PPA Tour North Carolina and APP Tour St. Louis – Live Random Thoughts

We are only two humans doing this blog so there will be one live blog for the week with thoughts on the action from both tournaments as we go. It should be an action packed 4 days. Here are links to out fantasy draft previews in case you are curious:

North Carolina Preview

St. Louis Preview

Sunday, May 8th – Championship Sunday

6:25 pm EST (Gritty) – Kawamoto/Koop get it done in 2 again over Bright/Johnson. They looked in control and the better team overall. We thought they could win gold going in but didn’t expect it to be this dominant.

4:57 pm EST (Gritty) – What a win for Ryan Sherry. First PPA title and I can’t remember the last time he won a gold medal in singles. He is always there but gold’s are elusive for him. Guve him 3 days rest and even in a best of 5 he can outlast, even if he looked like he needed an oxygen tank in the timeout before match point. Arnold looked like he returned too many balls to Sherry’s backhand as that backhand roll is the best in the men’s game and rivals Anna Leigh’s. Fun 5 gamer for Sherry.

Yates/Daescu also get a gold after having to go to 15. That’s another gold for Yates in the comeback season. Comeback player of the year right now!

Lea Jansen had to withdraw from singles due to health issues after winning gold.

3:17pm EST (Gritty) – The PPA finals a couple of expected outcomes. Matt and Riley win over Tyler and Tyson in 4. It was a good fight for Tyler and Tyson, better than I thought, but it wasn’t enough. And then Riley double dips in 3 straight over Lucy and Matt.

Michelle Esquivel injured her quad early and was clearly laboring so Parris Todd gets her first APP gold. Then Lee and JW have to do it in the game to 15 against Vivienne and Dekel. That’s a really surprising gold in a very strong mixed field. No gold in singles for JW but this gold really speaks to his dominating game.

12:27 pm EST (Gritty) – It is truly vindicating for Parenteau and Jansen at this early stage in their partnership. A 5 game win over Callie and Lucy. So they go US Open Gold and now a gold against the number one team out there this weekend without the Waters around. Things shift fast as we see with Lucy and Callie going without a gold for quite a period of time, but Parenteau gets the breakthrough she was looking for after switching partners.

Zane Navratil loses the 2 out of 3 and it looked grim after the 2nd and 3rd game, but credit to him mentally getting the game to 15. Well deserved gold.

Saturday, May 7th – Doubles

8:50 pm EST (Gritty) – Bright and Johnson expectedly get back to the bronze as they cruise through Simone and Corrine. Those could not have been a fun couple of matches for the former champions of the game. Should be a fun Sunday all around on both tours.

7:30 pm EST (Gritty) – I would love to see a rematch on Sunday of Koop/Kawamoto against Bright/Johnson. Jade Kawamoto proving to be a tour de force with Andrea Koop as they have blown through competition. Maybe it won’t matter but that seems to be the only team who might compete with Koop/Jade.

Dawson/Chuck Taylor get a nice bronze in North Carolina over Arnold/Smith. That has to feel good for those two. Small field but still a bronze. Same goes for the Utah pair of Meghan and Allyce as they secure what I believe is their first podium. That’s not what I expected but they played well today. It’s not easy fighting against those teams every tournament so that has to be a relief for them to get one. $250 extra big ones each for that bronze!

4:56 pm EST (Gritty) – It is hard to comprehend Dekel and JW not making it to the podium this weekend, but that’s why we play the games. This is undoubtedly our surprise of the weekend. This seemed like a juggernaut team. Instead, it is Daescu/Yates off to Championship Sunday with Navratil/Young and Frazier/Merchant playing in the bronze match to see who faces them. Daescu/Yates got through Koller/Wilson and have rolled the rest of the way. It’s also another strong showing for Navratil in doubles.

On the women’s side of the APP, all things going fairly according to plan there. Johnson/Bright tuned up Whitwell/David again after seeing them for the first time since their Punta Gorda breakthrough. 

At the PPA, Tyson/Tyler do end up getting to the Championship Sunday and as expected will play Matt/Riley. Don’t expect this one to be too close. The women’s side hasn’t gone quite according to plan. Sheehan-Dizon/Jones got a strong win against Yana/Irvine, and we really have to wonder if Yana is further away than a lot of these PPA players from real contention. She gets some good partners without much to show for it but they did end up getting a win against Stratman/Tereschenko on the backside so we’ll see how that day ends up. We’ve also given some grief to the Utah ladies but they are currently in a battle with Callie/Lucy, who are having trouble week in and week out these days. The winner will face Parenteau/Jansen in the final.

3:10 pm EST (Gritty) – It just goes to show it is harder than it sounds to throw two really good players together and win. JW/Dekel are handled relatively easily by Zane and DJ, who I definitely liked going into this week. JW and Dekel do win their tough losers bracket match against Thomas/AJ, 15-11, and those two could not have been happy to see Dekel/JW at that point. On the other half of the draw, Daescu/Yates are in the winners final and that’s another one for Yates this year when he gets the right partner.

Collin and Pat have worked their way back to the bronze not surprisingly, but no get back to the gold at the PPA.

1:15 pm EST (Gritty) – Scarpa/Dow come out with a very impressive win over Smith/Johns. They blew game 2 after some ill-advised speed ups but very mentally strong coming back to win 11-9 in game 3. They seem to have added some more offence, which is slow offence, but offence nonetheless. They make you work a ton and have good hands.

Yates/Daescu with a big win as well over Koller/Wilson in 3. That could have gone either way but not surprising it was close. We’ll see if Yates/Daescu can make a run now and even give JW/Dekel a run for their money if they get there.

11:22 am EST (Gritty) – We made a bit of a joke about Devilliers getting Wally Pipp’d by Tyler Loong at the US Open, but maybe that won’t happen for men’s doubles. Tyson/Tyler just almost lost to two unknowns in Llardo/Kinney, winning 11-9 in the third. It was put in our comments that Tyler would be a better fit with Jay after our takeaways columb was posted and that is probably correct. It continues to be a struggle for Tyson to get results in men’s doubles. The day is still young though!

Friday, May 6th – Mixed

7:13 pm EST (Gritty) – Dekel in mixed, never a doubt. 11-6, 11-6 over Koop/Navratil who were a couple of points away from Championship Sunday. Should be an interesting final and we can see if Dekel/Vivienne have something else figured out for Lee/JW. Still a good day for Koop and Zane too.

Arnold/Irvine get the bronze as well 11-6, 11-6. That’s another podium for Jessie in mixed with a different partner and Arnold showing he is right there at that elite level in mixed.

5:48 pm EST (Gritty) – Pretty much going as expected at the PPA. We have the Championship Sunday set with Parenteau/Newman taking on Wright/Kovalova, but that wasn’t before Wright/Kovalova had to work against Arnold/Irvine. As Slim noted in the fantasy draft preview, Arnold’s game is better suited to mixed at this stage and it’s not a surprise he was right there with Lucy/Matt. It should be a good one for bronze against Tyson/Lauren too. On the other hand, Lucy/Matt continue to have to work harder for wins. They seem to do as well as any spouses can playing pickleball competitively together but you do wonder if things get tougher when the winning comes less often. 

At the APP, JW/Lee are off to Championship Sunday too and it just goes to show what JW can do as a player. He’s the best player out and makes all the difference. The 2nd game at 12-10 clearly could have gone either way but JW ends up being the game changer. Slim gets what he deserves for going against his always pick JW strategy. It’ll be David/Bar or Bright/Koller in the bronze. Again, could see either of those teams get back to the gold. 

2:53 pm EST (Gritty) – Busy day of mixed on both tours. We thought the mixed field had about 9 or 10 possible teams that could find the podium, and that has proven to be true. Koop/Navratil, who went undrafted by us, have a guaranteed podium spot as they are off to the winners bracket final after wins over Fudge/DeHeart, Jorja Johnson/Thomas Wilson and then Bright/Koller – cleary a misstep in overrating an untested team and underrating a tested team in Koop/Navratil. The surprise was the steamrolling of Johnson/Wilson in 2 games, who are in the losers bracket right now, but they then get the win over Bright/Koller in a very tight 3 game match. Bright/Koller so close to a big day as they got the win over Jardim/Frazier, but this was always a boom/bust kind of team. Don’t be surprised to see them in the gold on Sunday still. Navratil keeps finding more success in doubles.

On the other half of the draw, JW/Lee are surprisingly in the winners bracket final as Dekel in mixed continues to be perplexing. They lost to JW/Whitwell in 2 games. I don’t get it as JW/Lee have not had great success together. We did not see the Koop/Navratil vs. JW/Whitwell winners bracket final coming.

In terms of more surprising losses, Frazier/Jardim went down to Brendan Long/Esquivel in the losers bracket so that’s a really bad day for them and they were the team both of us had as the #1 team going into today. Barr/Cassidy had a rough day and I did mean to mention Hewett/Ansboury in our fantasy draft preview, but I just missed them. They are always dangerous. 

On the PPA side, no real surprises other than Collin/Lea did push Matt/Lucy fairly close to the brink in their quarter-final match. I’m not sure that qualifies as a moral victory but it’s something better than what they have been showing. Irvine/Arnold are going to be a dangerous team against Matt/Lucy in the semis while we have to expect Parenteau/Newman will beat Stratman/McGuffin.

10:40 am EST (Gritty) – So the APP has an early start with PPA not getting going for about 20 minutes. Jorja Johnson and Thomas Wilson were always an intriguing team, and they get the best of Barr/Cassidy, 11-8, 11-6. If it gets all the way there, Bright/Koller could be the matchup or Jardim/Frazier, which would be a lot of fun. Bright/Koller found their way by Kawamoto/Young in 3 and that’s just a tough spot. Bright’s limited rankings seems to put her in hard seeding positions still.

Thursday, May 5th – Singles

7:30 pm EST (Gritty) – All we have left in the day is the women’s bronze at the PPA with Irina and Callie. I wonder if Irina gets tired of losing a few hundred bucks in the bronze to Callie. There are just some bronze matches to update on. Nothing shocking. Tyson over Jake Kusmider in 3. The 2nd and 3rd games were a walkthrough for Tyson after losing game 1. Kusmider is showing to be a formidable player on tour after his recent APP podium. 

At the APP, JW Johnson got through Dylan Frazier so he’ll get his rematch on Sunday over Zane. That should be a fun one to watch. Then Parris Todd will also get her rematch with Michelle Esquivel. It was a blowout for Todd over Bright, which is definitely a surprise considering some of their recent battles. Improvement is not always linear and you never know at the end of the day how a player is doing physically in singles, but that’s not a promising result for Bright. It is still a bronze for Bright though and she should be poised for a big doubles weekend. 

5:49 pm EST (Gritty) – Some weird results today. Julian Arnold is off to the finals as he followed up his big Tyson win with a 3-game victory over Tyler Loong. It truly is his shot to breakout at a smaller PPA event with Ryan Sherry getting to his first Championship Sunday with his own 3-game barn burner win over Frank Anthony Davis. Ryan Sherry and Julian Arnold in a PPA final. What a world! Those are some big results all around. Tyson will face Jake Kusmider in the bronze after Tyler Loong withdrew and you can’t be surprised Tyson continues to fight through the backdraw. He should get this bronze. 

Both tours have had some very grindy matches in singles today all around on top of the weird results. Michelle Esquivel showed up out of nowhere to find her way to a Championship Sunday final over Parris Todd. It was surprising to see Todd lose to Esquivel after beating up on Jorja Johnson earlier in the day, but when you try to win a groundstroke game with Michelle Esquivel in singles it is not an easy task. Todd is so talented but we’ll be the broken record to continue to say she has to get to the net. She doesn’t seem like she has improved in that aspect at all honestly.

On the men’s APP side, Zane gets a victory over Zane in, guess what, a barn-burner of a 3-gamer. The indoor environment definitely favors Zane’s heavy serve and ground stroke game as opposed to that Florida humidity. No Crbn, small problem for JW, but he also lost to Zane with the Crbn so what does it really mean? Dylan Frazier is going to play JW in the bronze as he got through Yates then newcomer James Ignatowich. That’s a well-earned podium for Frazier.

2:58 pm EST (Gritty) – No Crbn, no problem so far for JW as he is in the winners bracket final. He has been able to get through both Fed Staksrud and the always dangerous Rafa Hewett en route to this spot. He’ll see Navratil next and Zane alluded to his concerns about the Crbn in his US Open recap as he gets the best of Ignatowich and Frazier.

It ends up being a disappointing day for Staksrud who loses to Kyle Yates on the losers side. We don’t see Yates in too many of these singles draws anymore but he has had a very good run in the back getting Staksrud and then Cincola.

Michelle Esquivel from the cheap seats takes down Anna Bright in 3 games. Esquivel in singles! Where ya been! It’s a reminder of how far Bright has to go and I do wonder if she has limitations from a mobility perspective overall as a singles player. Her mobility is decent but it is not elite. 

It is finally a breakthrough for Julian Arnold in men’s singles as he takes down Tyson in 3 games. It looked like this was going to slip away from Arnold as he was up 8-2 and Tyson brought it back to 8-7, but he holds on for the win. That’s a disappointing couple of singles results for Tyson between US Open and here. 

Irina Tereschenko has found her way to a semi-final after beating newcomer Rachael James and Lauren Stratman in 3 games. Lea and Callie will face-off in the other semi. One of Sherry or FAD will get a Championship Sunday appearance in what has surely been the easiest half of the bracket at a PPA event this year.

11:15 am EST (Gritty) – Chalk one up for the PPA not manipulating their draws in favor of their players. Tyson gets the brutal end of a thin men’s field. I have only seen Austin Tchikatilov’s name but he took Tyson to 12-10 in the third. Almost lost round one!

Tyler Loong must have been a late addition to the draw as he fits into Tyson’s half of the draw along with Julian Arnold, Jake Kusmider, and Spencer Smith. FAD and Sherry are on the other half without any seeming challengers on in their half – I’ll continue to be confused by how Damien Spizzo gets such high seeds as he’s #6 today and loses 11-1, 11-2 first match. I am not sure why Anderson Scarpa is no longer in the draw either. We’re still early stages here.

At the APP let’s give some props to #1 senior pro singles player Mattias Johanssom who took a game off Dylan Frazier before losing in 3. Otherwise, nothing really to report anywhere else. Cincola beat Kyle Yates in 3 as well.

16 thoughts on “PPA Tour North Carolina and APP Tour St. Louis – Live Random Thoughts

  • May 5, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    If nobody else says so. Thank you very much for your time (both of you) in creating your thoughts and writing them here.

    Isn’t it sad when you have to say, “Chalk one up for the PPA NOT manipulating their draws in favor of their players”. It just tells you how dishonest the PPA is and how little they care about the players and the sport of pickleball.

    Again, thank you for your time. It is very much appreciated.

  • May 5, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    I didn’t watch much. It looked like Kusmider (at PPA) and JW (at APP) were both using Electrum. Do you know if Stak also chose Electrum? Couldn’t find him in the video recorded. I think all 3 were CRBN users in Singles. I kinda thought JW might choose Joola just to get into a mind game with Ben – and maybe he will next time he plays him. Great to see Arnold make it to gold match. Thanks for the write-up so I could catch up on the action I missed.

    • May 6, 2022 at 9:41 am

      JW was actually playing a Grüvn RAW-16H

  • May 6, 2022 at 11:42 am

    Not sure how Zane and Andrea missed the draft board

    • May 6, 2022 at 11:54 am

      Cleary a misstep. Overrated new teams and underrated an old team that has had some but not great success.

  • May 6, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    Watch out for big papi Matt Treblas, good few wins including a 15-0 on Jack Foster. Guy is nasty.

    • May 6, 2022 at 5:53 pm

      We are aware of Mr. Treblas. Solid player. Not sure about the pro upside though

  • May 6, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    The PPA semifinal with Arnold was amazing to watch. I just wish Jessie and Julian got into the Gold match. It would have been much more interesting to watch them against Newman/Parenteau.

    • May 6, 2022 at 5:53 pm

      100% would have been more interesting. They were almost there too!

  • May 7, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    one observation on each tournament

    PPA: I think this was JA’s coming out party. He has been knocking on the door in singles, losing two 3 game matches to TY this year. He finally broke through this week. JA has been lacking some “belief.” He has been close but had not closed out a match against TM. Now he has the belief he “belongs” and that he can beat TY in singles.

    I would not bet against JA in any future matches against TM. JA also looked to be the better doubles player in their head to head matchup in mixed. JA’s move to TX has paid off handsomely, as I saw a more mature and confident doubles player, with vastly improved 3rd ball and dinks. He has elite movement, a motor that doesn’t quit, FIGHT and Belief, as well as great backhand drive and volley, and of course a lethal forehand. He won most of the hands battles with TY in his mixed match. In fact he made TY look slow and awkward at times. JA was a D1 college tennis player. But he may have been born to play pickleball. He is now a real danger man in the PPA singles draw imo. And the PPA really really needed someone to take on that role.

    APP: I said before the today’s matches in ST Louis that the DB JW partnership will be either really good or really bad. I don’t think they meshed well at all. And I think it proves a point that you can’t just stick two super talented players together and expect instant results. Rather I believe today proved that SPECIALIZATION is the future of pro PB. And neither JW or DB looked comfortable on the right side. In fact the team started stacking JW on the left near the end of the ZN DJY debacle. JW looked out of sorts today, even on the left. He didn’t play well. I don’t believe DB played well either.

    So I think this partnership will not be anything more than a grand experiment. I thought it had loads of potential. But you win matches on the court, not on paper.

  • May 7, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    PPA vs APP: I thought the viewing angles was much better with PPA. Sometimes the players looked tiny on the APP court. Plus APP had tons of background noise. I wondered if that effected JW. He seemed distracted. When compared with Daescu/Yates or Navratil/Young, team Bar/Johnson seemed low energy. Also, D/Y and N/Y both seemed to have a game plan going in – with the stacking strategy for example. And to be aggressive and hit with pace.

    The PPA bronze match started looking like an easy win for Dawson/Taylor at the beginning of game 2 when they got a big lead. Then things changed and it took 13 match points before Dawson/Taylor brought home the bronze.

    What happened to Nunnery? Gritty had Nunnery/Stone as one of his picks. I saw Stone watching the matches so assume he was okay.

  • May 7, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    I noticed a “typo”. You put Arnold/Smith in the bronze match when it was Johns/Smith. Johns/Smith beat Arnold/Smith for the chance at bronze.

  • May 8, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    It looks like some of the scores got entered wrong on pickleballtournaments for APP Gold. I wonder if it doesn’t get fixed if it’ll effect ratings. I wouldn’t expect the players themselves to doublecheck the system.

  • May 8, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    Matt and Riley beat Tyson and Tyler in *4


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