A few different partnerships in some of the divisions could lead to some fun matchups in Austin. Keep up with the action as we provide thoughts throughout the tournament. You can find our fantasy draft preview here to see how we saw this weekend shaking out.
Sunday, March 27th – Championship Sunday
6:09 pm EST (Slim) – Parenteau put up a fight but it wasn’t enough against Anna Leigh. Another singles gold for the teenager who is just too much right now.
5:10 pm EST (Slim) – Poor Tyson, the man doesn’t give up but he loses yet another Championship Sunday final to Ben Johns. What else to say?
Parenteau/Newman get the monkey off their back as they beat Kovalova/Wright in 5. These two play each other tight usually and today was no different. One of these teams were going to get off the schneid. Tough day for Lucy and Matt overall too.
2:45 pm EST (Gritty) – Seems silly now that they were questions about whether Mama Waters should continue playing with AL. They get another PPA gold and give Callie/Lucy their first loss together as a partnership. The Mama Waters resurgence continues as they take it 3 games to 1.
1:15 pm EST (Gritty) – That’s another one for the Johns brothers. Slow start losing game 1 and they were down in game 3, but they once again are too much for Newman/Wright. 4 for 5 in gold medals this year for the brothers.
Saturday, March 26th – Doubles
9:14 pm EST (Gritty) – Jorja Johnson and Andrea Koop major bronze medal. Johnson must have been a last minute replacement for the injured Vivienne David. The thing that strikes me about the match is how unbothered Jorja is by the pace of Parenteau and Irvine. Irvine is a female known for her power and it seems like nothing to Jorja at this point. It was kind of odd how surprised Morgan Evans and Dave Fleming were by Jorja’s ability. Do they not watch pro pickleball outside of the PPA? More concerning, do they not read NML Pickleball? This bronze is not Jorja’s coming out party because she should already be known. Combine that with Koop just being good and that’s a tough team. To think, this team barely beat Whitwell/Braverman 17-15 at the start of the day.
Tyson McGuffin and Jay Devilliers, Kings of the Backdraw! That’s a helluva run from them. So much fight. They get the win over Kansas City folks Ben Newell and Jack Oxler. Oxler from the clouds with an appearance in a PPA bronze medal match. Where ya been, Jack! For the new school people, tons of Youtube stuff out there from back in the day, which is really 4 or 5 years ago. Ben Newell is low key one to watch too.
7:00 pm EST (Gritty) – So we had some website trouble here but we are back up! This is what we get for trying to up our “standards” over here at NML. To think that both NML and the PPA having technical issues. We’re two peas in a pod really. We feel ya PPA!
Anyway, let’s get some updates for you. We’re not going to be getting new matchups for Championship Sunday. Men’s doubles we’re getting the Johns vs. Wright/Newman. Koller/Wilson gave Wright/Newman a bit of a run for their money but Wright/Newman were too much. With the women, Irvine/Parenteau were beat by the Waters in two as the Waters continue their good run. Will either the Johns or Lucy/Callie be beat on Sunday?
In the backdraw, Jay/Tyson have found their way all the way back to the bronze match. You can say a lot about this partnership but one thing you can never say about these two is that they give up. That’s a long road they have taken, including a 16-14 win over Dekel Bar/DJ Young. You have to respect that even though they lost to Mediratta/French who went to the backdraw and lost 15-3 to Ben Newell/Jack Oxler (we saw the return of Jack Oxler and Chris Heck in this men’s draw. Throwback!). Oxler/Newell will play Wilson/Koller to see who goes to bronze.
For the women, Jorja Johnson/Andrea Koop won 17-15 in their first loser’s bracket match over Whitwell/Braverman and have worked all the way through to the bronze match, including a win over Stratman/Tereschenko. It’s another example for Jorja Johnson showing she is right there with these women. As good a day as Todd/Gayten-Leach had, it’s still only a 2-2 day after losing to Jansen/Grechkina 15-5. We don’t see many female upsets and they almost had the biggest of upsets these days. But it’s just not easy to get through these draws.
4:05 pm EST (Gritty) – Some very interesting results so far. Wilson/Koller barely over DJ/Dekel 12–10 in the third. That’s a matchup we both had quite close as either the 3 or 4 seed in this field, and that’s a tough one for DJ/Dekel. The Johns do get Dawson/Smith after losing the first game they don’t give up a point the rest of the way. There’s not enough offence creation in that partnership to get the truly elite couple of teams but they do have elite hands. Also, Wright/Newman over Loong/Nunnery, and it’s noticeable a couple of months has done Nunnery well. The man looks hashtag fit.
Parris Todd/Gayten-Leach is the most notable female early result as they beat Braverman/Whitwell and took Lucy/Callie to 11-9 in the third – heartbreaking loss. Todd needs to be rated higher by us as she is good. There’s no question about it. Quite impressive.
12:48 pm EST (Gritty) – I know they got a bronze last week after I was half joking with their obituary as a partnership but we can’t even call these upsets anymore when Jay/Tyson lose. They go out in their first match 6 and 7 to PB Formum star Neil Meditatta and Brandon French. It’s a long fight back to bronze for them. These two are fortunate they each have an event where they are winning medals as they could be a lot worse off.
Friday, March 25th – Mixed
6:40 pm EST (Gritty) – Rough day for Benny Backdraw. He and Koop got smoked by Anna Leigh and Dekel 15-3 so that’s a no podium day. Dekel/AL played a tight bronze ultimately losing against Jay/Jessie. Dekel is really pounding that serve and it is a weapon in mixed, especially when teams are switching to get their right alignment. Dekel’s Erne has also become such a weapon but he is still learning how to use it in mixed where he doesn’t try to over-Erne. It is a testament to Ben that other than the very first tournament him and AL have not been challenged. They are both wonderful players and puting them together has been a cheat code. AL may have sped up Jay a few too many times. No surprise though to see Jay/Jessie battle it out for the full day. Irvine has added more variety in terms of her forehand speed-ups when dinking. All these pros are constantly adding stuff to their games.
6:40 pm EST (Gritty) – Catherine/Riley are into what I believe is their first Championship Sunday of 2022 with a convincing win over Anna Leigh and Dekel. After going down 7-0 in game 1, they rolled off 22 of the next 25 points to win 11-8, 11-2. Anna Leigh and Dekel had a pretty convincing win themselves over Championship Sunday staples, Irvine/Devilliers, but the consistency level in mixed still isn’t there for Dekel. He seems to be finding himself more and more as a mixed player, but Parenteau/Newman prove to be too much.
Matt/Lucy are also in their first Championship Sunday (I believe) with a dominant 11-3, 11-3 win over Leigh Waters and Tyson McGuffin. It’s a matchup we have seen quite a few times on Sunday, but not in this Championship Sunday format. Both teams were due for a good result and now are each guaranteed at least a silver.
Benny Backdraw always fighting to the bitter end. A couple of tight wins in the losers side as he is still going with Andrea Koop. They’ll face AL and Dekel. No stream on his matches so I’m curious to see where Ben’s energy level is at and whether he feels he has anything to prove in that match.
3:55 pm EST (Gritty/Slim) – I wasn’t able to watch most of this match other than the end so these are mostly Slim’s thoughts on another Ben Johns mixed loss (first of 2022 though). Johns looked very sloppy throughout the match with a lot of misses on his backhand. Is Andrea Koop sick? She sounded like she was coughing a lot on the stream. Tyson/Leigh stayed aggressive and didn’t change their style throughout the match. Both Tyson and Leigh’s strong mixed results continue this year, and my thought is that Tyson is probably just an underrated mixed player because he doesn’t have truly elite weapons. But that serve has turned back into a real weapon for him and he’s so steady overall as a player.
They are playing these quarter-final matches one at a time and the other one that happened was Parenteau/Newman winning in three over Koller/Smith. This is their chance to make some noise for the first time in 2022. Koller/Smith have also squeaked by Jansen/Collin Johns 16-14 in the backdraw.
1:52 pm EST (Gritty) – Today has gone pretty much as expected for all the higher seeds. Irvine/Devilliers and Waters/Bar should be an interesting match. I took Irvine/Devilliers but considering we have been mistaken on how PPA seeding works with 3-4 seeds for the past couple of months that is one I’d probably like a do-over on. I don’t like that they have Waters/Bar in the quarter-finals as that’s a rough matchup. It is a match that would be fun to see streamed though. Really, a lot of these matches coming up look like a lot of fun. Smith/Koller vs. Parenteau/Newman, Lucy/Matt vs. Stratman/Wilson, Koop/Johns against either Jansen/Collin Johns or Leigh Waters/Tyson.
I also have to make a note of Rob Nunnery getting a big early win. He is back! It’s definitely an interesting and surprising partnership with forma Ninja Warrior, Jennifer Tavernier, but they got a nice win over Hayden Patriquin/Yana Grechkina. They lost to Parenteau/Newman easily but do we have a motivated Nunnery?
10:20 am EST (Gritty) – I want to clarify something I got wrong yesterday on seeding which is that the 3/4 coin flip has been the case all year for seeding. I had gotten it wrong in my head but that’s been the case all year publicly. No excuses, but there have been a lot of 1/4, 2/3 matchups acorss divisions it seems at least. So nothing has changed! Please disregard previous comments in this live blog and in the comments.
Thursday, March 24th – Singles
6:20 pm EST (Gritty) – It was a full chalk day in singles with the #1 and #2 seeds on both sides going to Championship Sunday and the #3 seeds winning bronze. A stark contrast from recent weeks. At least on the men’s side, it was a much thinner field than we have seen as I noted earlier today. There weren’t a lot of those bordering 2nd and 3rd tier players that can come out to give the top players a real run for their money in multiple matches – Ryan Sherry can do it but hasn’t been more recently. Tyson and Jay were both pushed hard by Julian Arnold, but otherwise there wasn’t much in the way of any possible drama today.
4:00 pm EST (Gritty) – Julian Arnold gave Tyson a run for his money as we thought he might but it wasn’t quite enough. Tyson started playing a lot more cat and mouse as the match went along, and once he was able to pull out game 2, 11-9, he worked Arnold hard. Arnold just isn’t as experienced to be comfortable int that type of game and I think there’s a lot more Arnold can do off his backhand off the bounce when Tyson drops it in the kitchen. Another Championship Sunday for the perennial #2 seed. He’ll play Ben Johns in what will surely be another exhilarating gold medal match between those two.
Parenteau is through to Championship Sunday after beating Irina while Callie is playing Anna Leigh right now. Smith got by Parris Todd in a what looks like it must have been a long 3-game match and don’t be surprised to a see a re-match there in the bronze. Todd gets Irina right now and Callie will have to play Padegimaite (assuming Smith loses to AL).
One of our readers noted that Callie Smith also had the #3 seed but was playing Anna Leigh. Slim texted me he thought it’s possible the PPA has gone back to coin flips for the #3 and #4 seed, which I believe is what they were doing last year. If that is true, which we don’t know, it may be they have gone back to the coin flip so there is some more variation in semi-final matchups – most notably a coin flip would mean Ben doesn’t 100% have to face JW the next time he’s registered for a PPA.
1:55 pm EST (Gritty) – It’s not nearly as deep a men’s singles field as what we were seeing on either of the pro tours in Florida. The top 3 players – Ben, Tyson and Jay – have made the semis with relative ease. Jay and Ben will play in one semi-final (Ben is up a game right now) while Tyson will get Julian Arnold in the other. It should be interesting to see whether Arnold can push Tyson in this one. I would expect that to be close. Arnold and McGuffin were practicing together earlier in the week for whatever that’s worth.
A notable almost result was Lina Padegimaite taking Irina to the brink losing 11-9 in the third. Irina will now play Catherine Parenteau in the semi-finals. Padegimaite got a bronze in doubles at a recent APP event with Kasandra Gehrke and she has been playing these PPA singles draws.
1:57 am EST (Gritty) – There are a couple of notable omissions from the singles draws. Lea Jansen is not included in the women’s draw while Thomas Wilson is not in the men’s draw. Those are a couple of very possible podium players both missing, particularly Jansen.
Another thing that is weird is the seeding…again. Jay Devilliers is third in PPA standings for singles yet he is on Ben Johns’ half of the draw. That seems rough for Jay as making that Championship Sunday becomes a lot harder with Mr. Johns on his side of the bracket.