PPA Tour North Carolina Open – Live Random Thoughts

📸 @ppatour

This indoor tournament is missing Ben Johns but AL is back. In the revolving door of 2023 partnerships, we again see new teams and also some new faces for the PPA Pro Tour. Some names to watch: Jack Sock, Judit Castillo, Colin Shick. Though many North Carolinians and Floridians are making the trek to this near-by pro tournament, we don’t see Brendon Long in any of the brackets. It also looks like there’s some live action on ESPN2 on Sunday with the mixed doubles final so it’ll likely be another 2 out of 3 with that spot.

Championship Sunday, May 7th

12:12 pm EST (Waggish) – There will be a break as needed before the MXD match on ESPN2 at 6:00 pm ET. The match played at 10:00 am ET and airs later. Hint: it goes to 3 games. Hopefully not too much editing down to fit in the commercials.

12:12 pm EST (Waggish) – MS Gold: Staksrud vs McGuffin. Not a slow start for either of these players. They are firing on all cylinders. Cat and mouse game by Staksrud. Some very nice drops right on the sidelines by Tyson. Tyson is getting that crowd fired up. Lots of signs being held up for Tyson. Video challenge by Tyson at 6-5. Out but Tyson gets his revenge by doing almost an identical shot a few hits later. But Tyson wants another video challenge at 9-7 but no time-outs left. I don’t understand what he was challenging though because Fed’s drop was clearly in by a mile. Game 2: See Staksrud’s incredible get for an ATP at 3-1. Game 2 doesn’t have much for Tyson’s fans to cheer about. See Staksrud deadly accuracy at 6-1 practically at the baseline/sideline corner. Staksrud looks very relaxed. Is Tyson trying to delam his paddle? He punches it. That’s a joke!! Staksrud gets a 2nd 2023 gold. (7,5) He has 3 silvers and 0 bronze for 2023. Tyson has the 1 gold from Red Rock and no silver/bronze.

1:07 pm EST (Waggish) – WD Gold: Parenteau/Waters vs Grechkina/Stratman: Game 1: CP/AL have 8 before Yana/Lauren get their first point. Game 2: Good hand battle at 2-4 with AL taking on both opponents. CP/AL win Gold (3,4,0). 3 for them as a team in 2023. AL also has 3 with AB in 2023.

2:25 pm EST (Waggish) – MD Gold: Newman/Wright vs Frazier/Johnson REMATCH from Newport! Matt and Riley are doing speed-ups on every ball possible. Very few errors from them in game 1. Dylan and JW doing very little to force errors from them. Game 2. Dylan and JW a little more lively. Yesterday, Dylan made a half-joke about JW’s energy. Dylan finding the inside/out to Riley’s sideline is getting results. Long dink rally at 5-8 ended with a lob by Matt. Both run back. Dylan takes it with his BH but JW looked better balanced to take it with his FH. Cost them the point. That gave some confidence to Matt and Riley and they take the next 2 points to tie it at 8. See rally at 8-9-2. Just WOW!. Riley and Matt go into Game 3 with a lot of momentum – mentally and physically. JW needs to get more aggressive but he seems to be fine letting Dylan take that role. Wow. I can’t believe how fired up Riley is in game 3. He’s celebrating everything. He and Matt finally get their first MD gold in 2023. (3,8,6) They drastically reduced their errors from Newport and kept to the plan to attack. Riley said they had a “heart-to-heart” phone call after Newport. Good for them to figure some things out.

2:50 pm EST (Waggish) – WS Gold: Waters vs Jansen. Quick game as Waters takes care of business (1,3). Would have been even quicker without the time-outs.

5:07 pm EST – Not the most eventful Championship Sunday so far today. Federico took down Tyson as Tyson’s veterans savvy is not as effective on the now veteran-ish Staksrud. The men’s final surprisingly was not a match as Riley and Matt took down JW/Dylan in 3. What may have appeared to be a changing of the guard last tournament is not quite to be as Riley/Matt figured it out to get their first gold of 2023 as noted above. It’s a true race for that 2nd spot.

7:53 pm EST (Waggish) – MXD Gold: Waters/Sock vs Newman/Jones. There was a delay while celebrity cornhole finished its championship. Game 1. Watch 1-2 rally. At 10-2, we get video challenge and call is upheld. The shot by Sock right after at 2-10-1 goes cross-court to catch Riley off-guard. That may have helped get Sock fired up because he was amazing in game 2. Especially watch him catch fire the first few points. At 0-0, we get inside-out from Sock that Allyce calls out. Video challenge shows in. And again Jack gets fired up – see next point when AL gives him the entire court. And next one at 1-3 — good one-to-one against Riley. Allyce is targeted and popping balls up. Some look like she had intended lobs but they were very bad against the athleticism of Sock. In game 3, Riley is pressing hard and making errors. Great poach at 6-1 by Sock. Again, they target Allyce and she is not handling it well with returns that are high. Their strategy seems to be to return to Jack because that’s all she does. She should be returning cross-court from transition zone to give her a chance to drop and advance. At paddle tap at end of match, Allyce addresses AL. She seems to say some sharp words to her. AL’s reaction on tape looks like “What? What are you talking about?” AL looks like she was caught off-guard and had no clue. It was quick on ESPN so might be worth a re-look on the YT video when it gets released. In interview, Sock said he was trying to match Riley’s explosiveness and athleticism. He certainly did that in games 2 and 3. Fun to watch. AL/Jack 3-11, 11-2, 11-3.

Saturday, May 6th Doubles

11:25 am EST (Waggish) – MD has 47 teams. While Tyson is teaming with Jack Sock, Ignatowich will team with Tyler Loong. So that means Callan Dawson gets a new partner in Dekel Bar. WD has 26 teams. Jorja Johnson is partnered with Meghan Dizon. Both of these ladies can bring the power but can they bring the finesse. Catherine is back with AL. AB is with Vivian Glozman as a substitute for Andrea Koop. They know each other from their college tennis days. We never saw Jessie with Etta Wright and we won’t here either. Jessie is back with Jackie Kawamoto. Etta is with Vivienne David.

Big UPSET! McGuffin/Sock lose first round to Eric Roddy and Jim Dobran 5,2. Two tweeners at the baseline from Roddy at 0-0 in 2nd game! Ouch – see the comment at 6-0 comparing what AL would have done. Not seeing any chemistry between Tyson and Jack. As frequently happens, one partner’s errors seem to force errors by the other. They withdraw afterwards as neither has any reason to grind out for PPA points and a few $. McGuffin will be very fresh for his Gold singles match on Sunday. I’m so disappointed I can’t look forward to another day of Sock. Klinger-Tchikatilov defeat Jaume Vich and Gabriel Tardio (8,3).

12:35 pm EST (Waggish) – VERY Weird day. Stone/Patriquin take lead from 8-10 to 11-10 against Koller/Arnold. Good rally at 11-11. Stone claiming Patriquin called ball out but he played it. Properly lose that argument with ref Don S. Arnold was ready to get very, very upset! Game 2 also starts out very close with Stone/Patriquin taking lead and expanding on it quickly! Good rally at 6-10. Game 3: Koller/Arnold build a lead which gets tied at 4. Stone/Patriquin fighting over the balls in the middle with some collision. Jessie Irvine coaching the young team at a time-out. Koller/Arnold win 11,6-,5. They play Newman/Wright in QF.

C.Nemoff/R.Cassidy maintain their small lead against Frazier/Johnson in first game all the way to 10. From 7-10, Dylan/JW manage to tie it up with some sloppy mistakes from Nemoff/Cassidy then pull ahead. Game 2, Frazier/Johnson get the early lead and make that a whopping lead. 12-10, 11-1. They play Staksrud/Tellez in the QF which will be fun to watch. Rettenmaier-Deakin defeat Roddy/Dobran 8,2 so that is also a black-eye to how badly McGuffin/Sock performed.

WD Breaking News: Jorja/Meghan withdrew in their match against Ansboury/Braverman. Meghan not feeling well. Etta Wright also withdrew so no Wright/V.David.

1:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Scarpa/Dow push Loong/Ignatowich to 3 games (8,6-,1). Loong/Ignatowich will face Rettenmaier-Deakin in QF . Dawson/Bar face Devilliers/Young in QF. Devilliers/Young also pushed to 3 games by Hewett-Alshon (7,3-,8). Looks like Newman/Wright vs Koller/Arnold SF could be on GSB at same time as the Frazier/Johnson vs Staksrud/Tellez SF on CC. Ugh! Why do that. Meanwhile on GSB, WD: Jones/Jansen lose their first game against Nobler/Rane but dominate in 2nd and 3rd (6-,2,4)

2:26 pm EST (Waggish) – Frazier/Johnson vs Staksrud/Tellez QF. Game 1 was at 9-1 before Staksrud/Tellez get things going to get to 7. Dylan has seen enough and calls a time-out. JW may have just let it kept going. He’s not known for his time-outs. They get the side-out and the next rally is a good hands fight. Game 2. Staksrud doing some rare speed-ups and doing a good job covering the middle when Tellez gets out of position. But it’s not enough to get them a lead. JW is just toying with them. (7,2).

Wright/Newman vs Koller/Arnold: Game 2 starts slow with it tied at 4-4. Then Newman/Wright step on the gas and take it to the finish line. (2,4)

3:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Loong/Ignatowich vs Rettenmaier/Deakin QF. “Picking on the old guy (Deakin)” isn’t getting L/I a huge lead for most of game 1 but they win. Game 2: James didn’t like something at 3-0 and discusses with ref. I didn’t notice anything and the announcers just say it’s getting intense. Must have been the chirping being done by Travis. It’s 7-0 before L/I get their first point. Game 3. See Deakin’s hands at 5-1 rally. Ignatowich covering too much middle with a lefty partner. His opponents are taking advantage of that open sideline. At 7-1, Tyler tries the left side but only for that one rally. Travis/Steve win (8-,3,5) and play Newman/Wright in SF. Deakin’s consistency and pace of play is a good fit for Rettenmaier.

Dawson/Bar vs Devilliers/Young: As expected Dawson playing right. We are seeing good lateral movement outside of Ernes from Bar. They take a 7-0 lead then Jay/DJ get 1 point and that’s it! Jay’s game is way off. What is going on today? Too many players don’t seem to be into their games. But game 2 gets some energy in them and we get a game 3. Jay full of energy at 1-1 rally! They keep it going and win (1-,6,3) to face Frazier/Johnson in SF. Bracket score is posted wrong – not unusual for PBT.

6:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Let’s catch up on WD. Parenteau-Waters cruise to the SF after defeating Ansboury/Braverman (1,7). In the same half, Glozman/Bright have a closer QF result with a second game of 13-11 over Bates/Radzikowska.

In the lower half, Grechkina-Stratman defeat Smith/Kovalova (8,6). G/S got bronze at Newport and defeated Jansen/Jones there. S/K got the gold. Irvine-Kawamoto defeat Jansen/Jones (5,5). I/K got silver at Arizona Open in Mesa after defeating Callie and Lucy to get to Sunday.

Newman/Wright defeat Rettenmaier/Deakin (6,3). Newman must feel really good to finally get 2 matches to play on Sunday after a long dry spell.

7:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Parenteau/Waters vs Glozman/Bright. P/W have their hands full with the fire power of Glozman/Bright. See highlight rally at 7-5. P/W were actually down earlier and had to fight for the lead. Glozman doesn’t seem to have any nerves at all playing against the #1 doubles player. Glozman was the 7th or 8th player Bright asked after Koop had to cancel and Bright is lucky how it ended up. Game 2: Another highlight rally at 4-1, 6-2. From 8-2, Waters/Parenteau fight back to tie it up. And they win (7,8). ALW will be going for a triple. What an impressive performance in a high pressure situation for Glozman.

7:25 pm EST (Waggish) – Frazier/Johnson vs Devilliers/Young SF. After getting crushed in game 1, Jay and DJ decide to dink JW knowing JW seldom attacks off the bounce. But the dinking doesn’t last. Easy win but it was fun to watch. (2,0) Rematch Sunday against Riley/Matt!

8:35 pm EST (Waggish) – Grechkina/Stratman vs Irvine/Jackie Kawamoto SF – Game 1 seemed to go on forever. with low scoring. The ladies battle it out to 3 games. Grechina/Stratman on to Sunday. 11-9,6-11,11-7

In the backdraw, Jansen/Jones defeat Smith/Kovalova (11) to play for 5th against Brascia sisters. Brascia duo win (5). Staksrud/Tellez defeat Dawson/Bar (12) to play for 5th against Loong/Ignatowich after their win over Koller/Arnold (12). Staksrud/Tellez win (4).

MD Bronze Rettenmaier/Deakin defeat Devilliers/Young 11-3,13-11. Very good showing for them today.

For Sunday, we may get a disruption in the streaming. They have Mixed scheduled for 6 pm ET on ESPN2. It’s assumed it’ll be 2/3 format for the 1 hour slot. I’d love to see what Sock could do in the 3/5 format. If you missed the Jack Sock matches, they have them scheduled on Tennis Channel from 4-6 ET. Streaming for everything else starts at 11 am ET. Order to be announced (and often revised).

9:30 pm EST (Waggish) – Surprisingly, the steady Irvine/Kawamoto take bronze over the power players Glozman/Bright in an easy (3,4).

10:06 pm EST – Not as crazy a men’s day. The Sock/McGuffin thing was interesting. Tyson saw a lot of balls and was pressing while Sock isn’t nearly as effective in men’s doubles where these players in the main draw are not free wins. McGuffin might have been feeling the pressure too. The men’s went very chalk for Sunday but the low key headline was Rettenmaier/Deakin finding a bronze. Deakin was his incredibly steady self and just made Loong work while Ignatowich did not see many balls after the first third of the match. To then go on to beat DJ/Jay in two for the bronze is seriously impressive stuff from the 49 year old Deakin as that power of Travis plays off well for him. Travis also doesn’t have to be that consistent since Deakin is seeing 80% of the balls.

On the women’s side, we have yet another new Sunday team with Lauren Stratman and Yana Grechkina as they took down both Smith/Kovalova and Kawamoto/Irvine. They barely beat Padegimaite/Bucker in round one but impressive stuff from those two as they follow up their Newport bronze with a likely silver in North Carolina. Small margins. Lots of power from both players and Grechkina is making her case to stay in Premier. Solid stuff today from Vivian Glozman as she help up fairly well in a center court match versus AL and Parenteau. They got steamrolled in the bronze but 4th place is no joke, even if they got the benefit of Wright/David withdrawing.

Friday, May 5th – Mixed

10:53 am EST (Waggish) – MXD has 54 teams entered and requires a qualifier. Riley is back with Allyce to make it a rare 2 in a row with same MXD partner. All eyeballs will be glued to AL and Jack Sock of course. As everyone knows, mix isn’t easy for first time partnerships so we’ll see if the veteran AL can bring Sock up to speed rapidly. Collin Shick is also in the “mix” with Judit Castillo. Early day for them as they had to come through the qualifier.

AB/James in the same quarters as AL and Sock so we may get a really good QF there. Riley and Allyce in the same quarters as Jorja and JW. Matt and Lucy’s quarter looks like the teams could be evenly matched so can’t predict them. Zane playing with Etta in Tyson/Catherine’s quarter. Either one of those could face Lauren/Dylan in the QF. But also easy to see an upset in that quarter.

11:15 am EST (Waggish) – Kovalova/Wright vs Castillo/Shick – Shick didn’t look like he knew what he was doing in game 1. But game 2, it came together and you saw him in beast mode for 5 points. Castillo playing tight – especially those drops when pushed back to baseline. See rally at 8-5 – good work by Castillo and Shick. Matt and Lucy in 2: (0,7).

Johnsons close match against Rachel Summers and Connor Garnett( 8,9). Rane/Hewett defeat Callie and Dekel (9,1). That second game score shows again how inconsistent Dekel can be in mixed. Yes, I’m putting the responsibility on the male here. We get to see them take on Waters/Sock next. Bright/Ignatowich playing their qualifier team on GS stream and so far it is a close match. Tyra Black/Loong defeat Mary Brascia/Staksrud 9-11,11-8,12-10. That is a surprising result for a first time partnership and the lack of prior results from Black in MXD. They’ll be on GSB next against Jones/Newman.

11:55 am EST (Waggish) – Waters/Sock vs Rane/Hewett: Out of the gate, we get an ATP from Sock for first point. After the first few points, Jack and AL looking very smooth with their court coverage. Hewett/Rane have a few paddle collisions when he comes over to poach the ball. Typical for a first time partnership – especially with a left hander then there’s 2 forehands in the middle. Sock taking advantage of them unwinding the stack too. Game 2: see rally at 1-1. Sock had fun though they lost the rally. AL looks like she has her new signature paddle. See time-out at 5-1 for the difference. Can you imagine what kind of paddle sponsorship Sock could get from a big name? No one watching is going to think this is Sock’s first tournament in pickleball. (3,2)

12:35 pm EST (Waggish) – Johnson/Johnson vs Jansen/Rettenmaier: Travis moving very stiffly – maybe some pain in legs or back? Johnsons 7,3. That second game went on way too long – seems like the Johnsons could have finished it quickly if they’ wanted to push it more. Newman/Jones vs Loong/Black goes to 3 games. Loong/Black played very well in game 2 but Newman/Jones got it together for game 3 to win. 4,6-,3. They play Johnsons in QF. Parenteau/McGuffin over Wright/Navratil 4,10 (not streamed). They play Stratman/Frazier in QF. Irvine/Devilliers lose their first match of the day to Padegimaite/Auvergne 10-,3,5. That’s going to be long backdraw grind for them.

1:42 pm EST (Waggish) – McGuffin/Parenteau vs Frazier/Stratman: Unusual bad read by Dylan at 6-5 thinking CP’s ball was going out. Maybe it effected him because they didn’t get another point. Game 2, I felt like I was watching a WD team against Tyson/CP. Frazier not getting big in the middle. But his hands are elite enough to take game 2. That momentum carries them into game 3 for a quick 5-0 lead. Dylan chases down a ball at the baseline and does an amazing drop at 3-5 though he called the ball out. Video challenge out stands. Stratman/Frazier dialed in 100% and not afraid of Tyson. CP seems to be struggling to feel the ball – high balls. They are down 6-9 but Tyson catches them up to 9-9. And they win. 5,6-,9. Tough defeat for Frazier as it was so very close until Tyson’s team got the serve back. In the interview, Tyson said it was his big serve that made the difference.

Arnold/David defeat Auvergne/Padegimaite (5,7). Auvergne/Padegimaite were ahead in game 2 but Arnold/David tie up at 7-7. They play Kovalova/Wright in QF. Bright/Ignatowich play Waters/Sock in QF after their win over Patriquin/Maggie Brascia (6,1).

2:50 pm EST (Waggish) – AL/Jack vs AB/James QF: Jack’s ATP at 3-2 is just unbelievable. It looks like a rock skimming the surface of a lake. AL gets an excessive arguing warning! At 10-5, Sock seems to be laughing but also saying there was talking during the point. AL then goes talk to the ref about distraction call. He says none. But then she wants some clarification on the rule. Ref gives a 15 second warning. She again argues to get clarification. And then gets the technical warning. Seems odd since they have 10 and why not just let it go. Game 2: Everyone gets revved up and super aggressive with poaches! So much fun. Jack must really like his Perseus paddle. He kisses it at the timeout 7-2. It’s not hype if you can deliver! (5,3) I admire AB but she didn’t look like a very good sport about losing.

3:55 pm EST (Waggish) – Jones/Newman vs Johnson siblings QF: A quick 6-0 for Jones/Newman leads to a time-out. But it only helps them get 1 point! We haven’t seen this type of performance from them all year. The real Johnsons beam into the court in game 2. Jorja almost gives Riley a “look” at 6-6. Funny. And yells “yeah”. Game 3: You realize JW feels good about winning when he cracks a smile at 4-1. See what Jorja does with that ground ball at the first 5-2 rally. Newman looks washed up at the time-out. But that must have been what he needed because they go from 4-9 to 10-9! Johnsons have match point at 11-10 but Riley is HOT. Riley/Allyce win. 1,7-,11. What looked like it’d be an easy win for Jorja/JW turned out a disaster.

4:30 pm EST (Waggish) – Kovalova/Wright vs David/Arnold: Looked like a missed foot fault call on Matt’s Erne at 5-3 in game 2. But camera doesn’t completely show foot and ball contact in same footage so not 100% sure. Again and again Matt able to catch Arnold with a passing shot to his backhand/sideline. Matt and Lucy had their chances at game point. But David/Arnold are the winners in a close game 2. (8,10). They play Waters/Sock after McGuffin/Parenteau vs Newman/Jones SF.

5:25 pm EST (Waggish) – Jones/Newman vs Parenteau/McGuffin SF. Much of the match depended on who was hot. It was Newman for game 1 and Tyson at the start of game 2. Eventually Jones/Newman catch up 6-6. Good rally at 8-9. From then on, it’s a tense race to that win by 2 finish. What a battle. Jones/Newman on to Sunday (3,13).

7:00 pm EST (Waggish) – David/Arnold vs Waters/Sock SF. David/Arnold get to 10-5 but Waters/Sock stage a come-back to make it 10-9. David/Arnold played steady and didn’t give Waters/Sock many balls to attack. They also went after his backhand a bit. For those skeptics, yes, Sock can do cross-court backhand dinks. Game 2, it is AL dominating the middle for some rallies. We know AL is comfortable being the aggressor. They easily go up 6-1. David/Arnold are not able to control the pace like they did in game 1. Vivienne also hitting attackable high balls. WOW! Look at the huge red mark on Arnold’s neck from the ball from AL right in the throat! See 10-5-2 when AL preps for serve and video shows his throat. We get a game 3. Sock lets out an Andiamo! at 5-5. Ha, ha. A great match and better than the QF one. Waters/Sock on Sunday. 11-9,6-11,11-7

Bright/Ignatowich defeat Johnsons for 5th (7). Jay and Jessie made a good run in the back-draw until they met up with Bright/Ignatowich (1). We’ll note the Bronze results later (not streamed).

8:03 pm EST – Jack Sock. What else is there to say? It’s scary that he is this good and he’s brand new to professional pickleball. People can easily forget how long he has been playing pickle for and how much he pickle he plays, but to run through the draw to a Sunday appearance first go around is nuts. He has some weaknesses, but with Anna Leigh by his side their opponents weren’t able to exploit them enough. His ability is off the charts. He brings so much power despite being so compact and he moves better than anyone on the pro circuit. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, Sock isn’t making nearly as many unforced errors as you might expect a guy in his position to make. He and Anna Leigh may just be able to hit their way through Allyce Jones on Sunday.

Big day for Riley Newman, who hasn’t seen a Sunday mixed final in quite some time. He and Allyce Jones squeaked by the Johnson siblings, 13-11 in the third, before taking it in straights over Parenteau/McGuffin, 15-13 in the 2nd game. Allyce Jones has seen a lot of Sundays this year for a player with limited power and age not exactly on her side. Riley is still very good at pickleball, but the level of the women increasing is making it harder for him to be as dominant. 

There were some notable early results too. Pablo Tellez/Ewa Radzikowska lost easily to Yana Grechkina/Daniel De La Rosa, with the caveat that we don’t know how healthy Tellez is after his mid-match singles retirement yesterday. Vivian Glozman/Callan Dawson got by Meghan Sheehan-Dizon/Spencer Smith. Hurricane Tyra Black had a strong showing today with Tyler Loong as they snuck by Mary Brascia/Staksrud and then gave Jones/Newman all they could handle. Speaking of high end athletic ability, Hurricane Black has that in spades. She looks weird out there, but that physical talent could take her a long way with as much pickleball as she is playing. Parenteau/McGuffin easily take the bronze and, although maybe a disappointing day, Parenteau and McGuffin continue their strong year.

Thursday, May 4th – Singles

10:33 am EST (Waggish) – In women singles, hot off the APP Sacramento Gold and US Open Silver, we have Judit Castillo dipping her toes into the strong PPA Pro Tour. In this geographical area of hot pickleball action, we get a healthy 21 entrants. AL may actually have to play more than 2 matches to get to the gold match.

In men singles, we have a ridiculous 80 entries! This of course is spread out with a qualifier. We see Colin Shick again who got into a gold match against Ben Johns in the Florida tournament. Ben won’t be in this tournament. But it won’t be boring with everyone watching Jack Sock’s singles debut. Jaume Vich Martinez may be feeling optimistic too as his first match has usually been against Ben. Jake and Luke Kusmider are also entries and they can bring some flash. Ignatowich has signed up for singles. We’ll see if he withdraws though. Ryan Sherry will be looking to defend his title!

10:33 am EST – Jack Sock takes down Anton Gudz in straights. Sock looked solid. No backhand but a ridiculous forehand and court coverage. He’ll have trouble against better players but James Ignatowich losing 2 and 0 to qualifier Naveen Beasley opens things up for Sock. Who knows what happened to Ignatowich as Beasley has no results of note and had to work to win all 3 of his qualifier matches.

11:57 am EST – Down goes Julian Arnold. We have Ignatowich and Arnold out after round 1 as Arnold loses to Ross Whitaker, a guy who is on the fringes of these draws but the singles days stay weird. This is not terribly shocking but Gabe Tardio beats Rafa Hewett in 3. Rafa Hewett is a wild MLP demon with how many lower end losses he suffers in regular tournament play. Kusmider over Navratal, which also is not surprising given Zane’s singles results this year. Sherry and Medina Alvarez have been on court for a longggg time with no update on the score. Sock 2 and 2 over Naveen Beasley. Not a great look for Big Papa Jimmy.

1:10 pm EST – The singles level is just so much deeper now in pro pickleball and, outside a couple of players, it is unpredictable. Ross Whittaker also ends up beating Garnett in straight games and is on court with Staksrud right now. There’s nothing in Whittaker’s results to indicate he had this in him but it shows that these unknown, fringe guys aren’t that far off on any given day against the top brass. Jake Kusmider will play Jack Sock after getting a good win over Dylan Frazier. Frazier would have been a bad matchup for Sock but it will still be interesting to see how Sock does against a higher end player in Kusmider, who has had some up and down results this year. Sherry loses to Medina Alvarez in 3.

Judit Castillo, fresh off an APP Sacramento gold and US Open silver along with a D.C. Challenger division pickup, loses 1 and 4 to Lauren Stratman. Castillo is one of the hottest names in pickleball in terms of her rise but Stratman winning with those scores is a dismantling. Lina Padegimaite wins 10-12, 12-10 and 11-1 over Yana Grechkina but clearly that could have gone either way.

2:40 pm EST (Waggish) – Staksrud QF win over Whittaker 4,3. Sock vs Jake Kusmider QF: Kusmider takes early 5-0 lead in game 1 by moving Sock around a lot. Doesn’t take long for Sock to catch up though. Tied again at 8-8. At game point, Sock calls the return out. Jake does not agree and very unhappy with how game 1 ended. See Sock’s get at 2-0 for the point in game 2. And again at 2-1 but can’t get to the one at the opposite side line. Ouch! Jake crashes his head into the LED board! Those things are not the cardboard placards they used to have. Video challenge of Jack’s serve 1-2. Jake says out, ref says in, Sock says in. Ball is IN. Rally at 5-5 a highlight! Kusmider gets the 5-0 lead in game 3 like he did in game 1 and takes it all the way to 10-0! But not so fast, Sock gets momentum and a third gear to get to 7. Kusmider to play Staksrud (9-,5,7) Sock wears a sock on his chain. Maybe he’ll add a pb paddle to it if he gets into a gold match this week-end. Stands were packed which is very unusual for Singles. Makes me wonder if they gave away free tickets for Sock or if Sock really attracted the crowd. I guess we’ll see how the stands look in the next QF: Jay vs Alshon. Alshon beat Tardio 10,2. Jay barely squeaked by Vich 7-11,11-7,13-11. Looks like Tellez must have had an injury – had to retire in his match against Alvarez. So Alvarez meets Tyson in the QF. Tellez looks okay watching in the stands.

3:22 pm EST (Waggish) – Devilliers vs Alshon QF: See 0-0 game 2! Alshon goes side to side multiple times and returns. Jay just stands at NVZ doing one drop volley after another. Jay playing well in second game but Alshon dialing in those deep corners and sidelines. Jay almost catches up. Alshon runs around his forehand a lot but Jay can’t take advantage. Alshon (4,7)

4:10 pm EST (Waggish) – Tyson’s QF was on GS. A tight win over Alvarez: 11-9,12-10. In the backdraw, Alvarez had no gas left and goes down 0-15 to Shick. Vich crushes Whittaker 15-0. Sock withdrew – no gain for him to go for PPA points. In an interview, Sock said his commitment for 2024 pickleball has probably been exaggerated. No idea who Matthew Barlow is but he is a lucky dude – wins 3 matches by withdrawal!

WS SF looks ALMOST as expected: ALW vs Salome, Brooke Buckner vs Lea. Catherine is pushed to 3 games against Brooke Buckner. A few out balls by Catherine and Brooke almost catches up at 9-8 and does at 10-10! She passes with a few bad hits by Catherine. (8-,4,10).

Kusmider vs Staksrud: See rally at 3-1! Those were unbelievable gets by both Staksrud and especially Kusmider! Game 2: at 0-1 and again at 4-2 for more examples of how physically taxing pickleball singles can be. The knees on Kusmider look pretty banged up – possibly from his earlier slide into the LED board. Video challenge at 2-5 – Fed called it out. Out! The crowd definitely has thinned out – lots of empty chairs now. Not seeing Tellez on Staksrud bench – he’s usually there. Despite the defeat, best performance by Jake at a PPA. (4,3). Don’t forget Kusmider had to beat Zane, Dylan, and Sock to get here. We probably won’t get to see the bronze but if Kusmider can recover by then, he might still get a PPA medal.

7:10 pm EST (Waggish) – AL Waters vs Devidze SF: At point 4-5 in 2nd game, AL saying Salome caused a hindrance saying “nice shot”. Very odd. It fired AL up and she had no trouble running a sequence of points. Good fight from Salome but AL makes it to another Sunday. (6,8)

Tyson vs Alshon SF: Christian captured the lead several times in game 2. Leading at 9-7 but Tyson goes on a tear and makes it 10-9. And wins in 2 (5,9).

Jansen vs Buckner SF: Lea’s angles at the net got her the final points in game 1. Brooke does a good job bouncing Lea from sideline to sideline at 0-0 in game 2. Brooke pulls ahead to 6-4 but gives away some highballs for Lea to pull ahead. It gets tied at 8-8 then Brooke’s turn to pull ahead. We get a game 3! Lea leading 6-2 at end-change. Brooke may have run out of gas. Lea plays AL on Sunday (8,8-,2).

Bronze goes to Alshon 8,9 against Jake Kusmider. Colin Shick 5th place over Jaume Vich 15-10. WS bronze: Devidze over Buckner (10,4). 5th place is Mary Brascia over Judit Castillo (8).

7:42 pm EST – What a day. What a day. The singles days will continue to be unpredictable, but we end up getting predictable finals. Federico and Tyson McGuffin were our two top players considering the draws going into today and then Lea vs. Catherine is close to a toss-up, despite Parenteau being slightly favored these days. One thing to note is Hurricane Black looks to be getting the hang of things as she almost beat Salome Devidze, losing 11-8 in the third. Brooke Buckner’s trajectory is still upwards as well with a big win over Catherine Parenteau and then going 3 games against Lea Jansen. It’s slowly getting more competitive on that women’s side.

There’s some conspiracy theory stuff floating around that Ignatowich and Frazier threw their matches so Sock could have an easier path. You know we love a good PPA conspiracy theory but this really doesn’t make a ton of sense. The PPA was advertising the Ignatowich vs. Sock match, and the best TV is star matchups. Ignatowich is a star in pickleball terms and it doesn’t make sense the PPA would simply want Sock to win. It seems more likely to us that Ignatowich came out with the wrong mentality, as he already probably does towards singles pickleball, did not take his opponent seriously and then the guy got hot. Beasley may not have shown out well on center court with all the pressure of playing Sock as an inexperienced player. If the PPA got Ignatowich to throw his match, it would be a dumb move on their part.

23 thoughts on “PPA Tour North Carolina Open – Live Random Thoughts

  • May 4, 2023 at 8:01 am

    Man I am so confused at that Ignatowich-Beasley result. I hope someone recorded it somewhere

    • May 4, 2023 at 10:12 am

      He might just not have been mentally into it and then a guy gets hot. Thinking ahead to Sock? Wild result.

    • May 4, 2023 at 11:42 am

      James said (twitter) that he didn’t warm up.

    • May 4, 2023 at 8:56 pm

      didnt have the meds ,,,no wait thats Sherry

  • May 4, 2023 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for the up dates and info.

  • May 4, 2023 at 5:10 pm

    Was there. Tickets were not given away. Everyone bought their tickets. Just think a lot of people were interested in Sock.

  • May 4, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    I saw something posted about throwing matches but assumed it was a joke. Dylan would have told PPA to go suck eggs.

  • May 4, 2023 at 8:54 pm

    Black really pulled a stunt against Brascia then tried against Devidze but it didnt work ////so look for her to be a Leah Jansen every match

  • May 5, 2023 at 8:44 am

    Happy to see Tyra Black starting to get better results in these. I’ve been rooting for her ever since that weird post from The Kitchen dunking on her for losing to ALW in her first singles PPA. So unnecessary

    • May 7, 2023 at 2:09 pm

      She is definitely doing better and finding some improvement. That was very unnecessary of the Kitchen when it was literally her first singles tournament match ever. She’s a bit of an awkward looking player but super athletic. The hands are just so good.

  • May 6, 2023 at 5:44 pm

    Obviously the sample size is small, but it’s looking like the Bay Area Breakers got a steal in Glozman with the last pick in the shuffle draft

    • May 7, 2023 at 2:10 pm

      It sure does. We had seen her play on someone’s phone stream on Instagram for a local PNW tournament and she looked amazing. Very legit.

  • May 8, 2023 at 7:48 am

    Allyce Jones got picked apart by Sock, and had a totally unsupportive partner in Newman, so there’s something gross about her deciding to yell at, of all people, ALW instead. If you’re gonna behave like that, why not at least yell at the guys who made your day so miserable?

      • May 9, 2023 at 3:03 am

        Yes. It is all over social media from people who were sitting in the stands. AJ: why did you call me a F*ing B*ch. AL: I never said that. I never even said that. Sock even asked AL afterwards what was said because he didn’t catch all of it. I wonder if he thought it was bizarre to address something like that at a congratulatory “good game” tap.

        • May 9, 2023 at 12:58 pm

          Very interesting. We have seen but is anyone able to confirm whether AL said that to Allyce?


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