The PPA is back in Utah on the upcoming Easter week-end. That combo means we get an adjusted schedule of a Championship Saturday, like there was at TOC. We are also missing some notable players like Ben Johns, Anna Leigh Waters, Matt Wright, JW Johnson, and Dylan Frazier. We are also going to try something a little different this week in terms of ordering the live blog. Let us know if you like this format better or not.
We are trying a different order of entries for those that like to catch up at end of day. For those reading through the day, click the link above to go directly to the last update posted for that day.
Saturday, April 8th – Championship Saturday
12:33 pm EST – Apparently Salome’s paddle will be sent to off site testing. She was having a lot of trouble controlling it against the new version of Catherine Parenteau who simply dominated her. We’ll do some more digging before Monday takeaways. Compare the Vatic sound to other players who are using it like Spencer Smith. It didn’t matter today in the colder morning altitude in Utah. Catherine wins in 2 straight, 11-1 and 11-6.
2:33 pm EST – What a battle in the men’s doubles final. A back and forth melee where Johns/Bar took over before Long/McGuffin switched sides to put Long on the right after he was getting targeted heavily. Long went back to the left very late in crunch time on defense, assuming that is because Long can do more with his backhand roll. They switched back to Long for the left to score on match point to win 13-11 in the third. If there was any questions regarding Long’s ability to play Premier, he answered the bell despite the pressure put on him and the downs he faced in this match. McGuffin held steady when he didn’t see a ton of balls this match. They had so many match points you can forget Dekel had a sitter on his forehand at 11-10 that he dumped into the net. Brendon Long pleading for a sponsor in the post match interview is next level.
Honestly, Dekel’s inconsistencies are tough to deal with. He too often walks that line of too much court and also has trouble at times working through transition as he takes a lot more chances than Ben trying to create offence from nothing. This loss could be an indictment on Collin, and it is to a degree, but Dekel didn’t play at the level he needed when Tyson switched to the left in games 4 and 5.
5:20 pm EST – Meghan Dizon and Etta Wright have their first PPA golds while Jones/Jansen are the bridesmaids once again. Ben Johns was clearly onto something when he scooped Wright and then traded down to be okay with taking Dizon in MLP. Dizon, in particular, has that post-MLP bump going for her and is playing with plenty of confidence, as if she belongs at the top, which she looks like she does right now.
6:23 pm EST – Anna and James in 3 straight over AJ and Jessie. There was one close game, game 2, but otherwise it was evident who the better team was today. The return on investment for this partnership decision has been very good so far. Probably salvages a disappointing gender doubles day for both of them. We’ll see how much AJ and Jessie partner the rest of the year but it has to be encouraging to have a result like this.
6:57 pm EST – Double gold for Tyson this weekend in singles and men’s. Who saw that coming? Takeaways won’t come until Monday but best be sure it will be jam packed!
Friday, April 7th – Doubles
12:40 pm EST – We are just getting started on doubles day and we are not big YouTube chat watchers, but those people in there are seriously savage. There is no chill and it is already starting first match of the day. Newman/Ignatowich, on paper, have a fairly breezy route to the finals, while Bar/Johns may have to get through Staksrud/Tellez and either Loong/Dawson or Rettenmaier/Koller. We’ll have to see if Koller’s mixed win can propel him in men’s doubles. He always has that upside and sometimes it can just take a good result to get you going.
The one team that we didn’t draft on the women’s side to look out for is Schneemann/Barr. Susannah Barr is coming off a bronze medal and Schneemann’s game is only improving. They are not the most consistent pair together but they are also not a fun team to play against with unique styles, good hands and power to match. Nothing is easy in these events as they have the Brascia sisters in their quarter and then someone will have to play Jansen/Jones. Another question is whether Bright/David can figure it out on a really tough half of the draw with Parenteau/Koop in their quarter. One very good team is not going to have any chance of a medal.
2:01 pm EST – De La Rosa and Newell have some trouble to Staksrud and Tellez, losing in 3, 11-6. Basically everything has gone as expected with some mildly to somewhat intriguing quarterfinal matchups. Bar/Johns are another interesting test case for Collin Johns and how he fits with other partners.
3:54 pm EST – Hurricane Black may not look like the smoothest player on the court but she and Braverman almost took down Irvine/Tereschenko, losing 11-9 in the third. Black’s progression over the next few months should be very intersting as well as Braverman’s play as she works her way back into pro pickleball. The Brascia sisters continue to get solid results together as they beat Barr/Schneemann 9 and 7. That’s a quality win for those two together. Everything else as expected on the women’s side so far.
Brendon Long appears to be playing the left side with Tyson McGuffin so it’s possible McGuffin may be fully embracing that right side role for himself. Also, is anyone going to start calling Tyson on his very illegal serve? It is somehow getting worse yet no one is doing anything about it. He’s full sidearm these days. They are up a game over Jay/DJ right now. Koller/Rettenmaier over Loong/Dawson in 3 tight ones, 11-8 in the third, and that’s one you would expect to be close. There may be some jawing between Travis and the robot he traded away, Collin Johns, in that semi-finals match.
5:13 pm EST – Bright/David looked like they were in big trouble down a game and 5-0 in game 2 before they rattled off 13 straight points en route to a 9-11, 11-5, 11-2 win. They will face Dizon/Etta Wright to go to Championship Saturday tomorrow and they were a freight train halfway through game 2. Sometimes it is weird how these matches go. Lots of matches still to play and no real upsets on the men’s or women’s side.
6:45 pm EST – Nothing crazy today before the semis. The Brascia sisters put up a good fight against Lea/Allyce but go down 8 and 8 while Lucy/Callie beat Grechkina/Gecheva 8 and 2. We’ll see if the hometown cooking gives Callie a little bit of an extra boost against Lea and Allyce, who will have home cooking of her own as well. Also, these matches are going to be finishing late trying to get everything on center court. All 4 semi-finals are still set to be played.
8:17 pm EST – A great weekend for AJ Koller leaves him a bit short of two Saturday appearances as he and Rettenmaier go down in 3 against Collin and Dekel. AJ can do some maddening things on the court at times but his ceiling is high end. The hands of AJ and Travis combined are also high end together, which makes them a tough out. Collin and Dekel have to feel good about pulling that out as they’ll have a big opportunity to win gold.
9:12 pm EST – Pretty big surprise with Long and McGuffin beating Newman/Ignatowich. Men’s doubles is still where the most room to grow is for Ignatowich and it is hard to come out with expectations of winning when he hasn’t won in men’s before. You could see how much some of those misses at the end of game 2 meant to him and it’s easier to play free and easy when you’re Brendon Long and Tyson McGuffin. Who saw two gold medal appearances coming for Tyson this weekend?
10:45 pm EST – Callie Smith and Lucy Kovalova kept playing around with who sits on the left and they couldn’t quite figure it out as Lea/Allyce win 11-7 in the third. It still appears as though Allyce is the best possible partner for Jansen from a support standpoint. Allyce might be the best partner for anyone but particularly someone like Jansen who can get down on herself more so than others. Another gold medal match for those two.
Newman and Ignatowich win what had to be a deflating bronze match for both teams involved. Koller and Rettenmaier had to wait on that match after a tough loss and they get crushed 11-7, 11-1.
12:30 am EST – Meghan Dizon in her second Championship match of the year while Etta Wright gets her first ever. Dizon and Wright have that MLP bump right now, which we are not sure is a real thing but it has seemed to happen for certain players post MLP. Very anecdotal. It should be an interesting match tomorrow. On the other hand, it has to be a very disappointing finish for Bright/David after they got through Parenteau/Koop, the tougher match on paper. They have not performed to expectations in 2 tourneys together. They end up 4th, losing the bronze 11-7 in the third to Callie and Lucy, in what had to be one of the most unmotivated, close bronze matches there have been since the PPA switched to this format.
Thursday, April 6th – Mixed
2:20 am EST – Just so everyone is aware, we are going to address the Salome Devidze / Lea Jansen Vatic Pro paddle situation that has been called out on social media in our takeaways. We will likely be reiterating a lot of what we have said in the past on this topic but it appears the situation is getting worse before it gets better. Spoiler alert, when you are literally the worst line caller by far in all of pickleball, the benefit of the doubt is not going to be given to you. However, there still is pickleball to be played and it is mixed day today with some new partnerships. Newman/Koop have the easier path to the gold medal match as Bright/Ignatowich also have Bar/Kovalova and Parenteau/McGuffin on their half of the bracket. But with how competitive these draws are, even in a thinner Red Rock field, anything can go when the top teams are not around.
1:24 pm EST (Waggish) – Schneeman/Hewett vs Kovalova/Bar: Matt never plays Red Rock so Lucy is with Dekel. Tightly contested first game. But Dekel and Lucy took no chances in that 2nd game and aggressively took a big, early lead. (9,5)
2:30 pm EST (Waggish) – C.Smith/Devilliers vs Tereschenko/P.Smith: It looked like a runaway for Patrick and Irina but Jay and Callie hopped on a train for a late run in game 1. We get 3 games. Game 3 could have gone to either team with some sloppy errors by both. But Tereshenko/Smith pull it off aided by some good angled placements by Smith. (5,7-,10).
Maggie Brascia/Patriquin vs Bright/Ignatowich on GS: Goes to 3 games with the thought that this could end up being an upset. But game 3 had Maggie hitting directly to James too often for some free points for James/AB. Hayden let up on his aggression and James seemed to accelerate his. They win (9-,8,3).
3:05 pm EST (Waggish) – E.Wright/C.Johns vs David/Long (GS): At 6-2 in 2nd game Collin does an overhead after his Erne and gets called for crossing the plane of the net. I rewound and watched in slow-mo. From outside the sideline after his Erne, Collin reached above and over the net and hit the ball before it crossed the net. Very observant by the ref! Sometimes it’s the women that win the MXD and rock-steady David won it for them. Collin couldn’t cover the middle well enough from the right side while Etta took 3 or more tries at getting to the net when receiving.
Barr/Navratil over Jansen/Rettenmaier in two to reach SF. (8,4) Barr’s unconventional style may have given Lea some trouble. She seemed unprepared on a few out of nowhere attacks.
4:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Tereschenko/P.Smith put up an impressive battle against Koop/Newman. They almost pushed it to 3 games. The new Joola Perseus paddle or the mountain air is inspiring Smith to get aggressive. Koop/Newman (6,9).
Bright/Ignatowich vs Kovalova/Bar goes to 3 games. See the hand battle that Lucy took on with James in game 2 at point 4-8. With the high sun, there is going to be a favorable side. James isn’t wearing a hat or sun glasses and Anna has both. But with James height I guess he’s not too worried about lobs into the sun. Bright/Ignatowich win but Kovalova/Bar played well together. (4, 4-,5) They have Barr/Navratil in their SF half. Forgot to mention Barr/Navratil had beat McGuffin/Parenteau in Barr/Navratil first game of the day: 11-3,8-11,11-8. In backdraw, McGuffin/Parenteau over Tereschenko/P.Smith (10).
Last QF will be Irvine/Koller vs David/Long. Wright/Johns withdrew after their earlier round 2 loss to David/Long.
5:45 pm EST (Waggish) – Irvine/Koller vs David/Long. Is Koller jabbing the ball now? From the back in game 1, it looked like it. Game 2 at 1-5, AJ overrides Jessie’s out call. AJ was back nearer the baseline so he had the better view. Game 3: David/Long seemed to want to challenge their in call at 0-1 but ref said they couldn’t challenge their own call “not anymore”. So point goes to AJ’s team. David is playing with the CRBN 1X per a close-up. Does that means it has to be turned in for delam testing at end of tournament? Irvine/Koller get it done 6,4-,4. They get Koop/Newman in their SF half.
Spencer Smith and Allyce Jones on a tear in the backdraw. They got a pass on Wright/Johns, beat Buckner/Staksrud (13) then Kovalova/Bar (9). They face C.Smith/Devilliers next after their win over Jansen/Rettenmaier (7).
6:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Barr/Navratil vs Bright/Ignatowich SF: At 1-5 in game 2, Susannah has video challenged if the misdirected ball touched Ignatowich’s sleeve. He dodged with his shoulder so he saw it coming. No touch was the ruling. You have to wonder if Zane has been practicing on an obstacle course with hurdling or sudden stops at signs and chairs. The way AB was playing in game 3 reminded me of how Ben plays when he sets his mind to win a game or match. Super aggressive, focused, and ready to attack any and all balls that come her way. It was hard for Navratil to poach because AB would go down the side with a great drive. Susannah heavily targeted and I would have liked to have seen her do something different. She didn’t use her misdirection shots. At 9-7, Barr/Navratil are allowed to challenge a ball where no call was made. The ball was clearly in so curious action. If they had made a call and wanted to challenge their call, they would not have been allowed. But somehow in PPA you can challenge a “non-call”. But challenge may be the wrong word and you can ask for a ruling. Which PPA refs cannot give anymore I believe – or is that only in MLP. Man all these different organizations with their own rules makes it confusing. Bright/Ignatowich win (5,6-,7)
7:58 pm EST (Waggish) – Koop/Newman vs Irvine/Koller SF – Jessie twists her ankle and falls on a NVZ volley in game 1 at 6-6. She did a great misdirection sideline shot but lost her balance on it – paddle going one way, body going the other. She takes a time-out. Obviously an NVZ fault. Riley is so funny. He hits the game winner as an erne and just keeps on going to sit on the bench. Andrea might not have liked his overrule of her out call because she didn’t walk over to be anywhere near him – caveat: while the camera was on them before commercial. Koller’s timing on his shots is looking very good today. And got them the win in game 2. The vibes between Newman and Koop were very, very bad by end of game 2. Newman waved his paddle at the net and went to the bench. Koop looked like she had no energy or maybe no motivation to do anything. Game 3 also went Koller’s way. He must feel really good to see the partnership with Jessie paying off. (8-,6,3)
9:00 pm EST – Oh boy, what a day of pickleball. Well, a lot of conversation about paddle talk on social media and the comments as well as some pickleball mixed in there. The story of the day was almost Zane Navratil and Susannah Barr. They ran through their quarter of the bracket to get past Loong/Braverman, McGuffin/Parenteau and Jansen/Rettenmaier. They were up 7-5 in game 3 against Bright/Ignatowich too but they could not close the deal. Susannah Barr has found her groove back after a tough start to the year and now she’s out here making noise at PPAs. Conversely, Bright/Ignatowich were dead in the rights twice today as they were also down 8-6 in game 3 to Maggie Brascia/Hayden Patriquin. Bright/Ignatowich’s only non-3 game match today was their first round. Also, we’re not sure if it is possible to be more wrong on the Brascia sisters than we were with Maggie, but she is simply legit. Big miss on our part there.
Irvine/Koller had their best day together in 2023. AJ has not been able to find his groove in 2023 but today he looked like he was in fine form. He has lulls in certain games every now and again, but his hands are simply elite at the highest level. He and Irvine take down Andrea Koop/Riley Newman in 3 games and will have a shot at gold on Saturday. Top notch chemistry with these two.
Other notable results were Vivienne David/Brendon Long getting by Etta Wright/Collin Johns with relative ease. At this point, Collin Johns plays well with Ben Johns and Jessie Irvine at MLP. That’s the list. Irina/Pat Smith won 12-10 in the third over Callie Smith/Jay Devilliers. While we are seeing Jay Devilliers get results at MLP, Callie is not getting results anywhere, particularly in mixed. It is not a good sign.
Wednesday, April 5th – Singles
11:03 am EST – A couple of matches to look out for later in the day are Connor Garnett and Federico Staksrud as well as Tyson McGuffin and Travis Rettenmaier. There are good players that could get in the way of those matches happening but those would be fun quarter-final matches. The other half of the bracket is wide open especially the quarter with Rafa ‘Adi Power’ Hewett, Zane, Jay and even Hayden Patriquin in there.
We are also curious to see Tyra Black and her weird forehand in another singles draw. Mary Brascia and Emily Ackerman could be intriguing. Look out for Salome and Callie Smith too.
1:20 pm EST – Shockingly, it would appear that ‘Adi Power’ is not as effective in singles for Rafa Hewett. It may even be why he switched to it in the Dreambreaker after winning in mixed at MLP with that ‘Adi Power’. Navratil beat Hayden Patriquin 11-8 in the third but proceeded to smoke Rafa, 11-4 and 11-2. Rafa has had Zane’s number with the JOOLA paddle, but does not seem to with the Adidas. Outside of those results, there isn’t really much to report. Pablo Tellez and Tyson McGuffin are already through to the quarterfinals, and this is where the interesting matchups should start.
2:25 pm EST – Jay Devilliers, the bronze stallion, is still in it after a narrow win over Cam Luhring. Luhring gets some quality wins and has some up and down results, and he had a couple of opportunities when up 9-7 in the third. He could not close the deal and Jay is off to the quarters. Jay lost the first game 11-1, but it was interesting to see when he got a stop at 10-1, he gave a little fist pump. It’s a small thing but it speaks to his mentality that when he’s down 10-1 to an essential nobody in the 2nd round of a smaller PPA, he’s pumping his fist because the man never gives up. That’s why he’s the bronze stallion. In other results, Connor Garnett got past Gabe Joseph in 3 games and Federico Staksrud needed 3 games against Juame Martinez Vich where he lost game 1 and only one game 2, 11-8. Juame is a guy to watch in these singles brackets.
Rettenmaier is past FAD and will play Tyson on center court, which should be a good one. It looks like Callie Smith withdrew from singles so Allyce Jones is already into the quarterfinals. Guess the hometown cooking is not enough to bring Callie Smith back to the singles court.
3:41 pm EST (Waggish) – Travis vs Tyson: Travis started a comeback when down 1-7 and almost won it when he pulled ahead 11-10. But goes to Tyson 14-12. Tyson couldn’t do the opposite in game 2 when Travis got the big lead. Travis held it all the way to 11-4. Then back to Tyson big lead at end-change 6-1. And holds to win 11-5. Tyson outplayed Travis with his net game. Tyson to face Connor in SF.
3:57 pm EST (Waggish) – Earlier, Garnett surprise upset over Staksrud. 2,5-,9. Staksrud had the lead for most of game 3 until 9-9. But Garnett’s ability to move extremely well back and forth and laterally gave him access to what should have been winners for Staksrud. Looks like Garnett is using Zane’s signature paddle.
4:22 pm EST (Waggish) – Jay vs Zane: It’s a 3 for 4 in the QF – meaning 3 of the 4 MD QF went to 3 games. In game 3, Zane kept coming to the net and Jay would stay back and hit passing shots all day long. Jay 4,6-,2. Tellez vs Brandon Lane was on the other stream. Tellez was down for most of game 2. Brandon had game point but couldn’t close. Maybe he ran out of gas – couldn’t move laterally to get to the balls. Tellez 8,10.
5:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Salome vs Allyce: Allyce didn’t give Salome much trouble. 3,5. Paddle Challenge!! Allyce talked to ref at end of match and he took Salome’s paddle. Allyce and Salome had a long conversation – Allyce tried to walk away a few times. I guess Salome thought okay you challenge my paddle, then I’ll challenge yours. Poor ref didn’t seem to know what to do with 2 paddles – surprised for sure at this outcome. It was on GS court so no sound. I didn’t recognize the logo – maybe a Vatic Pro for Salome? Salome had used a Legacy Pro for a while but it had delamination issues. Allyce of course uses Joola.
Catherine vs Judit Castillo Gargallo: Catherine would wait for Judit to move and then place the ball to give Judit the most trouble. But Judit caught a rhythm with good use of time-outs and made a close and LONG game 2. Catherine 5,8.
6:20 pm EST (Waggish) – Tyson over Connor Garnet (3,2). Tyson was seed #4 so I looked to see who was seed #3. It was Grant Bond. I assume he took Ignatowich’s place. As usual the backdraw has a ton of withdrawals: Rafa, Federico, Pesa T. (I assume he never made it to play singles today), Travis R., Zane. Tardio beat DJ 15-10 to play Vich for 5th place. Vich wins (5).
For womens SF, we get Irina vs Catherine. Emily Ackerman pushed Irina: 11-9,10-12,11-7. And we get another showdown between Lea and Salome. Does Salome have another paddle she can turn in at end of match for testing? No withdrawals in the WS backdraw that didn’t come from the top half (Callie and Yana). Mary Brascia is making a run in the backdraw – just beat Allyce (11).
6:53 pm EST (Waggish) – Jay struggling in the third game against Pablo. He even kicks the ball out of the court at one point (gently) to let off some aggravation. Tellez to meet Tyson on Saturday. 6-,4,7.
7:55 pm EST (Waggish) – At beginning of match Lea having a long conversation with Ref. There are line judges but not excessive – maybe only 2 for the sidelines. It looks like Salome got her paddle back – Vatic with same Prolite edge tape. Lea wouldn’t let Salome swap the ball out in game 2. Salome meets CP on Saturday 7,1. Lea seemed so distracted worrying about Salome. No paddle tap at end of match. Both paddles collected at end of match after a challenge by Lea.
9:15 pm EST – There is probably about a 0% chance that Pablo Tellez does not get drafted Premier in season 2 of MLP. He gets another Championship final appearance in singles after beating Jay Devilliers in 3 tight games in the semi-finals. Tellez’s consistency has really improved in 2023 and he is making waves on a regular basis. It actually appeared his singles was dropping off in 2022, but he has been very tough in 2023. He pulls out some of the trickiest deception on that forehand of his.
Tellez will play Tyson McGuffin, who has to be feeling pretty good about himself with a guaranteed silver medal. McGuffin sure looked healthy today moving around the court as he dismantled Connor Garnett, who had a lot of trouble with Tyson’s serve. Pablo Tellez is not the best matchup for Tyson McGuffin, but he can’t ask for much more after finding his way through a draw that broke his way today. Devilliers, the bronze stallion, picks up bronze against Garnett, 6 and 8.
The women’s mostly went as expected. The women’s singles bracket may be the least compelling at this point in time. That could change in time but, for right now, there are 4 people above the rest in women’s singles – Anna Leigh, Parenteau, Jansen and Devidze. Yes, Devidze lost to Simone last week but that was a weird loss in the wind in Salome’s first match of the day. Parris isn’t playing enough these days to put her in this singles mix, but she should be there as well.
Things are always chippy between Salome and Lea as Lea appeared to be complaining about what is now the Vatic Pro paddle that Salome is using. Lea was heard on the mic clearly saying Salome is using a delaminated paddle. While Allyce challenged Salome’s paddle earlier today, the PPA’s paddle testing policy only covers grit. There is nothing to test for deflection at this point. They’ll test the Crbn off site but they aren’t doing it with other paddles. While we don’t have too much doubt there is something wrong with the paddle, especially considering Allyce challenged it, at a certain point Jansen just has to play. Parenteau will play Salome on Saturday. Lea gets a bronze by withdrawal.