PPA Tour Desert Ridge Open – Live Blog

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In case you missed it, we had a lengthy intro to our fantasy draft preview talking about early partnership changes and the PPA seeding weirdness – the doubles draws have since been posted as well with Tyler Loong getting another favorable seed. For those curious, we have not received any word clarifying how the seeding is operating. The other interesting thing to come from this first PPA event is that we are seeing play-in matches to the main draw. Those are necessary with the draws getting too big like the 60 plus player draw at the APP World Pickleball Open. It does sound like there’s some issues with lower number seedings and who is in/out of the main draw, which has significant implications as the PPA is paying out players for winning each round this year too. It is unclear whether the players outside the main draw are guaranteed two matches as the registration fee starts to become an even heftier investment for fringe pros and amateur players.

Sunday, January 30th – Championship Sunday

5:24 pm EST (Gritty) – Another barn burner women’s singles finals. The side was a real factor as the pair went back and forth on splitting games. Anna Leigh really seems bothered when she gets passed at the net. Parenteau went on a streak down 8-2 and AL decided not to come to the net for a bit, but it did not cost her. I think she’s just gotta trust coming to the net as that’s when Catherine was dictating play.

4:25 pm EST (Gritty) – We might be seeing a lot more of this matchup in finals this season but it is exciting for now. They tried Riley on the left, Riley on the right. None of it was enough for the Johns who pull it out in 4 games. This Newman/Wright thing looks good as we expected. Give it some time and who knows. Their flexibility on sides now that Wright is comfortable on both sides is very helpful.

2:35 pm EST (Gritty) – We have two finals completed. Ben and Anna Leigh get their first victory in their first tourney for AL’s first mixed gold pro title. They won in 4 games and we’ll have to see if this is the start of dominance. We can’t forget that they almost lost to Koller/Callie.

Then Callie and Lucy same deal. It went the distance in 5 but we could have been underrating this team. They have so much countering and speeding up ability that it’s hard to figure what to do against them in the women’s game. Should be more fun battles to come.

Saturday, January 29th – Doubles

9:33 pm EST (Slim)– The Waters take the bronze over Vivienne and Irina, but their stacking Leigh on the left side remains perplexing. They played the majority of the day like that but it seemed like they played their best today when they did have Anna Leigh on the left.

8:33 pm EST (Slim) – JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier take the bronze over Rob Cassidy and Chuck Taylor. It was a great run for Chuck and Rob today. I think it was due to circumstances, but JW and Dylan’s MLP performance, still puzzles me a bit. The women’s bronze medal match is now set to take place with the Waters, taking on Vivienne David and Irina Tereschenko. We will see if Vivienne and Irina can take the Waters, or if the women’s bracket will end up going pretty much chalk.

7:43 pm EST (Gritty) – Very confused about the Waters stacking. Leigh was playing primarily on the left and it seems like they should want Anna Leigh there. They lose a close one that they were right in. Other than Leigh being more comfortable on the left, I’d really love to know what the reason behind this is.
Spencer Smith and DJ Young go down to the Johns brothers. They lost it in the second game after a competitive first game. I was interested to see DJ being stacked on the right and that appeared to be the case for the entire day. I kind of like to see teams doing something different with their alpha player. DJ also is the second best lobber in the game behind Callan Dawson. Sneaky lobs. They will now face JW/Dylan to see who plays Chuck Taylor/Rob Cassidy for bronze. Chuck/Rob beat Thomas Wilson/AJ Koller and there’s no reason they can’t win a bronze. We did not see this one coming from a mile away.

5:47 pm EST (Gritty) – The Newman/Wright partnership is having a good start to the year. They are into Championship Sunday after not dropping a game through the winners bracket side of things. On the other end of the draw, we’re waiting on DJ/Spencer Smith to play the Johns after Smith/DJ beat Cassidy/Taylor in a tight 3-gamer. DJ and Spencer are a good pair with a steady Eddy type in Spencer and an alpha, court cover guy in DJ. It sounds like they have more tournaments lined up this year.

On the losers side, Cassidy/Taylor continue to have a day after getting through Loong/Dawson 15-10. Nunnery/Pat Smith was a rough go today after they lost to Wilson/Koller then go to the losers side and get taken out by Julian Arnold/Wes Burrows, who would be a very interesting pair to watch. Frazier/Johnson found their way past Arnold/Burrows after beating Jay/Tyson who really do not start off the year well. We had some concerns about that partnership but thought they were due for some strong results in any event.

Jessie Irvine/Catherine Parenteau are currently battling the Waters in the 3rd game after splitting the first two 11-9 both ways.

2:51 pm EST (Gritty) – Have a weekend Chuck Taylor. Johnny Goldberg commented on Facebook last night we underrate Cassidy and Chuck Taylor severely, and I thought we have been pretty fair to Rob who we did draft to MLP in our mock. However, neither of us have thought of Chuck as a guy able to get big wins on tour and here he is beating Matt/Lucy yesterday in mixed and now Jay/Tyson convincingly 11-4, 11-4. We may have to rethink our Chuck Taylor analysis. Rough start to the Jay/Tyson partnership.

2:00 pm EST (Gritty) – Not much to report so far. However, if you turned on the stream early today and were a bit confused why Ernie Garcia and Cooper Fratt were playing Sorin Bojica and Michael Enright on centre court, it’s likely because Ernie Garcia is the CEO of Carvana. He’s a very wealthy man and obviously a pretty solid player in his own right. We were a bit confused so we looked into some more. There ya go.

Friday, January 28th – Mixed

7:45 pm EST (Gritty) – Chuck Taylor and Allyce Jones with the run of 2022 so far. Big wins as noted below and then a 15-7 over Matt/Lucy followed by an exhilirating bronzr match against Newman/Parenteau. I love the fire of Allyce. She is not the smoothest player on tour but her fight is as good as anyone’s. Hands and defence for women can get it done in mixed, and her volleyball background leaves her unafraid of diving. Taylor also with just super high level shotmaking today. I called these two pickleball’s middle class in a takeaway not that long ago. That may not have been fair to them.

5:48 pm EST (Gritty) – It is funny how these days can go. Johns/AL were 2 points away from having a horribly disappointing day and now they cruise through Parenteau/Newman to Championship Sunday. Tough draw for Parenteau/Newman as they were the #2 seed and had to face Johns/AL who were a #3 seed as AL doesn’t have the points in mixed.

On the back side, Mama Waters and Tyler Loong have had a solid day but it’s going to be a tough time against Parenteau/Newamn. Jones/Taylor continue their quality run as well beating David/de la Rosa and then Callie Smith/AJ Koller. At some point, we are going to have to stop referring to these as upsets for this pair. They just keep getting results.

3:05 pm EST (Gritty) – Anna Leigh and Ben are still alive by the skin of their teeth. AJ and Callie rattled off like 13 or 14 straight points from game 1 through game 2 then they were up 9-3. Ben and Anna Leigh eventually took over winning 11-9 and 11-0 in 2nd and 3rd. Quite amazing how things change. This partnership definitely is going to take a bit of time to get rolling 100%, but it will be helpful if they can stave off losses like that. Oh so narrowly.

2:15 pm EST (Gritty) – Alright, let’s get caught up here on the early action. A couple of interesting results were Leigh Waters/Loong beating DJ/Irina in 2 games. You just never know what you’re going to get with DJ. Collin Johns mixed stock trends further down as he loses with Lauren Stratman to the upset specialists Allyce Jones/Chuck Taylor. There may be a point in time where we have to stop calling them upset specialists, but for now that’s what they are.

It was the full Daniel de la Rosa experience on centre court as Matt/Lucy get by de la Rosa/David in two very close games. The man is #1 on the International Racquetball Tour and is crazy talented. Slim noted in the draft preview that this was a team to watch and it sure was. Some insane points. One note I wanted to make is that I think it’s only a matter of time before opponents start figuring out they need to speed up/attack Vivienne almost exclusively down the line. She is so often fading to her backhand and, in theory, is gettable in that way. Too often she is being sped up in her sweet spot from what my untrained eye sees.

Koller/Smith are currently battling Anna Leigh/Ben and are up a game. Lots of game left but it would be quite the thing to see Ben out of two Championship Sundays in this way.

Thursday, January 27th – Singles

10:40 pm EST (Gritty) – Ben bronze. Nice ring to it. Tougher than score made it look match against Thomas Wilson.

7:35 pm EST (Gritty) – Callie Smith takes the bronze as she continues to have Irina’s number. Smith relentlessly attacks Irina’s backhand, particularly when Irina is up at the kitchen. Backhand rolls for days to that side from Callie. Irina still can’t do a ton with lower and in between balls out of the air on her backhand so she’s quite vulnerable there making it easier to work your way up. Callie seems to have a plan for Irina and does not stray from it. Despite being down game points in game 2, she was able to pull it out.

6:20 pm EST (Gritty) – Catherine Parenteau makes it to championship Sunday as it is all as most would have predicted on the women’s side. Irina made it interesting winning game 1 but she couldn’t maintain that level as Parenteau was just the better player for the rest of the match. Callie Smith squeaked by Lauren Stratman 15-13 as she will play the winner of Irina and Jorja Johnson for bronze. Stratman in a game to 15 is dangerous as she can crack her ground strokes.

Frazier was just taken to town by JW Johnson. Ben “King of the Back Draw” Johns has worked his way back to the bronze medal match where he’ll play the winner of Thomas Wilson and Frazier,. I guess Johns figures if he has to play the back draw then he might as well get bronze. He didn’t give up more than 6 points in any game to 15, and that 6 points was to Jay Devilliers.

5:00 pm EST (Gritty) – McGuffin is off to Sunday. He rattled off 16 of the next 20 points after being down 10-7 in the first game to Devilliers and seemingly on the ropes. Again, Tyson’s serve was deep all day long putting pressure on opponents and then he was slapping forehands, rolling forehand drops in perfect spots. He got hot.

3:58 pm EST (Gritty) – First women’s semi in the book with AL moving on past Callie in a fairly tight 2 game match. Smith has improvement in her game but it’s not enough for AL yet. Jansen is missing from this field but you do wonder if it starts to get old with the same top 5 women competing against one another.

Jay took down Thomas Wilson so he’ll have a semi-final match over McGuffin while the kids JW and Frazier face each other.

2:35 pm EST (Gritty) – Tyson wins a close match in 3 over the very talented Julian Arnold. Arnold’s level dipped after game 1 and we saw a lot more unforced errors, including off the serve return. McGuffin was getting his serves very deep in the court. These matches ain’t easy anymore early in tournaments. Jay Devilliers barely beat Mario Barrientos. Hope these guys have lots of guaranteed money in their deals!

Dylan Frazier beat Anderson Scarpa. Scarpa continues to do well in these pro draws after getting kind of shafted with a play in seed. Also, biggest upset of the day is that Ben Johns is not king of the withdrawal for now! He played to a 15-6 win. Wonder if there is something in his contract that means he has to play.

All chalk on women’s side so far. Top 4 seeds will play each other.

1:25 pm EST (Gritty) – Ben Johns out. Dylan Frazier, the 17 seed, takes him down in 2 games. Very tough first round matchup for notoriously slow starter Ben. Frazier hasn’t had amazing APP singles results this year but it appears he is a bad matchup for Ben with Ben wanting to play cat and mouse, which suits Frazier very well. Dylan was down 8-5 in the 2nd but a couple of missed returns, a couple of forehand passes and it was over. The thing about the play in is that Ben doesn’t get the free match warm up anymore either.

Thomas Wilson also beat Spencer Smith in 2. Not surprising but a solid win.

11:15 am EST (Gritty) – The main draw is not set to start until 10:00 am MTN, which the APP did last year and players seem to like. The play-ins will happen beforehand. It was interesting to see all the photoshoot stuff yesterday on social media as it is an ongoing effort from the PPA to do this for their players, which we expect players must like. It does also appear following along with new format has not been worked out yet as there are currently only Google drive links on Pickleball Tournaments (Nevermind, it is up as usual now that play-ins are done).

16 thoughts on “PPA Tour Desert Ridge Open – Live Blog

  • January 27, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    JW was playing pretty flawless today but I guess he didn’t have the toughest opponents. In any case If JW plays like he did today against Tyson I think he takes Gold. Kudos to Ben in the back draw, hard to doubt he would take Gold if it wasn’t single elimination.

    • January 27, 2022 at 8:15 pm

      On another note, the current PPA format has to be a reason we saw Ben on top of the Podium less last year in various events. It used to be easy to forget any losses that he had when he came back and won Gold anyway.

      • January 28, 2022 at 8:24 am

        JW sometimes can be matchup dependent but he looked very good today. And I think you are right but would have to go through old tourney results. I did go through mixed prior to when he started losing and he basically never lost with Simone. It’s in an article somewhere. He wasn’t as dominant in men’s but that stat was out there about his singles never losing before TOC

  • January 28, 2022 at 10:48 am

    Really impressed with De La Rosa, both teams were playing exceptional. For some reason I’ve never seen him play before and he exceeded expectations. We’ll see if he and Vivienne can sustain that and have a little run in the back draw.

    • January 28, 2022 at 12:21 pm

      Yeah he’s uber talented. Currently number 1 on IRT for racquetball. He’s not even all in on pickle

  • January 28, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    I used to work at the indoor Pickleball club in Utah at the start of 2021. Allyce Jones used to come in and train every other morning for two hours, and but I never thought she would actually go pro. January 2021 she was doing 4.0 mens events, and now she just beat Lucy and Matt and took a game off Riley and Catherine! Super impressed. Also have seen chuck play a bit but this was the best I’ve seen him play. Was super impressed with his consistency and hands today, and loved watching them both!

    • January 29, 2022 at 8:52 am

      Chuck played really well. Best we’ve seen yesterday too. Those are very impressive wins all around and then good match against Riley and Catherine

  • January 29, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Off topic from this thread, but I was really intrigued by the latest episode of Pickle Pod with:

    1) Thomas Shields trying to “blackmail” you guys into appearing on a future episode and
    2) Rob Nunnery saying that he feels that the other pros at Dreamland have blackballed him since he signed with the PPA and that he will be moving away from Austin. Does this mean that Ben and Collin won’t be welcome there as well? The next episode of The Freestyle Boys might be spicy.

    • January 29, 2022 at 6:36 pm

      I was surprised Rob was being so open about it. I wasn’t sure though exactly who he was referring to when he was taking about feeling uncomfortable at Dreamland. I couldn’t tell if he was referring to the other pros, the Dreamland/DUPR/MLP owners and management, or maybe both.

      • January 29, 2022 at 9:37 pm

        See comment to Mark’s about why he may be inclined to do so. Hard to say who exactly he is referring to

    • January 29, 2022 at 9:36 pm

      The blackmail is an interesting play to say the least hahaha!

      And to your comment and Denise’s, it seems it is his opportunity to get his side out there but there is likely more to it. Always multiple sides to a story like this and we suspect this was already happening by time they recorded last FB pod as Rob signed quite early. Kind of doubt they address it on next episode

  • January 29, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    definitely seeing some trends….first if you come from a high level tennis background you can make massive strides if you put the work in. Chuck looks like he does. tw is another where the ball just explodes off his paddle because of technique. there is much more athleticism this season than in years past. way more movement at the kitchen line. way more aggression on dinks.

    but jd and tm looked really slow and methodical out there, not nearly as dynamic as rc and ct were. not sure if this was just because they haven’t played much yet. but it does not look like either player has a defined role on that team.

    ct could be the ajk of 2022. he looks really good out there.

    ps: let me just say something abut jw. he has added a lethal two handed backhand pass that looks to be as good as anybody’s in the men’s game. he did not have this last year. That’s a big jump in one year, and could be good for a couple points per game and a difference maker. let’s see if it makes a difference tomorrow.

    jw looks so much more in command out there. just body language wise, strutting around and not giving freebie calls away like he has in the past.

    • January 29, 2022 at 9:34 pm

      Definitely think Chuck does. Gets a ton of high level play in Utah, which never hurts and then he seems to keep himself in great shape.

      On the other hand, sounds like Tyson is getting next to zero high level play or drilling at home. Can’t be easy to suddenly be thrown in unlike others.

      JW keeps impressing. For sure

  • January 31, 2022 at 11:32 am

    1. Chuck Train
    I was just as impressed as everybody else with Chuck Taylor. When he came a played the East Idaho Classic with Spencer Smith they had some trouble and lost against Austin gridley/Mario, then against Ashworth. It was indoor tennis facility, but whatever the case, his form and shotmaking was beyond good this tourney. I don’t know if he’ll keep it up, but if so, look out 2022.
    2. Elite Pros hierarchy will crumble.
    Based on this tournament alone, I can’t help but think that it will be very hard for the “Legacy Pros” to maintain their dominance over the sport, especially in men’s, and somewhat in mixed. This is mainly due to new men and previous “lower-tier” men putting in the work. Doubles for women might stay pretty predictable, but maybe that will change in a year or so as well. I’ll see if tyson, jay, loong, nunnery, etc, the midround choices of MLP, can prove me wrong and assert dominance over the hungry new wave of dedicated pickleballers.
    3. PPA broadcasting < APP.
    PPA broadcasting was trash this week to be honest. Maybe i was mad nothing changed from last year. Starting off with the audio. The audio was complete garbage so often, and even woke up my baby from her nap. Then confusing and in my opinion terrible choice in content by showcasing predetermined first round women's matches instead of highly competitive men's midround matches. WHY!? Show the best content available please. I think we're long past due having multiple courts in ppa coverage. I have ESPN+ and would love if they would show all courts like they do for tennis on ESPN+, even through a paid format. They have the best talent under contract, and don't even show us most of it.
    APP could show fewer senior matches in my opinion, but at least their attempt at quality is noticeable.

    Those are my takeaways.

    • January 31, 2022 at 11:53 am

      Thanks for comments Joseph! Our takeaways aren’t going to sound original at all this week as you’ve basically written two of the ones we were going to do. You can see our thoughts later when we have it all finalized on first two points

      The broadcasting stuff is interesting cuz we may just expect less from PPA at this point. Dundon is promising more so we’ll give that time but if it doesn’t happen at some point in next little while, then we’ll know it’s all lip service

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