing with Thomas Wilson. Can Zane/Thomas make it to the QF against the Johns? Brendon Long/John Cincola are fresh from their silver medal at APP Cincinnati. Dawson and Dekel are together again. Both APP players Joey Farias and Andreas S. are in the qualifier draw but not together. Two of the MD QF could end up being really close matches.
WD: Todd pairs with Parenteau. Todd told Riley yesterday she could carry her own weight and proved it in the 2 games in their SF after the game 1 loss. AL/AB will be looking to not drop a game all day. The SF #1 could be these 2 teams. Jorja is with Vivienne David. We assume Allyce has other commitments so Lea pairs with Jessie. SF #2 could be these two teams. But this half is the more up for grabs so lots of contenders there including Smith/Kovalova.
11:30 am EST (Waggish) – WS SF #2: Jansen vs Brascia: Just when you think it is all over and Jansen will deliver a whopping in game 1, Mary comes roaring back and wins. 10 straight points from 2-10 to win 12-10 is going to be something talked about for a long time. It looked like game 2 was going to go Mary’s way at another game point on Jansen when Mary ties it up. Not so fast. Jansen is fighting to the death and forces the game 3. This is certainly not the SF we saw yesterday between AL and CP (0,1). Game 3: Mary making unforced errors, giving away the points early. Mary’s ability to take a ball on the run is impressive. No need to split step for her. Mary ties it at 5. Lea not liking that 8-5 lead and tosses her paddle to her bench and takes a much needed time-out. Lea comes back stronger and gets a point, followed by a dry spell for both of them. Eventually, Mary gets to game point forcing a time-out call by Lea. Mary finishes it and gets a chance for gold on Sunday. (10,12-,5). It’s a new WS face on Sunday as so far we’ve only seen AL, Lea, CP, and Salome. And a first PPA Sunday for Mary in any bracket.
1:05 pm EST (Waggish) – Merchant/Gridley defeated Cincola/Long (11,7) to face Johns. As usual, Johns using their first game to practice dinking. Altaf’s Onix paddle is very loud! (8,0) Newman/Wright looked like they had fun trying out some shots/plays against Haworth/Rahachou. Newman not showing his Gamma paddle in the after match interview so he’s clearly done with Gamma. Frazier/Johnson beat Alshon/Hewett (5,8) to get to their QF. Patriquin/S.Smith vs Dawson/Bar (GS): Dekel has never embraced the compact hand movements of JW, Riley, Koller and it costs him precious time. Sometimes he even crosses his feet for the backhand which is from tennis but most pickleball pros don’t find the need. Patriquin/S.Smith win to get to QF against Frazier/Johnson with last 2 games being razor close. (5,10-,9) Patriquin/Smith showed more patience than usual for them. Lange/Young take down Navratil/Wilson (4-,7,5) to get to the QF with Johns. Rettenmaier/Arnold defeat Staksrud/Tellez to get to QF (9-,2,10). That third game was tight.
2:20 pm EST (Waggish) – McGuffin/Ignatowich vs Devilliers/Daescu: Game 1, Jay playing left. See the rally at 6-10! Kudos to Kyle for being neutral in his comments despite being besties with Tyson. Game 2: 1-0 rally! And 4-2. You have to hope this goes to a game 3! James putting on a show at 8-2. At 3-9, discussion of the ball being demolished during the rally. They replay the point. Game 3: James hand battle at 2-1! He mostly targets Jay in the hand battles. That should be cross-court but only slightly with how big they both get in the middle. 5-2 rally! M/I tie it at 6 by winning a series of hand battles. D/D may need to consider resetting instead of continuing the firefight. D/D get some points winning some dinking rallies — keeping Ignatowich out of the picture. D/D win! (8,3-,7). Loong/Koller vs Garnett/Tardio (GS): As a new partnership, having 2 forehands in the middle takes some getting used to. Garnett playing very solid – not trying to do too much. See 4-6 rally in second game! Garnett/Tardio (3,7-,6) win for the QF against D/D.
3:35 pm EST (Waggish) – Johns vs Eric Lange/DJ Young. Short rain delay. Very quick game 2 with Lange/Young winning 11-2! Game 3, Ben has to step it up to get the win. Which he does in spades. (4,2-,5). Frazier/Johnson casually defeat S.Smith/Patriquin (GS) (4,7)
4:02 pm EST (Waggish) – Wright/Newman vs Rettenmaier/Arnold QF. After trailing most of game 1, Wright/Newman tie it up at 8. Wish we had mics. From the hand gestures, you know there must be a lot of trash talking between these two teams. See 7-7 firefight game 2. Neck and neck game with no dominant team and 1 point differentials. What is it with these Onix paddles. Matt’s paddle is loud too (like Altaf’s). Very close games but Wright/Newman is the team to make it to SF (9,8).
4:45 pm EST (Waggish) – Devilliers/Daescu vs Garnett/Tardio QF (GS). Game 1: Good hands battle at 0-5 to get the first point for D/D. See 7-8 and how Garnett finishes that rally! Game 2 not close. We get a game 3. G/T lead at end-change. This is a VERY long match. At 7-10, Tardio shows ref and opponents his shoe. I don’t know if it is a shoe problem or a foot cramp or possibly both. Ref says he can take a regular time-out. Luckily they win so Tardio doesn’t have to play much longer with whatever the problem is – until SF against Wright/Newman. (3,7-,6).
5:00 pm EST (Waggish) – AL/AB vs Dizon/Stratman. Game 1. It takes a while for AL/AB to get the lead at 6-5 but they lose it later. Tied at 8 and 10. Dizon/Stratman had their chances at game point. AL/AB take game 1 (12-10). But they have absolutely no answer to the fire Dizon/Stratman bring in game 2 (1-11). AL/AB get in the game and dominate game 3. (12,1-,4) In post-match interview, AL took all the blame for game 2 – said she has never played worse.
6:16 pm EST (Waggish) – Johns vs Frazier/Johnson SF #1: Game 1: See 3-4, Dylan played extremely well on the left! JW makes a series of errors and can’t move them off 6. Luckily, the Johns are also making mistakes and can’t move off 8. Johns finally win. Game 2, If Frazier/Johnson want to figure out how to not be baited by Ben, they can listen to Fleming on the broadcast. The Frazier/Johnson strategy to out-dink the Johns was an unexpected strategy. They did very, very few speed-ups. I don’t know if it was lack of confidence or just lack of opportunity because of all the dinks. It was a defensive game and you won’t beat the Johns just playing defense. (7,8).
WD: Johnson/David take 3 games to defeat Smith/Kovalova: (11,8-,3) The Brascia’s defeat Jansen/Irvine (9,7). These teams will be SF #2. Parenteau/Todd playing AL/AB in SF #1.
7:20 pm EST (Waggish) – Tardio/Garnett vs Wright/Newman SF #2: 2 of the 4 players already have a Sunday match. A quick finish to game 1. Wright/Newman are given too many balls where they can be aggressive. They are loving this. Garnett is letting Tardio do too much – even crossing the middle to take a backhand. Garnett’s legs look like leg rubber bands, especially compared to Tardio who doesn’t like to bend too much. Good 6-2 rally game 2. Tardio putting on a show at 7-2. Riley trips and falls into the kitchen and paddle flies into the net. Luckily, he never hit the ball and the ball goes long. Doesn’t phase their momentum one bit and they get the win on their first serve sequence! (4,2). WD SF #2 coming up.
8:20 pm EST (Waggish) – Brascias vs Johnson/David SF #2. Wow!. Game 2, Jorja found her clean fuel and powers them to 6 points on first serve from David, then another 5 points on second time to serve. She is playing clean, bringing the power. In case you are wondering, Jorja did get a chance to serve but just barely before they reached 11-0. Game 3, momentum has shifted again! Brascia strong lead 6-1 at end-change. Jorja and Vivienne stage a comeback and get to 8. There’s a few balls that should have been Jorja’s but were missed over the fight for the ball. Both are playing aggressive and want to make sure that ball gets back over the net “one more time”. Finally, it gets tied at 10! A ball goes out but something of Jorja’s must have hit it when she lunged for the ball – maybe her pony tail because they don’t get the point. Man, what a finish (4-11,11-0,14-12). Both teams gave it everything they had on those last points from the first game point for the Brascias. In the interview, Vivienne said they turned it around because they started playing loose to win. Wise words to win by!
10:35 pm EST (Waggish) – Frazier/Johnson get the bronze over Garnett/Tardio (8,6). Devilliers/Daescu get 5th place over Staksrud/Tellez (6). Staksrud/Tellez had some good wins in the backdraw over Smith/Nunnery then Lange/Young. Surprisingly, Merchant/Gridley get all the way to the play-off for 5th place match. They win over Rettenmaeir/Arnold (6). Nothing is shown for the WD bronze. Jansen/Irvine get 5th place defeating Dizon/Stratman (11). They also defeated Tereschenko/Wright and Kovalova/Smith.
Friday, May 19th – Mixed
7:40 am EST (Waggish) – Weather is looking encouraging for a day of Mixed where most of the contenders are with their regular partners. The musical chairs partner for Riley this week is Parris. The Johnsons are in the same quarter as AL/Ben so we should get them in the QF. Bright/Ignatowich are in the same quarter as Todd/Newman. Last time those two teams met, Ignatowich destroyed Todd. Parenteau/McGuffin should make their QF with a chance of meeting Irvine/Devilliers there. But Jessie and Jay are by no means a sure thing, possibly having to get through Stratman/Arnold first. David/Wilson could meet Kovalova/Wright in QF.
12:43 pm EST (Waggish) – MS SF: Garnett beat Kusmider (2,10). MXD: No unexpected results so far in MXD but we’ve had a few close games. Waters/Johns over Barr/S.Smith (4,7). Waters/Johns first match was closer against Radzikowska/Tellez (9,7) per Ben’s usual slow start. Jansen/Rettenmaier had no trouble against newcomer Glozman and partner Dawson (3,3). Kovalova/Wright were pushed in their second game against Braverman/Daescu squeaking out the win with 12-10. Same push in second game of Parenteau/McGuffin against Oshiro/Brendon Long but that one went to 14-12. Kawamoto/Navratil were forced to 3 games against Etta Wright/C.Johns (3-,8,9). Two close games from Stratman/Arnold over Buckner/Deakin (10,10). Good showing by Buckner/Deakin.
1:18 pm EST (Waggish) – Jade Kawamoto/Navratil take down Kovalova/Wright (8,5). Very solid play by Jade and Zane. They targeted Lucy heavily. Matt wouldn’t/couldn’t come over and poach much. Jade would too often go to his sideline to keep him on guard.
1:48 pm EST (Waggish) – Todd/Newman vs Lina Padegimaite/Hewett goes to 3 games. Game 2 got stuck on 2-2 for a very long time. Then P/H pulled ahead and kept that lead. Parris can have some odd strokes. I don’t know if they are mishits or if she’s making something up (not working). Newman playing like a superman to get them the win and it gets tied at 9. Foot fault gets called on Rafa at game point! He is very upset but there is no video challenge available. What a disheartening finish for him. Riley/Parris pull it off after trailing most of game 3. (7,8-,9) Stratman/Arnold defeat Irvine/Devilliers (9-,3,9) Mary Brascia/Staksrud get their best MXD result ever! Take down Bright/Ignatowich (0-,10,3) How do you have 0 your first game then end up winning? It didn’t stream so don’t know what went on. Hopefully we can get the backstory on that.
3:08 pm EST (Waggish) – Ansboury/Young defeat David/Wilson (8-,10,10). They are then defeated by C.Smith/Frazier (4,4). C.Smith/Frazier face Jade Kawamoto/Navratil in QF.
Parenteau/McGuffin vs Stratman/Arnold. In game 2, very, very long timeout at 1-2 for a video challenge. First, there was a long discussion on a ref time-out that Arnold was heavily involved with. Strange. Then refs decide there can be a video challenge. So another time-out for it. Seems to fire both sides up and a close game 2. We go to game 3 where McGuffin dominates. (4,8-,5)
Todd/Newman vs Mary Brascia/Staksrud on GS. Todd/Newman get the early lead 5-0 in game 1 and win 11-2. Can Brascia/Staksrud come back to win like they did against Bright/Ignatowich? Nope. (11-5). Riley calls Staksrud balls out at 8-5 and we get another long discussion with a vehement ref. Todd/Newman play Parenteau/McGuffin in SF.
4:10 pm EST (Waggish) – Waters/Johns vs Johnsons. Game 1, at 7-1-2 we have a video challenge from Johns. Ben is claiming the ball hit Jorja’s paddle, then the ground, then went over net. Lost the challenge – shot was legal. Yesterday, Ben saw a double bounce that didn’t happen. A close game 2. Video challenge at 10-8 because Johnsons didn’t see if the ball was in or not. So they challenge the ref’s call that the ball was in. Ref makes the call when the players cannot. Ball was in. Waters/Johns win (2,8).
5:20 pm EST (Waggish) – Jade Kawamoto/Navratil vs C.Smith/Frazier. Callie and Dylan presented no problem to Jade and Zane in game 1 but they do in game 2 to force the game 3. At 3-2-1, Dylan gets a foot fault call but he challenges. Dylan’s foot was in the NVZ, then he slid it out, then hit the OH. Video confirmed and we get the replay. Wow, Game 3 is just full of challenges one right after another. After a very contentious game 3, we get a winner – Callie and Dylan! Wow, what a game. Strong showing by all players. I think I’d rather see Jade and Zane against AL/Ben but Callie and Dylan can plow through some fire-fights. Speaking of plowing through, Brascia/Staksrud will meet up with Stratman/Arnold after defeating Kovalova/Wright (12) and Anna/James might meet up with the Johnsons (if they get through Jade/Zane).
6:40 pm EST (Waggish) – SF #1: Todd/Newman vs Parenteau/McGuffin: Newman said Atlanta was his last tournament using the Gamma paddle. He hasn’t officially announced his new paddle sponsor but speculation is that it’ll be Takeya. Riley has worn Takeya sponsored shorts and shirts and water bottle but now he also has the socks, hat plus a pickleball bag with the name emblazoned. Todd/Newman almost caught up to Parenteau/McGuffin in game 1 when for a while it looked like it’d be a rout. See 0-1 in game 2 – what Tyson does. Funny theatrics! Game 3: 6-1 for Todd/Newman at end-change. CP and Tyson did a good job moving Parris and Riley around. But not good enough when you are on fire like Todd and Newman. Riley/Parris get chance at gold on Sunday. (8-,5,1).
7:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Waters/Johns vs C.Smith/Frazier. SF #2 was a quick “I have somewhere I need to be, let’s get this over” rout (2,2). In the backdraw, inexplicably, Bright/Ignatowich demolish the Johnsons (0)! Prior, they defeated Jade and Zane (7). In the match now against Brascia/Staksrud for 5th place. CP still has 2 matches left: bronze and WS SF (against AL). Stream said the WS SF would be next so I guess it’s lucky the MXD SF was so quick. Lea has to wait for Mary to finish up in back-draw.
7:15 pm EST – It’s been another interesting mixed day at the PPA, but when are they not interesting lately? Ben and Anna Leigh are into the finals. What’s new? But there is lots that is new. Callie Smith and Dylan Frazier are into the semis of a deep mixed field following wins over Maggie Brascia/Patriquin, Ansboury/DJ Young and Jade Kawamoto/Zane Navratil. The DJ/Sarah win over Thomas/Vivienne, 12-10 in the third, somewhat opened up this quarter of the draw where we also had Jade/Zane squeak by Etta Wright/Collin Johns before getting past Matt/Lucy. Honestly, outside of Ben/Anna Leigh, the rest of the teams are fair game right now. Frazier/Callie Smith have made a pretty solid duo and about halfway through game 2 they turned it on to get a big win when things were looking grim.
On the other half, Parenteau/McGuffin got to the semis before losing to Todd/Newman. They beat Stratman/Arnold in 3 to get there as the matching duo beat Jessie Irvine/Jay Devilliers, which really speaks to the increased depth this year on the PPA. Is the honeymoon phase of the Bright/Ignatowich partner over? Federico Staksrud gets a lot of really good wins with Mary Brascia but that’s not a good loss for James/Anna. Todd/Newman are the other Sunday team as they were in big trouble against Rafa ‘Round ‘Em Up’ Hewett, who was in full Rafa mode in the quarters, narrowly losing 11-9 to Todd/Newman. But Riley seems to have found his form lately and looked dominant as Parris played solid for her first PPA Sunday of the year.
10:30 pm EST (Waggish) – Bright/Ignatowich over Brascia/Staksrud (1) for 5th place. WS SF: AL over CP (1,0). The other women’s SF scheduled for in the morning – rain. No MXD bronze.
Thursday, May 18th – Singles
10:23 am EST – It is singles day. This is a deeper cut but if you look closely, you’ll see that Travis Rettenmaier will see Ben Johns in the 2nd round if he wins his first match. These things typically are not a coincidence. It also sounds like there is rain in the forecast potentially today as Lea Jansen does not seem too keen on playing singles.
11:20 am EST (Waggish) – Confirmed rain delay. PPA hopes to start at noon or 1:00 pm EST.
3:45 pm EST (Waggish) – First QF coming up. JW vs Devilliers. JW against Collin Shick went to 3 games: 13-11,8-11,11-6. That is a good showing from Shick. Tyson made it to his QF. We don’t get to see Federico vs Jake Kusmider which might have been fun to watch. Ben defeats Travis to make it to his QF (5,4).
4:20 pm EST (Waggish) – JW trailed Jay Devilliers first game. He almost caught him at 9-8 and finally tied at 10-10. See the sick 10-10 rallies. It’s all about the timing after your opponent makes his move. After a really slow start, JW gets it figured out and wins game 1. Easy game 2 for JW. (10,1). Alshon plays Ben in QF after the win over Matthew Barlow (8,7-,8). JW plays the winner in SF.
UPSET ALERT: Kusmider over Staksrud (7-,4,2) to play Dylan in QF. Dylan beat Zane (8,2-,7).
Not everyone is watching Prime. I see some high viewing numbers on GS court on YT, high for GS on singles day anyway. Connor Garnett defeats Julian Arnold (6,6). He plays Tyson in QF.
5:15 pm EST (Waggish) Tyson vs Connor Garnett: Garnett wins game 1 looking fresh and energetic. Game 2 looked like it’d go the way of game 1 but Tyson let the Dawg out! He ties it at 8-8 and forces a game 3. Game 3 was neck and neck. Tyson finally edges in a 3 point lead. Only for Garnett to take it away from him and get a 3 point lead of his own. And then take it (7,10-,7).
Frazier vs Kusmider (GS): Dylan got smoked in game 2. Kusmider (5,0). What looked like an unfavorable draw actually worked out well for Kusmider. He was very fresh when he had to play what should have been his toughest opponent – Staksrud. “Someone” mentioned Kusmider on the fantasy draft. He’ll play Garnett in the SF. That’ll be fun! Stream alert! They are showing Ben’s QF on GS.
5:55 pm EST (Waggish) – MS QF #4 on GS: Alshon has 7 before Ben gets his first point. Then immediately serves it into the net! Ben seems to be upset – rain, lack of space behind the baseline, wind, ?. Alshon takes game 1 but it got closer than it looked at the beginning. Good battle at 1-1? second game (scoreboard messed up). Ben likes that other side of the court and we go to game 3. Alshon leads 6-2 at end-change to the “bad” side. At 4-6, Ben claims double bounce and catches ball. Alshon says no. Ref discuss and says only 1. Ben doesn’t believe it but has to accept the call. Difficult to tell because net obscured the view. Maybe it got into Alshon’s head because he made a series of errors and Ben catches up 7-7. Alshon pulls it off! (5,6-,7). No Ben on Sunday for MS. Will he play in the back-draw (due to face Federico there)? Lucky for Slim his draft has it covered while Gritty won’t get anything. Conditions seem very damp with time being taken to dry the lines. WS update: We get a Callie vs Catherine QF which we haven’t seen in many months.
8:25 pm EST (Waggish) – Play resumes after a long rain delay. Johnson vs Alshon SF: JW is BACK, baby! The JW we saw in game 2 was the one we have rarely seen recently. Engaged, good read of the ball/opponent stroke, good positioning, early prep, fewer errors. Mirceau was coaching him at time-outs. JW was brutally punished whenever he left a high ball up that Alshon could get an angle on. Game 3, 1-2, good tweener by Alshon at sideline that went cross-court for a drop/dink. Alshon takes an early lead but JW is right there working hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if his heart rate was 90. (That’s a joke referencing how unruffled he always looks.) What a finish in that third game. Watch the last few points and tell me your heart rate doesn’t spike. JW on Sunday. Woo-Hoo! (8-,6,9). And even a smile from JW about his win. He pointed to his head so maybe he thinks it was as much a mental win as a physical win. We don’t find out if he plays Kusmider or Garnett until Friday. That semi is scheduled for 9 am Friday.
WS: In a surprise outcome, Mary Brascia defeats Devidze in 2 (5,4). She faces Lea in the SF. The 2 women’s semis will be played Friday after MXD. Waters vs Parenteau. Parenteau defeated Callie (4,8-,6). Backdraw didn’t play out so we’ll never know if Ben was going to grind it out. Unlikely based on the others who withdrew. I assume bronze matches will not get played for singles.
12:00 am EST – It looks like the women’s semis matches and the Kusmider vs. Garnett men’s semi will go Friday after mixed. A pretty weird day all around. Christian Alshon continues his singles ascent without a solid backhand as he beat Ben Johns in 3 games and came awfully close to taking down JW. Mircea Morariu was coaching JW throughout the day and Jorja Johnson was out cheering him on in the semis. We have to believe that is very beneficial on what can be lonely singles day, especially for JW who may need some external motivation at times. This is his first bigger singles result in a while.
What about Jake Kusmider and Connor Garnett? Kusmider had a tough start to the year but he has come on as of late, with the biggest win of note coming over Jack Sock. Garnett also has made some big adjustments since he last faced Tyson. Previously, Tyson exploited his forehand and was able to dominate. Not so much today as Garnett did look in trouble down in the 3rd game but came roaring back to win. Kusmider beat Staksrud and Frazier to get to the semis while Garnett also beat Arnold.
On the women’s side, Mary Brascia loves pulling out these random big singles days. She had a clean win over Salome Devidze with what appeared to be some paddle controversy on Devidze’s end yet again. It sounds like Devidze’s paddle was tested, failed and she was allowed to continue in game 2 with a different paddle. No default though. Either way, big win by Mary B who will face Lea Jansen in the semis. Catherine Parenteau got a tight 3 game win over Callie Smith and has AL in the semis.
58 thoughts on “PPA Tour Atlanta Open – Live Random Thoughts”
Just curious about your comment regarding Ben and Travis… have I missed some sort of history or controversy regarding those two?
Jared: It probably is more about Travis’ comments about the Red Rock testing than anything else. Even though Travis was extremely diplomatic, it could still be taken by some to be critical of PPA. Consequences to that! Travis did admit he got some heat from Selkirk.
The Amazon Prime feed was choppy all day and unable to rewind and forward. To add insult to a weak Livestream, they totally cut it when play stops. Does the PPA want us to watch all the matches or not?
The feedback I’ve seen posted varies. I think it depends heavily on how you are watching it. Different devices/apps allow different built-in features. Some said they couldn’t pause but I was able to pause.
tbh that might be on your end. i watched on prime pretty much every way you can think of: live, on delay while the stream was still going, pausing then coming back to resume in the spot i left off, and on replay after the stream had ended, and i didn’t have any problems watching or moving around the stream at any time on my tv, phone, or pc.
It seemed like it was okay for doing this on our end. It depends on your wifi and internet strength it would seem. It is not as easy as YouTube but still pretty good.
Anna and James seem to have hit a bump in the road. They reached the final in Austin and then won in Red Rock, but they’ve failed to make it past the quarterfinals in the last three tournaments.
Unfortunately, I do not have Prime so I can’t watch the center court matches this weekend.
Dan: Prime wouldn’t have helped you with the Anna and James matches. They weren’t on CC. I’ve heard PPA will eventually post the CC matches on YT.
They definitely have hit a bump in a road and this is the long-term concern we had expressed. Not to say we’re “right” by any means and it’s very much a personal decision they made. But it is not going to be easy and how they handle these bumps will be interesting.
How much longer will the on-court Kovalova-Wright partnership last? Only one mixed doubles medal this year. They have been consistently on the podium for many years. The game has evolved and so many new hyper talented players are on the scene. Wright (46) is a few years away from dominating on the senior circuit. Kovalova (31) is young enough to be a dominate pro player to reach podiums. I wonder if Kovalova and Wright are talking about an on-court divorce.
Maybe too soon to know if Wright will want to grind it out next year. They’ve indicated they probably won’t do season 2 of MLP. It’d be kinda ironic if Lucy decides to keep grinding and snags Riley for MXD next year. Today was rather a lackluster performance but they’ve had some very good performances considering the talent pool.
There doesn’t seem to be any indication of that but who knows. It’s hard to know what type of results they would get separate from one another because they play so much with each other and almost exclusively with one another.
Anna Leigh beat Catherine 11-1, 11-0 ?!? What the heck? What happened to the CP that had pretty much pulled even with AL just a month or two ago?
Dan: Not a long break for CP after her MXD SF. Or course, there was even less of a break for AL. But AL didn’t have to fight through 3 hard games. AL wisely chose to run CP around a lot. AL is more used to switching the mental gears from MXD to singles getting the triple crowns all the time.
Very likely that CP was dealing with cramping after a long day of MXD. Kamryn Blackwood had mentioned she saw CP eating several mustard packets beginning with her last mixed match
The refs after Dylan’s foot fault call were a complete joke. Zane PLEADING with them to get the score right, they turn their noses up at him again and again. And when they finally pull their heads out of the sand, they just want to get it over with and move on, don’t even bother to check who the correct server was. sheesh. Complete joke
The refs rely on their tools and if the tools are wrong then they are not going to listen. But the tools depend on humans so they can still be faulty. Though it’s strange that you see 3 refs in the picture and none of them had it right. I wanted to rewind but was afraid Prime would get messed up.
Rewinding seemed ok enough through the weekend. Even TV phone or computer
Rewind worked except when it didn’t. lol. Twice I had to start over from the beginning to get back to live mode.
Tyson and James are still not having much success this year. I’m pretty sure they haven’t made it past the quarterfinals, and a few times they haven’t even made it to the quarters.
Tyson/James are so new that they may need more time to work out their roles in the partnership. Tough for a newish partnership not to be able to drill together. Certainly seems to be an advantage for Johns and Dylan/JW.
I expect james to move on from the most electrifying partnership in all of sports at first opportunity. They’ve had plenty of time to work the kinks out.
James and Tyson have only played 4 tournaments together this year. Remember Tyson had 2 tournaments with other partners (Long and Sock) and missed several while out with his foot injury. So even though timewise they’ve been together since January, actual tournaments are not so many. Tyson sometimes seems passive and someone as competitive as James might find that difficult.
Correction: 5 with this one.
Tyson doesn’t seem to drop partnerships and James hasn’t given higher end players enough reason to take a chance on him necessarily. It’s also not great to constantly be switching in and out of partnerships.
It appears that the Prime Replay is limited to 6 hours. I cannot see the final matches of the day for Friday and Saturday.
Are they not listed at all? Others have said they are hard to find and are in multiple parts so clicking on the first one will not get you the full day.
The replay is listed, but the stream ends at 6 hours (and 3-4 seconds). There is ~2 more hours of play that are unavailable as far as I can tell.
Herman: It is there. I checked Saturday. It has Replay then shows Replay part 2. You have to click on the first replay, then at the bottom it lists both of them. Replay part 2 goes to the final WD SF #2 – the last match streamed on Saturday. Friday also shows 2 parts in the same way. Part 2 Friday ends with the Ben/AL SF match. I didn’t check on my TV or Kindle. I checked directly on the website for Prime Video and verified I could watch it there. I heard PPA would eventually put it on YT so let’s hope they follow through.
Maybe these links will help:
You forgot to post a recap of the women’s semifinal #1 between AL/AB and CP/Todd. I was not able to watch it so I’d like to know how it played out. Thanks.
Dan: Sorry I missed that. I don’t have much because I was also watching the GS stream at the time. Waters/Bright vs Parenteau/Todd. Game 1, AB/AL were in trouble early but settle in. Game 2, AB/AL dinking to middle to take a solid lead. See rally at 9-4-2 in game 2. AB didn’t even have a chance to get involved. AL/AB go to Sunday (6,4).
your theory is that all they need is more time on court together. But tyson and long did not need a lot of court time together, before winning a gold medal at red rock. Time together on court is so over rated. More often, new partnerships are capable of surprising other teams because their tendencies are less known, and tactics less predictable. ty and james were beaten by a team that had only played with each once before after all. So it’s obviously not about court time together. Finally, Pickleball just isn’t that complicated, especially when your roles are clearly defined, as Jame’s and Tyson’s are.
If one really studies the match that tyson and james lost vs andrei and jay, as I have, you’ll discover that it wasn’t lost because of a lack of partner chemistry. rather tyson was isolated on the right side and eventually broke down after being under relentless pressure. And he even missed a lot of dinks he normally makes due to this constant pressure. James kept them in it with his elite hands. But he was frozen out and could only do so much in the end.
Based on the tea leaves I read from observations of body language, and podcast reveals, and just a bunch of common sense, my read is that James will have a new partner sooner or later, which means tyson will again be searching for Mr. “Left” in 2024. I would look at connor garnett as a guy who might be drafted for that role. But there will probably be many pros clamoring for the opportunity to be teammates with TMEMIS.
Good explanation. Thanks. Either one could find good partners for sure. Many expected Jay and Tyson to split early last year. Maybe it should have happened. But this year, partners are not committing far ahead and will split when warranted. There will be some new venues too to “try out” a different partner with the addition of Seattle and Kansas City. It’ll be fun to watch how it plays out in 2023. But do you think 2024 will be the real year to tell how far the pros have come and what is needed to win?
it feels like there is much more fluidity in partnerships now. there is a realization that this is a business now. it’s livelihood and career. So players who feel they are stuck in a partnership that isn’t making progress can express that and make changes. the stigma of “dropping” someone isn’t there any more. one year partnerships are now closer to six month, then we’ll see.
James is a new breed player that doesn’t necessarily cater to the old ways. My sense is that he’s super ambitious, and is part of an ambitious duo, and will look to make steps to improve his positioning. Good right side specialists are rare. From what I saw yesterday, I think he and Andrei would be formidable for the rest of 2023. But the logistics of that are complex. James could be grooming his right side specialist for next year. Odds are that he and tyson will keep grinding for the rest of 2023. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were changes either.
Yes! The way the “new breed” see the current top players is funny. Staksrud mentioned legacy players and I thought he meant Wes Gabrielson or maybe Kyle Yates. But nope, he meant someone like Ben Johns or Matt Wright.
Improve with who, though? He can’t get even get to quarters with Loong or Collin, and could only get bronze with Newman in a tourney that didn’t have BJ. In fact, in that same tourney, *Tyson* got gold.
Said this before but I cannot wait for betting, so we can all put our money where our mouth is as far as betting against folks we think are overrated.
Betting would be fun to get soon!
We would agree that there is more fluidity and the year long commitments may become a thing of the past as so much talent coming in means so much more availability in quality partners. Still don’t know if you can make a trend of dumping players. You have to show some commitment or people will hesitate in partnering with you, or making significant commitments. Catherine Parenteau has shown that being a top player will insulate you from some of that no matter how you treat people, but it does matter.
It is not necessarily on court time but we can’t compare apples to apples in partnerships. Long and McGuffin did well but it doesn’t mean James/Tyson don’t need time to work things out. Could Anna/Riley have figured it out? Riley/Parris did well in their second event together. Is it possible that James could do a little more to help Tyson on the right by taking some more of those middle balls? He doesn’t seem comfortable inserting himself right now. It is possible that James and Tyson break-up this year but we wouldn’t necessarily expect it to happen right away here. They’ll see if they can get it sorted for a few more most likely.
What a boring championship Sunday. At what point is this a problem?or is it already? The Johns in particular are both predictable winners AND have a dull style of play. These tournaments as currently structured will never get a huge audience when there are this many of them and when they all look the exact same.
The most interesting one today was MS where you had neither Ben or AL.
If you want more opposition, consider sponsoring some young pickleball players, so they can be pros, and practice all the time. In a few years, they’ll be challenging Ben/Colin.
Dylan and Jdub will soon be the #2 team, and perhaps eventually the #1 team. They just need a year or so.
Top talent needs time to develop into the makings of a championship team.
Fred: I remember how bad Collin was in his early years.
Very boring Sunday. It’s not a lot of fun with ALW and Ben both there for Sunday. The other days are the best right now. What more can you do? They are the best.
Anna Leigh continues to impress. I expected a good match with Jorja and Viv, and it was kinda nice to see Mary as her singles opponent, because Lea rarely gives AL much of a challenge, but once again it was boom, boom, boom, over in both matches.
Yes. People have periodically figured out how to beat Ben but not AL.
No contest right now.
Seeing Mirceau on the sidelines on TV turns my stomach.
Would be interested to hear why, I haven’t heard anything one way or the other
Not the place for this, not pickleball related. Easy to find if you google. It was several years ago.
Fair enough, my bad
Not pickleball related? Okay.
Totally unrelated — three of the biggest sports stories of the past decade have been Larry Nassar, Jerry Sandusky, and now Richard Strauss. One thing to note about the horrors of Jerry Sandusky is that the worst occurred not when he was an employee, but as a hanger-on who was allowed to use his informal connection to the organization to gain clout and access, despite many people knowing about his behavior.
We probably need more info about Mircea’s situation but it does not appear from our past research into the matter that his situation is identical to the individuals you have listed. There is one article in particular that sets out a greater detail of facts, but it might be behind a paywall now. Again, while that does nothing to excuse the behavior in any way shape or form, it creates a situation where it is not necessarily as pickleball related as it may seem from the initial Daily Mail article and headlines of other articles. We understand the concern and it’s so tough, and we’ll revisit this one between us to see whether this is something we should be determining if we want to address it further on the blog.
Arrested and lost his medical license after allegedly drugging a women’s drink.
I would argue that potential safety issues within the pickleball community is EXACTLY where this comment belongs. Does the passion part of your blog only relate to results, performance and predictions and not to the potential safety of athletes/spectators? I am not trying to sensationalize anything or suggest we gather the pitchforks but if this person is hanging out with women in the community and they are potentially unaware of this very serious allegation (2018) of a doctor putting drugs in the drink of a long time friend then that to me is a potential safety issue for the larger pickleball community. In my opinion, this rises above the typical gossip which I agree does not belong here. I am only suggesting awareness of the allegation is fair in this particular case and your blog has a strong and far reaching voice in this community.
I can’t imagine Jack and Julie not being fully aware. If they have reason to believe it is in the past and let their children be coached by him, that’s good enough for me. Horrible*3 to have done that but people can change. It’d be awesome if it was pickleball that changed him. He’s never said AFAIK.
Everyone can have their own opinion on things, but it seems that he has paid his debt to society and suffered consequences as a result. As Waggish has said, there’s no question the Johnson family is aware of this and likely have addressed it to allow Mircea to become as close to their family as he has. It is obviously not behavior that is condoned, but there is an aspect that you can make mistakes and redeem yourself from them. We don’t know enough about the situation to be able to say whether something that happened 5 years ago means he cannot be in this space. It’s a very difficult conversation indeed and with all the different information that gets thrown around we have internal discussions about how to handle these things. The information is there publicly and there are multiple articles with significant amounts of information that shed light on the situation. We’re not necessarily sure our interpretation of that information is what matters when it comes to a pickleball blog, but we appreciate you bringing this up. We’ll have more discussions with one another and see if there’s anything more to do with what is yet another touchy situation in pro pickleball.